I am thrilled to be part of a Facebook vegan photo series by plant-eatin' photographer Melissa Schwartz, entitled "vGirls". Melissa takes provocative photos of vegan women and interviews them to show that the plant-based diet is sexy, fun, and easy. Some of my favorite hot veg ladies participated as well, such as Sunny of Vegan Beauty Review, Erin of Pixie Portraits, Lindsay of Kiss My Vegan, and Jessica of Tree Kisser.
While not every vegan diet is healthy and results in external improvements, most women I know say that they look better when they choose not to eat animal products. I lost weight and have super clear skin - it's common for people to tell me that I'm glowing. The women in this series are beautiful in their diversity, which shows that there's not a stereotypical vegan - our body types and attire are quite different from one another. Hopefully these photos will encourage non-veg women to give the vegan lifestyle a try, if not for the animals then for their health and/or appearance. And perhaps men and women turned on by the photos will give veganism a try in hopes of snagging a sexy vGirl of their own. ; )
I suppose some will look at these photos and feel like it degrades women, but honestly I felt so empowered while doing it. I'm celebrating the amazing transformation I've gone through as a vegan and if it takes posing in my underwear with some broccoli to bring some awareness to the movement then so be it!
Shoutout to Lavish Lint for my amazing Eco-Vegan Gal shirt and Chocolate Sun for making my skin glow even more!
Here's my interview:
SS: What made you go vegan and why?
WL: In May 2003 I visited my friend/animal rights activist Nik Tyler in NYC and a conversation we had about vegetarianism really sparked my curiosity. I was staying with my grandparents and when I returned from the city they fed me a plate of chicken, and I felt really uncomfortable eating it - that was the last piece of meat I had. 6 months later I gave veganism a try after reading up on it and it instantly resonated with me. I felt better on so many levels: internally, externally, compassionately, and environmentally. And I never looked back - how could I when I feel this good?
SS: Has it been difficult for you? If yes, what was difficult and did it get easier?
WL: Going veg really wasn't difficult, even though I knew nothing about it at first and didn't know many people who ate like me. My family and friends were skeptical and didn't think it would last, yet they were impressed with how slender I became as a result. Luckily, I was living in Boston and found plenty of options at grocery stores, restaurants, and in college dining halls. I started cooking for myself, finding recipes off the internet, and got really excited whenever I learned how to veganize something like french toast. It has absolutely become easier to be vegan, once I became more confident, made vegan friends, and learned what foods I liked best. Living in Los Angeles made being vegan super easy because of the big network of people and all the dietary options, but it's certainly possible to find plant-based food anywhere in the world.
SS: What are some animal rights related things you participate in?
WL: Biggest thing I do is write, make videos, and talk about veganism through my website Eco-Vegan Gal. I love wearing vegan t-shirts (Lavish Lint is my fav), going to vegan events/fundraisers, and supporting the community via social media - whatever I can do to spread the word and bring awareness to animal rights. It's my goal to show that veganism is fun, easy, and rewarding - there's no need to use animals for food, clothing, or other products when there are so many cruelty-free alternatives.
SS: What are your favorite AR organizations?
WL: I honestly love most of what PETA does, especially their fun stuff like their sexy campaigns and contests, t-shirts, Twitter account, and silly videos (especially when Sunny is involved!). I love it when a group can take a serious message and make it more palatable and appealing to reach a wider audience because it's a great stepping stone towards facing the harder content. I also love animal sanctuaries because they give us an opportunity to visit animals and remember why we are (or should become) vegan. I know amazing people at Farm Sanctuary, Animal Acres, Compassion Over Killing, and Stray Cat Alliance - all of these organizations are doing so many great things for the animals and I'm always eager to support them.
SS: What would you say to encourage someone is considering becoming vegan?
WL: Find a community, whether in person or online (social media, forums, meet-up sites, blogs, etc). These people will be there to give you advice on everything from food to clothing, and will support you when you're feeling weak or super excited. Don't give up and be patient with yourself during the transition and journey - I have evolved so much in the past 8 years and I'm continually learning how to be healthier and finding more ways to help the animals. Do your research (read books and websites) and question everything until you find an answer that's backed up by credible people - when I went vegan I learned that I was told a lot of false things by the media because they were trying to get me to buy products. Don't be afraid, especially of acknowledging the truth - part of being vegan is recognizing that they are a lot of cruel things happening in the world and we must educate ourselves on them in order to help stop it from happening. My favorite quote: "we must not refuse with our eyes what they must endure with their bodies" - it's up to us to be strong so that we can make a difference.
SS: Do you have any memories that stand out in your mind about someone saving an animal? Or relating to an animal in a unique way?
WL: I grew up on a horse farm where I had lots of amazing experiences with animals and I really learned how to interact with and respect them. For instance, we had turkeys and they acted just as smart, loving and faithful as our dogs - I couldn't eat turkey as a result. Animals seem to sense that I have a strong respect for them and I take the time to communicate as much as possible. It's always rewarding when I first meet an animal and I'm able to gain some sort of trust quickly. Best of all, I'm raising a vegan Jack Russell and we have an incredible bond with lots of trust and high regard for each other - it's amazing how deep a connection goes with animals when you give them your heart!