For my next interview, I used someone closer to me — my godmother’s daughter, Cali. I remember being really young, like five or six, and hearing her talk about being a vegan. She is also a yoga instructor. Two summers ago I went to New York to see my godmother and heard that Cali went to Europe to do yoga around the continent. A look into her answers:
When did you decide to become a vegan?
a. I decided to become Vegan 10 years ago in 2008
Why did you decide to become a vegan?
a. I became a Vegan for many reasons. First reason being primarily health. I had been a vegetarian for most of my life (on and off) and have never been much of a meat-eater but as I got older my interest in nutrition and healing the body through plant based medicine grew and that turned me towards Veganism. My other reasons are based heavily around issues I have with the animal agriculture industry. From inhumane treatment of animals to the negative effects of animal agriculture (in mass quanties) on the environment, I personally cannot contribute to the consumption of meat and animal products.
Have you lost weight while changing into this lifestyle?
a. I did not see much weight lose from being Vegan since I already was eating a healthy diet, I did however slightly lean out when I began eating gluten free.
Have you ever had a problem getting enough nutrients with this diet?
a. I have not had an issue with getting enough nutrients. I always kept an eye on making sure I was taking a supplemental vitamin B12, as well as Vitamin D – which is a deficiency you find across the board in the general population amongst vegans, vegetarians and omnivores alike. Other than that I’ve that as long as you eat a plant based/ whole food diet, you can get all of the macro/micro nutrients needed to live a healthy life.
What have you found most difficult about adopting a vegan lifestyle?
a. Personally I did not really run into any difficulties with a Vegan lifestyle. I am not particular when it comes to food, I love to cook and generally speaking anywhere I go out to eat I can easily find something that suits my needs (even if that means requesting no cheese or other substitutions). It is possible that other places in the country I could run into some more difficulty but in New York the options tend to be varied.
Have you encountered any emotional changes after you turned to veganism?
a. I simply felt better after becoming Vegan- I had more energy, I felt lighter and generally that left me feeling more positive. That being said that is just my experience and I am sure it varies from person to person.
What is your philosophy on veganism?
a. my philosophy on Veganism (and in general) is you do what makes you feel good (as long as it cause no harm). I do not believe that Veganism is for every person and I also believe that you have to listen to your body and its signals. If I have craving for certain foods, I know I need to reevaluate what I am eating and if I need to re-introduce certain foods temporarily to recalibrate my body. Like all things in life – being flexible is key to not becoming overwhelmed and out of balance.
How does veganism affect the environment?
a.”We are in the midst of terrible ecological devastation. Raising animals for food is the single greatest human-caused source of destruction to our environment. It is the largest source of greenhouse gases, land use and degradation; the number one source of water pollution and rainforest deforestation. It’s also a major contributor to air pollution, ocean dead zones, habitat loss, and species extinction. And when we include all the resources that go into raising animals for food – the land, fertilizers, pesticides and insecticides, fossil fuels and freshwater – animal agribusiness is shockingly inefficient and a costly and wasteful use of our limited natural resources.”
There are so many resources explaining the why Veganism is an effort to conserve our planet. I highly suggest watching Cowspiracy and googling other resources for the truth behind the primary cause of our current ecological state.
Has becoming vegan changed your perspectives or mindset on things?
a.Being Vegan (and even allowing some variation to my Vegan diet ) has simply reaffirmed my belief that our bodies are intelligent and will tell us what when need and do need if we can learn to decipher its cues and signals.
Has veganism given you a sense of purpose or movement in life?
a.Veganism specifically has not given me a sense of purpose in life however learning to fuel my body and help other people learn how to properly fuel their body has given me a sense of fulfillment.
What do you think the most positive result of veganism is?
a.The most positive result of Veganism for me is knowing I am doing what is best for my body- and what I believe is best for the environment.
Do you think there is a difference between someone who just does a vegan diet vs someone who live a vegan lifestyle?
a.I think any effort is a positive effort. Whether you are eating Vegan once a week, everyday or even have committed to buying and living a completely Vegan lifestyle in every way possible from food to clothes to other consumer goods- the effects can only be good. Everyone will do what is within their means and best suits their lifestyle.
Why should more people go vegan?
a.Primarily from an environmental standpoint – eating a plant based diet and cutting down our consumption of animal products would greatly reduce the degradation of our environment.
What is one thing you wish people would know about being vegan?
a. I wish people knew that Veganism is not a trend or a fad – or simply a way to go against the status quo. It is not another label to be worn or a badge of honor. It is simply one of many approaches to living a healthier lifestyle.
What is your advice to someone trying to turn to this lifestyle?
a.My advice to someone trying to turn to this lifestyle is know yourself first. Some people can go cold turkey and become vegan – while others need a slow transition. Neither is right or wrong. Also understand that regardless of what anyone tells you – any effort is a good effort and just because someone may be looking towards eating a Vegan diet that does mean they have to completely deprive themselves of all things that are not strictly Vegan. Perhaps you go out to dinner with friends and you want to have mac and cheese! Maybe you have made a commitment to eating vegan 80% of the time and 20% you consume animal products from small local farms. There are many shapes, sizes and approaches to cultivating a healthier lifestyle through Veganism. Find yours!
Are there any false stigmas that you have encountered about veganism?
a. We all encounter false stigmas bases on any group and ideology that we associate with- Veganism is no exception to the rule. Back when I first became Vegan, there were a lot of people who thought it was extreme, unhealthy and even a bit pretentious (which could not be farther from the truth). Today Veganism is more common and I do not really encounter interactions or judgements of that nature.
What I found interesting: I thought it was very interesting to see the way Cali matured through veganism and after ten years the unbelievable amount of knowledge she has on the topic. I hope in the near future to watch the documentary she talked about and compare it with Jessi’s!