Activist, violinist, composer and model.
SS: What made you go vegan and why?
CT: My first step was going vegetarian at the age of 9. I was neither an animal lover nor a particularly warmhearted child, but eating animals simply did not make sense to me; I found it unnatural, unnecessary, and frankly, repulsive.
Abstaining from meat for all those years came second nature to me, so I never bothered to delve into the whys of vegetarianism, let alone veganism. Thus, I stagnated in blissful ovo-lacto vegetarianism for quite some time.
A couple years ago, I finally gathered up the courage to google “why vegan and not just vegetarian.” I ended up on PETA’s website, where I watched several videos that illuminated the harsh realities of dairy and eggs. The facts spoke for themselves, and I never looked back.
If you want to know more, check out this facebook note: http://www.facebook..com/note.php?note_id=10150094043587105
SS: Has it been difficult for you? If yes, what was difficult and did it get easier?
CT: Once I got past my initial hang-ups, it was easy. Dairy and eggs had been staples in my diet, and for years, I had been one of those vegetarians who vowed never to become a “crazy vegan.” After watching the PETA videos that day, I briefly considered phasing out dairy and eggs slowly, but I sensed that that method wouldn’t work for me. Making a clean and committed break was something that made my transition practically painless; it was like flipping a light switch and moving forward anew.
I must add, however, that I have been very privileged in my vegan journey. I know it’s not as easy for everyone, and that for a lot of people, access to vegan food (and support) is a real roadblock. Of course, I do believe that veganism can be achieved by almost anyone, but it is important to acknowledge that there is a great deal of institutional food inequality in this country.
SS: What would you say to encourage someone who is considering becoming vegan?
CT: 1. You will get over your cheese addiction. 2. Every vegan I’ve talked to (lots, trust me) says that once they made the switch to veganism, their food horizons greatly expanded rather than diminished.3. Don’t be fooled by society’s (and even the vegan world’s) monolithic archetype of what a vegan is. Vegans come in all different shapes, sizes, colors, abilities, ages, socioeconomic statuses, genders, etc. Veganism does not have to be a luxury reserved for the privilege.
SS: What are your favorite AR organizations?
CT: The Food Empowerment Project does fantastic work. I think one of the most amazing things about the modern vegan movement is the breadth of online resources and support. I love many of the blogs that are out there, including Vegans of Color, and I love when individual artists (like Melissa!) and activists use their talents to raise awareness and engage the community about veganism and other important issues. In many ways, the seemingly smaller-scale and grassroots work is just as important as the work of large organizations.
SS: What are some animal rights related things you participate in?
CT: Not nearly enough. I’d like to do more.
I will say, however, that many aspects of social justice are connected, and it’s important that we don’t lose sight of that as socially conscious vegans. I’d love to see a world where animal rights activists fight racism, transphobia, ableism, and classism just as vehemently as we fight animal abuse. And vice versa! Every social justice activist should be aware of speciesism and factory farming, just as every vegan should know what a food desert is, for example. I could go on about this forever. Point is, all oppression is related. We all deserve liberation. No being deserves to suffer, human or non-human.
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?
CT: Honestly, no. I’ve never had a special connection with animals, been particularly fuzzy around them, or had a companion animal. I’m as awkward around dogs and cats as I am around babies (off-the-charts awkward, trust me). Some people think I’m a weird vegan for this reason.. But it doesn’t seem particularly counterintuitive to me at all. What I find weird is that so many warm & fuzzy animal lovers I know “own pets” yet still eat meat! Now that’s counterintuitive. It doesn’t take the world’s fuzziest animal lover to understand that eating animals and torturing them for the procurement of dairy and eggs is wrong.