Why I Went Vegan and My Tribute to Jake

Hello everyone,

I hope that you are having a wonderful week so far!

I have been in kind of a funk lately, and I realized it was because I was coming up on an anniversary of one of the worst days of my life.  Two years ago yesterday, I lost my best friend and fur baby, Jake.  Jake was the most incredible dog I have ever known and was part of our family for 11 years.  Not only was he part of our family, but was basically a child to us (since we don’t have human babies).  He was there when I woke up, went on every trip with us, spent the entire day by my side and snuggled against my stomach all night long.  Jake was never grumpy and was always filled with unconditional love, compassion and the energy of a puppy (until his last week on this planet).

Jake became ill in September 2016.  We had noticed a small lump on his paw, which we were praying was just an infection.  Unfortunately, after many round of antibiotics, it didn’t go away and testing came back positive for cancer.  We ended up amputating his toe to try to stop the spread and were initially successful.  All of the margins were clean, and his blood work and X-rays were impeccable.  We had many long months of bandage changes and keeping him calm, but were optimistic about the future.

Right after Thanksgiving, Jake developed a cough that wouldn’t go away.  We finally took him into the vet one late Monday night and were praying that maybe it was a cold or even whooping cough.  When the vet came back in with the X-ray results, she just said, “You guys, I am so sorry.” Jake’s lungs were completely filled with cancer and there was truly nothing we could do.  She said it could be weeks, months or even years but she really didn’t know how long he would make it.  Jake was gone by the following Sunday.

IMG_3585

What I didn’t realize at the time, was that losing Jake would transform the rest of my life. Not only because this was my first real experience with death, but also because he helped me discover my true passion: saving animals and helping people.  You see, when I watched Jake suffer and take his last breath, I realized that I never, ever wanted to contribute to another animal’s suffering for as long as I live.  I also realized at that moment that ALL animals want to be loved, feel fear and want life.  There is no difference between a dog, chicken, cow, pig, sheep, fish, cat, horse, donkey, etc.  So why would I fight so badly for one while paying someone to torture and kill another?!  At that moment I became VEGAN and later discovered animal activism.

IMG_3586

I will miss Jake every day for the rest of my life, but I am so grateful for the lessons that he taught me.  It’s amazing how one, little, 30 pound dog can change your life forever <3. Thank you buddy!

 

Anonymous for the Voiceless: Why I Volunteer with Them and What We Do

When I first became vegan, I knew that I wanted to do more than just change the food on my plate.  I started researching about the animal agriculture industry and was horrified by the practices that were referred to as “humane”, “organic”, “free range” and felt the grief and suffering deep in my body.  Honestly, I was completely lost knowing that I wanted to do more.  But what more could I do from my couch then just post on social media about all of the facts that I had found and to scream at people to go vegan?!  Most days, I sat there in tears, feeling completely alone and useless.

Then one day I stumbled upon a Youtube video with James Aspey and he was participating in a peaceful demonstration with a group called Anonymous for the Voiceless. I knew immediately that I had to find a local chapter and to be a public voice for the animals.  Unfortunately, there weren’t any chapters that were less than two hours away.

So, I thought that maybe I could start my own.  I jumped on it but before I could finish the process, a wonderful team started a local chapter here in San Diego.  I was so incredibly excited and there was nothing that would stop me from attending.  Seven months later, the San Diego chapter is still in action and I have teamed up to start an additional chapter in North County San Diego.  I have been organizing that one since June, and it truly has been a dream come true!

IMG_1259

What is Anonymous for the Voiceless and what do we do?

“ESTABLISHED APRIL, 2016.

ANONYMOUS FOR THE VOICELESS IS AN ANIMAL RIGHTS ORGANISATION THAT SPECIALIZES IN STREET ACTIVISM.

OVER 4,026 DEMONSTRATIONS IN 805 CITIES WORLDWIDE, WE’VE CONVINCED AT LEAST 271,747 BYSTANDERS TO TAKE VEGANISM SERIOUSLY.

THROUGH THE USE OF LOCAL STANDARD-PRACTICE FOOTAGE, WE EXPOSE TO THE PUBLIC WHAT IS INTENTIONALLY HIDDEN FROM THEM WHEN IT COMES TO ANIMAL EXPLOITATION. COMBINING THIS WITH A VALUE-BASED SALES APPROACH AND RESOURCE LITERATURE, WE FULLY EQUIP THE PUBLIC WITH EVERYTHING THEY NEED IN SWITCHING TO A VEGAN LIFESTYLE. WE HOLD AN ABOLITIONIST STANCE ON ANIMAL EXPLOITATION.” (www.anonymousforthevoiceless.org)

Basically, in a peaceful demonstration (almost like an art exhibition) we show the truth of the animal agriculture industry.  We show real footage of factory farms and we have thought provoking conversations with the public.  We do not yell and we do not leaflet.

Honestly, there are many forms of activism out there, but for me, this has proved to be the most effective.  I have amazing conversations with people every week who truly had no idea that their “food” was produced this way.  They are angry, feel like they have been lied to, are animal lovers and are ready to make the change.

When leaving what is referred to as the Cube of Truth, the individual will receive a card from us that is full of resources to help them make the transition.

FullSizeRender-6.jpg

Being part of Anonymous for the Voiceless has truly changed my life.  I absolutely feel that I am making a difference, have met some of my best friends, am surrounded by people who truly get me and am no longer sitting on my couch feeling hopeless.

If you are vegan, and are looking for a way to help the animals, I truly suggest volunteering with your local chapter.  And if you are not vegan, I hope that you will one day be able to experience a Cube of Truth in person.  Maybe we can have a conversation….

IMG_0840.JPG

Experiencing Vystopia in the Real World

Hello everyone, I hope that you all had a wonderful weekend and are ready for a fabulous week!

I had an incredible weekend at Farm Animal Refuge in San Diego.  It was their bi-annual open house and I spent all day Saturday with farm animals, my vegan family, and ate delicious food.  It was pure Heaven!  I came home after a 9am-5pm day and felt like I was on a vegan high.  I was encouraged after being surrounded by people who completely got me and who felt the same way that I do.  Every person I talked to was a true, animal lover who is dedicating their lives to advocate for ALL animals, and I truly felt like the world was changing.  I completely felt at peace (and btw, had the best night of sleep that I have experienced in months)!!!

Today has been completely different: it’s as if I have woken up from a great dream into a nightmare that won’t end and is surrounding me.  I am suffering from what Clare Mann refers to as “Vystopia.”  By definition Vystopia is the “existential crisis experienced by vegans, arising out of an awareness of the trance-like collusion with a dystopian world. It is an awareness of the greed, ubiquitous animal exploitation, and speciesism in a modern dystopia”.

Let me take you through my morning.  It started by driving to work, passing the beautiful cows down the street who are being raised to be slaughtered for beef.  Along the way, I pass a dairy truck, filled with milk from cows who have impregnated and have had their babies stolen (and killed!) from them. I pass a Jack in the Box, McDonalds, and Burger King, filled with lines of people who are waiting to eat animals.  Not to mention the constant ads on the radio filled with propaganda from the animal agriculture industries!  Within the 20 minutes that I am in the car, I have become very aware that I am the minority.  One of the few who thinks that animals should live and deserve better!

I always try to remain positive and to stay optimistic.  But today I am feeling sadness, grief and hopelessness.  I am feeling guilty for judging the non vegans that surround me and for worrying about their health and for also selfishly worrying about our planet.  I am tired of worrying about offending people when there are BILLIONS of animals being killed EVERY year for their taste buds!  (And why is it that we have to celebrate birthdays and holidays with a corpse on our plates?! More to come on that one later…..).

In ways I get it.  We have been conditioned to believe that we need to eat animals and I used to do it too.  We all run around with our busy lives and do what we have been told to do, not considering the actions that we are taking.  What I don’t get is how when you know the truth, when you have seen the footage, how you can ever put that piece of animal in your mouth again.

Sorry for the rant but I think it’s important that you know that every day as a vegan activist is not sunshine.  There are days where you feel like the world is out to get you (think about a belief that you have that you are the most passionate about.  Now imagine a whole world telling you that belief is wrong!).

And I know that tomorrow will be better and that I will get out of bed ready to fight for what it right.  But today, I want to step back into my dream of the weekend with peace, amazing friends and animals who have been saved from this terrible nightmare.

Please let me know if you can relate to this post.  I would love to hear from you!

From Lyme Disease to Animal Activist

On October 29, 2015, I got one of the worst calls that I have ever received.  It was from my doctor and he said that my “Lyme disease diagnosis was positive”.  He went on to explain that although I had “acute Lyme”, I would most likely have ongoing symptoms for the rest of my life.

At this period of my life, I was in horrible pain. I had extreme fatigue, severe muscle cramping (imagine teaching fitness classes when you can barely feel your legs!), tingling in my extremities, brain fog, depression and crippling digestive issues.  I would lay in bed every night and cry.  I had no idea why this was happening to me and couldn’t imagine spending the rest of my life in this immense pain.  I was incredibly scared, frustrated and felt completely alone.

Luckily, in this day of age there is the Internet.  I was able to find a Lyme community and friends who helped me through the misery and also found solace in those who had recovered.  There was hope!  Fortunately, three years later I am mostly symptom free and am extremely grateful for my recovery.

IMG_1060 April in a Swing

So, how did someone with a debilitating illness go from being stuck in bed to becoming an animal activist???

The answer is so simple:  when you have experienced suffering, pain, fear and loneliness, you do not wish that on any other sentient being!  You can watch a graphic video of an animal at a slaughterhouse and completely empathize with them and the feeling of not wanting to lose your life.  I can feel it in my bones and can feel the fire in my heart, trying to come up with strategies to make it stop!  You see, animals know exactly what is going to happen to them.  Most are sick, starving and have been tortured up until their death.  They are scared and cannot make it stop…and they cannot turn to the Internet like I did to get support.

IMG_0924.jpg

Today, I am a Lyme warrior and an animal rights activist.  I spend my weekends volunteering for our local chapter of Anonymous for the Voiceless (that I am a proud organizer of).  I spend time at local sanctuaries and try to educate the public daily about the horrors of the animal agriculture industry.

IMG_1259.JPG

And today, I am grateful for my Lyme disease diagnosis.  Who knows?  If I hadn’t suffered the way I did, would I still have the desire to fight for the animals?  I will never know but I truly think that everything happens for a reason.  Maybe my reason for Lyme was to find my true passion in life as an animal activist.

 

For more information about my Lyme disease journey, please click here.

I’ve decided to go VEGAN…now what???

You have watched the documentaries, you have figured out your “why”, and you are motivated to make the transition to being vegan.  But now what do you do????  Although going vegan was the best decision that I ever made, I find that it can be daunting in the beginning to know where to start.

I would love it if everyone could go vegan overnight, but this may not be the best strategy for long term success (and this should be your goal: to sustainably go vegan so you can stay vegan for the remainder of your lifetime).

Unknown

Here are some approachable ways to make the change.  You know yourself better than anyone, so choose a level that will work best for you.

*Eliminate one animal product every two weeks: for the first two weeks, you would eliminate dairy.  The next two weeks you could eliminate poultry.  The following two weeks, you could eliminate fish.  So on and so on….

Unknown-2.jpeg

*Switch one of your meals to being vegan at one time: for the first two weeks you could have a vegan breakfast.  For the next two weeks you could add in a vegan lunch.  The next two weeks you would add a vegan dinner.  And then all you have to do is add in vegan snacks!  Pretty soon all of your meals will be vegan without the overwhelm.

*Find ways to make your favorite recipes or meals vegan:  if you are like me, you probably have 3-4 meals that you truly love and eat over and over.  Start with your favorite recipes and switch them to being vegan.  You could try vegan cheese in your macaroni, plant based milk in your oatmeal, chickpeas in your tuna fish salad, tofu in your breakfast burrito, pesto on your pizza.   Click here for more ideas. Pinterest is also an amazing resource for vegan recipes.

IMG_0967.JPG

*Veganize your restaurant experience: if you are someone that eats out a lot, maybe your first step should be to try to “veganize” your restaurant meals.  If you have a favorite restaurant, look up the menu ahead of time and study what you could possibly eat as a vegan.  If it’s an Italian restaurant, you could try a marinara pasta and lentil soup.  Stir frys are great at a Chinese restaurant and you certainly cannot go wrong with veggie fajitas at a Mexican restaurant.  There will always be something vegan to eat at every restaurant and if you are struggling, you can always ask your server for help.

In addition, to going to old restaurants, it can be fun to try something new.  Visit a vegan restaurant to see what they have to offer and to see how yummy vegan food can truly be.

Unknown-1.jpeg

                                                          (photo from Veggie Grill)

If you are having a difficult time finding a vegan restaurant near you, make sure to add Happy Cow to your phone.  It is a free App/website that will show you the vegan options in your area.

Unknown.png

There are so many ways to start your vegan transition.  Every bit counts and every small change will add up in the long run.  Just remember that it should be fun!  You are making the commitment to your health, the planet, the animals and this is something that should be celebrated!!!

And please remember that if you ever get stuck, that I am here for you to offer accountability, support and resources.  Contact me anytime!!!  I mean it…..

See you next time!

 

The First Step to Going Vegan

I often talk to people who are thinking about going vegan but they have no idea where to start.  It can seem like an overwhelming process to someone who has been consuming meat for their entire life.  But it doesn’t have to be stressful or confusing.

IMG_4380.jpg

I believe that the first step to going vegan is to find your “why”.  This can seem like a simple process, but it is also a crucial one.  Are you considering going vegan to save animals, to reduce climate change, to protect your body from disease, to increase your energy, to improve your skin, to lose weight, to improve your digestion, to align with your morals and spirituality or to save our planet?  The reasons are endless!

IMG_0923.jpg

So how do you find your “why”?  I highly recommend watching the following documentaries to see what resonates with you the most:

*Forks Over Knives on Netflix  (Health)

*What the Health on Netflix (Health)

*Cowspiracy on Netflix (Environment)

*Food Inc. on Netflix (all encompassing)

*Earthlings on Youtube (Animals)

*Dominion (Animals)

IMG_0872.jpg

I also recommend visiting a local sanctuary.  Not only will you get to be up close and personal with animals who have been rescued from the animal agriculture industries, but you will also get to hear their stories and to learn about what happens to animals destined to be on our plates.

(Two of my favorite,  local sanctuaries are Farm Animal Refuge and Sale Ranch Sanctuary).  If you aren’t local, there is always Google 🙂

IMG_0100.jpg

Now that you have your “why” make sure to post it everywhere!  Post pictures of your why around the house, on your computer, on your phone and on your refrigerator.  Changing old habits isn’t always easy and having this reminder will give you constant motivation so that you will stick with the transition to going vegan.

I hope that helps!

If you have already found your “why”, please comment below with your reason. I would love to hear from you!