Herbivore Spotlight: Marissa
Marissa's Story: Creativity, Compassion, and the Vegan Future
Marissa crafts Mishakaudi Jewelry pieces by hand in her workshop in Spokane, Washington. Though she initially became vegan for the nutritional benefits, Lewis says the birth of her daughter made her much more “concerned about the future of our planet… it all clicked for me.” Since then, “it was like a switch had flipped on and I could no longer go back to not knowing the truth.” Though her exploration of jewelry-making and her interests in art are not inherently related to her veganism, she thinks both creative exploits and veganism put more goodness into the world. In particular, Lewis believes that veganism “is the evolution of being human and thriving in the world today.” Read more about Marissa Lewis’s creative process and views on veganism, family, and compassion below...
How long have you been vegan?
I have been vegan since 2008.
Describe your “aha vegan” moment.
I went vegan after reading Skinny Bitch. I was already really interested in nutrition and was a pretty progressive person, and after giving birth to my first daughter in April of 2008 and being much more concerned about the future of our planet… it all clicked for me. I wasn't even a vegetarian before that and as soon as I put that book down, I became vegan in an instant and never wavered since then. It was like a switch had flipped on and I could no longer go back to not knowing the truth. I obviously became more aware of the atrocities that were going on in our food system and read every book I could find on veganism and plant based nutrition and watched all the videos and movies that were available. And slowly over a couple years my husband and daughter became vegetarian and then vegan too. My second daughter was born in 2010 and our family was already 100% vegan. My kids get to grow up living a compassionate life and are the healthiest kids I know!
What is/talk about your primary Vegan Reason (animal rights, human rights, environmentalism, health)?
I was initially led toward the vegan lifestyle because of my interest in a healthy diet, but after learning about the animal suffering and always being concerned about the environment and equal rights, it was a clear choice for me. I have always been an animal lover. We had 4 dogs at the time and I could no longer disassociate the life of our pets with the lives of other animals on the planet-- that would be a discrimination on a global scale, something I didn't not want on my conscience. I think at the time I was just evolving as a spiritual being myself; I recognized that I no longer wanted to be a part of causing harm on the planet, and I didn't want the negative energy from suffering and death going into my body. Over the years I have become even more passionate about a plant-based lifestyle and the health benefits of a whole food, plant-based diet. I became a plant-based health coach a couple years back through a great program from the Health Mastery Institute. I am now working on a Bachelor of Science degree in Clinical Nutrition. Since I am a busy mom, wife, and business owner, it is a slow process, but I know the healing power of good nutrition and how a vegan lifestyle can raise our energy in all ways. I love the idea of sharing that knowledge with people and helping them empower themselves through self-healing.
How did you introduce veganism to your kids?
My oldest daughter, who is 9 now, was only 8 months old when I went vegan. Since my husband wasn't even vegetarian at the time, we had a compromise, which was that she would be fed a vegetarian diet at least. She never ate meat because she was barely eating food then, mostly still nursing, so it was early in her life that it really wasn't an issue. And by the time our second daughter was born in October of 2010, my husband had transitioned completely to a vegan diet and we decided to raise both kids vegan from then on.
Family seems to be very important to you. Are there vegan values and beliefs that you think are important for your children to learn?
Absolutely! We try to educate our kids on why living a compassionate life is important. We have many good children's books like Vegan is Love, That's Why We Don't Eat Animals and a few others. My daughter has a vegan kids cookbook, too. Since their grandparents and cousins are not vegan, they ask questions about why we don't eat animal products and we have great conversations about this topic regularly. When they get a little older, I will let them watch some of the movies, like Earthlings, that really show people the truth, but those movies are hard to watch and extremely violent. I think they are not old enough yet for that, but one day.
Talk about your primary occupation! Why do you feel it is important?
I started my jewelry business in 2010 when I was pregnant with my second daughter as a way to be more flexible with my schedule, so that I could be home with them when I needed to but still have income. My parents owned a jewelry business when I was growing up, though it was a bit different than mine. It was a natural fit for me. I am an entrepreneur at heart; I need the flexibility of being my own boss, and being there for my kids when they are young is my primary focus. I knew I wanted to create a life around my family that gave us all the best of both worlds: being at home with them and also working. They also get to grow up seeing that you can create your life exactly how you want to! You don't have to get a job that you don't like just to get a paycheck. You can create anything you want. I think instilling a sense of responsibility, creativity, passion and freedom when it comes to how to build both a career and a life is important for my girls to learn.
What symbols do you use in your jewelry? What do these symbols mean to you?
My jewelry has evolved over the years as I have evolved, but it always has a fun, playful energy to it and a bohemian flare. I want my jewelry to express only positivity, and a feel of mysticism. I use a lot of geometric shapes for that edgy, tribal look and moon shapes and stones that showcase a boho style.
What do you hope others get out of your work?
I hope the wearer enjoys the piece and can wear them daily. My jewelry is not the type you bring out for a special occasion, it’s the necklace you throw on for your everyday casual outfit. I want my jewelry to be easy to wear and affordable so that everyone can enjoy it.
What is your intention when you create a piece of jewelry? What thoughts are going through your mind?
I create jewelry for fun. I want each piece to allow the wearer to express some part of themselves when they wear it. Maybe that is a bohemian edgy style or maybe it is a simple "vegan" necklace to show pride. Either way, I want each piece to showcase a personal part of the person wearing it.
Where do your art and your beliefs (vegan and otherwise) intersect? Do you feel like your work with art and your commitment to make a “better world” are inherently related to your veganism?
Yes and no. I don't make jewelry because I think it is furthering the cause of veganism. I make jewelry to express creativity in the world, express my own talents and authentic style and interests, which in a way does better the world. If we all followed our passions, did what we loved everyday and created a life that was our own design, we would raise the vibration on the planet. I think only good can come from doing things that we love and that brings about positivity in the world. I do think living that type of lifestyle and having that perspective can be very congruent with being vegan; it’ a progressive way of thinking and doing, and I believe it is the evolution of being human and thriving in the world today.
Veganism obviously has significant benefits for your/others physical well-being. Do you think veganism has an important impact on our mental health also? Why is that?
YES! I have mentioned my passion for vegan nutrition and the health benefits involved, and along with that I see health from a holistic approach, where we have to look at not only our physical health, but our emotional, mental and spiritual. When we stop eating animals and stop contributing to suffering in the world and make a stand for compassion, we raise our vibration. Maybe even if it is only on a subconscious level, we can let go of the guilt or heavy energy that lingers in our body and soul from being part of the suffering. I think being vegan allowed me to free my mental energy to be more light in my thoughts and feelings.
What’s your best advice to a new vegan or someone considering going vegan?
My best advice is to see Earthlings. It’s pretty hard to waver in your transition after seeing that movie. Also, because I am very focused on health, I advise people to get a few supplements: Vitamin B12, Vitamin D3 and Vitamin K2 and Ionic Zinc. To be honest, I would tell non-vegans to take these as well. Most people in general are deficient in these vitamins, but I think these 4 supplements really help cover the few vegan deficiencies that could arise. I also tell people to read about the "protein" myth. Obviously it's weirdly still an issue, ha!
“To me, veganism is all about…”
Evolution! We may not have always been vegan as a species, but the majority of our ancestral diets were plant-based and the world’s healthiest and longest lived populations eat less than 10% animal products. With the state of our food system, our health as a planetary population, and the severe degradation of our environment on the planet, it’s a no-brainer that we should live a vegan lifestyle for the future survival of the human race. To me, veganism is also about our spiritual evolution, letting the karma of suffering and negative contributions go and living a lighter, free-er existence.
I love all animals, but I'm partial to the ones living in our house. We have 3 dogs: Ruby, Charlie and Gucci, and a new 8 week old kitten we just found that was abandoned, Jagger.
Fruit! We love our fruit. Since it is summer I'm eating a lot of watermelon right now, but we love mangos and papaya too!
Vegan children’s book?
Vegan is Love
I have lots. Summer is my favorite time of the year! I love to walk everywhere in the summer. I walk to my yoga studio almost everyday and then to the coffee shop in my neighborhood-- it’s my favorite me time. I listen to podcasts and get to enjoy the summer weather. P.S. FAV PODCAST: The Rich Roll Podcast
I support all the farm sanctuaries, many of them reach out for donations for their fundraisers and I am always to grateful for the work they do in the world!
Artist (any medium)?
So, we as a family have probably every design Herbivore has ever made. My husband wears an Herbivore shirt almost everyday. My personal favorite is the new leggings that have the feathers on the back calf area, I LOVE them! But I also love my grey hoodie that says "A little veganism never hurt anybody" and I wear that all the time!
This has been my favorite quote since I was a teenager. It was thought to be by Ralph Waldo Emerson, but there are some that think it was by Bessie Stanley. Either way, this is what it is:
"Those are a success who live well, laugh often and love much,
Who leave the world better than they found it,
Who never lacked appreciation for the world's beauty,
Who looked for the best in others, and gave the best they had."
Everyone fighting the good fight!
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