Sunday, April 4, 2010

Interviews: Shenee: A Native South Texan Pledges Vegetarianism For Life

CYoFC:  Describe your current diet/lifestyle (vegan, lacto-ovo vegetarian, pescetarian, freegan, flexitarian, omnivore with vegan tendencies...etc.).

Shenee:  I am a vegetarian, although because of my vegan boyfriend I eat a mostly vegan diet due to his delicious and constant cooking. For my own part I don’t purchase dairy products or eggs, but I occasionally eat a piece of cheese or two when I am at one of my many nanny houses.

CYoFC:  A vegetarian with vegan tendencies! For how long have you been vegetarian?

Shenee:  I have been a vegetarian for 8 years.

CYoFC:  What prompted you to become a vegetarian?

Shenee:  I had been considering becoming a vegetarian for a long time when one day during my second year at university I read a quote in some Buddhist literature that bluntly stated how selfish it is to consume “flesh of other creatures in order to fatten our own flesh.” That is really what did me in. But I also found inspiration in my mother who is a vegetarian and was since I was a child, however she never forced her dietary habits on my siblings and I.

CYoFC:  That quote is really quite eye-opening. Were there any challenges to becoming a vegetarian? What about current challenges of being vegetarian, or aspects of vegetarianism that you don't like?

Shenee:  At the time that I became a vegetarian, I was living in Texas, but not in Austin, mind you, but South Texas. Of course my mom was supportive of my decision, but most of my family didn’t understand. In the beginning I also faced some resentment coming from ignorant people who felt that because I was a vegetarian automatically meant that I was judging them for continuing to eat meat. That is the most annoying thing I have had to deal with.

CYoFC:  I've heard that from a handful of vegetarians and vegans. It's a shame that some individuals feel judgment where there is none - makes it difficult for genuine communication to take place. Do you plan on remaining a vegetarian? If so, what motivates you? If not, what motivates you to change?

Shenee:  I haven’t eaten meat for 8 years and I will never eat meat. I must admit that I did eat fish on three separate occasions when I was living in Hanoi, Viet Nam.

I will continue to be a vegetarian throughout my life due to my conviction that it is not necessary for me to eat animals in order to survive. It is as simple as that.

CYoFC:  Right on. Why should other people be vegetarian?

Shenee:  To each their own. However, people would become a lot healthier if they no longer ate meat. Case in point, the options at a fast food joint would be substantially limited. Mainly this comment is targeted towards the fattest and most unhealthy people in the world, Americans. Recently I had a friend from Japan come to visit. When I asked him if there were any vegetarians in Japan, he responded by telling me that the Japanese diet consists mainly of vegetables, rice and fish, so culturally there is no need to become vegetarian. In Japan there is no stigma against not eating meat at every meal.

CYoFC:  That's so fascinating. Many people probably don't think about vegetarianism cross-culturally. It makes so much sense, though. Cultures in which vegetables are a main focus of the traditional cuisine wouldn't even have a need to put a name to a diet consisting of mostly vegetables. Do you have any tips or advice for new vegetarians?

Shenee:  Just ignore the haters. I came to realize that their animosity is a product of their guilt of being meat-eaters. Also, buy yourself a good vegan cookbook. Then when people ask you “what can you eat…salads?” you can come up with a long and quippy retort.

CYoFC:  Good advice. I'm curious; what are your favorite foods?

Shenee:  Pan-seared tempeh with spicy tomato sauce, split pea soup, CHOCOLATE MUFFINS, vegan reubens

CYoFC:  Sounds delicious! Much love for the vegan reuban right here.

Shenee currently lives in Los Angeles. She is a part-time nanny for a ton of different families and also works in two different kid-oriented stores. As she puts it, "My life is full of other peoples’ children and I love it." She also enjoys craft nights with her girlfriends, cooking vegan food with her boyfriend, napping with her cat Henrietta, experiencing live music and watching movies in the theatre all alone.

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