Welcome to “Veggie Tales: Why We’re Vegan”. This post-series is the cultivation of a a conversation about veganism; a display of the diverse journeys, intentions, and identities of plant-based people. There will be 9 stories total, including two special-feature stories. There’s no such thing as the “average vegan”. Meet Fern.
Fern Morrissette, 25 years old, vegan for 2 years
Social media: @_wildfern
What inspired you to go vegan? (Animal rights, health, environment, etc.)
I had been vegetarian nearly my whole life prior to transitioning to veganism. I feel very fortunate to have been raised by a mother who valued animal rights and instilled this in me as a child. I have always loved animals. For a long time I felt as though I was doing enough by being vegetarian, until I started expanding my awareness and knowledge by watching documentaries, reading books, watching other people online, etc. I soon came to realize the horrors of the dairy industry. This is ultimately what made me go vegan. I had an overwhelming realization that I was not doing enough. I had to commit my entire lifestyle to veganism. I could not un-see documentaries such as Earthlings. I knew that I had to do everything that I possibly could for the animals. I cannot see myself living my life any other way. I am not a perfect vegan, I am constantly striving to improve in this world that uses animals for seemingly everything. It is a journey and I am constantly bettering myself and learning and growing. I believe that animals lives are just as important as humans. We are all equal.
What physical, emotional, or otherwise related changes have you experienced since your transition to veganism?
If I could pinpoint the best decision I have ever made, it would be going vegan. Veganism has changed my entire life. It has changed who I am, the way I see the world, my mental state, and my physical state. I am happy. I feel as though I have a purpose. I feel connected to the earth and to the creatures I share it with. I want to do harm to none. I feel so much more satisfied with my existence overall. Physically, I feel wonderful. I have energy. I am so fulfilled and truly thrive off of whole plant foods. I am excited to eat. I LOVE FOOD. I can eat as much as I want! And I feel great about it! It’s amazing. I am a nurse, I work twelve hour shifts, and I feel as though the foods I eat really fuel me for my job. I used to suffer from horrible leg cramps – this subsided almost immediately after becoming vegan. I soon discovered that there is indeed a link between dairy and muscle cramps/pain. I have a passion for nutrition and holistic health and wellness, and it’s truly remarkable how what you eat changes who you are inside and out. The vegan glow is real. I highly recommend reading ‘How Not to Die’ by Dr Michael Gregor.
What’s your favorite go-to vegan food, recipe, or snack?
The foods I eat on a daily basis are simple. I try to consume as many whole plant foods as possible, and avoid anything processed. I’m not very strict about it, but fruits and vegetable are what make me feel best, so that is what I naturally want to eat. I always start my morning with a vegan version of bulletproof coffee with soy, almond, or coconut cream. I love coconut yogurt for breakfast as well. I top it with fruits/berries, hemp hearts, granola, cinnamon, and anything else I desire. I love chickpeas. I make vegan ‘tuna’ sandwiches with chickpeas. Chana masala is another favourite – I love Indian food. One of my favourite dinner recipes is an eggplant rice bowl from Minimalist Baker. I make a lot of recipes from Minimalist Baker. Here is the link to check her out: https://minimalistbaker.com
What was the most difficult aspect of your transition to veganism?
I think I had an easier vegan transition than most, due to my background of vegetarianism for so long. Food-wise, I think coffee cream was the hardest for me. I eventually found Silk’s soy cream though, and that was a game changer. I am now in love with Califia Farms non-dairy milk products, as well. Overall, it was the other aspects of the vegan lifestyle that challenged me. Finding vegan makeup and skincare products. Makeup is another passion of mine, I love the creativity, so it was hard to balance the two. I have since come to find many vegan/cruelty free options. It is a learning process. I also struggled with finding non-leather and non-wool clothing options.That has gotten easier too, and I find that many brands are hearing the demand for vegan options and coming out with these products. I find the world is becoming easier to navigate as a vegan every day. It’s wonderful.
Were any parts of your transition surprisingly easy?
I would say as a whole my transition has been quite smooth. I love watching documentaries and listening to speakers to keep myself inspired and remind myself why I live the way I do. Every time I drive by a dairy farm my heart breaks a little, but I feel more inspired to keep fighting. Something else that has helped me is being involved in the vegan community where I live. I recommend everyone check out what vegan activities are happening in your area. We have a Facebook group here (I’m not a huge fan of Facebook, but I do value it for this reason) that connects vegans and plans events for us to all meet and connect. It’s been an amazing support system. It is incredible to be around a bunch of vibrant, like-minded folk.
What myths or rumors about veganism have you debunked through your own experience?
There are so many myths about veganism. People love these because it gives them a ‘reason’ to not have to put in the work to change. I think the biggest myths are surrounding the ideas of veganism not being healthy, and around the idea that factory farms aren’t awful and the concept of ‘humane’ meat/dairy (which, FYI, is not a thing). Yes, you have to take a B12 supplement because our soils are depleted of B12 and it’s no longer naturally occurring in our plant foods. That isn’t a big deal. There is so much research out there on veganism being the single healthiest diet you can possibly follow. Honestly, look it up. Read The China Study or How Not to Die. Watch Forks Over Knives. Veganism prevents the world’s largest killers – heart disease, cancer, stroke, obesity, diabetes – you name it. Now, I understand that a plant-based diet is not a “cure all”, but dang can it make a difference. It boggles my mind why we are killing animals just to slowly kill ourselves. Veganism is as much an animal rights movement as it is a human rights movement. People are being lied to by the food industry. People are sick and suffering and it makes me so angry that they are not being told the truth about the food they are eating. Anyways, I could truly rant about that all day… As for the myth of ‘humane’ meat – there isn’t a human way to kill someone who doesn’t want to die. End of story. I don’t know how any compassionate person could truly argue against that.
A lot of people don’t understand why anyone would switch to a plant-based diet. Many of these people make jokes- or are downright mean- about veganism. Have you experienced this opposition before? If so, what do you say/do in those situations?
I have experienced plenty of opposition. I have been ridiculed going back to childhood, when I was simply vegetarian. I was raised on the prairies in Canada. Not exactly the most progressive of areas. I was taunted by not only peers, but my teachers in elementary school. It’s horrid to think of, honestly. Not for my sake, but for theirs. I can only hope one day everyone sees the light. Today, I meet opposition mostly while doing activism. I have been yelled at and laughed at while protesting outside of dairy farms, etc. I don’t care. I know what I am doing is right. I also can see our world changing, and that is incredible. People are learning the truth. The best thing to do is to remain gracious and compassionate. People are usually in denial or are simply uneducated on the matter. Knowledge is power, and the best thing that we can do is share our knowledge. Every social justice movement has began this way – with a small group of people advocating a better future. Of course there is opposition, that is the process, but I know we are changing the world.
Where would you direct friends and family who are looking for more information about veganism?
I would highly recommend documentaries, YouTube, and books to people seeking more information on veganism. I have mentioned a couple of good books above. I also mentioned watching Forks Over Knives. Some other good documentaries are: Cowspiracy, Vegucated, Earthlings, What the Health, Food Inc, Live and Let Live, & Food Matters. There are also plenty of vegan YouTubers, who share recipes and other inspiration. I would search ‘vegan’, ‘vegan recipes’, ‘vegan what I eat in a day’, ‘why I went vegan’, or something similar into youtube and watch whoever you’re drawn to. It’s really helpful!
Do you see yourself going back to a diet including meat and/or dairy in the future? Why or why not?
I could never imagine myself eating meat or dairy in the future. Ever.
What shocked you most about a plant-based diet, that you feel the public should be aware of?
I think the most shocking thing I have learned from veganism is how manipulated and lied to the public is. You truly have to do your own research when it comes to making the best decision for you, the animals, and our planet. So much of the truth is kept from the public. Not only in matters of food/health, but regarding the overall wellbeing of our planet and society. Our earth and oceans are polluted, our forests are depleted, animals are going extinct, and the human nation is sick and dying as well. Veganism can improve all of this. It’s disgusting how everything in our world revolves around money – everything is business. This becomes vividly apparent when you begin researching the vegan movement.
Have other areas of your life improved or been enhanced by your veganism? If so, what areas, and how?
Veganism has improved all aspects of my life. I wish for everyone to experience the benefits of this incredible lifestyle. I understand that it can be a huge transition, take it one step at a time. I am still learning and improving. Any small change you can make is an amazing step in the right direction. Every small change is important and makes a difference, even though it can feel like it doesn’t. Veganism is a beautiful way to grow as a person, and I am still on that journey of change and improvement in many aspects of my life. Educate yourself and make changes wherever you can find. Good luck, friends. xx