A native Michigander, I moved to Portland, ME in 2015 after 13 years in Chicago, IL. For decades I’ve
been a passionate environmentalist and advocate for the welfare, rights, and ultimate liberation for all
human and non-human animals. An empath from birth, and since a young child, I’ve naturally gravitated towards helping people and neglected animals. I’m keenly aware that my purpose in this lifetime is to alleviate suffering on this planet and raise consciousness by means of education, support, love, and healing. I’m honored to offer in-person and distance reiki for people and animals ( ReikiReawakening.com). I support Mercy For Animals, provide reiki to the adoptable shelter felines of HART (Cumberland, ME), and am an active board member of Lulu’s Locker Rescue (Frankfort, IL), a companion animal rescue two friends and I co-founded in 2011. I’m active in the Maine vegan and animal welfare community and currently volunteer with Vegan Outreach and Anonymous for the
Voiceless’ Cube of Truth.
1. How long have you been vegan? I’ve been living a vegan lifestyle since June 2010
2. What made you decide to go vegan?
My path to veganism spanned several years. My mother passed at 48 years old from conventional, experimental treatments surrounding colon cancer. Three years later my father went the alternate, holistic route when diagnosed with pancreatic cancer at age 51. At that time, in 1999, I went vegetarian as I experienced first-hand my father’s utilization of alternative healing methods and food-as-medicine as his pancreatic tumors shrunk. He defied “statistics” for 2.5 years, and while alive taught those around him life-enhancing ways of self-healing and care through food – what feeds & heals vs. what starves & devastates the body. Simultaneously, at the time of my father’s diagnosis I vividly recall cruising up to an Arby’s drive-thru window to get the 5 for $5 roast beef sandwich deal. Prior to ordering, I glanced above the outdoor menu and in red spray paint on the white wall was “Meat is Murder”. I screamed out, “Holy sh*t, it is! I’m done.” I immediately drove out of the parking lot and haven’t eaten an animal since. On that day, my senses became heightened regarding the world operating around me and the animal activism seed was planted. Once you know, once you learn more, once you’re “awake”, there’s no going back or unlearning,unfeeling, or ignoring. The universe was delivering this message in various ways and it all just clicked. It made sense.
I wasn’t aware of the ethical, environmental, and health horrors of animal by-products until a decade later when I began working with many staff who were vegan at an independent humane society in Chicago. What I learned from them, along with the (then Chicago-based) nonprofit Mercy For Animals, regarding the dairy, egg, leather, wool, silk, etc. industries, caused me much upset as I suddenly felt lied to my entire life. I learned that the food and animal by-product industries go to great lengths to hide the truth from consumers about the treatment of the animals and the workers, and what the production and products do to our planet, animals, health, and people. I was continuing to educate myself, when I went to a screening of the film, Peaceable Kingdom. The film explores the struggle of conscience experienced by several people from traditional farming backgrounds who come to question the basic assumptions of their way of life. At the end of this film, I knew I would no longer support any form of animal exploitation, including paying others to abuse and slaughter our sweet, innocent, sentient animal friends. Non-human animals are living, breathing, feeling beings, who protect their young, live in
communities, form bonds, and experience joy or pain just like humans. What I learned then is what Alice Walker and so many others before her knew, that “The animals of the world exist for their own reasons. They were not made for humans any more than black people were made for white, or women created
My journey has led me well beyond plant-based eating – I’m an ethical vegan who protests, demonstrates against, and educates others about any animal-based industries that cause suffering, injustice, and early animal demise including food (animals and their by-products including gelatin and honey), entertainment (circuses, zoos, Sea World, hunting), clothing (wool, silk, leather, fur), beauty products (animal testing and ingredients), etc. I also discovered that no act of kindness is ever wasted, and on a daily basis I find love, happiness, and joy living in a way that shows compassion for all our fellow beings. I capture indoor insects and bring them outdoors, I stop for animals hit by cars to ensure they’re not suffering or pregnant, I redirect ants in my home with cinnamon and turmeric, and I humanely trap mice and relocate them, among other things. These are just examples that there are compassionate alternatives to interacting with all sentient beings in our daily lives. For me veganism is a way of life. I truly can’t imagine living life any other way. There are more beautiful, tasty, compassionate products available now than ever before – check out BillionVegans. Don’t underestimate starting conversations or sharing and introducing good, healing foods with others – leading by example is very powerful. I’m proud to be a part of this critical social justice movement. It’s a very intersectional movement: “Simply put, intersectionality is an understanding of the interconnected nature of all forms of oppression; from racism, sexism, classism, ableism, speciesism, and beyond.” Speciesism is a very real thing. We are all connected. We are all in this together. Until we extend our circle of compassion to all living beings, every day, the world will never know peace. Peace starts on our plate and every day we vote with every purchase we make.
3. What are the benefits eating vegan have done for you? Absolutely…everything. The food, the community, the health benefits, the reduction in global animal suffering, human suffering, and environmental destruction. Every single day there is pure, genuine, glorious satisfaction and peace in knowing I’m not a cog in the system paying others to destroy animals, the planet, and our collective health. Many vegans will tell you they adore their lifestyle and choices, and the only thing they wish is having made the transition sooner.
4. What did you find to be the biggest challenge of eating vegan? Providing education to others and debunking silly myths is a challenge. Getting folks to fully understand…
that new information can be shocking and it takes time to unlearn everything that’s been drilled
into our heads by certain industries over an entire lifetime
that being kind to yourself and starting with Meatless Monday and Taco Tuesday does matter.
That learning new consumption and eating habits can take time and you can make it fun. My suggestion is to eat foods that do not advertise on television, and try vegan for 3 weeks at
that as a human species we do not need any animal products to survive, live, or thrive. In fact, animal products harm our bodies and cause many preventable diseases and health issues.
that many animals get their protein from plants…which means humans can (and do) too! Several of the animals that people eat along with the world’s largest, strongest animals – elephants,
gorillas, rhinos, hippos – eat plant-based.
that eating plant-based allows starving people in the world to eat – the food that is fed to the animals that humans eat should most definitely be fed to hungry people instead.
that vegan foods are the most affordable eats and are what most people around the globe are consuming – beans, legumes, grains, vegetables, and fruits.
that Big Ag and Big Pharma do not have our best interest at heart, because their bottom line is to generate billion$ at the cost of human, animal, and planetary exploitation, suffering, and disease. They have enormous advertising and marketing budgets with everything to lose if the truth is exposed. Having an open mind and doing your research can save lives. That veganism isn’t a diet or fad, but literally the most healthy, compassionate, disease-reversing,non-harming, locally and globally sustainable way for all humans to live – individually it’s powerful and collectively it’s unstoppable.
5. What are your go to foods for breakfast, lunch and dinner?
Breakfast: fruit, pancakes, smoothies,waffles, dairy-free yogurt, muesli or granola with almond milk, toast/bagels/English muffins with avocado or almond butter.
Lunch: almond butter and jelly, burritos, falafel wraps, soups and stews.
Dinner: Mexican, Indian, Thai, Chinese, Ethiopian, American, breakfast, everything!
I adore my Champion Juicer and Crockpot (thousands of vegan recipes out there).Naturally I need dessert. My go-to is Mom’s Organic Munchies’ skinny mint cookies! MOM’s Maine-based baked goods are vegan and gluten-free with high quality, non-GMO ingredients and natural, low-glycemic sweetener.
6. Do you have a favorite cookbook, tip or recipe to share? The ultimate resource guide: The Vegan Sourcebook
How it All Vegan
Eat Vegan on $4 a Day
The Vegan Bible
Favorite Online websites for recipes:
Ethical: www.MercyForAnimals.org and www.Earthlings.com
Health: www. WhatTheHealthFilm.com and www.NutritionFacts.org