Tell us a little about yourself.
My name is Victoria Valente and I’m a Brazilian visual artist (illustrator, painter, graphic designer and tattoo artist) based in Belo Horizonte. My official Instagram account is @vic_valente and my website is here. Besides that, I’m also an activist for the animals.
What lead you to veganism? How long ago?
My journey on veganism starts with a miracle (which I often consider the result of collective consciousness). I was raised in the countryside, eating tons of animal products all my life and even watching my sweet grandpa slit chickens’ throats right in front of me from when I was four or five-years-old, and surprisingly never got any sad about that. I even remember seeing a dead cow right by my feet when I was about 9 and not feeling a thing. Since then until I was 27 yo, I naturalized the slaughter and use of animals completely. Sure, I was against the industrial methods like most people, but I really did believe we were meant to be eating and using them in a nice way. So let’s get to the miracle part: one day when I was 27 I was eating this specific burger I had for the past 3 years, filled with animal products … and suddenly, from absolute NOWHERE, I got a bad feeling when I was halfway with it. For the first time, it wasn’t beautiful or appetizing as I always thought. So I considered something I’d never before “what if I stop eating meat for a couple of weeks and see how it goes?” Three weeks later, I was convinced my mental health gain was so awesome (anxiety dropped levels) that there was no point in going back. One year after, another miracle: I suddenly felt bad eating cheese and eggs, which I also used to crave a lot. Right then I thought “…let me just give this veganism a look…” 30 minutes researching ethics, environment, and health on Google was everything I needed to switch and never go back. I watched Gary Yourofsky’s lecture on YouTube and that was it. I also made myself watch Earthlings the next day just so my conscience would never give place to temptation, and to sort of pay for everything I contributed blindly, ferociously and for so many years of my life. Almost 3 years later here I am, best physical & mental health ever at 30, proud and relentless activist… one more person who really regrets only the fact they didn’t turn vegan sooner. (:
When you first went vegan how did you phase out your non-vegan food, clothing and other items?
I just gave everything I had to the poor. From cheese and some eggs I had in my fridge to all the leather clothing and some pillows filled with goose plums I had.
Do you make any exceptions for yourself or if you are married with kids – your family, when it comes to veganism? For example, how strict are you with your children’s veganism at school or at family gatherings?
No exceptions. I’m childless and not married, so it’s pretty easy to maintain my home strict vegan.
Do you believe we should show children the process of how animals are turned into meats?
What does being vegan mean to you? For example, does it extend to not killing bugs and bees? Does it include not patronizing vegan companies owned by non-vegan parent companies? Does it affect the way you treat other humans?
It means to me to not contribute to animal exploitation as much as possible, which considering my context (living in a big city) implies strict vegetarianism, not paying for any non-vegan and non-essential product or service. And that extends to all animals, including insects. Since becoming vegan, I try as much as possible to not kill even an ant and in the worst-case scenarios I just try to catch the insect to release them.
Sometimes I find it very difficult to not buy from non-vegan parent companies, but I try as much as I can to not to.
My view on humans has deteriorated as I understood what we’ve always done to animals; yet, I realize we do act with brutality towards each other too, so we’re also the victims here. In general, veganism has made me more sensitive, and that empathy is extended to humans for sure.
Is it every vegan’s duty to become an activist?
I strongly feel that, although I understand that some people just don’t have the time and/or mental space.
How compassionate or empathetic are you towards non-vegans?
It depends highly on who we’re talking about and their life context. I’m compassionate about a non-vegan as much as I could be about someone who doesn’t care about some kind of systematic oppression they take part of. For instance, if they’re unaware of what they’re doing, I can only feel compassionate.
Any recommended Vegan books?
Vystopia is my favorite. Amazing work by the Australian psychologist Clare Mann, who talks about the existential crisis a vegan enters from the moment they realize that basically everything they believed is a lie.
Any recommended social sites, blogs or pages?
Plant-Based News, The Dodo, and Anonymous For The Voiceless pages are my fave in the English language.
Do you have a favorite movie or videos or your own media that you want to share?
The video that made me go vegan, which is Gary Yurofsky’s lecture on YouTube, Earthlings and this specific outreach by AV activist Natasha https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gUP0QF-6YqA&t=4s Every time I want to feel hope, that’s exactly the video I go for. 🙂
What’s your favorite Vegan restaurant?
I have two here, Camaraderia and VillaVeg.
Please share your favorite vegan recipe?
So many! What I love the most is to invent what I have at hand. I Love making pasta with mushrooms, peas, carrots, broccoli…. Also soups, veggie stews… Basically comfort food with a lot of paprika 😉
Some encouraging words for new Vegans?
It’s much easier and rewarding than you think. But don’t think about that, just think of the animals.
What is the vegan scene like in your city?
Fortunately, it’s growing! We do all sorts of things, from peaceful and educating acts on animal rights’ at public places, to vegan fairs and gatherings (as picnics).
What personal recommendations can you make for people to meet other vegans?
Become an activist and meet people who care about what you do and who’ll encourage you to speak for those who can’t.
What does living cruelty-free mean to you? Does it extend to the way you as a vegan treats other humans too?
It means to try to know as much as possible before buying anything. Veganism made me more sensitive, as I said before, and that includes anything I may be paying for, including bad work conditions or child labor, for instance. For that, I feel easier to buy as many whole foods from the producers as possible and try to consume other things as least as possible.
What are your favorite Vegan non-food products or companies?
Unfortunately, there aren’t many of those in Brazil. Besides food, I only buy cleaning products, shampoo, and some conditioner, so I just buy the vegan ones but they’re almost never from vegan companies. Only recently I bought a money belt from this vegan company called Enok, really loved it.
What is the toughest Vegan item to find that you need?
Fortunately, I don’t have any problem to find what I need here 🙂
Talk about a time when you struggled with your Veganism?