This is Ellen, and my vegan journey here.
As a kid I ate steak, chicken and potatoes. That's it. In college (back in the '80s!) I gave $20 to a group called PETA, not knowing much about them. Back then, before the internet, they sent stuff out, and I was horrified about what I learned about veal. I gave it up immediately. From there, I slowly gave up all animals until I was vegetarian. I never ate veal again, but I did go back and forth about meat. It tool awhile before I settled into being vegetarian.
Our family has been vegetarian for a long long time. One time about 20 years ago my brother-in-law asked me, "How can you be vegetarian and wear leather shoes? That's hypocritical!" I got angry at him for about an hour and then realized he was right. If I truly cared about animals, I shouldn't wear them, I stopped buying anything made from animals. Just me. Now I was an "ethical vegetarian."
So that led me to Mooshoes in NYC, to buy vegan shoes. I saw a card there for a place called Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary. Bobby and I decided to go up there in September 2009. It was their old farm, and we took a tour with the co-founder Jenny Brown. All the animals had names! I never really thought about chickens having families, or the suffering of cows used for milk. I really thought if you don't kill them, that was enough. I cried as Jenny held the chickens that would be used in the egg industry, as she showed us the crates where they would live. I heard how a calf and its mother cry when they are separated. How would a human mother feel? It seemed the same. We left there with me as a vegan. My older daughter said "I'm in" and the two of us did the 22-day vegan challenge. Back then they called your phone every day. The internet was still newish.
About six months later the other two in the house came on board, and the four of us have been a vegan family ever since. It changed our lives. The girls were in public school. I wrote letters to get them out of dissection. They didn't go to the circus with the Girl Scouts. Rebecca had to do a paper on a hero and she did Ingrid Newkirk from PETA, who sent lots of brochures and stickers, and a personal note to our house. Leah raised money to sponsor a chicken in school. They raised the money a dollar or so per kid until a teacher helped her out - and then we visited the chicken. Their friends were happy eating our fake chicken nuggets when they came over. In general, the girls were nice and some boys made fun. Some of them are now vegan, too, btw. We did what we could to spread a positive message. We still do.
As a family, we have seen that engaging friendly conversations, and good food, are the most important ways to get individuals to stop eating animals. We respect the true activists, but we only participate if it is a friendly approach. Angry vegans hurt the cause, imho. We are happy to join a group of positive people protesting the horse carriages or circuses, but not if they throw paint or yell at people. We love VegFests, Pride Parades, and other places to meet new vegans. It's so nice to find others that feel just like we do.
The rest of the family has vegan Instagrams. Leah just started a website, filled with resources! Still in the works as I write, but coming soon. I do volunteer work for animal sanctuaries and other vegan groups, including some of our favorites, NY Farm Animal Save and JewishVeg
We always wanted a vegan business, so REBL was born. If you notice, none of our messaging is meant to make anyone feel bad. Rebecca is main designer, but everything is collaborative. WE LOVE GOING TO VEGFESTS! No better way to feel all positive happy vibes! We have met so many wonderful people on our journey, and the best part is that we did it TOGETHER AS A FAMILY.
Thanks for listening. I have some shirts to fold now...