Diana Lannes

Model, photographer and activist.

SS: What made you go vegan and why?

DL: I have always loved animals since I was a small child. Due to the fact that we moved around a lot in apartments in Manhattan when I was growing up and never allowed to have a pet, I collected a huge array of 'plush' ones! On the other hand, my mother grew up on a small farm in Sweden, where her best friends were the lambs and other farm animals. She would always tell me how special they were to her, how they followed her around, until they were shipped off to slaughter. This broke my heart, but this was how they survived in the cold winters. My Mom is a buddhist and hasn't eaten meat for a very long time. Contrarily, my father loved his meat and all he ate was meat and potatoes, and other 'exotic' items. Things that make me ill to even think about!

I still ate some Chicken, fish and and lots of dairy. I had no clue that dairy was the cruelest thing ever. I would eat a pint of ice cream for dinner when I was a teenager in one go. My idea of lunch was a chocolate milkshake and some awful fried thing. It wasn't until I moved to Los Angeles 20 years ago that my roommate taught me about eating correctly. She is a lifelong animal lover. She taught me about eating steamed vegetables and other things I never though I would find so yummy!

Then 10 years ago, I was able to get a house of my own. The number one pre-requesite was a big yard where I could have a real garden, and you guessed it, my first animals. As soon as the yard was ready I went straight to the shelter. I purposely picked out one of the "undesirables," a giant Brindle Pit/Mastiff mix named Brownie. He is my soulmate, he will turn 9 this year and weighs 115 lbs, and he's not fat! He looks like a horse/cow/elephant/ dog. Soon after, I adopted Twinkie, the 'evil black rascal' (because that is the way she looks) and a couple of years later I found the "Itty bitty Pitty" Petie, on the street in terrible shape, and he is now my little baby 5 years later. Soon after that I got heavily into rescuing other animals and helping to find them loving homes.

SO, WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE between Dogs, cats, Pigs, cows etc...NOTHING. They are all feeling, loving, emotional, intelligent creatures. After seeing so much footage, thanks to technology, undercover work, and Facebook etc...there is NO reason to not know the horrors that go on, it is awful and sick, and probably the worst thing I have ever laid eyes on.

SS: Has it been difficult for you? If yes, what was difficult and did it get easier?

DL: It was difficult at first to give up the dairy. I loved cheese and ice cream! But then I got diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer in Oct 08. It was a horrible, extremely traumatic experience. I had surgery, chemo the whole awful thing you have to go through. Then I started researching and seeing the footage. Cows do not run around in the grass all day and then get milked by some cute milk maid in pigtails and apron. They are confined to horrible crates/cages ALL THEIR LIVES, the babies are taken away from them, so they can produce milk all their lives until they are slaughtered. The calves either become "veal" or are killed. The Mothers and babies cry for each other when they are separated. WHAT?! yes, it is true. Then, as I did more research, I found out dairy and breast cancer are completely linked due to the extreme amount of hormones and antibiotics etc they give the poor cows to sustain the horrible conditions they must endure. That really did it, to see the horror, and then to see that it was directly linked by numerous studies to breast cancer and all other kinds of illnesses.

SS: What are some animal rights related things you participate in?

DL: I do independent rescue of dogs and cats when I can, but have taken a break for the last 2 years for the most part due to treatments. I try to go to every protest I can these days now that I am able! I go to fundraisers, donate, volunteer, do photos, network, and I have met so many amazing people doing these things.

SS: What are your favorite AR organizations?

As far as Dog Rescue goes, I'm a huge fan of Downtown Dog Rescue, StrangestAngel, LBWorldHeart, Found, StMartin's, Much Love, The Fuzzy Pet (Sheila Choi)-there are so many.

Pretty much all the others are so many that it would be hard to name right now. Thank God there are so many, but hopefully one day we wont need all these fantastic organizations.

SS: What would you say to encourage someone is considering becoming vegan?

DL: I would say watch the footage first and foremost, then read the studies, books, and I would say "hey, I feel great, I don't feel like I'm missing out on ANYTHING, and I have a clear conscious knowing that I am not contributing to the torture and enslavement of beautiful, innocent, loving creatures".

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?

Wow, I could write a book. That's a good idea!