1. What inspired you to go vegan and how long have you been?
I’ve been vegan for two and a half years now. I was vegetarian for four years prior to making the switch to a completely plant-based diet. My biggest motivation for going vegetarian, and then vegan, was definitely the animals. Because my mom was a vegetarian for years when I was younger, she often spoke to my brothers and me about the inhumane treatment of animals in the meat and dairy industries. So, this concept was never foreign to me, and I always felt guilty about my food choices before going vegan, but I was able to block those feelings out when the food was sitting on a plate in front of me. I think my brother going vegetarian was what finally caused me to kick myself out of denial and to come to terms with the guilt I was feeling. I didn’t need to feel guilty about my choices if I just ate vegan.
2. Do you have a favorite vegan restaurant in Boston?
It’s tough to choose just one, but I’d probably have to say Grasshopper. I honestly think it’s the best Chinese food I’ve ever eaten, even before going vegan. My favorite dish is the No Name, which is gluten smothered in sweet and sour sauce. It never disappoints!
3. What brings you to Boston?
I’ve lived in Massachusetts my whole life. I grew up and went to college a little north of Boston, so all of my family and friends are in the area. Now, I work in the city, so my whole life is here. Even though I dread the winters every year, I love this area and can’t really imagine myself anywhere else.
4. What do you do for fun?
When the weather is nice enough here, I love riding my motorcycle! I also love travelling and visiting national parks around the US. When I can’t do that, though, I love going to the movies and trying any new vegan food!
5. What has been the most personally rewarding experience or part of being vegan?
I think connecting with other like minded people has been the most rewarding part of being vegan. It’s so empowering to be a part of this growing vegan community. Anytime I meet another vegan, I feel an automatic connection to them, even if they’re complete strangers. As a somewhat introverted person, this is something I had never really experienced prior to going vegan. It usually takes me a while to feel a genuine kinship to someone. Veganism is such a personal lifestyle choice, so to share that with someone just feels really special to me.
6. People hear vegan and they immediately think diet. How has veganism impacted other aspects of your life?
Oh, it’s so much more than a diet. It’s definitely a lifestyle. Veganism has impacted so many different parts of my life – everything from the shoes that I wear to the cleaning products I use. To me, veganism is about creating compassion and minimizing harm in this world. So, beyond eating a plant-based diet, I try to always be conscious of the products I buy, making sure they are cruelty-free and vegan. Veganism has also caused me to try to be more mindful of the environment by minimizing my waste when possible. This is definitely still something I’m working on and would like to be better about, but I believe veganism and caring for our environment go hand in hand.
7. What advice would you give to people who are thinking about going vegan or who have just gone vegan?
I would tell them not to worry about being perfect. You’re going to make mistakes and that’s totally okay because we all have. Veganism isn’t about being perfect. Even if you just decide to eat vegan one day a week at first, you’re making a huge impact – on the environment, for the animals, and for your body. I’d also say that you should create a lifestyle that works for you. People go vegan for many different reasons, so you don’t have to model your life off of any particular person because their values may not completely align with yours. It’s great to get advice from people who have a lot of experience with this lifestyle, but at the end of the day, you’re your own person and you have your own set of reasons for going vegan, so find what works for you and don’t feel like you need to eat and buy all the same things as anyone else. As long as you are not eating, using, or buying anything containing animal products or that used animals in the making of the product, I believe you can make veganism work for you in your own unique way.
8. What is a favorite food of yours that you struggle to find vegan?
This question is going to keep getting harder and harder to answer because I honestly feel like there is a vegan alternative for almost every food at this point! My answer would have been a cheesesteak sub maybe a year or so ago. After visiting Philly a few years ago and getting a vegan Philly cheesesteak, I had been craving another one for so long, but struggled to find a good option in Boston; but recently Veggie Galaxy in Cambridge has added one to their menu. I also got one from Sassafras in Somerville not too long ago. Now, I honestly can’t think of a food I love that I can’t find vegan, and I think that’s an amazing thing!
9. Is it hard to meet other vegans in Boston?
We have some useful resources, like Facebook groups, that at least help you meet other local vegans virtually. I do think it’s a bit difficult to actually meet other vegans in the area though. There are lots of events that happen in Boston throughout the year, but it can sometimes be hard to connect with other vegans at these events since many people come with friends and family. I’m hoping that our Veganizer events will actually help people connect over great food!
10. How do you see the future of Veganizer in Boston?
I’d really like to see Veganizer make Boston and the surrounding cities a much more vegan friendly area. We already have lots of amazing options, but there are still so many restaurants, where a vegan really would struggle to find something to eat. My hope is that Veganizer will influence more restaurants to at least have a small section of their menus dedicated to vegan options. This diet and lifestyle is only becoming more and more common and there is going to be a growing need for more vegan options everywhere. It is up to the restaurants to accommodate these interests, and I hope Veganizer can give them an extra little push in that direction so that these changes can happen faster in Boston!