Model and Activist
SS: What made you go vegan and why?
RS: I went vegan when I interned at Farm Sanctuary’s Animal Acres the summer of 2009. When I was 12 my father told me one of his high school teachers took his class on a field trip to a slaughterhouse. My father described it as very horrific and eye opening and soon after he became a vegetarian. This story really changed the way I looked at animals, and I immediately stopped eating cows, pigs and other animals we often call ‘red meat’.
During my second year of college in 2008, I watched a film called Baraka. This film describes the fast-paced life we are part of and how environmentally destructive we are as a human race. A segment of this movie was taken in a hatchery where ‘layer’ hens are born. The scene showed baby chickens being tossed down two different chutes by workers. Female chicks become egg laying hens and males are of no use to the egg industry and are either ground up alive or suffocated in plastic bags. Another scene showed workers singing off their beaks with a hot blade. This film motivated me to do some research to find out what was happening to these birds. After class I went online and found PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals). After reading about factory farms and watching PETA’s undercover investigations, I decided to no longer support such a cruel industry. I stopped consuming chicken, dairy and eggs from my diet.
When I interned at Animal Acres I was required to be vegan during my stay. I had a conversation with a friend during my first week about why I still ate seafood, and we talked about the environmental problems that overfishing causes and about how other sea creatures and life are destroyed because of commercial fishing. This was a no-brainer—I decided to go vegan for good!
SS: Has it been difficult for you? If yes, what was difficult and did it get easier?
RS: In the beginning there were times when it was difficult. This was partially because I didn’t have a support system like I do today and because I wasn’t comfortable speaking to people about veganism.
As far as the ‘what to eat aspect’, being vegan is extremely easy. There are so many vegan meats and non-dairy milks to choose from. I mainly eat fresh fruits, veggies and brown rice. Like a large percentage of the world’s population, I’m lactose intolerant. I can remember being sick almost every day. Not only did dairy make me sick, before I dropped it, but I believe it’s one of the cruelest industries of all.
Being vegan will always be somewhat difficult because it’s an emotional part of my being. I think about the animals every day and look for new ways to open people’s minds to a more compassionate world. My family is very supportive and my father in particular is a very caring and gentle person. In the past few years he has taken more of an interest in speaking up when it comes to talking to people about why he doesn’t eat animals.
SS: What would you say to encourage someone considering becoming vegan?
RS: I always find it helpful when I talk about my experiences going vegan and how it makes me feel emotionally and physically. It’s a great way to show people that although I don’t eat animals anymore, there was a time that I did, and if I could make this change, anyone can. When people ask for advice and tips, I direct them to helpful web sites, books and movies, etc. What’s the best way to show people the difference they can make by going vegan? Vegans can save up to 100 animal's lives per year!!
SS: What are your favorite AR organizations?
RS: I love so many animal rights organizations! I always tell people it’s important to stick together for the animals.
I’m so fortunate to be working full time with peta2 (the youth division of PETA). I am one of the Assistant Street Team Coordinators, which means I work with students to get them active for the animals. I give students support, help them go vegan, send them materials for leafleting and protesting and answer any questions they have which ranges from factory farming to animals used in experiments. I also write blogs on the peta2 web site.
SS: What are some animal rights related things you participate in?
RS: Before working with peta2, I did a two month long internship with peta2. I traveled across the country on concert tours to talk to students about animal rights issues. I have also interned with an amazing group in San Diego, called Animal Protection and Rescue League and several animal shelters throughout the years. I regularly attend protests and demonstrations with various AR groups. I have done several ‘Rather Go Naked’ demonstrations with PETA to reach out to the public about the cruelty behind the fur industry as well as animals used in experiments.
The most important thing we can do to help end animal abuse and exploitation is use our voices.