Saturday, 29 November 2014 15:50

Viewer of the Month: Victor Rivera

Victor is one of those people who gives me a warm fuzzy feeling inside, which is remarkable given that he's a total tough guy on the outside. I'll never forget when we first communicated online - he won a giveaway I ran and his response started with "OMG YESSSSSSS!!!! I've never won anything EVER" and ended with "Thank you, thank you, thank you!" I loved his enthusiasm and passion. About a year later he reached out to offer her personal training services and we've been in touch off and on ever since. Victor is a fantastic role model for vegan men. Ladies, try to contain yourself when you read what an amazing husband and doggy dad he is!

Hey Fellow EvGers! My name is Victor. I moved to Los Angeles (A.K.A. “Vegan Heaven”) about 12 years ago from the Boston area. I have a wonderful wife, son and two cute dogs, and all of us are vegan (yup, our dogs are, too!). I am also a certified personal trainer, wannabe blogger, as well as a student at UCLA, pursuing a degree in psychology.

victor rivera dogs victor rivera dog

I would say my vegan journey probably began in my early youthful days, as I have always had a passion for social justice and compassion. I’ve seen firsthand, as well as voraciously read about, the plight of the poor, minorities and women, so standing up for the voiceless and oppressed has always been important to me.

victor rivera family

I met my wife, a long-time vegetarian, about eight years ago, and whenever I ate a burger, she would say, “Moooooo.” While I know she was being funny, I also knew that it hurt her to see someone eating her favorite animal. So knowing that I might be with her forever, I decided to look into this vegetarian thing. I began reading “Fast Food Nation,” and was quickly appalled at the treatment of the animals, migrant workers, and the general behavior of the meat, dairy, and fast food corporations. My wife was also reading, “Skinny Bitch” at the same time, so about a day after I decided to go vegetarian, we began planning how to go vegan.

While I went vegan for the animals and the environment, I could’t believe how much my health had changed. As someone who suffered from IBS for 10 years at that point, my condition basically vanished upon going vegan. I also lost nearly 70 pounds simply by changing to a vegan diet, and a basic exercise routine! So these days, I enjoy sharing the benefits of a vegan diet to the world, as well as proving that you can be just as strong and healthy eating plants!

victor rivera before after

About two years ago, I went to Chef Chloe Coscarelli’s book signing in Santa Monica, and my wife said, “Hey, there’s Eco-Vegan Gal!” I said, “You’ve never told me about her!” Apparently my wife had been following her forever but held out on me. So that night, I went to ecovegangal.com and was blown away! I am totally one of those people with about a thousand different passions and always wondering which one I should “pick,” so I was astounded that someone could combine journalism, physical health, mental health, veganism, hygiene, the environment, how to be your best self, business skills, and about a million other topics under one umbrella.

Not only does Whitney cover all of these categories, she does so in multiple formats (i.e. the regular Eco-Vegan Gal channel, “Live Q and A,” “Uncensored,” and so on) across multiple platforms (her webpage, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, etc.). So I would say I follow Eco-Vegan Gal because she seems to have a video or article about all things vegan and general day-to-day life issues, and also because her various sites help me improve my ability to have an impact on the world, as well as as better my own personal and family life.

Victor's favorite Eco-Vegan Gal video: "My hands down, favorite Eco-Vegan Gal video is, “Education and Power Can Change The World,” because it captures what Whitney is all about: The importance of “Inspiring, educating, and empowering” others, as well as ourselves. I get fired up every time I watch this, and I hope you do, too!" "

 

Follow Victor's journey:

Published in Viewer of the Month

Book review by EvG team member Margie Spurrier:

Have you ever wondered if animals have intelligence or if they are capable of feeling emotions like empathy, grief or depression? Have you wondered what makes humans unique compared to all other animals? If so, then "Why Dogs Hump and Bees Get Depressed" by Marc Bekoff is a book you should be reading right now.

Published in Book Reviews
Monday, 11 February 2013 00:23

Simple Green Ideas for Valentines Day

This list of Valentine’s tips appeared in my inbox from a site called Queendom.com - these ideas are so sweet and simple I had to share.

· Forget the dozen roses. Buy one, wrapped with a ribbon. (I add: **make sure it is organic, locally grown and fair-trade!**)
· Show up at your partner's workplace and whisk him or her away for (a healthy) lunch.
· Place a love note in your partner’s lunch bag or on the bathroom mirror.
· Grab a blanket, a bottle of wine, and drive out to a place where you can see the stars. (better yet, bike, walk or take public transportation!)
· Slow dance in your living room. (or get silly and dance to a fun, old school song!)
· Meet at a local hang-out and pretend you’re two strangers flirting with each other.
· Build a little bonfire in your backyard and make chocolate (vegan) Smores.
· Get tango or salsa lessons together.

And remember, V-Day doesn't have to be about being in a relationship - celebrate it with your friends, family, animal companions and/or yourself! I explored the importance of this (and following your heart) in this video with Charles from RawYouth.org:

Published in Partners
Sunday, 09 December 2012 19:51

Start A New Tradition of Love

"Since the beginning of time, humans have shown innate ability to take something good and make it way better. This action has improved the lives of generations."

The statement above (from the Way Better Snacks website) reminded me that we have the capacity to make a big change for the better at any moment, especially when we work together. I write this a day after the tragedy in Connecticut, which took the lives of many innocent children and adults. This event left the whole country, if not the world, in a state of shock and sadness, in a period of time that is meant for joy and celebration amongst family and friends. I've picked up two major points from conversations online and in person: people are ready to do something to prevent tragedy and they're making it a priority to cherish their loved ones. But I wonder, why does it take tragedy to come to these realizations?

Published in Love (Relationships)
photo and cookies by Kristin Kolnacki

I wasn't planning on writing about V-Day this year because there's already so much coverage on other sites/I haven't had time, but decided to do a quick video summarizing my thoughts and tips. Additionally, I asked the Eco-Vegan Gal community for their advice and got some great responses, so here are some resources for you:

 
Published in Partners
Saturday, 10 September 2011 04:50

Remember 911. Remember Love (video)

 
The 911 attacks on the WTC are still as chilling today as they were 10 years ago. So many emotions come up for me: sadness, fear, confusion, nostalgia - but most of all, compassion. September 11, 2011 was a day when we remembered to love strangers, no matter who they were, what they looked like, or what they believed in.  We all came together because we needed that - we needed to feel connected. Every year we're reminded of this, but unfortunately it's not long lasting for most.
 
I got a lot of great feedback from my coverage of Karine Brighton's Veg Speed Dating event in Berkeley last month - even though I didn't participate I had a blast being there and meeting all the interesting people. Well, it's about to get even better because the next event is happening at one of the best vegan restaurants in the country (so I've heard): Millenium! If you are single get your hot butt to this event, no matter how shy or skeptical you are. You will feel so comfortable and meet great people, if not love interests than new friends or business partners. Don't believe me? Check out my video from the Berkeley event:

Published in Events
 
If you're a vegetarian or vegan, you likely want to date someone else with the same lifestyle, but that can be challenging - only about 3% of the population is vegetarian and approximately 1% are vegan. And even if you can find people with the same way of living, it then comes down to connection and attraction. Personally, I've only clicked with a few vegan men - my wonderful boyfriend falls into the "veg curious" category. So what's a single plant eater to do? How about try veg speed dating?
 
Photo: Karine Brighten
Published in Partners

My boyfriend lives in San Francisco, and he's totally worth doing the long distance. But every time we travel to see each other some things cross my mind:

  1. It takes a lot of time out of my day if I'm traveling (3 - 9 hours each way)
  2. It is expensive ($100-$150 round trip)
  3. Traveling isn't very eco-friendly
For now, this is what we have to do to be with each other. So I decided to figure out the way to travel with the smallest carbon footprint.
Published in Travel

Two of the keys to being eco-vegan are:

  • simplicity
  • cutting out waste
This even applies to Valentine's Day, and I'm happy to report that this February 14th was in line with my standards. I created a digital card for my boyfriend using Photoshop and posted it on his Facebook wall for him to see when he woke up in the morning. Then we each surprised each-other with video messages via email, since we don't live in the same city. In his video he was planting some vegetables and herbs in his San Fran window-sill garden - talk about a perfect guy for me!

Published in Partners
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