Lauren Farnsworth is a member of Vegan Outreach’s Board of Directors and one of our most successful Team Vegan fundraisers. She and her new husband Steve do so much for VO, and we’re incredibly grateful to work with them to make the world better for animals. Meet Lauren!
Hi Lauren! Tell us about yourself.
Hi! I’m a writer of technical and fictional things, and I love to read, hike, and relax with my new husband and two kitties. I live and work in Silicon Valley, but I’m hoping to escape to somewhere less crowded in the future. And I’m an only child, but hopefully that doesn’t explain anything.
You mentioned your new husband. You just married Steve Sprang, another incredible VO supporter. Congratulations! Did you plan a vegan wedding?
Thanks! Yes, our wedding was vegan, from the cotton suit that my husband wore to the dinner we ate at Sanctuary Bistro in Berkeley. They made excellent mini chocolate cupcakes with chocolate and vanilla frosting. I didn’t freeze any for next year – we ate them all!
Our wedding included 10 people at beautiful and historic San Francisco City Hall. My bouquet and my husband’s boutonniere were from Whole Foods. We got our rings from McFarland Designs, which uses conflict-free gems and recycled metal. They donate a percentage of their sales to charity, and we were very surprised when we received a VO flyer in the mail with our rings! It seemed meant to be.
Share with us the story of your vegan journey.
At age 14 I looked down at my hamburger from Burger King and decided that I didn’t want to eat animals. My mother often ate vegetarian, which probably influenced me to become vegetarian. Then as a freshman at UC Davis I took a class taught by former veterinary professor Nedim Buyukmihci about many forms of animal exploitation. I went vegan thinking that I couldn’t eat bread or chocolate – quite a sacrifice for me. I was happily enlightened when a roommate in my dorm introduced me to chocolate soy milk. That was 15 years ago.
How did you get involved with Vegan Outreach?
It probably had something to do with the illustrious leader Jack Norris being part of the Sacramento vegan community. I hadn’t ever fundraised before, but I decided to try raising money for Team Vegan, and managed to meet my goals several years in a row. As I got to know the organization better, and truly trust and appreciate their message and approach, I started donating as well.
You do so much to support and enable VO’s work. What inspires this?
By being vegan, I make a conscious choice at every meal to affect change for animals, myself, the environment, and society as a whole. It takes many voices to create a message that is heard. I feel comfortable with VO and confident in their work, which makes me want to support them in effecting change in the world on a larger scale.
What advice would you give to someone reading this who is considering adopting a vegan diet?
#1 Try it! Sometimes all or nothing works – giving up all animal products in one day. But for many people it’s a gradual process. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Changing your diet is a learning experience and can take time and patience. If you eat a pile of pesto not knowing it included cheese, shake it off and try again next time.
#2 Use judgement. If you’re at your friend’s house all day and they make you a vegan sandwich and you notice that one of the 30 ingredients in the bread is whey, you can thank them, and then mention what your favorite bread is later, and about how you love knowing exactly what’s in your food. My point is that while 100% commitment to veganism is awesome, and I support that, sometimes you can make a bigger difference by making it clear that being vegan is doable.
#3 Indulge a little! If you’re trying to start eating vegan, and also change the style of food (fries to salad), you can let up a little. Eat some vegan ice cream, or get some fries if that helps you make the transition. I’m not advocating junk food all the time, but you can indulge once in a while and remain vegan.
Finally, share with us your absolute favorite meal.
Picking one is too much to ask! Strawberry shortcake is high on the list…cake, pureed strawberries, cream. Macaroni and cheese. And chocolate of course.
Thank you, Lauren, and congratulations again to you and Steve!
Donate to Lauren’s Team Vegan page here.