Childhood to Adulthood
When I was a young child, I loved visiting my grandparents’ farm in Michigan. There were so many animals – cows, chickens and barn cats. I loved hanging out with, watching and petting them. I started observing their behaviors and understanding their needs for love, companionship and compassion. They were no different than me. My dad would let me hold the piglets – I wanted to take one home as a pet so badly. I grew up with having cats – there was Oscar, Smokey and Magic. I deeply loved, nurtured and cared for our cats – I felt like I really understood them. I would do anything to protect them, make them happy and keep them from harm. When they died, I was heartbroken, crying nonstop at their sad and unfair deaths.
As I grew older, yet still a child, my love for animals continued to grow – I went to vet visits at Michigan State University, subscribed to as many animal magazines I could, daydreamed about having a farm hotel for all homeless animals, and just wanted to be the animal whisperer I thought I could be. I started questioning why we had to eat animals – it didn’t feel right. I believed then that they were meant to live and enjoy life just like I was. I had this terrible experience seeing these massive semi trucks transporting chickens. It absolutely made me sick. They were crammed so tightly in small crates and not even upright. How could this even be allowed? I then learned what happened to baby calves within hours of their birth, removed from their mothers and many becoming so distressed from the separation that they became ill. I started to refuse eating animals and my family supported it, knowing how it made me feel.
After graduating from Michigan State University, I started my career of 10 years in the animal health industry, volunteered at several rescues, was a heavily involved in helping feral cats and visiting sanctuaries. I also adopted my first cat, Lexi. I still have sweet Miss Lexi, who has welcomed my other lovely 5 cats I adopted over the past few years. Three of them have vision problems (one blind), due to being separated from their mother at only a few weeks of age. I rescued them at my grandparents’ farm and bottle-fed them to great health.
Vegetarian to Vegan
My reason for becoming vegetarian was simple: I absolutely loved and love all animals and I didn’t want to be involved in anything that lead or contributed to their suffering. I first gave up pork, beef and chicken, then fish. But I still didn’t feel right and wasn’t educated enough on commercial dairy and egg farms. I quickly learned that these loving and innocent animals lived miserable lives too, so why was I still having eggs and dairy? I was not eating and living in accordance with my beliefs that animals have their own lives, that they're entitled to their own lives, and that contributing to animal suffering was something that I would never ever be a part of. It was literally over night that I gave up all animal products and became a vegan.
com·pas·sion: concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering.
In Love and Cross Country Road Trip
I fell in love with my amazing husband, who was from Seattle and moved out there with all 6 cats. After living out of our backpacks in France for 12 days, my husband and I flew to Michigan, built a "pet hotel" in the back of my FJ Cruiser and then drove 2,351 miles to Washington State with all 6 of our cats. We took advantage of all the natural beauty we possibly could as one big family. It was a road trip we will never forget! Lexi, Sammi, Ruthie, Lulu, Miranda and Chuck did extremely well and we are happy and healthy living in the Pacific Northwest now.
Advancing in Veganism
I continued to stay very active on educating myself about veganism and learning about health, climate change and the environment continually reinforced my knowledge. Thanks to many powerful resources like Cowspiracy, I learned that eating meat, dairy and eggs are highly responsible for people developing diabetes, heart disease and cancer. I found out livestock covers 45% of the Earth’s total land. I found out that 5% of water consumed in the US is by private homes and 55% of water in the US is for animal agriculture. I found out that 477 gallons of water are required to produce 1lb. of eggs; almost 90 gallons of water are needed for 1lb. of cheese. I found out that 1-2 acres of rainforest are cleared every second. I found out that there is 15 times more protein on any given area of land with plants rather than animals. And I found out that most of zoonotic diseases (SARS, mad cow disease, bird flu, etc.) are the result of animal agriculture. And as a clincher: Each day, a person who eats a vegan diet saves 1,100 gallons of water, 45 pounds of grain, 30 sq ft of forested land, 20 lbs CO2 equivalent, and one animal’s life.
My Vegan Business
As I studied veganism, health and the environment, the more eager I was to educate others. Also, being an athlete, I learned how much better my performance and recovery was when I ate balanced, plant-based whole foods. My passions were really becoming clearer everyday – animals and plant-based health. But how could I educate and softly influence others in order to get them to listen to the wealth of information and knowledge I had to share? After attending the world’s largest nutrition school, Institute for Integrative Nutrition, I became certified as a holistic health coach and I started my own plant-based health coaching business called BEVEGAN® Grassroots Health (aka Miss Bellevue Vegan). I coach, support and help people and businesses transition into or better understand the benefits of a healthy vegan lifestyle. BEVEGAN® Boot Camp, my signature program is a 33-day 'clean-eats' cleanse program built around an unprocessed, nutritionally complete, whole food plant-based diet. Delivered by a realistic, down-to-earth approach, BEVEGAN® Boot Camp will help you discover your authentic self. I also hold local events to raise awareness and provide new experiences for both vegans and non-vegans. These include Vegan Food Crawls and Vegan Cooking Classes.
"Veganism is not about giving anything up or losing anything; it is about gaining the peace within yourself that comes from embracing nonviolence and refusing to participate in the exploitation of the vulnerable" ~ Gary L. Francione
In addition to my Vegan Health Coaching Business, I’m proudly involved with several incredible non-profits that support animal rights and animal welfare. I’m a District Leader with the Humane Society of the United States, a Community Member Benefits Provider with The Vegan Trade Council, a Feral Friend with Ally Cat Allies, an active volunteer and team captain with The Humane League – Seattle and supporter of Pigs Peace Sanctuary and Pasado’s Safe Haven.
There is so much more I could say, but I truly have covered the reasons that I became and proudly remain vegan. I hope my story has been an inspiration to many and there become more heroes for the animals.
Peace, Love, Vegan,
*Agribusiness statistics courtesy of Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret.
Owner of BEVEGAN® Grassroots Health. Board Certified Holistic Health Coach. AKA Miss Bellevue Vegan. Plant-Based Health Consultant. Vegan Athlete. Outdoor Enthusiast. Outdoor Gear Reviewer. Author. Cotopaxi Local Ambassador. Animal Lover. Dreamer. Believer.
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