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One of the best parts of running Eco-Vegan Gal is meeting people virtually. I receive some really sweet digital correspondence from amazing people around the world, and it's always touching to hear their stories. On my birthday this year Amanda sent me a sweet note on Facebook to let me know that I inspired her to go vegan 2 years ago - her words brought me so much joy and I was really interested to hear more about her story. Hope you enjoy it as much as I do!
Hi! My name is Amanda. I am a 30 year old vegan, and I live in Connecticut. I have always loved animals and have been lucky to have them around me my entire life. A few years ago, I started to become more interested in cooking and nutrition. And was learning more and more about what is in our food and where it comes from. I had been curious about vegetarianism for a while and in September 2010 I decided to try giving up meat (except for fish) for a month, or maybe until that Thanksgiving, and then see how I felt. I only knew a handful of vegetarians then (and I definitely didn't know any vegans). That night, I turned to Google. I think I googled "vegetarian" and I came across the Peta video "If Slaughterhouses Had Glass Walls, Everyone Would Be Vegetarian"... Well that shocked me to my core.. I hadn't cried that hard in a long time. I already knew that it wasn't right to be eating animals, but I didn't know how horribly they are treated. I also didn't know all the other issues that come from the meat/dairy/egg industries (environment, world hunger, etc) It and a few more videos I watched, left me disturbed and appalled. And I knew after that I could never eat meat again. A friend of mine recommened that I read Skinny Bitch. I went to the bookstore across the street the next day and read that book in about a day and a half. I continued to eat fish once in a while and was probably 99% vegan at home. Going out, I was still consuming some dairy and eggs.. Pretty much out of laziness or "convenience". I guess I was leaning into it.
I didn't officially go 100% vegan until December 2011. Another friend of mine was curious about my veggie lifestyle, so I lent her Skinny Bitch, and told her about some videos to watch. The next day, she told me that she threw out all of the animal products in her house and wanted to go vegan right away! Well, I jumped right on board with her (it's a lot easier with a buddy) and never looked back! And brought a few more friends with me since then :)
Since I've been eating more healthy plant-based whole foods, I've felt great! I used to get sick all the time. Now I hardly ever do! My nails started growing so much stronger, so I stopped biting them. <--Yay! I have more overall energy. It has been better for my skin (dairy is horrible for skin). This year I started working out and building muscle. Which is awesome. And it has actually really helped with my depression, which I have had since a teen. No drugs for me! While I do believe it has to do with what we put into our bodies, I also think living a more compassionate life helps your overall well-being. I could go on and on and on...
I love food! I consider myself to be a "foodie", and I love to cook. Despite what many people may think, there is soooo much variety in a plant-based diet. I have so many vegan cookbooks, that I need to get a bigger bookcase before I get anymore. As much as I enjoy trying other people's recipes, I love to experiment in the kitchen and just throw things together. Some of the best things I have eaten came from doing just that. I love to share what I make/eat on Instagram and Facebook. A lot of my friends (mostly non-veg) tell me I should start a blog.. so I have been thinking of doing that. I would also like to get more involved in animal activism. I know that by not purchasing products that come from animals, or are tested on animals, and by boycotting anything that exploits/hurts them (circus, zoos, puppy mills, etc) are all great ways to help animals.. But I would like to be more physically involved.
Going vegan was the best decision I have ever made and I wish I did it sooner! :)
A couple quotes I'd like to share:
"If we can live happy and healthy lives, without causing harm to others, why wouldn't we?"
-Jenny Brown, co-founder of Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary
"Don't do nothing, because you can't do everything. Do something. Anything."
The internet (especially Google and YouTube) is so great for the veg-curious! Or anyone who wants to know where our food comes from and what goes into it. There is a quote I've seen a few times (don't know who said it) "In the age of information, ignorance is a choice." And I believe that is true. The information is out there, people! I was shocked and elated to see how many YouTube videos there were on veganism! All you have to do is type "vegan" into the search bar and at least one of EcoVeganGal's videos show up. (she has almost 500.. and that's just on her main channel.. she has at least 3 others-- WhatAVeganEats is also a great one!) I don't remember the very first EcoVeganGal video I saw, but I do know that I came across one, and just kept watching more of them, and subscribed to her channel. Whitney has a video for pretty much anything eco or vegan you can think of, as well as ones about just living a happier life. I truely believe that she genuinely cares about your well-being and wants to share with you all of the wonderful products, companies, books, and people that she discovers. Thanks to Whitney, I found out about Kris Carr, Happy Herbivore, vgirls|vguys, and other YouTube favorites: The Vegan Zombie and the lovely Shelley Williams, just to name a few. And those people brought me to others and so on.. I had no idea how many of us there are. It is so nice to know that there are all of these other inspirational, compassionate people out there and that we are not alone in this.
Amanda's favorite Eco-Vegan Gal video: I had a hard time choosing a favorite EcoVeganGal video. I enjoy her product reviews, because she is so honest and does them with integrity, but one video that is speaking to me right now is a bit different from that. The Importance of Living from the Heart:
In April 2012 I received a Facebook message from a guy named Alex. He said he was a fan on my videos (even bought a birthday present because of my recommendation) and offered some advice on getting more views, so he immediately caught my attention (ha!). I was extremely impressed with his YouTube knowledge and thus it was no surprise to discover that he had a very popular channel...actually, channels. We've kept in touch ever since and to this day Alex sends me tips when he feels inspired - I owe a lot of my most successful video features to him! The least I could do to thank him was to feature him here and as you'll see he's a very cool "doctor" (you'll get my reference upon reading further).
I am so honored to be chosen as Eco-Vegan Gal's Viewer of the Month! My name is Alex Charak. I'm an actor/writer/YouTuber in New York City. I produce web content for youtube.com/drcoolsex and youtube.com/chronicgamergirl. I first stumbled across Whitney when I curiously searched Atlas Cafe NYC on YouTube. Even though I lived across the street and ate there everyday, I wondered if there was any video of it online. The first thing I saw was EvG's review. I watched some other videos, subscribed, and now follow closely on Facebook. Eco-Vegan Gal helps me to make smart, environmentally conscious purchases and to discover new, delicious food options.
When I was growing up, I didn't get much exposure to veganism. My parents ate meat and I did as well. Then, when I was sixteen, I saw "Super Size Me" and it changed my life. I cut out the fast food completely. But as I explored healthy eating online, I saw those awful PETA videos of chickens being hammered, cows being sliced open and all those other videos make you want to throw up. Once I saw what was happening, I had to stop eating meat. At eighteen, I went vegetarian, and, at nineteen, vegan. I felt morally at ease and healthier physically.
My parents have slightly high cholesterol genetically and I still do as well. It's something I have to watch and being vegan helps me combat that. Of course being vegan doesn't mean being healthy. I can't eat vegan peanut butter chocolate cake from Atlas everyday and stay fit (even with my five floor walk up apartment). Now that I moved into a building with an elevator, I have to watch my diet even more so. I'm about to bulk up in muscle and drop fat like crazy for a role in a new web series called "Alligator Man" about a superhero who is half alligator and…yes, half man. Thanks to some EvG blog posts, I've seen that it is possible to do in a healthy, vegan way.
For anyone who needs a quick defense of veganism, I like going to this Albert Einstein quote: "Nothing will benefit human health and increase chances of survival for life on earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet." People some times don't understand veganism, but they sure do admire Einstein. Or toss a topical one at them with Abraham Lincoln: "I am in favor of animal rights as well as human rights. That is the way of a whole human being." If it that doesn't get them off your case, try this Mahatma Gandhi: "To my mind, the life of a lamb is no less precious than that of a human being." They'll get real quiet because no one likes to badmouth Gandhi.
Alex's favorite Eco-Vegan Gal video: I like a lot of the videos. Especially the vlogs and reviews. My favorite video is the first one I've ever seen. Atlas review: