Thursday, April 19, 2018

10 Questions: Vegan Rockstar with Carleigh Williams...


I love meeting new people who are spreading the compassionate living message in a fun and engaging way so it was my pleasure to meet Carleigh Williams of The Vegan Clubhouse when she was tabling at Indy VegFest. The Vegan Clubhouse, which you can also find on YouTube and Instagram, provides a fun, informative and welcoming platform and as well as helpful resources for those who are exploring veganism. Please check out and share what Carleigh and The Vegan Clubhouse have to offer! I am honored to feature Carleigh as this week’s Vegan Rock Star. 

1. First of all, we’d love to hear your “vegan evolution” story. How did you start out? Did you have any early influences or experiences as a young person that in retrospect helped to pave your path?

I always loved animals, but I also definitely used the whole “we need it to be healthy” justification to continue eating them. I was definitely addicted to cheese & thought that people who were vegan had gone too far & were just extreme. I worked in the health field & was given the book Reversing Diabetes by Dr. Neal Barnard. After reading that I was blown away. Everything I had known about nutrition & preventing disease, was wrong. At that point I started to do more research. I watched tons of nutrition videos & slowly allowed myself to watch videos about animal rights. Once I watched “the best speech you’ll ever hear” by Gary Yourofsky, I was determined to go vegan. Unfortunately, I was so addicted to cheese that I immediately started going through withdrawal. I added cheese back into my diet for about 6 weeks while I weaned off it. I realized that I would be more successful working with my body, just a little, than forcing it. I wish I could have gone overnight, but I’m so glad I made it to fully vegan!

2. Imagine that you are pre-vegan again: how could someone have talked to you and what could they have said or shown you that could have been the most effective way to have a positive influence on you moving toward veganism?

The tools that I use the most now & that I think would have been the most effective on me would be to show me that I can live the same life I already live, just vegan. There are so many alternatives now & it really comes down to, why not? Why not try it? Had someone suggested it and offered to show me alternatives to all the things I loved & just asked me to try it and see how I liked it, I would have done it. I also never met a vegan before I went vegan--so I think knowing some vegans and their ability to show me how exciting living vegan was would have intrigued me. So, make yourself known as a vegan & show people how awesome it is!

3. What have you found to be the most effective way to communicate your message as a vegan? For example, humor, passion, images, etc.?

I find the best way to spread the message is to live as an example. I don’t keep it secret that I’m vegan, but I also don’t tell everyone everything about what they’re eating & supporting. I make it clear what I do and don’t support & that it’s not a temporary thing for me. I also try to be a patient with people around me as I can. I will answer any question they have, even if I’ve answered it 100 times before. I want them to have a good first impression with veganism. I think there’s such a negative stigma & stereotype with veganism that if we can start to shift that, it will make all the difference in the world.

4. What do you think are the biggest strengths of the vegan movement?

I think the biggest strength is that veganism is a win-win-win. There’s really no downside to it other than discomfort & inconvenience. & those are tiny downsides compared to the upsides. Veganism is beneficial for everyone. For the animals, the planet, the starving children, our own health. I think people are seeing more and more information about how it’s beneficial in all these other ways and that strengthens their resolve to go for it.

5. What do you think are our biggest hindrances to getting the word out effectively?

I think the biggest hurdle for the vegan movement is fear. People are afraid of how it’s going to flip their lives. They’re going to lose their friends, they’re going to live a life of tofu & salad, they’re going to be unhealthy, they aren’t going to be able to be social. And that’s just not true. Veganism will completely change your life, but in amazing ways.

6. All of us need a “why vegan” elevator pitch. We’d love to hear yours.

“Why not?” if someone asked me why I was vegan, I’d ask why wouldn’t I be vegan? I can live a life that’s not only completely full, but it makes a difference. I’m able to save animals every single day, decrease my carbon footprint, help world hunger, take care of myself, & put compassion out into the world on a daily basis. Why wouldn’t I do that?

7. Who are the people and what are the books, films, websites and organizations that have had the greatest influence on your veganism and your continuing evolution?

Gary Yourofsky was definitely the trigger to make me decide to go vegan. Some of my favorite resources that I would highly recommend are:
Main Street Vegan Book
ChickPeeps Podcast
Ellen Fisher on YouTube
Earthling Ed on YouTube
& so many yummy food blogs including:

8. Burn-out is so common among vegans: what do you do to unwind, recharge and inspire yourself?

I have always been a pretty positive person. I’m able to focus most of the time on how amazing it is that we are constantly moving forward. Whenever I start to get frustrated, I see if I can use that situation to inspire anyone else. Can I make a video around that topic to answer the questions of other vegans? Can I answer their questions patiently to inspire someone else in the room & when I’m really burned out about it, I just go hide out with my cats and disconnect from the Internet. Honestly, I don’t follow very many non-vegan people anymore online & that really helps too.

9. What is the issue nearest and dearest to your heart that you would like others to know more about?

I’m constantly amazed by how much veganism and zero waste are intertwined. Animals are dying, their habitats are being destroyed by our consumerism & plastic use. I really encourage people to look at the waste they are putting out into the world & see if they can cut it back, find a more sustainable way to live that helps the animals & planet from another angle.

10. Please finish this sentence: “To me, being vegan is...”

To me, being vegan is the ultimate expression of love & kindness. It’s putting positive vibes & compassion out into the world with every bite, purchase, & decision I make. Quick note: Every person featured in our 10 Questions series has come to their veganism from different backgrounds, with different approaches and inspired by different people. The responses to the questions in our interviews are the opinions of the interviewee, not necessarily shared by myself or

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