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PLUS SIZE VEGAN GUIDE         Interview by Cristina Bonilla

PLUS SIZE VEGAN GUIDE Interview by Cristina Bonilla

Photo of Yazmin Fox by Velvet d’Amour H/MU Rachel Williamson Full editorial here

“You’re vegan!?! Why? What is it like?” These are common questions vegans receive on a daily basis. Veganism has increased in popularity by a rate of 360% in the last ten years! People from all kinds of backgrounds have become vegan. And many wonder about how to go about it, what it is like, how one is perceived, etc so we thought we would catch up with some Plus Size vegans to get some firsthand advice, and in depth knowledge of their personal journeys.

Enjoy!

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Meet The Plus Size Vegan

Instagram: theplussizevegan

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ThePlusSizeVegan/

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/user/plussizevegan/videos

Why did you decide to become vegan?

I decided to become vegan while living in New York after Undergrad. I had visited a farm in upstate New York and experienced milking a cow. It freaked me out. The entire process. That paired with PETA advertisements on the subway as well as the fact that I was so tired and unable to really live and thrive within my body. I was sick, had no idea dairy was impacted my health. This had more to do with me not eating any vegetables as well. While I ate meat, I was never a huge meat eater. I also didn’t have a relationship to fresh food. I always lived in urban areas in which our food came from the corner store or bodega. 

 Are you vegan because you care about animals or because you want to live a healthier lifestyle?

I am vegan for my community and for animals. I am a Black woman from Oakland, CA. My ancestors had deep connections to the land and producing our own gardens. My Grandmothers grew their own food. The migration of Black people to urban cities has often disconnected us from the ways that we ate and lived in Africa or as farmers down south. I am vegan for animals but reality is that the videos that vegans often want non-vegans to watch in order to convert to veganism should include that not only animals are suffering. As someone who taught for 7 years in East Oakland and was a former special education student the lack of fresh food or access to fresh fruits and veggies for urban students is a higher priority on my list than anything. Save the animals...and feed the hood.

 Is going vegan worth it?

Yes, Veganism keeps on giving. It first helped me feel better in my body. Then it impacted my mind and mental health. I was fresh out of undergrad and didn’t have a ton of money. Veganism is not expensive. Processed commercialized vegan food is pricey and can push people away. But veggies, and fruits, and beans and grains...those are not expensive.

What is the difference between a vegan, vegetarian, and plant based diet?

I am a vegan. No animal products, dairy, meat or honey and all that jazz. Via food, clothes and lifestyle. Vegetarians still eat cheese and drink milk. Plant based I believe is more vegan food that is not processed and just whole foods. But I believe sometimes plant based does not mean you don’t wear animals. Don’t quote me...I try to avoid that really odd vegan-plant based debate. I’m just doing me.

What do you eat on a daily basis?

Collard greens, beans, frozen bananas, tempeh, the entire potato family anything that is at my local bodega that is fresh. I cook a ton on my Instagram and stick towards more dried foods that can be stored and prepared slowly all day. My Mama is from Mississippi so the idea of slow cooked meals is so nostalgic. Dried beans slow cooked on low is life!!!!

What have you found most difficult about adopting a vegan lifestyle? Back in the day events were hard. But everyone knows me as The Plus Size Vegan so they will always have options for me. You can always tell if someone is a part of your tribe, if they prepare vegan options for you. You know a new friend is a keeper when they consider your food choices. My family and friends are so awesome and are always including amazing vegan recipes for my partner and I.

How long have you been vegan?

I have been vegan since 2012

What do you think the most positive result of veganism is?

 My health, mental health and connections to different cultures and backgrounds.

Has your fashion sense changed since becoming vegan? What are some of your favorite vegan clothing brands?

I’ve never really owned anything that was really made from animals or had access to funds to purchase clothes that were animal based, but ya girls is a theater kid so I live for a fake fur throw. I guess it’s remained the same beyond becoming more and more conscious around what I’m buying. I’m growing and learning every year about making better choices for the planet.

Do you have any advice for anyone who wants to try to go vegan? 

Take your time and enjoy it. It is the gift that keeps on giving. Avoid products that have “vegan” written on them when you begin. A potato or an avocado does not need to tell you on its label that its vegan…. we all know that. This can help you avoid wasting money and missing out on how easy and simple veganism can be. Change for me always needs to be simple and baby steps focused. You can get fancy later..lol.

 What is it like to be both plus size and vegan, how do people perceive you?

People are kind. Of course depending on a person's background I can always discern the bias behind “how long have you been vegan?” Questions…. which I could assume is a “but your still big under though”. However, I have student’s loans to pay off and amazing meals to make so I try not to allow it to impact me. So for the most part 80 percent of the time people show me mad amounts of love. I’m also around people of all backgrounds and sizes who just really are loving. So many people want to stereotype fat people as unhealthy, is there less judgment reserved for you when its revealed that you are vegan? The judgment pops up every now and then very boldly. Not often though…. when you give off love folks find it hard to penetrate that...however I just...literally the day you contacted me about this interview…. had someone comment on an amazing freestyle of mine that a friend shared on her page. The person noticed my screen name. Not my art. Not that I’m talented. Not that I am a scholar, kind, and beautiful. They notice that its “impossible to be fat or plus size and be vegan”. I have so much support and love from women who simply are happy to see someone shaped like them who is a vegan. I once used to share how veganism helped me drop 70 pounds, I’ve become more educated and aware of how toxic that can be. I was hyped to share that eating tons of yummy fruits, veggies and beans supported me in different ways. After realizing that I could trigger self hate by only promoting weight loss and veganism, I decided to not allow my platform to promote diet culture. I promote fruits, veggies, beans, yummy vegan treats and a lifestyle that does not consume animals or peoples fat phobia. While 70 pounds sounds like something to celebrate to some, the impacts of veganism are far greater than a number on a scale or someone else’s eyeball perception of what health should look like.

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Photo by Velvet d’Amour See full editorial here

Meet Yazmin Fox

www.instagram.com/yazminthefox

https://www.instagram.com/kingfisherwildlifesanctuary/

Why did you decide to become vegan? Are you vegan because you care about animals or because you want to live a healthier lifestyle?

Becoming a vegan was something that I never thought would happen to me. I loved meat and cheese!

My career working with wildlife globally had always given me a deep empathy for animals but I hadn’t thought about not eating them. At one point in my life I trained as a slaughter woman with the Humane Slaughter Association, and I soon realized that actually there was no such thing as humane slaughter. You cannot humanely murder someone that does not wish to die. I will never forget one November, I drove my own home-bred and free range reared turkeys to the local slaughterhouse so that I could kill them for Christmas dinner. I had spent months making sure these birds had had the best life possible! When I arrived the men there laughed at my “scrawny birds”. This was in comparison to the truckloads of farm reared birds behind me that were destined for all the supermarkets fresh turkey shelves.I was horrified. These poor birds were so obese that their legs had buckled and broken beneath their own weight. They had eye infections and bleeding carbuncles (the skin on their faces). After hatching these birds have the top parts of their beaks cut off with a guillotine with no anesthetic so that they don’t cause each other damage in cramped living conditions. 

I watched the massive heavy birds being strung upside down on the leg hooks ready for having their throats slit. And then I saw multiple birds crash to the floor, whilst their legs were still in the shackles. They were so heavy that they literally tore their legs off. Meanwhile the slaughter men just pick up the still live bird, and toss it into a massive bin that’s destined for pet food. So when I strung my skinny birds upside down, I looked into their eyes as they blinked back at me and I wondered how I could end their lives. What gave me the right to decide to end the life of a healthy and happy being? Something at that precise second changed inside me and from then on I decided to stop being a hypocrite.

I had dedicated my life to rescuing wildlife and animals, and here I was KILLING and EATING them!! 

How long have you been vegan?

7 years.

Is going vegan worth it?

Oh god yes!! I can’t tell you how humbling it feels to know that you aren’t willfully paying for the killing of others. There’s a lot of violence that sits on many people’s plates. Take for example the routine artificial insemination of cows which is performed on what the dairy industry calls a ‘Rape Rack’. It’s to hold the cow in place while they inject bull semen into her vagina.

Cows ONLY lactate when they have a calf so they must constantly be made pregnant many times over throughout their lives so that their bodies produce milk.  But....if the calf drinks the milk what will the farmer sell??? 

The calves are taken away from their mothers at a few days old. They call and mourn for each other and the noises are harrowing! Male dairy calves can obviously not produce milk as adults so they are either shot immediately or put into pens and fed an artificial milk substitute until they are only a few months old when they are slaughtered for veal. 

This is the reality of dairy. These are the wretched lives of innocent animals for the sake of milk in your coffee. So is it worth it? Becoming vegan is worth it to help stop the industrialized systematic abuse of intelligent and emotionally complex animals that feel just like you and I. 

What is the difference between a vegan, vegetarian, and plant based diet?

Veganism is a lifestyle rather than a dietary choice. The legal definition of veganism says: ‘Veganism is a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose.’ Vegetarians don’t eat meat but they do eat dairy. Plant based is a dietary term only. It means everything you eat comes from plants. But many people following a plant based diet will still use cosmetics and cleaning products made by companies that test on animals. They may also choose to wear leather, wool, silk or fur.  The main focus of being plant based seems to be on health rather than saving animals. So with that in mind you can only become vegan for the animals. Anything else is considered to be a plant based diet.

What do you eat on a daily basis?

Ha! This question always makes me laugh! Typically for me personally I would have breakfast which is always a coffee with oat milk. Many mornings I’ll make a big green smoothie but other days I might have cereal or toast. There are plenty of plant based spreads in supermarkets. Lunch is often a sandwich or wrap with salad and vegan cheese or some other filling. Dinner could be a curry or stir fry, pasta, pizza, salad, etc.

All really normal things. There is a VAST amount of meat replacers out there. All made from plants! Everyone’s heard of tofu but have you tried seitan? It’s been around in Asian cuisine for centuries and is chewy like meat! You can make it into almost any type of meat substitute you can imagine! Vegan cheeses are improving every year and even massive chains like Pizza Hut now offer vegan cheese in all their restaurants, so yeah, we can eat almost everything non vegans eat. There’s even vegan caviar made from seaweed. I absolutely loved caviar and I still get to enjoy it every Christmas morning on blinis with vegan cream cheese!

What do you think the most positive result of veganism is?

 Preventing the exploitation of animals is not the only reason for becoming vegan, but for many it remains the key factor in their decision to go vegan and stay vegan. Having emotional attachments with animals may form part of that reason, while many believe that all sentient creatures have a right to life and freedom. Specifics aside, avoiding animal products is one of the most obvious ways you can take a stand against animal cruelty and animal exploitation everywhere. A varied vegan diet can contain all the nutrients that our bodies need. Both the British Dietetic Association and the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recognize that they are suitable for every age and stage of life. Some research has linked vegan diets with lower blood pressure and cholesterol, and lower rates of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and some types of cancer. One of the most effective things an individual can do to lower their carbon footprint is to avoid all animal products. This goes way beyond the problem of cow flatulence! Why is meat and dairy so bad for the environment? The production of meat and other animal products places a heavy burden on the environment - from crops and water required to feed the animals, to the transport and other processes involved from farm to fork. The vast amount of grain feed required for meat production is a significant contributor to deforestation, habitat loss and species extinction. In Brazil alone, the equivalent of 5.6 million acres of land is used to grow soya beans EXCLUSIVELY for animals to eat in Europe. This land contributes to developing world malnutrition by driving impoverished populations to grow cash crops for animal feed, rather than food for themselves. On the other hand, considerably lower quantities of crops and water are required to sustain a vegan diet, making the switch to veganism one of the easiest, most enjoyable and most effective ways to reduce our impact on the environment.  Just like veganism is the sustainable option when it comes to looking after our planet, plant-based living is also a more sustainable way of feeding the human family. A plant-based diet requires only one third of the land needed to support a meat and dairy diet. With rising global food and water insecurity due to a myriad of environmental and socio-economic problems, there's never been a better time to adopt a more sustainable way of living. Avoiding animal products is not just one of the simplest ways an individual can reduce the strain on food as well as other resources, it's the simplest way to take a stand against inefficient food systems which disproportionately affects the poorest people all over the world. The suffering caused by the dairy and egg industry is possibly less well publicized than the plight of factory farmed animals. The production of dairy products necessitates the death of countless male calves that are of no use to the dairy farmer, as well as the premature death of cows slaughtered when their milk production decreases. Similarly, in the egg industry, even 'ethical' or 'free range' eggs involve the killing of the 'unnecessary' male chicks when just a day old. It's tempting to want to believe that the meat we eat is ethical, that our 'food animals' have lived full, happy lives and that they have experienced no pain or fear at the slaughterhouse. Yet the sad truth is that all living creatures (even those labelled 'free range' or 'organic') fear death, just as we do. No matter how they are treated when alive, they all experience the same fear when it comes to slaughter. The good news is there IS something we can do about it. Every time we shop or order food in a restaurant - every time we eat - we can choose to help these animals. Every time we make the switch from an animal product to a vegan one we are standing up for farmed animals everywhere. Going vegan is easier than ever before with veganism becoming increasingly mainstream as more and more people from all walks of life discover the benefits of living this way.   

Has your fashion sense changed since becoming vegan? What are some of your favorite vegan clothing brands?

Erm no. I have no fashion sense! I never wore leather, or silk, or fur anyway, so I still wear clothing that’s predominantly made of cotton. 

Do you have any advice for anyone who wants to try to go vegan?

 Just go for it! Screen shot this list of films and documentaries and start watching! Many aren’t graphic at all!

1) Forks over Knives

2) Earthings

3) Vegucated 

4) Food Inc

5) Food Matters

6) The Ghost in Our Machine

7) Hungry for Change

8) Uprooting the Leading Causes of Death

9) Blackfish (Netflix)

10) Simply Raw Reversing Diabetes in 30 Days 

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Meet Charlotte Doering

Social Media @charlottecurvemodel @kindlifestyles @virtuouscollectionofficial

Kind Lifestyles Blog: www.kindlifestyles.com

Shop Virtuous Collection: www.virtuouscollection.com

Why did you decide to become vegan? Are you vegan because you care about animals or because you want to live a healthier lifestyle? Has your fashion sense changed since becoming vegan? What are some of your favorite vegan clothing brands?

I became vegan for the animals. I had been cutting down on meat consumption for years prior and refused then not to eat lamb, veal or pork. I was a vegetarian one year before going full fledged vegan. I was first inspired to go vegetarian by adopting a kitten, Mira.  I thought I could never eat her so why would I be eating these other animals? I would so easily love them if we had only met. How could I pay someone else to raise, care for or abuse and then kill them. Sending them in a terrified frenzy through the slaughterhouse far before their lives were fully lived. I couldn’t imagine sending an animal I love there so how could I justify buying that package of meat. I began to learn and understand the horrors animals face being raised and slaughtered for human consumption.

 It was a coworker I became friends with that was vegan.  Who made me wonder what’s vegan exactly? And why is it important not to use/wear leather and not to eat cakes with milk and eggs.  I got my google hat on and was literally horrified buy what I read and saw. It was almost immediately after I learnt about the suffering dairy cows go through and the life of factory chickens laying eggs that I went vegan.  It’s haunting to think about the innocent baby chicks ground up alive. I had to stop being involved in eating any animal products. The bonus point for me on a vegan diet were the health benefits including relief from debilitating menstrual cycles, higher energy, clearer skin, healthier teeth, nails and hair and a youthful glow. 

Through the high of living vegan came a new challenge how would my values affect my work? As a “plus size” model I had to take a second look at not only what types of clothes, shoes and jackets I wear but the clothes that I feel comfortable promoting and endorsing. I stopped wearing and modelling of course #1 fur, leather, wool and silk.  This didn’t work well for some clients but most have been amazingly supportive and positive about me sticking to my values. Taking on a full ethical vegan lifestyle wasn’t something that I had imagined for myself it was something I grew into. I was open to seeing things that were kept hidden from us in our daily lives. I stayed true to following my heart. Becoming vegan has inspired me to look at how my consumer choices affect people and the environment.  Looking for sweatshop free clothing designers who also use sustainable fabrics. The core of this is that all oppression and violence is interconnected, that we must learn how to honor human, planet and animal. Inter sectional veganism is something that has begun to enrich my life. To cause the least amount of suffering and damage to others. That all forms of oppression and violence are interconnected, be it racism, sexism, homophobia and specialism. “The animals of the world exist for their own reasons.  They were not made for humans any more than black people were made for whites or women for men” -- Alice Walker The importance of realizing how interconnected we are is that the root of all oppression is the same that all violence is the opposite of what most people desire which is love, acceptance, peace, equality and justice.

What is the difference between a vegan, vegetarian, and plant based diet?

This is a great question because I think there is naturally a little confusion when the lines are blurred between veganism as a diet and veganism as a lifestyle… First off vegetarianism is simply not eating meat but still includes eating animal products such as eggs, milk, cheese and honey. A plant based diet is often followed by someone whom may not consider themselves a vegan for “ethical” reasons but prefers eating plant based foods for a healthier lifestyle. Veganism is much more than a diet. In fact I believe distinguishing veganism as merely a diet is missing the other half of the equation. To be a “vegan” means that you don’t use animals for any purpose not only including food but also fashion, beauty and entertainment.  That no animal should be made into a commodity living in oppression, slavery, rape and suffering meeting violence and ultimately a brutal death. So a vegan lifestyle would look like eating no animal products no meat, dairy, eggs and honey. Not wearing leather, fur, wool, silk and anything derived from an animal. When shopping for makeup an “ethical” vegan would look for products that are not tested on animals and do not contain any animal products. A vegan would not visit a zoo or an aquarium. Would not ride a dolphin or an elephant, would not attend a horse race or a rodeo, unless of course it was to protest such an event.

What have you found most difficult about adopting a vegan lifestyle?

I think the most difficult part of adopting a vegan lifestyle was the shoes!!! I love fashion and it was super challenging to find great stylish vegan shoes.  Thank God for the internet!

How long have you been vegan?
What do you eat on a daily basis?

I have been happily vegan for three years. On a daily basis I normally eat from 12-8pm.  I like to practice yoga on an empty stomach in the morning. I usually make steamed veg like broccoli, cauliflower and carrots with quinoa and my fav miso tahini sauce. At dinner I like to get creative and cook from my stack of vegan cookbooks or cruise the web for some great inspiration.  If you ever need any recommendations of where to get amazing and simple vegan recipes send me a message. I’d be happy to send you my favorites list!

What do you think the most positive result of veganism is?

For me the most positive result of veganism has been community.  There’s this incredible group of people I am connected to not only in my city but across the world.  We all share in the same message and purpose. We inspire one another through our compassion for others.  Through the bravery we have in our daily lives to face ridicule and judgement from others who don’t understand.  To bring vegan dishes to family events, where some of us may be mocked, at times by people we love. To go on news channels to talk about the animals, plant based foods and vegan lifestyle.  To make videos and documentaries. To take a vow of silence in honour of the animals. To unite as voices for the voiceless. At first going vegan felt really lonely. In the beginning stages no one in my family really understood me and my crazy new passion and lifestyle.  I didn’t know anyone else that was vegan other than one friend. In time my connections and network grew. Like they say your vibe attracts your tribe.


Has your fashion sense changed since becoming vegan? What are some of your favorite vegan clothing brands?

Some of my fav vegan fashion brands I am crushing on are Mink ShoesVauteHouse of Fluff and Gunas.  I am working on making vegan options for fashion more readily available. Soon launching an online store from everyday to luxe that is always vegan, sustainable, sweatshop free and size divers. Making the shopping experience effortlessly ethical.  Where women will discover and shop incredible vegan fashion designers in clothing, outerwear, shoes, beauty, cosmetics and self care. Check out Virtuous Collection launching pre-Christmas www.virtuouscollection.com @virtuouscollectionofficial Live your virtues!

What is it like to be both plus size and vegan, how do people perceive you?

Maybe it’s my projection but I think being plus size and vegan is confusing for some people.  There’s this expectation that all vegans are skinny. But I don’t believe that’s true. I also don’t appreciate the stereotype in the vegan community that overweight vegans are all junk food vegans. That all we eat are processed packaged vegan foods.  I think this is a big misconception. There are incredible rich decadent vegan wholefoods. If you want to indulge you can. When I completely cut out eating all sugar and drinking zero alcohol (I am talking even some fruits that are high in sugar) even no baguette with olive oil :(  that’s the tipping point for any amount of weight loss and still I am curvy as heck. The reality is everyone's body is different. The way our hormones run and metabolize food. Our emotional states and our genetic dispositions.

So many people want to stereotype fat people as unhealthy, is there less judgment reserved for you when its revealed that you are vegan?

I have heard “Well you’re certainly not a very good ambassador of what a vegan should look like”  or in an attempt to ridicule my personal character that being a vegan activist makes people feel uncomfortable and in turn that makes me a bad person.  But hey... who better to blame about their own personal discomfort with their values and choices but the vegan activist who is helping them too look at their choices.  I don’t believe being plus size or not makes much of a difference for the level of contempt some people have towards vegans. Most judgmental people are miserable about their own lives.  They don’t take the time to look at themselves, learn and grow but blame and ridicule others. They are too busy and distracted by looking outwards and judging others. But that being said it doesn’t mean I’ll let them troll me and I’ll school them every now again. In most cases when someone is being rude, hurtful and mean I simply walk away and don’t engage with them.  I don’t give them my attention or energy. Their words do not define me. My beliefs and my actions define me. Their stories of me, or attempts to put me down are not my identity.

Do you have any advice for anyone who wants to try to go vegan?

My advice for anyone going vegan is have patience with yourself.  It might not happen overnight and there will be bumps along the way.  And at the beginning you might feel not the greatest while your body is detoxing.  Stick with it. Make sure you are getting all the vitamins and nutrients you need. I recommend following a wholefoods plant based vegan diet.  Take baby steps and stay focused on why you are doing this. Is it for the animals? Then stay focused on their suffering and how your actions can help them and inspire others. Is it for your health?  Read studies and listen to doctors about reversing heart disease, diabetes and other health conditions. Doctors like Dr. Neal D. Barnard, Dr. John A, McDougall and Dr. Michael Greger that have helped many people with a plant based diet.

Start incorporating more plant based foods into your daily life. Follow vegan foodies and chefs on Instagram for more inspiration.  Look up vegan recipes of your favorite dishes and veganize them. Start shopping cruelty-free and vegan for beauty and cosmetic products.  You don’t even have to follow a vegan diet to do that. Educate yourself, read studies, watch vegan documentaries like What The Health, Cowspiracy and Earthlings. Join your local vegan Facebook group and learn about all the great restaurants in your area offering super yummy vegan options. You can shop like a vegan before you’ve even gone fully vegan on your plate.  Follow me on my blog Kind Lifestyles www.kindlifestyles.com for more tips or reach out personally I’d be happy to help you along the way.

http://www.veganessentials.com/









FAT GIRL REVIEWS interview  by Velvet d'Amour

FAT GIRL REVIEWS interview by Velvet d'Amour

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