Welcome to the first “Supporter Spotlight” post! In these new monthly blog posts, we will shine a spotlight on our members, whose hard work and generosity truly enable the work of Vegan Outreach. Let’s peel back the curtain and get to know some of these champions for animals, starting with Jessica Silva.
Jessica, tell us about yourself.
After studying journalism at the University of Maryland, I worked as a science writer for the US Department of Agriculture. Over the course of a 30-year career, I have enjoyed being a writer, editor, teacher, and tutor – always part time so I could be home with my kids too. Now I enjoy spending many hours in the gym every week, getting strong and staying physically fit.
I am 51, but, because of rigorous workouts and a healthy vegan diet, I feel better, younger, and more alive than I did when I was 25. I am beyond blessed that my husband and two grown children, Alex and Crystal, are all vegan and that we are very close.
Tell us about how you became vegan.
At age 7, while walking to a Girl Scouts meeting with three friends, I asked them rhetorically why we eat cows and not dogs. It just did not make sense to me. Both were living, breathing animals with the spark of life inside of them. Both want to breathe the air, feel the warm sun on their faces.
During childhood, I never could stomach eating meat unless it was masked into, for example, a hot dog or pepperoni. Then, when I was 19, I was shown in a dream a cow going down at slaughter. I stopped eating cows and pigs immediately, then chickens and turkeys two years later. I finally let go of fish in my mid 20s.
It wasn’t until I saw undercover footage of abused cows and chickens on Facebook that I realized that dairy and eggs cause as much suffering as, if not more than, actually eating meat. I went vegan in October 2012.
Giving up ice cream was the hardest! I felt like I was addicted. You could find me in the ice cream aisle, lingering outside the case as I considered buying a pint or two “just this once.” I had to picture the mother cow, tethered interminably to her concrete and metal stall. I was able to walk away when I saw her sad, defeated face in my mind’s eye.
How did you first get involved with Vegan Outreach?
I met VO workers at a VegFest and learned I could help educate others through leafleting. I was hooked immediately.
Why do you support VO?
It is imperative that as many people as possible go vegan quickly – for the sake of the animals, as well as our shared Earth. Vegan Outreach has the machine in place to disseminate this information to a large number of people quickly. And they target the right audience – mostly young, open-minded people who are ready for this kind of important change. VO has a no nonsense approach to a huge problem, and they utilize resources efficiently and wisely.
What is one piece of advice you’d give to someone considering vegan eating?
Talk to other vegans – a lot! Going vegan can seem daunting at first. Most vegans are more than willing to help you as you navigate meal planning, eating out, dealing with skeptical friends and family, “getting enough protein,” etc.
Finally, share with us your absolute favorite meal.
Any Asian dish with tofu and veggies! I love Thai coconut basil curry, stir fry, Kung Pao tofu, etc.
Thank you, Jessica, and thank you to all our wonderful supporters!