Katarina Van Derham

International cover model, singer, beauty specialist and creator of her own vegan and cruelty free product line.

"I met Katarina at a recent PETA fundraiser. I am not even exaggerating, the entire party went quiet for a moment when she walked in. The two people I was talking to forgot what they were saying (guys of course! haha) and I knew I had to find out if she was vegan. She and her boyfriend Deja are both gorgeous and SO nice. Deja is a photographer also and it was fun talking to him about photography for a while. They immediately wanted to help promote veganism as she and Deja both are vegan. I am going to shoot them together for my Proud To Be Ⓥ album in the near future, so keep an eye out for that set, I think it will be beautiful! Besides modeling, Katarina also sings, is a beauty specialist and is currently working on her own vegan and cruelty free product line." - Melissa Schwartz

SS: What made you go vegan and why?

KVD: I grew up in Eastern-Europe seeing many animals suffering. Eating animal based products has never felt right to me even though my mom has always been the best cook and she has always prepared the most delicious meals. But she ended up with a high blood pressure, diabetes and other cholesterol related health issues. I didn't want to follow in her foot steps. But everyone would tell me I needed to eat meat to be healthy and the only girl I knew who was vegan at that time was super sick. When I was 18 I was on a train sitting next to a stranger who was vegan. He tried to convince me that I would be even healthier if I didn't eat meat. And that's all I needed to hear. I came home and asked my mom to make me my last meat based dinner. I didn't know how long I would last, but so far it's been 18 years and still going strong.

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

KVD: My parents were pretty supportive, believe it or not. First I went vegetarian and 15 years later I became vegan. It hasn't been hard, the only time it gets hard is when I travel. But fortunately I "eat to live and don't live to eat" so I've adapted.

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

KVD: In 2008 I had my own charity event in Los Angeles and I am also a member of PETA. But I do all kinds of things to promote the cruelty free lifestyle on an everyday basis.

SS: What are your favorite animal rights organizations?

KVD: There are soooo many around the world but PETA is my favorite simply because it's a power house. PETA is undefeatable. PETA doesn't loose.

SS: What would you say to somebody who is considering going vegan?

KVD: I would encourage them to take it a day at a time and have fun with it. With a vegan diet you discover a whole new world of delicious meals and I actually feel bad for those who never even try to go vegan and are stuck in boring everyday eating habbits. I would tell them to learn about the vegan products that are on the market today and to remember that "you are what you eat" on a physical, mental and spiritual level.

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?

KVD: I don't. :( But I always save drowning flies in the coffee mug.