By Roxanne Hill, Community Engagement and Events Manager
I met Susan Estrella at VegFest LA when she approached the Vegan Outreach table to tell me that it was because of our Why Vegan booklet that she went vegan 13 years ago. Even prior to meeting Susan, I’d heard about her when a mutual acquaintance told me about the wonderful activist work she does.
I caught up with Susan and had the opportunity to ask her about her vegan journey and activism. I know you’re all going to love getting to know Susan as much as I did, so let’s listen to what this Uber-driving, animal activist, and great-grandmother has to say!
Roxanne Hill: How long have you been an animal rights activist? What inspired you to do this work?
Susan Estrella: I’ve been a vegan since October 25, 2003. I didn’t know any other vegans at the time. Vegan Outreach’s booklet Why Vegan was the catalyst. As a vegetarian, I thought I wasn’t hurting animals. But after reading the booklet, I realized I was paying people to torture animals for me.
Roxanne: How do you go about spreading the vegan message and advocating for animals?
Susan: I started working for Uber a little over a year ago, and I spread the vegan message by telling my passengers all about it. I carry a lot of literature, so I’ve been planting a lot of seeds.
Roxanne: Susan has definitely planted some seeds! Here are a few feedback comments she’s received from her Uber passengers—
“Made me go vegan.”
“You were so sweet. I think you’ve convinced me to be a vegan.”
“Thank you! Ban cruelty.”
“Thank you, Susan, keep fighting the good fight.”
“Learned so much. Thank you.”
“Thank you for the great pamphlets and I will definitely check out the World Peace Diet.”
“Thanks for directing us further down the path! Love your energy.”
Roxanne: How is your life different now than prior to becoming vegan?
Susan: Oh wow! Beyond the fact that, as a great-grandmother, I live with less stress and more joy.
I’m on a mission for a kinder, healthier, more loving world for absolutely everyone. Like Dr. Will Tuttle states in his book, The World Peace Diet, “If you want to live a peaceful life, you have to allow that for all beings.”
Roxanne: What advice do you have for young activists?
Susan: I tell people it’s nobody’s fault. Virtually all cultures on the planet are based on violence and people are conditioned that this is the way to live. I would tell young activists to try to be sensitive to the fact that people have been hypnotized since birth.
Dr. Tuttle reminds us, from the time we’re babies we see meat up to three times a day. The message that we receive is to not be compassionate, but to just eat the food.
And the truth is, animals aren’t different from us in their ability to feel pain and suffering.
Roxanne: What else would you like to share about yourself?
Susan: I color my hair with crazy colors because it’s an all vegan product and it gets people’s attention. It provides a way to open the conversation.
Roxanne: When I asked Susan if it would be okay for me to mention that she’s a great-grandmother, her response was, “Of course! How many people can claim to be a great-grandmother and a teenager?”
After meeting Susan, I couldn’t help but feel grateful. I am grateful for the love and compassion she has for animals and humans alike, her energy and passion that drives her to do this work and inspire anyone fortunate enough to meet her, and for the opportunity to be reminded of our common responsibility to care for all creatures.