Happy Friday, everyone!! Today we’re talking with one of the most compassionate human beings I’ve encountered – Her love for animals and people is truly genuine. I was drawn to Sarah’s Instagram account because it is a beautiful mix of personal, nature, food and animals. You really get a sense about who she is and what she stands for. She’s raising awareness about animal rights by being their voice and also showing people that a plant-based lifestyle is easier than you think.
INTERVIEW WITH SARAH…
Tell us a little bit about yourself!
My name is Sarah McLaughlin, I’m 20 years old and I’m a 3rd year Modern Literature student at the University of California Santa Cruz. I’m a copy editor for my campus newspaper, City on a Hill Press, and I’m hoping to pursue a career in Journalism or Publishing. I’m really interested in environmental and social justice issues and nutrition. I’m hoping my future will allow me to combine those interests into a career path. I love to hike, cook/bake, read, and spend time with my family. I’m a huge Harry Potter nerd and my guilty pleasure is binge watching shows on Netflix. Other than my human family, I share my life with four cats, a dog, and four rats.
When did you go vegan? What was your ‘aha’ moment?
I wish I had an “aha” moment where I suddenly went vegan, but for me it was more of a transition. When I was a sophomore in high school I watched the documentary “The Cove” about the dolphin killings in Japan. I was horrified and couldn’t believe the atrocities that went on. A few days later I came across an image online that said “just a little reminder that you can’t get angry at other cultures for eating animals like dogs, cats, guinea pigs, or dolphins when you do the exact same thing but with cows, pigs, chickens, and fish.” At that moment I made the connection to the animals on my plate and I stopped eating meat. I was vegetarian for 4 years, before I learned the truth about the dairy and egg industry and phased those products out of my life. It was more about living my truth and realizing that to speak of injustice and cruelty, but continue to contribute to it was hypocritical. Peace begins on my plate.
What is the hardest part about being vegan?
The hardest part about being vegan is definitely NOT the food. Haha. I get a lot of comments about depriving myself, but I’ve never eaten a more diverse array of foods and flavors. The hardest part for me would be sitting down at the table with people I love and watching them eat animal products without a care. I know how they got there and the suffering involved and though I stay quiet it’s hard to deal with constantly. It’s also hard to deal with people laughing and making jokes in the face of immense suffering and death. It’s not a joke, and people would be horrified if it was happening to their companion animals or their family. So that would be the hardest part for me.
What does natural health mean to you?
Natural health means to me eating from the earth, as organically as possible. We live in a world where the soil has been ravaged of its nutrients, the water and air polluted; so it can be immensely difficult to ensure that I am doing all I can to treat my body well. I listen to my body and recognize what food it responds well to. It also extends beyond food though. Cosmetics and cleaning products, basically anything we expose our skin to can have negative effects. So I make sure that I avoid synthetic chemicals, fragrances and dyes. Balancing all of this with my state of mind is also important. It does no good for me to allow myself to become stressed and overwhelmed in my pursuit of natural health. So in all I believe maintaining a strong connection to our body and our environment is what natural health means to me.
Tell us about your blog!!
My blog is relatively new and progressing. It’s hard for me to post often because of school obligations. When I’m constantly writing and reading for school I don’t always feel like writing more, but I’m committed to regular posts in the future. My blog focuses on recipes, ethical veganism, and animal rights issues. It’s also a place for me to explore my feelings and deal with my pursuit for body acceptance. t’s also a place for me to connect with fellow vegans or those who are curious about veganism.
What is your favorite cruelty-free product?
Favorite Cruelty Free Product….Hmm. There are several, but I love Hurraw lip balm. I have about 5-6 tubes always rotating between my dorm and my backpack. They use organic, raw, fair trade products and some in a wide array of flavors. My personal favorite in the red tinted black cherry lip balm. I’m not a huge makeup person, but a good lip balm is a necessity.
Who or what inspires you?
My parents are a huge inspiration for me, because their dedication to their work and community is so inspiring. My mom is a high school Biology teacher and one of the strongest people I know. She speeds so much time making sure her students get the best education they possibly can within a faulty school system. My dad spends so many of his off-work hours volunteering and co-chairing our local high school’s Booster Club.
Other than my parents one of my favorite environmental activists is Julia Butterfly Hill. Julia Butterfly Hill lived in a 180 ft tall, roughly 1500 year old California Redwood tree for 738 days between December 10, 1997 and December 18, 1999. Hill lived in the tree, affectionately known as “Luna,” to prevent Pacific Lumber Company loggers from cutting it down. I was always inspired by her dedication and perseverance in face of such an ultimate lack of respect for our Earth.
A kitchen gadget you can’t live without…
My blender! I use it every day and it’s not unusual to use it twice a day. At home I have a Vitamix which is amazing, at school I have my Ninja blender which is also good. The Vitamix I use for everything from smoothies, hummus, soups, salad dressings, and nut butters. It’s a staple.
What is your favorite meal?
My favorite meal. That’s a tough one! It’s to hard to pick a home cooked one, so my favorite meal I’ve had at a restaurant is at Plum Cafe in Sacramento, CA. I had a sweet potato panini with avocado which was just absolutely fantastic. Sweet baked potato on ciabbatta bread with creamy avocado, and garlic aioli. Who said vegan food sucks again?
Three of your favorite cooking ingredients…
Chickpeas first and foremost, because hummus! I also love them roasted for a snack, or in curries, or in salads, or even in soups. They’re very versatile. Second would be basil, because I’m so hooked on the oil free pesto from Isa Does It’s cookbook. It’s also great added to smoothies for a fresh taste, and in salads, or sandwiches. And third maybe garlic? I use it in almost everything. I love it on roasted veggies, in stir fries, soups, curries, pizzas, pasta. It’s my most used cooking ingredient for sure.
Favorite resources regarding a plant-based lifestyle…
My favorite resources are the Oh She Glows cookbook and Isa Does It cookbook. Not only do I love them, but my parents cook out of their copies all the time! Anything that gets non-vegans loving vegan food is a winner in my book. I also loved reading Michael Pollen’s book, Cooked. It’s not exactly vegan, but it talks extensively about our culture’s movement from home cooked, slow grown food to fast food and convenience foods. It’s an interesting read for anyone interested in the benefits of home cooked meals. Documentaries are huge for me and I love Food Inc., Vegucated, and Cowspiracy. I cannot stress enough how great Cowspiracy is for anyone interested in environmental issues.
Any tips or words of advice to anyone considering a plant-based lifestyle?
Do not let people’s comments and judgements affect you. I know that if I did it would be hard to be happy with my choices. Your reasons for going vegan are valid and your decision is making a difference. Every day our choices influence our environment and affect others and we can choose to have a positive or a negative affect.
Another key thing for me is to be careful to not surround myself with too much negativity. I do care about animal rights, which I think many vegans do, but there’s only so much suffering and pain I can expose myself to. If I’m constantly sad with the state of the world I can’t make much positive change. So, just concentrate on all the good happening and the awareness being raised and try to raise some of your own.
My favorite quote since the age of 3 is from The Lorax by Dr. Suess “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot,
Nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”
Three words to describe YOU…
Tender-hearted determined bookworm. Haha.
Where can we find you via social media?
Thank you so much, Sarah!! You truly are a beautiful human being – inside & out…and wise beyond your years.
Thanks for stopping by!