Issue 1 – Summer

Kindness is central to the vegan perspective, encompassing compassion for all living beings. In the world of veganism, everyone has a unique story, driven by things such as concerns for animals, the environment, or personal health. By choosing plant-based meals, supporting cruelty-free products, and advocating for animal rights, individuals embody kindness and contribute to a compassionate and sustainable world. Veganism fosters a sense of community and empowerment, as diverse stories inspire and create connections. Embracing kindness from a vegan perspective transforms lives and shapes a future defined by empathy, respect, and understanding.

Emma’s Story

Vegan Focus: What is your background?

Emma: My Co-Founder John and I both have a background in classical music. We both earned advanced degrees in musical performance and pedagogy. I was a cellist, and John was a trumpet player and composer.

From a very young age, I always wanted to make the world a better place. For a long time, my answer to that was beautifying the world through my music. But during my undergraduate studies, I realized my impact could be greater. So I decided to become a teacher. I earned my graduate degree in Suzuki Pedagogy (basically – “how to teach the cello”), and started my own musical education company. My approach to teaching children was to develop beautiful characters through the study of music. This was a wonderful experience and my students cultivated resilience, delayed gratification, work ethic, self evaluation, persistence, and many other beautiful character traits in themselves. However, it didn’t align with my passion for animal protection. So, I left the music world and worked at an animal sanctuary.

In my new position, I was responsible for the education and fundraising departments. John had already made the transition to filmmaking and was contracted as the sanctuary’s videographer! John and I worked closely together to create films that showcased the incredible intelligence, sentience, and emotional complexity of farmed animals. It was such an honor to serve the animals and educate people about how they can incorporate more compassionate choices in their daily lives. Our films for the sanctuary gained international recognition and won awards at film festivals, and John and I found our true passion as a filmmaking team. We made the difficult decision to leave the animal sanctuary to pursue vegan filmmaking, photography, and activism full time.

Vegan Focus: And how did you become vegan?

Emma: Growing up on the Standard American Diet, I was overweight, battled persistent acne, and mental health issues. I had very low self esteem and body image issues. When I was 19 years old, my college boyfriend broke up with me on the streets of Washington DC at sunset, on the 4th of July, as fireworks were going off. Very dramatic, I know. After that, I knew something had to change.

Recognizing my discomfort in my own body as a major obstacle, I knew I had to do something. So I did a deep dive into health and nutrition science and stumbled upon a couple of very impactful books and documentaries. I became a whole food plant based vegan overnight, and immediately felt the difference. I shed the extra weight, my skin cleared up, I had unlimited amounts of energy, I felt happy and content for the first time in my life. It was literally like all my issues vanished!

At the beginning, I was motivated primarily by health. But after being vegan for about 2.5 years, I started to investigate the animal agriculture system and was appalled by what I learned. Suddenly, health came to mean so much more to me. My personal health was connected to the health of every other living being, and the planet as a living being as well.

When I met John a couple years later, he was already on a journey towards health – he had just lost 100lbs through “standard diet and exercise.” I challenged him to try whole food plant based vegan for three weeks to see if he felt even better. He committed to the three-week trial period, but never thought he would continue with veganism afterwards. But even before the trial period ended, he felt immense improvements in his fitness, mental clarity, energy levels, and even his grocery bill! He’s been vegan ever since.

After learning about the horrors of animal agriculture together, John and I became extremely passionate about animal and environmental protection, which led to our change in career from classical musicians to vegan activists!

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