Today I am starting a new series where I will interview vegan bloggers that are passionate about sharing their experience of living a compassionate lifestyle. A month ago I reached out to twenty vegans who are sharing their wisdom and experience on the Internet, and the first one who responded to my email was Gemma Davis from The Compassionate Road.
I was already familiar with Gemma and her work when I found her one day while I searched for vegan bloggers. Her website is full of helpful articles and resources, and her Instagram is an inspiration to both vegans and non-vegans.
Gemma Davis is a Qualified Naturopath and is on the Council of Voiceless: The Animal Protection Institute. She has been practising Ashtanga yoga for 12 years and is a mother to two beautiful children.
I asked her about her favourite vegan brand, what she would advise teenagers who are dealing with strict parents and so much more! I am very grateful for her honest responses and for being the first vegan that I had a chance to interview – it’s something that I want to do more in the future.
I hope you will enjoy the interview!
- What was the first thing that you changed, besides eating plant-based, when you went vegan? What was your priority?
When I first became a vegan over 15 years ago, I guess the obvious change apart from the eating, was the bags and shoes – no more leather! Although my priority at that time was learning as much as I could about what was going on, so I could be educated. I felt like I had been in the dark for years and I wanted to be clear on what was really going on out there, and how I could live more authentically to my values!
- How long did it take you to start feeling comfortable with being the vegan in your community (friends, family, work etc)?
I was thinking about this the other day, about how now it is accepted in most communities to be vegan – to a point. Even with someone like my brother-in-law who is highly regarded in the design community, even there they are acknowledging the importance of “designing” the future with less-meat consumption. It wasn’t like that before. Which is great there has been that much change, that in highly influential and educated circles it is no longer a radical idea that eating meat is not sustainable.
At first for me, I certainly felt like a bit of the “odd one out” but I guess it was more a frustration I felt on my behalf that people didn’t know and didn’t want to know! I was lucky in my family that my new step-mother at the time had been vegan for over twenty years and had healed her cancer through diet, so that kept my family satisfied it was possible and it could be healthy! At the time my friends never made me feel bad about being vegan, but they certainly didn’t want to hear about it and while my boyfriend then ate meat, he was always respectful of my choices. I was lucky enough to not be judged too badly, rather just not really heard.
- What advice would you give to teenagers who are struggling with eating vegan due to their strict parents?
Get educated through many well-respected, well-research sources and stay true to yourself.
Parents are only strict because they believe they are doing it to protect their children because they love them so much. This does not make them right, but keep it in mind when it is upsetting you or you are in disagreements.
Yet also remember you are not your parent, nor do you need to share their beliefs and views (even if they want you to). They may not know what you know – otherwise, they would be OK with you not eating food from animals.
They also are likely to have been listening to false-truths for so long! I encourage you to calmly and gently leave some reading material for them, some documentaries or send them to Cowspiracy website to the fact page! Say to them you are happy to discuss things but first, they have to spend some time learning what you have.
Then I would also make it very clear to your parents how important this is to you. Stand in your truth. You do not need to yell, or slam the door, but you do need to be firm.
If it is health issues they are concerned about, send them to my website, or to Rich Roll, or Plant Proof. There are many great resources. Even find a Doctor in your city that supports plant-based eating – because if your family doctor is planting fear in their ears, it is hard for them!
If it is cooking an extra different meal for you that is the problem, I suggest getting proactive in the kitchen! Help out, cook your own meals – it can be fun and you might inspire you parent in the process.
Oh, and lastly. Find a supportive community you can join and feel accepted in. Feeling alone is horrible and the truth is, it is super important to feel accepted somewhere in your life. Part of growing is learning to seek those out who have your back, where you can flourish and be heard and encouraged. If this is not in your family circle, FIND IT. I am not saying leave your family, but find some group you can spend time with or even write to and share stories and IDEAS. This is important. The world needs more people being compassionate and making CHANGE. You must know, you are NOT ALONE!
- Has there ever been a time when you felt rejected by someone due to being vegan? If yes, why do you think they reacted that way?
I have always felt deep in my heart that being vegan is right for me. Holding this truth in my core meant that no one has been able to wobble me with my resolution to live a peaceful life. There have been many many time others have attempted to, but in those moments I have to remember that that is their opinion, their belief system, NOT mine.
For me, someone trying to hit me at being vegan is like trying to hit out at me for being a woman. Not going to happen.
- How can vegans inspire older generations to adopt a compassionate lifestyle?
The biggest inspiration for any generation is to be an example. This is why I am passionate about encouraging those who go vegan, to do so in a healthy manner! Otherwise, if you get sick or tired, and blame it on the diet, no one is going to want to join you!! Also pointing them in the direction of well-researched articles, such as those done by the UN, or documentaries that have Doctors and scientist supporting veganism. The older generation was often raised to have the belief that what they say is the absolute truth!
- Who is your favorite animal rights activist and what makes them stand out in your opinion?
My favourite animal rights activist… mmm… I am inspired by all who make the choice to be compassionate but there are many many incredible people with resonating voices making an impact. Some that personally resonate with me include journalist Will Potter, politician Mark Pearson, yoga teacher, Seane Corne and of course, perhaps more publicly speaking about the environment but still touching on animal welfare, is Jane Goodall. All these people I feel are deeply committed to the work, with no personal agenda. They are not the people who have shiny social media, but who are doing the work. This is by no means a final list!
- What is your favourite vegan brand and why do you love to support them?
My favourite vegan brand, I couldn’t say just one. I don’t buy too many things as I try to be conscious of the impact of consumerism! But I do have a new bag by Angela Roi which I love. It is good quality and mid-price range.
p.s. – All rights to photographs belong to Gemma Davis.