Interview with a Vegan

by Melannie Svoboda SND on October 1, 2018

One of my good friends, Sister Ann Marie Teder, SND, is a vegan. Recently, she prepared a vegan meal for the two of us: lentil soup, tomato-basil-avocado sandwich, fruit salad, and eggless gingersnap cookies and non-dairy ice cream for dessert. It was delicious! Later, I interviewed her for this reflection. It seemed appropriate to post this reflection this week since October 4 is World Animal Day and the feast of St. Francis of Assisi, known for his love and respect for all creation.

What is a vegan?

A vegan is a person who does not eat or use animal products. (That means no meat, fish, eggs, cheese and no use of leather goods, etc.)

Why do people in general go vegan?

Most become vegan for their own health, for animal welfare, for the environmental impact, and for the poor.

Why did YOU make this choice?

I guess I’ve always had a heart for animals. I’m curious about them and what

Sister Annie befriending Madeline, an alpaca. (Photo courtesy of Sr. Lory Ines Rockenbach, SND who is one of our Brazilian sisters and a reader of this blog.)

they possibly think of us. When I ate on our deck near the bird feeder, I used to wonder if the birds knew I was eating a bird (chicken). At one point, I decided if I loved animals, I had to stop eating them. So on Ash Wednesday 2016, I gave up meat for good.

Later that year I accidentally learned about “factory farming” while researching information about animals. After watching undercover videos and seeing the suffering of animals—including fish—I knew I needed to make a change. Most meat, dairy, and eggs sold in the U.S. come from factory farms. I felt a disconnect between my values and what I was eating. So in Lent 2017 I went vegan. What I didn’t expect was the peace I felt afterward. By this single decision, I can spare animals, help save the environment, lessen poverty, and improve my health. Another thing: It’s always easier to ask others to change—sign a petition, vote, etc. Going vegan means I change instead of asking animals to suffer and die for my sake.

You mentioned the suffering of animals. Don’t animal welfare laws (at least in this country) protect animals?

Animals used for food and other products are exempt from those laws. Birds aren’t even covered under “humane slaughter laws,” laws which are often not enforced.

Why not change the laws and raise animals humanely?

We should change the laws. But even if we cut down all the forests we wouldn’t have enough land to raise animals humanely. The real problem is our demand. Factory farms are not here by accident; they were created in response to our great demand for those foods.

Do you get proper nutrition eating vegan?

Sister Annie, SND (Photo courtesy of Sister M. Sherly Kodiyan, SND)

Yes. The health benefits of a vegan diet are well-documented. Eating animals and animal products is actually unhealthy. But if you decide to go vegetarian or vegan, tell your doctor. You may need a B-12 supplement, for example, or iron.

Are your eating choices expensive and/or time-consuming to implement?

Individual items can cost a bit more, but vegan meals are overall equivalent to or less expensive than non-vegan meals. Preparation time is about the same. If you live with omnivores, you need not make separate meals. You can make “accidentally vegan” dishes (like pasta with marinara sauce) or ones that you can remove portions for the vegans and then add the animal products afterward for the omnivores.

Do you have any regrets about going vegan?

I have only one. It’s summarized in this quote: “Dear animals, I’m sorry it took me so long.”

Is there anything else you would like to say about this choice you’ve made?

Being vegan has stretched me in a good way. I’m still learning about it and transitioning. I’ll leave you with some helpful links. And this quote by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau: “May our daily choices be a reflection of our deepest values, and may we use our voices to speak for those who need us most, those who have no voice, those who have no choice.”

Thank you for the opportunity to share, Melannie!

And thank you, Annie, for all you shared with us! You’ve given me much to reflect on and pray over.

PS: I will be giving an evening presentation in Racine, Wisconsin on Thursday, Oct. 25. Then I’ll be leading a weekend retreat Oct. 26-28. Both events are held at Siena Retreat Center.  Click “events” at the top of this page or click on their website below and enter my name for details:

http://www.SienaRetreatCenter.org.

I’ll list the links Sr. Ann Marie suggested after today’s song. Today I chose an “oldie”: “Bless the Beasts and Children” by the Carpenters. The song seems to capture the spirit of this interview as well as the spirit of St. Francis:

Here are the links Sr. Annie recommended.

Videos:

“The Choice Is Yours” https://youtu.be/jBiBlCfSPby (1 min. 20 sec.)

“What the Dairy Industry Doesn’t Want You to Know” https://youtu.be/h3c D0s391Q (54 min. talk by Dr. Neal Banard on the health benefits of eating vegan. Based on the book The Cheese Trap)

“You Will Never Look at Your Life the Same Way Again” https//youtu.be/Z3u7hXpOm58 (32 min.)

“Draw My Life: A Hen in Today’s World” https:youtu.be/95OFylCCBU8 (short video using black and white drawings of how most of us get our eggs today)

Websites:

www.onegreenplanet.org

christianveg.org

mercyforanimals.org

 

Recipe sites:

minimalistbaker.com

www.peta2.com/vegan-life/the-ultimate-vegan-baking-cheat-sheet

Now it’s your turn… any responses about the interview?

Are any of you vegetarians or vegans? If so, why? I not, why not?

 

 

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Kathleen October 1, 2018 at 6:06 am

Sr. Melannie,

What a great topic! I have been a vegetarian since 1982. It was a natural choice for me and has helped me feel healthier over the years.

I tried the vegan diet but found it very difficult to follow. I admire Sr. Annie for making that choice.

Thanks for sharing so much information.

Kathleen

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Denise October 1, 2018 at 7:33 am

Sr. Melannie,
What a moving testimony by Sr. Anne. The logic and character of her decision encourages me to make my life reflect what I say I believe.
Pope Francis has brought this to our attention as well as St. Paul. Why do I live a life that does not reflect what I believe, do the things I don’t want to do? Simply put, it’s more comfortable for me to be disappointed in the world than to change myself. Delving into that will put a swimming pool in a therapist’s back yard! Lol
Denise

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Maria Stawarz October 1, 2018 at 8:20 am

Beautiful video; we must be a voice for the voiceless. Great information to share on vegan lifestyle as it helps manage and prevent many chronic diseases such as diabetes.

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Mary October 1, 2018 at 8:53 am

I feel rather as you do, Sr. Melannie…..much to think and pray about. The video really touched me. I was familiar with the song, but never actually thought about the words…..and then with the visuals, well it has touched me deeply. I feel a chaange coming on, but I’m not certain where it will go.

Thank you for more food for prayer,
Mary

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Joan Kozel Campagna October 1, 2018 at 8:55 am

Thank you for this interview! I’ve been vegan about 6 months, and feel good about my choice. I always wonder, Could people eat their dog???? It’s really not any different!
I love your blog and blessings for your upcoming presentation.
Joan Campagna EC ‘83

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Linda October 1, 2018 at 10:03 am

That song has always brought tears to my eyes! I also recommend the book with the same title which is a story about kids forced to participate in the buffalo “hunts” in the U.S. They weren’t true hunts at all since the animals were fenced in. Heartbreaking.

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Marla October 1, 2018 at 11:08 am

Loved the video. Knew the words but seeing the visuals brought tears to my eyes. Ask Sr. Ann if she would ever share some of her own simple favorite recipes.

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John Hopkins October 1, 2018 at 2:31 pm

Sister Annie seems like a beautiful, authentic person. Would that we all had her love for all God’s creatures great and small.

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Lori Ann October 1, 2018 at 4:10 pm

Dear Sr. Melannie: Do you know me? I feel like you must. This interview could not have come at a more opportune time in my life.
One of the things i have been thinking about for a l.ong time now, is Finally becomming animal free style of eating. No need in seeing them any more mistreatment from the human side. I perish unless the animals be spared.
Thank you for today’s message, it could not have been on a better day.

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Sunnie Poplar October 1, 2018 at 7:36 pm

Of my 5 adult children, one family is vegan, which came about after my daughter’s husband had a heart attack and open heart surgery. Another daughter’s husband is now gluten free as a result of being diagnosed with celiac disease. We all enjoy the creative dishes that we’ve been introduced to. What amazes me is how all the restaurants have readily adapted to their needs.

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Theresa October 1, 2018 at 9:05 pm

Beautiful song by a beautiful person.
Thank you for sharing Sister. I will honor all
animals on October 4th and pray for those
who are hungry.

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JoAnn Welch October 7, 2018 at 9:38 pm

Sr. Melannie…I enjoyed reading Sr. Annie’s journey into being a vegan. I have been a ovo-lacto vegetarian since the early 80’s…I have not ventured into being a vegan, although I think I could. I quit fish a few years ago but still eat some cheese and eggs. I get the urge to let those go too…perhaps sometime soon. Congrats Sr. Annie on your sensitivity to animals as a reason for your decisions. I need to learn from you!!!

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