Kayla interviews VeganZine Co-CEO, Erica about having Vegan Family Members
If you don’t already know, Erica is vegan royalty in Boston! Ok but seriously, her Instagram handle literally has it in the name; @vegan_kween.
Erica is also one of the only people I know who has vegan family members, yes plural! As the only vegan in my family (so far) and thought it would be great to hear how having vegan family members has shaped Erica’s vegan journey.
How long have you been vegan and what did that transition look like for you?
I went vegan October of 2016. I started off pescetarian for literally less than a week. I remember shopping at Target with Brandon (Erica’s brother, pictured above posing with Erica and the photogenic cow) and realized how easy and accessible it was. So then a few days into being pescatarian I completely made the switch to vegan.
So it seems like your brother was a big inspiration for you to go vegan! Can you share more about his role in your decision?
Brandon and Mayya (Erica’s Sister-in-Law) have been vegan for at least 4.5-5ish years! They started the journey together. They were more gradual and cut red meat years ago, then chicken, fish, etc…When they had their daughter they put it all together and made the connection to a fully vegan diet.
Do you think you would still be vegan if it wasn’t for the influence of your vegan family members?
It’s interesting to think about when and how I would’ve gone vegan if it weren’t for my family. My brother, sister-in-law, and niece were all vegan before me, and I remember understanding why they did it and enjoying the meals they made, but I was ignorant and naive, and I didn’t look into it for myself for a very long time. It took me about a year and a half to join them, and I’m just so happy I did! They never pressured me to do anything, but after observing their way of living for a long time, I took the time to do my own research and it all morally fell into place for me. Now, 3 years later, I get to enjoy vegan meals and conversations with my family, and they (Brandon and Mayya) now also have a vegan son who is just a few months old!
What is it like watching your brother and sister-in-law raise a vegan family?
Having a vegan family is just so special. My niece is just 5 years old, but she is beyond intelligent. She understands what to look for and questions to ask to ensure what she eats and participates in is vegan, while also having an understanding that not all of her classmates and friends are vegan, but that it’s okay! We are all different, and she has the wonderful opportunity to show her peers how delicious vegan food is. She is so gentle towards any living being — even the stink bug that once lived in their home. It’s amazing to witness my family raise such a passionate and kind girl, and I’m so excited to continue to watch her grow. I’m thankful to be in a society and movement that’s on the rise every day, and hoping that as she proceeds in school, there will be more vegan options, kids, and learning! Watching her and my nephew grow to be strong & healthy and thriving on a vegan lifestyle and diet is just incredible.
What kind of support do your vegan family members bring?
Having a vegan brother and sister-in-law has been an incredible support system. They actually helped me come up with my vegan_kween Instagram handle, and are always my #1 fans. Being able to connect and talk to them about anything is a true gift, because they always understand my perspective and where I’m coming from. It can be tough being surrounded by people who don’t understand veganism and the ethics behind it, but having them in my life outweighs any negativity.
Do you have advice for people who want to be vegan but don’t have familial support?
If you’re vegan and reading this and don’t have vegan family members, my advice is to be patient. Make your loved ones some amazing vegan food, or share some fun and touching facts about animals that maybe they just didn’t know. Change takes time — it did for me! But I’m so glad it arrived.
Social support is incredibly important! If it wasn’t for Erica and my other friends in the Vegan Community, my life would be SO different. One of our goals with VeganZine is to make sure our fellow vegans feel supported and have access to vegan-friendly spaces.
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