Long before it was trendy and hip, there was a lone woman on Oprah touting the benefits of Veganism and getting Oprah to give it a try. Correspondent Elysabeth Alfano remembers that episode of Oprah like it was yesterday. That woman was one of five or six cues that registered in her brain over the years and whispered, Elysabeth you should be vegan. That singular voice that day on Oprah was New York Times Best Selling author (Clean Protein, The Lean: A Revolutionary (and Simple!) 30-Day Plan for Healthy, Lasting Weight Loss, Veganist: Lose Weight, Get Healthy, Change the World, The Book of Veganish: The Ultimate Guide to Easing into a Plant-Based, Cruelty-Free, Awesomely Delicious Way to Eat, with 70 Easy Recipes Anyone Can Make) Kathy Freston. She has been talking about the benefits of a plant-based diet for people, our planet and our animals for over a decade.
Now, sitting in Elysabeth’s kitchen and chatting as if they had known each other for years, Kathy clues in #JaneUnchained viewers to the best ways to talk to those who aren’t yet vegan and how to make it as easy on them as possible. Vegan-ish? Sure, why not! Along the way, Elysabeth and Kathy discuss the changing cultural zeitgeist and our planet that is in dire need. Upbeat and natural, informative and friendly, this is one episode of Awesome Vegans with Elysabeth Alfano Podcast and Video Series on #JaneUnchained that you won’t want to miss.
Kathy has such a compelling story, I had to take it directly from her website and share the full story with you:
“Hey there! My name is Kathy and I’m a lover of vegan(ish) food, fashion, health, and all things inspirational! Although I’m totally vegan, myself, I’m a big believer in progress, not perfection… hence the “ish”!
Here’s how it started for me: One day I was playing with my little dog Lhotse. I was rubbing her belly and loving her up and thinking that she was one of the greatest joys of my life. She was wagging her tail and I swear she was smiling from the attention. I thought, “I love this dog so much! Animals are just pure love. They aren’t manipulative or mean or spiteful. They are just simple innocent creatures.” And then a little voice inside of me asked, “Well . . . if you think animals are so lovely, why do you eat them? Because you know that animal went through sheer hell to end up on your plate.” I thought: Because it’s a habit. Because I like the taste of meat.
Then I started picturing my dog as one of those food animals, locked up in a tiny cage like a chicken or a pig for her whole (short, horrible) life, and then being flung onto a truck and driven to the slaughterhouse to be killed. I knew my dog, and I knew that she had this wide range of senses and emotions, and that if she were crammed into a slaughterhouse with all those awful smells and sounds of death, she’d be terrified. Shaking, eyes wide, flat out terrified. I, of course, would do anything to save my dog from a fate like that, anything to keep her from that sort of trauma and suffering. I mean, I hated to even leave her alone for a few hours, so this connection was blowing my mind.
A light bulb went on, right then and there. I felt it to my core. Suddenly I realized that the only difference between my dog and the cow or chicken or pig that ended up on my plate was that I knew my dog. I knew her personality and quirks and traits; I knew when she was worried or sad or excited or wanted to go for a walk. Lhotse was an individual to me, not a something. If I were to get to know those other animals in the slaughterhouse as individuals outside of that livestock horror house, I knew they’d be as endearing and loveable as she was.
I remembered what Charles Darwin, who studied animals and humans from every biological perspective, taught us: There is no fundamental difference between man and animals in their ability to feel pleasure and pain, happiness and misery. Recent science has shown what dog and cat lovers have always known: that animals can anticipate the future, delay gratification, dream, play, use language and tools, and are more like us than unlike us.
Gulp. I was beginning to understand that if I bought or ordered meat, dairy, or eggs, I was playing a part in causing a thinking, feeling, vulnerable creature to suffer unthinkable misery, much like the misery I myself would experience if I were locked up in the dark until I grew big enough to kill, and then did the death march to my violent end. It became starkly simple for me: I had to ask myself, Can I look right into the eyes of a scared animal and say, “I really don’t care that you’re hurting and terrified and you’re about to be strung up and slaughtered; I have a craving for one of your body parts slathered in sauce or fried up and put between two slices of bread.”
Besides the way they look, there’s no difference between a dog and a pig. Or a cat and a chicken. Or a horse and a cow. They all feel pain, and struggle to live. They are not unaware of cruel treatment. They do experience fear and dread. I decided I didn’t want to participate in that kind of suffering.
So I set my intention to be someone who didn’t eat animals, and then I just leaned into it. I explored different foods and recipes and menus and restaurants, and over the course of a year or two, I became the person I wanted to be. While I was at it, I researched the health implications and found that I was doing my body a huge gift of goodness, and that my energy and health would greatly improve. (It did!) And amazingly, I’d probably live up to a decade longer by eating a plant-based diet. My body felt so much stronger for that choice, but more important, so did my heart and soul. I felt empowered all around.
So empowered, in fact, that I’ve become an activist and advocate for eating this way. It’s funny how you find your passion and then your passion leads you to your life’s purpose! I now write books and do media appearances and share in whatever way I can, so that other people also feel empowered to eat for their health and overall well-being! I’m so proud and happy to be part of such a forward-thinking community of people (like yourself!) who want to make the world better for all!”
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Donna Dennison is an UnchainedTV writer, graphic designer, video editor, and IG contributor. Donna is also a creative in the film industry.