Model and activist.
SS: What made you go vegan and why?
HB: My first glimpse into how society treats animals was when I took my six month old daughter to SeaWorld. I sat in awe as I watched their killer whale show- as many uneducated onlookers, I still found it pretty impressive. However, as we were leaving the stadium we walked past the holding pools and there was an orca lying on the bottom of the tank motionless. As I looked into his eyes I knew there was something wrong. The following days I did a lot of research online and I was absolutely horrified. I learned that the Orca’s name was Sumar and I felt as if he spoke to me that day; how did I not know about this when it was so blatantly obvious? After researching more about SeaWorld, I came across so much more shocking information about the mistreatment of animals in ALL areas of society and had to do something about it. After becoming more and more involved in the community, and being introduced and exposed to the horrors of the food industry, I felt like going vegan was something I absolutely HAD to do. Since my decision to go vegan, Sumar has since died by the hands of humans, and I am forever indebted to him for making such an impact in my life.
SS: Has it been difficult for you? If yes what was difficult and did it get easier?
HB: It is as difficult as you want to make it. For example, diabetes runs in my family and by being vegan I'm greatly reducing my risks of getting it. I actually did contract gestational diabetes while I was pregnant, so my risks are even higher- a 50% chance of contracting type 2 diabetes in the next 5-10 years. So for me, it is an absolute health necessity. For others, the key is to view veganism as positive and necessary journey. Not only are we saving animal's lives on a daily basis, but also our own lives. If I want to stay healthy, lead by example for my daughter, and help make an impact in animal's lives, being vegan is really the only choice I have, and I have never looked back.
SS: What are some animal rights related things you participate in?
HB: I don’t think any of us really consider everything we do as enough. There are so many avenues to take within the animal rights movement, and at times it is disheartening because I want to do it all! Since my eyes were first opened at SeaWorld, I have been present at several SeaWorld protests to promote the release of the orcas held captive in SeaWorld. The goal is to let people know what their money is paying for, and so show spectators can hopefully experience their trip with opened eyes and realize what is happening. I have also participated in community leafleting, and I’ve tabled for PETA. Overall, my hope is to continue to get the truth out there. I am currently living in a very small town with the majority of the population stuck in a very small mindset. There is not a vegan community at all whatsoever, so I am proudly taking the challenge of enhancing awareness and beginning to build a community here. While large-scale organized events are nothing but necessary and amazing, I find the need to educate my community as best as I can while I am here.
SS: What are your favorite animal rights organizations?
HB: What I love about the Animal Rights Movement is the abundance of opportunities to get involved in any of the organizations. Of course PETA for all they have done already in our society and continue to do, as well as The American Humane Society for directly contributing to the rescue and well being of our overpopulated domestic animal friends. My favorite, however, is definitely Mercy for Animals- truly what opened my eyes to animal abuse and how society is so blind to it and I respect infinitely all they have done.
SS: What would you say to encourage someone who is considering becoming vegan?
HB: Do it! If the thought has even crossed your mind, then there is clearly something inside telling you to take the leap and start saving lives, and there is no time to lose. For me, what finally pushed me was watching Mercy for Animals, and other videos such as Earthlings. After my encounter with Sumar, I became disturbingly curious- if we are torturing animals for sheer entertainment at a world-renowned amusement park, what else is society getting away with? I would encourage ALL people to expose themselves (and others!) to the truth in what is happening on a daily basis to provide us with food and materials- food and materials that CAN and ARE substituted without the need to torture and murder living beings. For me, there was not a second thought after Mercy for Animals. However, I also understand that veganism presents itself in different ways to different people. And we should support those who are considering the change because it IS such a huge leap for most people. I think in our vegan community we need to remember that vegetarianism is often the first step to becoming vegan. We should still avidly support all- especially those within the transition into veganism and need the most encouragement, rather than impose any judgments. I think if we can continue to encourage others to take it one step at a time, and provide a support system, we can healthily ease everyone into the transition of making the ethical choice to go vegan.