Animals Behind Herbivore: Sierra!
How long have you been vegan?
I’ve been vegan since the summer after 4th grade, so around 13 years.
What was your aha vegan moment?
My mom actually told us we were going vegan. She sat me and my siblings down to watch both an informative documentary on the health impact of eating the S.A.D. (Standard American Diet), and showed us a documentary with more graphic examples of what actually goes on inside a slaughterhouse. Unsurprisingly, the latter is what I remember most clearly. At that point, we all agreed to try being vegan, and I have never questioned that decision.
What is your primary Vegan Reason (animal rights, human rights, environmentalism, health)?
I’m vegan for all reasons. I initially only thought about the animal rights aspect because I was so young. While that’s still important to me, I have become particularly aware of just how important veganism is for our environment and human rights as I get older, and how all these issues constantly intersect. The fact is, if we are not eating and living as sustainably as possible, there won’t be a habitable environment left for us. Supporting systematic violence and forcing female creatures to reproduce in a way that’s unhealthy for us, the animals, and the earth, makes no sense. And the fact that something so gross, illogical, and dangerous is still the norm... That’s scary as all heck. Basically, I’m vegan because it’s something I can do to make the world a better place.
What’s been the best part of being vegan?
There are a lot of perks! My skin has improved, I’ve learned to appreciate more flavors and foods (hellooo, vegetables are so delicious), I’ve become a more creative cook, I support more local businesses, I have a fun vegan job with awesome vegan coworkers, I get to snuggle animals guilt-free, and I’ve met some truly incredible artists, chefs, business owners, designers, etc., who try to live as sustainably and compassionately as possible.
What did you/do you still struggle with?
Food is very nostalgic for everyone, I think, and that’s always going to be difficult for me. There are many non-vegan foods from my childhood (trout, german pancakes, eggs in toast, etc.) that I get “homesick” for. Luckily, there are so many vegan versions of foods that this gets easier as time goes on!
What’s the best advice you could give a new vegan (or, what do you wish someone had told/advised you)?
Think about your life and your actions in terms of what good they do, not what you’re missing out on. What you do, how you think, and what you believe affects more than just you, and living your life with those effects in mind can be extremely fulfilling. Doing your best doesn’t mean doing everything perfectly, though-- if you screw up, if you eat some Cheetos or something, just move on. Don’t concern yourself with what any vegans or non-vegans think about your veganness, seriously. It’s none of their business anyway. Also, go out and buy some Miyoko’s or Chao, or a pint of Nada Moo, and don’t share. Vegans deserve many treats.
What’s your Herbivore Story?
When I was maybe 11 years old, super shy and dorky, I met Michelle at Veg Fest (Michelle is one of the owners of Herbivore). I always loved Veg Fest and had a couple Herbivore shirts, pins, etc. She was really cool and so kind to me and my vegan family, which was really nice because most people where I lived (the suburbs outside of Portland) didn’t understand what veganism was, and for the most part didn’t care to know. So, when I was around 13 (and a little less shy), I offered to start volunteering for Herbivore at Veg Fest or sometimes on the weekends. I got to experience what it would be like to work here for real, and I also got to be part of the Portland vegan community. I could not have asked for a better first job experience, or a better boss. And now she’s my real boss! And it’s still just as awesome!!!
“To me, veganism is all about ___(equality, justice, love, health, spirituality, common sense)___, because…”
To me, veganism is all about consciousness, because it encourages you to think critically about how what you say, do, wear, eat, and support, affects others as well as the world in its entirety (including the environment, the animals, the people).
Animal? My Australian Cattle Dog, Tomato! Plus all dogs. Plus wombats, and bats. And pigs and cows. And many more.
Vegan restaurant/food cart? Loving Hut never fails to make my tummy and heart happy.
Desert Island food? French bread with Kite Hill vegan ricotta (or Miyoko’s cheese), tomatoes, lemon pepper, and avocado, with green olives on the side!
Energizing breakfast necessity? Water or green tea, and apples.
Veg product? I’m in a very happy relationship with my Instant Pot!
Herbivore design? I really like the King Koala, Vegan Future patch design, and The World Used To Be Cooler.
Vegan Idol? My mom, Leslie Otto, is hands down the best vegan in my world. She is a vegan queen. She is the most generous, thoughtful, strong human in my life and I am pretty sure she’s actually a vegan goddess that fell down from the skies to show us all how to live compassionately and make awesome vegan cheesecake. I mean I’m a little biased, but if you met her you’d be convinced! You can see her halo when she’s in the kitchen, whipping up a batch of vegan Chana Masala and drinking spicy chai tea lattes. Love you, ma.
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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!