Today's weekly muse is my dear friend and fellow travel buddy Feather Ives. Feather and I met on a blog I had five years ago and we met up in L.A. in 2006. We have been thick as thieves every since. I have watched her grow into a very compassionate vegan and amazing writer and I encouraged her to take her life-changing trip to Paris last year.
Below is a transcript of questions that I asked her about herself and her blog and any advice she can give about becoming a vegetarian or vegan. Read on and be inspired.
"If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude."
1. Who are you and what sites do you have? What are the purposes of your web sites?
My name is Feather Ives. I am a writer, filmmaker, vegan and traveler. I created the blogs VeganAroundtheWorld.com, FeatherIves.wordpress.com; and I created the network, VeganAroundtheWorldNetwork.
Vegan Around the World is my travel blog. It has a double meaning. I am the Vegan Around the World and at the same time Vegan Around the World is support system for vegans around the world. I created the VATW Network so vegans would have a place to discuss veganism and what it's like being vegan in their homelands. It is also a travel networking resource for vegans who are hitting the road.
My personal blog, Feather Ives: writer, is the blog that is dedicated to my writing and personal essays related mostly to relationships, politics, love, aging, movies, society and anything else that's on my mind.
2. How long have you been a vegan and why did you become vegan?
I have been a strict vegan for more than a year. I've been mostly vegetarian and sometimes pescetarian for 19 years this year. I initially became a vegetarian because I saw an expose on how chickens were treated in factory farms and it devastated me. I decided to give up meat at that time. I would occasionally eat fish. I ate dairy too. I never felt great after eating them. It was when I read Skinny Bitch that I said no more dairy, and it wasn't hard at all. I was still eating fish occasionally. Then, I visited Paris in January 2010 and that's when I decided that I didn't want to continue eating or wearing any animal by-products. It is just another way I can show compassion to Earth's gifts. Here's a few more reasons why I became vegan for the animals, Earth and my health:
Until he extends the circle of his compassion to all living things, man will not himself find peace. —Albert Schweitzer, French philosopher, physician, and musician (Nobel 1952)
The love for all living creatures is the most noble attribute of man.—Charles Darwin, English naturalist (1809–1882)
Nothing will benefit human health and increase chances of survival of life on Earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet.—Albert Einstein
The beef industry has contributed to more American deaths than all the wars of this century, all natural disasters, and all automobile accidents combined. If beef is your idea of “real food for real people,” you’d better live real close to a real good hospital.—Neal D. Barnard, MD, President, Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine
4. Have you done any vegan traveling? Where are the best places for vegan travelers?
I spent five months and two weeks traveling in 2010. My first trip was to Paris in January. That's where I came to be a true vegan. I was lodging at The Gentle Gourmet, a bed & breakfast in the heart of Paris. The proprietors were amazing animal lovers, and what it truly means to be a vegan hit home with me while I stayed there. I returned from that trip with a desire to be a better vegan, do more travel and explore vegan cultures abroad. So, I saved up my money, quit my job and started my 5-month vegan journey throughout North America and Europe. My trip included San Francisco, Los Angeles, Vancouver, Washington DC, New York, Paris, Argeles-sur-mer, Montpellier, Marseille, Nice, Menton, France; London; Monaco; and 10 weeks in Italy including Bologna, Venice, Verona, Naples, Amalfi Coast, Rome and Florence.
My top cities for vegan travelers, based on cities I've visted, are Los Angeles, San Francisco region, New York, Vancouver, Portland, Chicago, London, Paris and Florence. I have to give Naples its recognition too for being home to the marinara pizza which is cheeseless! Florence was my favorite with the only vegan bakery in Italy and just being a general all-around awesome city. I am sure to add some Asian destinations over the next year.
5. What are some of your favorite vegan clothing, shoe and cosmetic brands?
As long as it's not derived from animal-products, I like it. My favorite soaps and lotions are the ones made by mom, Debbie, who founded Debbie's Urban Soap Company. I try to keep it pretty simple with facial cleansers preferring to use witch hazel to cleanse and a The Heritage Store's Unscented Aura Glow to moisturize with sunscreen. My cosmetics are mascara and lip gloss and the brands vary often.
6. What do you like to do that is creative and what are your plans for your creative outlet(s)?
I am a life-long writer. I write screenplays, plays, essays, short stories and lyrics. I have been enjoying photography the past year. I directed my first film in 2010. That was a blast. I also acted in a few films last year. This year, I will continue to shoot footage and edit it. I find I learn a lot about directing through editing, and I really enjoy the process. I enjoy a lot of creative outlets that I can do in solitude, so I plan on doing some things that are more social like cooking classes.
7. What are your future plans for your vegan network, vegan life and your life in general?
I am moving to S. Korea in a few weeks. I will be in Daegu teaching English. I am beyond excited to become an expat. Living in S. Korea will give me the opportunity to expand my vegan travels and continue learning about vegan cultures in Asia. I am also working on a vegan travel book entitled The 50 Best Destinations for Vegan Travelers. I am also working on a series of essays about the men from my past as well as rewriting a few dramatic screenplays.