Meet Mercedes! Mercedes is the newest member of the Herbivore team, but arguably the most enthusiastic. When she's not eating entire watermelons with a spoon, drinking iced Americanos, and providing great customer service, Mercedes likes to hike with her vegan girlfriends, listen to Janis Joplin cassettes, and spend quality time with her partner and her dog Milton. If you see Mercedes in the store, go ahead and strike up a conversation about anything-- I guarantee you will leave laughing or smiling, and probably on your way to Back To Eden for vegan and gluten-free desserts that are, in her own words, "to die for." Read on to learn more about Mercedes's Herbivore Story...
Mercedes Larson: Manatee-lover, Dog Mama, Fruitivore
How long have you been vegan?
Describe your “aha vegan” moment.
Well, my vegan “aha moment” was a little different than most... I had already vegan been for a year, but I chose to eat cheese pizza and cheese curds one day and I became really sick a few hours later. Becoming physically ill made me sit and think about my choice to be vegan and my commitment, and I was really upset with myself that I had made the decision to consume animal products. My significant other and I decided that being vegetarian (even if just for that day) just was not enough, and we chose to watch more documentaries and become more informed on our vegan lifestyle. After that day we decided we were done with all animal products. It was clearly unhealthy for my body, but I also felt selfish and disgusted with myself that I chose to consume dairy that day. That thought process completely changed my perspective and I have never and will never consume animal products again.
What is/talk about your primary Vegan Reason (animal rights, human rights, environmentalism, health)?
At first I went vegan for my health. I wanted to lose weight and become healthier in general. I was borderline diabetic and that terrified me. I was already a vegetarian but I still consumed loads of dairy in a day. As time went on and I became more educated, I completely changed my attitude about my veganism. I love feeling and being healthier due to my lifestyle, but now I am all about the animal rights aspect of it. Speciesism sucks!
What do you love most about being vegan?
The food!!!! Also: saving lives, the wonderful vegan community and people that I have met, and feeling better about my body and life choices. But for real, have you tried soy curls?!?!?!
What’s the best advice you could give a new vegan (or, what do you wish someone had told/advised you)?
Find substitutes for the foods you used to love. There is no shame in your vegan substitute game! There is nothing wrong with eating vegan cheeses and meat substitutes. Also, know that some people will be rude about your choices, and that is their problem. Just remember that you are doing something so great and fantastic for others, the animals, and the planet. You are a strong vegan warrior!
What’s your Herbivore Story (how did you end up working here)?
While I was living in Minnesota, I browsed the Herbivore Clothing website and fell in love. Once I moved to Portland with my partner, we came to the store and I fell even more in love! Later on my partner and I were looking for vegan jobs, and a friend told my partner that Michelle and Josh were looking to hire. I was quick to email Krysti and she was amazing. Krysti set up an interview and here I am, loving every second that I get to be at work!
“To me, veganism is all about…”
Being vegan is about being a little selfless; putting these animals before myself and educating myself on the terrors they face every day; putting others before myself and knowing that this planet can only heal itself if I help it. Just not being so darn selfish.
What's Your Favorite...
Animal? MANATEES!!! If you know me at all, you know I LOVE manatees! They are ridiculously adorable. Oh. My. Goodness.
Vegan restaurant/food cart? My favorite restaurant in Portland is Back To Eden! Oh my goodness sooooo amazing! Vegan, gluten-free treats all day errrday! The pizza rolls and pistachio rosewater cake are to die for. When I lived in Minnesota, I loved eating at Seward Cafe in Minneapolis, which was sooooo yummy as well (get the vegan grilled cheese with apples, you won't regret it).
Desert Island food? Watermelon? Persimmons? Soy curls? Dang this is a hard one.
Energizing breakfast necessity? Smooooothie bowls! Gluten-free granola with some sort of berry and almond butter with smoothie topping is what it is all about! And coffee. Always coffee.
Veg product? Hmm, my chacos are pretty amazing! I wish it was always spring and summer so I could wear them all the time. Mason jars are pretty freakin' cool as well.
Herbivore design? Another hard question. They are all so good! It is a toss up between the Winged Herbivore Bunny and the Wings are for Flying not for Frying design. The Winged Bunny was something I thought was really cute, and as I looked at it more I realized it made me sad (but that's ok). It is a really thought-provoking design which is why I like it so much. The Wings design I like so much because I really enjoy chickens and couldn't imagine stripping them of their lives for a side of BBQ wings.
Vegan Idol? Honestly, if you're vegan you rock my socks! I love all the vegans equally! (Andy Hurley and Joan Jett like blew me over when I found out they were vegan, though).
- - -
Keep up with "Herbivore Stories" to learn more about our team (the animals behind Herbivore), the issues we are passionate about, our wonderful vendors, our favorite recipes, and much more!