This is my one last chance to reiterate how jarringly different a raw-vegan diet is from a cooked-vegan one. The latter avoids death karma and the former seeks life karma. Perspective and application mean everything in actualization.
Don’t get me wrong! Do not, do not get, do not get me wrong; I have been a vegan for almost two decades now and I am devoted to the vegan lifestyle’s monumental effects on the political, ethical and spiritual aspects of my life. I waver not from my position of animal compassion and how deeply that benefits my life every day. But now that you are vegan… give raw a try. It’s insane. It’s in-sane. I literally became sane when I transitioned from cooked vegan to raw vegan.
Can I say that? I just did. I don’t want to go into what poetic concepts I hold around the word insane, or if it is or isn’t desirable to be considered outside the social norm. Rather, I just want to impress upon you how truly miraculous this next health miracle, which I am about to share with you, has been in my life. It’s truly a f*ckin’ miracle. And I do not use that word lightly.
If you read my last piece, you’ll remember that my first health miracle was the development of glowing skin, when previously I had self-image-injuring acne. Well, consider that I had also been on medications for manic-depression (they called it that back then) for seven years of my life—with all sorts of worrisome symptoms, including the inability to commit to my own existence. I didn’t go raw to get off meds, but I knew the entire time I was a (cooked) vegan that I didn’t want to be on them. I tried all sorts of natural medications for insomnia, depression and nervous-system stress, but roots, oils and meditation were flip-flops when I needed a snowmobile—they did nothing to aid my plight.
So after a few pivotal realizations, I considered that I had never been an adult without drugs controlling my brain chemistry—I didn’t even know what my own baseline was! So I decided to find out. I was going to go off the meds for the third (and hopefully final) time, not to fix my problems, but to find out how bad my problems really were. I didn’t want to further complicate my problems through diet, so I decided to be as healthy as possible. That is why I went raw. And, in so doing, guess what happened? [Please note: This column tells the story of one person’s experience. It is not meant to offer medical advice. Please talk with your doctor before starting or stopping any medication. —Ed.]
I got healthy. On every level, I got healthy. And now, eight raw, medication-free years later, I want to give this gift to all the idealistic, passionate and troubled vegans out there who, like me, wish to live a healthy, natural life—unmedicated by prescription drugs, natural remedies and food, all of which are medications. Instead of finding the better medication, let’s aim for being healthy. Healthy people don’t need medication.
That’s my ideal anyway. And now I believe it is possible. Now I live its possibility. My health-ideal actualization is nurtured by perspective. I’ve fallen in love with life karma, rather than spend my time avoiding death karma. And it has turned me into a raw fooder with health-miracle stories. Just ask any of us—we all have a health miracle. What might yours be? Comment below, then tune in next week for the biggest of my raw-vegan health miracles.
I remember clear as day the moment I went vegan. I was in my late teens performing on tour with Kenny Rogers. I was the girl on the tour bus who was always awake, since the situation of driving and being around seven other cast mates while in my swaying bunk bed speeding down the highway at 70 miles per hour was too stimulating for a light sleeper like me. At about 2 a.m., the driver pulled up to a quiet truck stop somewhere in nowhere Tennessee. Just the driver and I were awake. I crept into the sundries store out of sheer boredom and somehow saw all the neon-colored packages and shelf after shelf of product for what it was. I thought to myself, “Why does any of this exist?” And I decided to go vegan.
It wasn’t necessarily an animal-compassion epiphany that urged my personal transition from a decade-long vegetarian to a vegan. It was the desire to eat real food. How painfully ironic that all I wanted was an insomniac’s snack at the truck stop that night, and out of an entire convenience store, 0% of what was being sold constituted food to me. I saw it. I got it. And I rebelled against it.
It took me about a month to truly make that transition. I got off tour, went back to my Indiana residence at the time, and began my education. My first step consisted of reading the label of every single food in my home and if it had meat, milk, egg or any associated products as an ingredient, I just never replaced it. By the way, yes, fish are meat—you are not a vegetarian if you eat fish. That’s not a judgment, but a fact. I encourage people to draw the line where they see fit and continue to grow from there, but people who eat fish are not vegetarians by definition.
So began my move toward the deep desire to stop being lied to and empowering myself to choose real food. I wanted to eat food, not products—and my transition to vegan was born of a desire for that freedom.
I went vegetarian when I was a small child—quite unconsciously. They say that children’s brains develop the perfect pathways for learning language around seven years of age (so get your second- and third-graders in Spanish immersion class!). I’m guessing it’s not just language skills affected by this cognitive expansion, but many other ways of connecting the symbolic dots. Why? Because that is the precise age at which I put the pieces together and associated the cows—whose noses I was petting in the cages at my grandparents’ slaughterhouse—with the headless, skinned bodies hanging from hooks and bleeding from their necks in the next room.
You see, up until that point, I sincerely didn’t get the correlation. But I remember quite clearly the day I knew one was the other. It took very little time from that point for my mom to recognize that her daughter would not eat the meat dishes at her dinner table. “Do you know what they call people like you, Tonya?” she asked. “Vegetarians.” To which I replied, “What’s a vegetarian?”
So my choice not to eat meat was definitely quite unconscious. All I knew back then was that when I saw the animal-based dishes on the table, my stomach hurt. I was just trying to avoid an upset stomach. I was operating from a child’s genuine emotional wisdom. Sometimes I wish that everyone could live from that place of innocent compassion, unadulterated by training, consumerism and misinformation. I am so thankful that to this day my childhood compassion still lives in me through my vegetarianism.
I also often wish for every child the blessing of a grandparent with a slaughterhouse. Too often meat-eaters today are just unconscious eaters. They purchase frozen beef and bean burritos packaged in neon wrappers and never see the cruelty, pollution and disease associated with their food choice.
But just because one’s conscience may be spared, the residual—sometimes fatal—effects are not. As PETA conveys, “In 2005 a study which was published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, concluded that among the 29,000 participants, those who ate the most meat were also at the greatest risk for heart disease. The researchers also reported that a high intake of protein from vegetable sources such as tofu, nuts, and beans lowers our risk of heart disease by 30 percent.”
With heart disease the single leading cause of death in the United States, it seems we would take the scientific knowledge about the health effects of animal-based diets seriously. If running red lights were the leading cause of preventable death, for example, it is certain we would strictly enforce laws against it. I’m saddened that our health and well-being is being overlooked in favor of business profits.
Not only are proud carnivores endangering their own and their children’s long-term health, but they cannot consider themselves environmentalists while contributing to the water pollution and habitat destruction inherent to meat eating.
The US Environmental Protection Agency, in a Report to Congress in 1984, stated that “Agricultural pesticides and nitrates used in fertilizers and manures seep into our groundwater, eventually spilling out into the oceans creating so-called ‘dead zones’ (expansive areas so toxic that neither plant nor animal life can survive) viewable from space.” And Merritt Frey of the Natural Resources Defense Council reports, “Besides the chemicals used in cultivation, accidental pollution though chemical spills and manure dumps are an ongoing source of water pollution from feedlots. The manure created from the billions of animals killed for food has to go somewhere, and often, it ends up in rivers and streams, killing millions of fish in one fell swoop.”
And simply consider the inefficiencies in the production of meat. It takes 1,800 gallons of water to produce just one pound of beef, but only 55 gallons for one pound of oranges. For the amount of water it takes to produce a pound of beef, a human could drink his required daily intake for 2.4 years. All in all, it defies common sense: Why not just grow food to eat instead of grow food to feed to animals that we kill to eat as food? Not very ecological—even by the most simple reasoning.
And I won’t go into the cruelty and animal issues that invariably occur in the meat-production industry. But I will share a shocking statistic I read in an Emagazine piece entitled “The Case Against Meat”: “Male chicks born on factory farm—as many as 280 million per year—are simply thrown into garbage bags to die because they’re of no economic value as meat or eggs.” Also, according to PETA, “Every year in the US, more than 27 billion animals are slaughtered for food,” and “By switching to a vegetarian diet, you can save more than 100 animals a year personally.”
Really, though, the reason I wish every child to have a set of grandparents with a slaughterhouse is because it was precisely that experience that allowed me to choose my educated vegetarian path while still staying open-minded to those who eat dead animals. After all, my grandparents are lovely and loving people (rest in peace, grammy). And even though my family did not (then) emulate the emotional wisdom of the seven-year-old child, they all supported me by learning to prepare vegetarian dishes in order to feed me and include me in family gatherings.
For me, the real trick over the years has been maintaining my childhood compassion while continuing to love a world that does not yet necessarily get it. Of course, I wish everyone the goodness of life and health that I have experienced from a vegetarian diet. But I also know that the choice to grow in any way must be initiated and upheld by the individual. I am grateful I have had that freedom. And I am supportive of those trying to break free of tradition, training, marketing and an unsustainable system because they feel it inside. Indeed, individual growth must come from within.
The limousine shuttle drove us from our Beverly Hills parking into the Hollywood Hills, passing finely manicured home after home, to deliver we spit-shined activist guests to the red carpet doorstep. Photographers, like True Emotions, snapped photos of animal activist celebrities including Corey Feldman (Lost Boys) and Jorja Fox (CSI) smiling, kissing, posing and offering step-and-repeat interviews to VegTV and other channels before slipping off our shoes and sliding inside the hosting mansion.
The carpet was long and thick between our toes and the conversation hummed with stories of volunteer work in Uganda and Costa Rica. The staff made rounds offering vegan finger foods with an extra dose of personality and play. The open bar, with organic wine, didn’t hurt the jovial atmosphere at all.
A hush fell over the room when long-time animal rights crusader, Bob Barker (Price Is Right) took the stair case and reitterated with clarity and impact his words to Washington DC earlier that year when introducing the Traveling Exotic Animal Protection Act. He was impressive in his resolve and effect and I thanked television for bringing this man stardom whom singlehandedly assures the survival of more than five vital animal rights organizations through his generous philanthropy and personal appearances.
As vibrant as the evening was, after previews of the film Lion Ark screened, not a dry eye was left in the house. We wept over our dairy-free strawberry cheesecake. We wept over how cruel humans can be. Lion Ark is an upcoming movie, which I am a credited producer on, that exposes the followthrough activists must take after they win a new law, like banning wild animals from circuses in Bolivia. The law is just the begging. The forced forfeit and relocation to sanctuary the now liberated animals is the followthrough.
Animal Defenders International’s “Lion Ark Night” Red Carpet Event was a huge success in consciousness raising, community gathering and fund procurement. Grass roots organizations, like Animal Defenders International, are doing the biggest work on the smallest staff and budgets. The US branch of ADI has only three staff. I get chills when I consider what a massive difference a dedicated minority can make for the people who would like to help, but haven’t yet taken action and for the animals that lack a voice to scream at us – stop using me entertainment, food and experimentation. Thank you, Animal Defenders International for pioneering tangible change for us all.
Watch my red carpet interview with VegTV here. Gorgeous event photography below.
In every family there is a sort of ‘family identity’ consistent among its members. Usually this involves one characteristic that is vital to being a part of that family and how members secure their belonging. In some families that vital characteristic is the ability to carry on stimulating dinner conversation. In others, members must be able to hoop three-pointers or pitch three strikes. In still others, the uniting tie is the ability to argue, insult and get the upper hand. Whatever the characteristic, it’s present—and it’s how we know we are part of our family. In my upbringing, the mandated identity was open-mindedness.
It didn’t matter to my mom and dad if their valedictorian daughter went to university or worked in a factory. It didn’t matter if their son built engines or mended socks. It didn’t matter if we kids were Christian or pagan; so long as we kept our minds open, the same would be returned to us.
I’ve been a vegan for a long time. But I’ve never let that alter my open-mindedness to meeting potential partners. After all, if I stopped being open-minded, I’d stop being a part of my family. This is deep, people—it’s about core identity! And if I stopped being open-minded, I’d grossly limit my choice of prospective lovers. So here I am, dating bacon broilers, cheese fiends and pasta puffs—you know, “normal” people. I’m so open-minded, I don’t even ask my lovers what their diet is like (let alone their names); that’s how open-minded I am!
But quite by accident, I fell in love with a coffee-drinking, cigarette-smoking junk-fooder. And love really is an amazing thing. Within six months, this person went high raw vegan, not because I said anything, open-mind you, but because he admired me, recognized the value of my raw vegan diet, tried it out for himself and… Mikey liked it!
Oh, the unexpected and unpremeditated joy of making love to a high raw vegan—there is no greater pleasure on this fleshy Earth! The bodies are slim, strong and clean. The smell is sweet, in-season and pheromone-forward. The fluids are watery and tasty. And who knew, the sensual/psychic communication is heightened. I know my personal senses have skyrocketed since going raw more than seven years ago. I am more sensitive and more sensual now. By definition, raw vegan lovemaking holds layers of intimacy that before were not accessible.
Which is also exactly why I may be ruined for life. With my senses now so expansively developed, I can smell the pizza someone ate two days ago emanating from their pores today and it’s definitely not sexy. I can see in a person’s complexion if they’ve been drinking soda pop and it’s just not attractive. And even if you’ve gobbled your spearmints, I can taste the demon inferno lungs on the kiss of a smoker for a week afterwards. No matter how broad-minded I want to be, sick stomach and oily skin just aren’t my cup of chamomile tea.
I guess it’s natural selection. But I’m not happy about it. What’s a raw vegan gal supposed to do in this world? Screen her potential mates according to diet? How superficial! How closed-minded! Settle for thick, stinky, dumbed-down sex with protein propaganda addicts? How empty! How gross! Or hope that every lover I am considering admires my lifestyle so that they drop the animal products, refined foods and eat a ton more fruits and veggies, too—hopefully before we meet? What is a conscious, open-minded sexual being supposed to do?!
This is a short clip of my vegan interview from the Bold Native feature film behind-the-scenes dvd extras – a very casual interview addressing my approach to living on a long-term plant-based diet with encouraging words and common sense inspiration. The full interview is available only on the Bold Native dvd and it VERY worth the investment! Please enjoy.
You began the journey to a waste-free Shangri-La as a green consumer. Abandoning your socially programmed obsession with convenience and disposability, you consciously purchased the greener antiperspirant, greener lawn spray and greener automobile. You realized that you had a vital role in political environmentalism, for you possessed a precious thing: a vote that was religiously and obsessively tallied—the dollar. You understood that when you changed your vote, from say disposable plastic cutlery to biodegradable vegetable cutlery, you really were changing the political arena—and relatively fast.
But greener consumerism wasn’t enough for you. You then claimed the identity of the non-consumer, prizing reused things, swapped, gifted and shared items above all others. Your carbon footprint went honorably neutral as you reduced your purchases. And as you continued down that path, perhaps you found, like me, that food doesn’t have to come in packaging—and that if a cartoon character is used to sell it, it’s likely not a food at all.
With these lifestyle changes, you’ve seen a substantial decrease in the garbage you generate. Shangri-La is becoming more real and your lifestyle more satisfying with every product not purchased.
Am I right?
I remember growing up in a farm town, thinking thoughts no peer seemed to understand. It was important to me, even in my lowly teens, to know that I was supporting the locally owned record store rather than the big-city chain nearby. I had been vegetarian for eight years by that time, so ethical (or as I like to say, communal) considerations affected my purchases, too. I was already dancing professionally then, and hey, a girl sometimes needs dance shoes. Oh, the years of internal debate surrounding the need for new leather dance shoes!
No matter how waste-free or compassionate your ideals are, any member of Western society eventually has need of a product they do not agree it’s ethical to purchase. I thought I had answered this quandary when I went leather-free for many formative years. And although it felt great to dress without the Death karma (I’ll say it!), eventually I noticed that everything with which I was replacing my leather belts, boots and wallets was made of petro-plastic and man-made materials—entirely non-renewable, non-reusable, non-degradable and manufactured in overseas sweat-shops. Yes, my new accessories were vegan, but were they green or even cruelty-free?
Several years later, having long since graduated as valedictorian of my high-school class, my anguish over this topic has yet to be remedied. Here I am now, a full-grown, self-directed, free, adult woman—and still tormented.
I am, however, enthusiastic to share with you something that has renewed my faith in our common destination: Cherry Bombin’ Wear, a woman-owned small business in Arizona that recovers used inner tubes from bicycle tires for sewing into rockin’ ID cases, wallets, business-card holders, wrist cuffs and belts. No animals are harmed in their manufacture, the recovered material actually lasts longer than leather, and every item keeps another inner tube out of our landfills. You can see why that would give a long-term vegan and environmental enthusiast some satisfaction. That’s just a little tip from me to you.
Certainly our journey toward a waste-free lifestyle is made with a combination of green consumerism, non-consumerism and lastly, a flat-out refusal to consume. I wish for you, in the beginning, all the coolest thrift-store belts you could possibly want. And eventually, I hope the question bubbles up from somewhere down deep—why do you want any belt at all? Maybe we’re closer than we think to having everything we want.
Even so—let me know if you ever do come across a pair of hemp-upper tap shoes. Cool?
I wouldn’t trade anything to be 18 again. Life really does get better and better.
Raw vegan muscle and moxie pin up shoot:
Thank you to the talented Stephen Newell, graphic designer on all finals!
Please support me by voting for me in the Best of Raw Awards 2011 in the “Sexiest Raw Woman” and “Favorite Raw Female Athlete” categories. Thank you.
I was asked recently if I’m concerned about the cosmetics and hair products used on set as a professional actress/model/dancer whom also happens to be a health advocate, vegan and environmentalist. My answer is simply: of course! I spend a lot of time and energy researching the highest quality natural and cruelty-free products in my personal life, so you know that sort of care oozes out into my professional life, too.
In case you don’t know, when a performer gets hired, their job is to know their material and have their personal shit together so they can deliver AND be a pleasure to work with (that’s how I see it, at least). We arrive on set and are whisked off to the Make Up, Hair and Wardrobe departments so those artists can do their magic, too. The first important thing for a concerned performer to remember is that the make up, hair and wardrobe crew are, like you, hired because they are good at their jobs. They have their reasons for using the products and fabrics they use and you should remember that they deserve the utmost respect at all times.
That being said, you, as the performer, deserve the same respect and it is absolutely okay to ask what is in the products that will be placed against your skin or in your hair. It is your body after all – you are not a dress up doll or a talking head robot, but a real human being who has to live with your skin and hair and ethical choices after this gig is wrapped. It’s absolutely okay to ask questions. Esspecially when it comes from that place of mutual respect for the others’ professionalism in the craft.
If you are a series regular or film lead, you are going to be on set a longer period of time and have the opportunity to get to know your Make Up/Hair/Wardrobe departments personally. In my experience, when you all know each other, everyone takes your concerns into consideration. Most higher budget make up artists will have OODLES of products to choose from, so look through! Mineral make ups are surely a part of their kit at this point and maybe some other surprising stuff. If it’s a lower budget production, then bring your own kit. In either case, they are cool people who want you to feel happy, healthy and beautiful on camera – that’s what they do! So treat people with respect, respect yourself, get to know each other and be patient and flexible. I’m personally always impressed.
(Except for that one time with the high budget fashion modeling gig where the make up artist seemed like too many photographers had insulted her work during her long career and she was stuck in her ways, refused to use any brushes I brought and threw a snobby fit. That’s not normal, performers. She had a horrible attitude. The more professional make up/hair artists are generally genuinely grateful to do what they do for a living and have enthusiasm to continue learning about the next newest product, cruelty-free alternative or natural option. You can really tell the difference in artistry through their open mindedness to their own craft. It’s like offering a sculptor a brand new clay – a true artist will want to work with it and see what they can do. The jaded artist will say, “I can’t possibly use that clay,” before they even try it and never grow as an artist again. I feel sorry for bad attitudes – fortunately, it’s not common.)
Unfortunately, when you are a day player or shooting shorter duration gigs, you don’t have the chance to get to know your Make Up/Hair departments and I suggest a fine combination of two things: again, brining your own kit and also a healthy amount of flexibility. Sometimes, you might bring your own foundation and hair gel and make up remover, but socially, for what ever reason, you had to use products you know had formaldehyde (like mascara) in them. Try to remain a pleasure to work with (that’s your job) by remembering that your body is so healthy that it will detox 2 days of exposure to this chemical amazingly quickly. Also remember that consciousness-wise, sometimes just having the conversation and speaking the words does important work and might inspire new perspectives after your work there is done. Keep your attitude high. I know it can be trying to care, but it really is worth it and people respect you for it.
Respect yourself. I say ‘know what is essential’ and bring it with you. For me, the brush cleaners that make up artists use makes my eyes instantly blood shot and watery. No one wants me to look like I have hay fever on camera! So I bring a very nice, clean set of my own, cruelty-free brushes.
Since my eyes are so sensitive, I actually find it essential to request using my own mascara, eyeliner and unless it’s mineral make up, my own shadow. There are a few brands of make up I can not have anywhere near my skin, for some reason and one is Mac and the other is Smash Box. I don’t know what they both use in their cream eye shadows, but it’s like hot asphalt fumes to my eyes and sensitive membranes. Mac is no good for any bit of my skin, actually. Instant break outs means low-quality chemical-based ingredients. I know Mac is supposed to be good, but my skin and eyes can’t be fooled with marketing.
I used to start the conversation with “I’m really sensitive (or I’m “allergic”). Can we use some of my products?” And again, no one wants your eyes all red and skin all blotchy, so that goes over well. But the catch is, you MUST have excellent alternatives. I have a high quality make up kit with more stuff than I ever personally use. I want my make up artist to feel inspired to see new products and have great stuff to choose from, so I bring options.
Now that I’ve worked with many make up/hair artists multiple times, am doing longer duration gigs and am well-known as the healthy, raw chick on set, I don’t really lie and say “allergic”, I just respectfully say, “I like to use cruelty-free, organic products and yes, I am very sensitive, would you consider using my brushes and some essentials from my kit?” People are cool! And there’s always some meaningful conversation that goes down when I’m in the chair. I really appreciate people sharing that space with me.
Like I said, I bring my personal essentials: brushes, eye liners, mascaras and black shadow. Next tier is 100% silica high definition powder, vegan lip-glosses and quickly becoming vital is this new brand of organic, raw vegan food-based foundation – it’s like wearing high-quality moisturizer more than a cosmetic.
I use macadamia nut oil to remove my eye liner, gentle oils to ease away my foundation, a clay-based exfoliant twice/week, rose water spritz after a bath to tighten things and pomegranate/rose-hip oil for moisturizer. I cut my dreadlocks so recently, I don’t really know what products I would need or can support in terms of hair. I’m still learning about shampoo and stuff myself here.
And finally, I’ve known of several actors whom won’t wear fur or leather as part of their costumes. Fortunatley, there are great looking replacements for those things. Eating is usually a case-by-case situation, but I’ve felt super supported by the craft service and catering departments and have learned that if you are to be a long duration regular hire on set, the earlier you can let people know you are a raw vegan, the easier it is for them to help you out. If you are a short duration hire, then bring your positive attitude and your alternatives.
Remember that nothing is worth being a jerk about – that’s not part of anybody’s job description, so no matter who you are on set, if you are being a jerk, I think you’re doing a bad job. The more you respect others’ ways of living, the more respect for your lifestyle is reciprocated.
Check out some related links:
RMS Beauty (organic, raw make up)
Alima Pure Cosmetics (clean, loose mineral make ups)
Aveda (killer company on all levels – right down to the packaging)
Rawnessa (really raw skin care out of Los Angeles)
I grew up in a farmtown in Michigan. And despite my eccentric appearance, I have farmtown values. Family and nature mean a lot to me, so it breaks my heart in a secret way that I can not live my dreams as a performing artist anywhere but in a large city. After all, to us farmtown folk, cities are “dirty, impersonal and always in a rush”.
To some degree, of course, all accusations are true. You don’t have to be from a farmtown to smell the exhaust blanketing Hollywood Blvd. on a 105 degree day in late July. And you don’t have to take the NYC subway for long to get that mystery grit under your fingernails – and in your nostrils, and in your pores. The city is dirty. But despite the obvious street grime, dirty city life just might be the most environmental living design I’ve ever experienced.
It all depends on how you use it.
When you grow up in a small town, you’re in nature a lot, if only be default. And the old saying applies, “you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone”. My parents aren’t the only thing I miss living and working in major metropolitan areas – I miss nature and the smell of the color green. And it is precisely this longing that evoked my passion for green living. Had I never left my farmtown, I might not have felt the urgency to protect what the country has to offer. Had I never lived in a farmtown, I might think pollution and consumerism is an accepted way of life. But I have had both. And that makes me care.
I used to think it was the immense concentration of people that make cities dirty, but now, I see it as one of urban living’s greenest assets – LOCAL mindset. Others like me have moved to the city, mostly from smaller towns (there aren’t many towns larger than LA or NYC in the United States, after all). And we all remember nature’s bounty. Are we preserving what we left behind? Are we restoring what is absent to our new homes? Whatever our reasons, together we build composting and recycling systems that succeed only because there are so many of us running it. We pass laws that ban the use of petro-plastic grocery bags countywide because there are enough of us rallying for the cause. We support wildlife protection agencies with our time and money and by sheer number, we really do make a difference.
Now when I see skyscrapers I think how many thousands of people are housed there, rather than clearing acres of natural habitat to farm soybeans, paving miles of countryside to connect only four family homes, and living so far away from a school, market, or movie theatre that residents spend more time in their 4×4 trucks than I do on LA freeways.
It all depends on how you use it.
LOCAL living applies to more than than the concentrated mindframe, though. It dictates my consumer choices. I purchase LOCAL organic produce because fresh food is cheaper and more nutritious. I support LOCAL businesses because I want to keep my city employed. I choose LOCALLY manufactured products because it cuts down on transportation pollution when I don’t request it be shipped over from China. Or mailed over from New Jersey.
LOCAL living dictates my transportation choices, too. I choose activities I can walk to. Within a short five block walk from my apartment door, I can take professional dance classes, martial arts classes, pilates and yoga. And I do. I can walk to the post office, the bank, my mechanic and the office supply store. I sit at the local coffee shop, medicinal herb bar and live music venue. In fact, I’ve often pronounced that mine would be the perfect neighborhood if only it had an organic/raw/vegan cafe. And the inner-city deities must’ve been listening, because this month, Cafe Flourish, an organic/raw/vegan cafe opened in South Hollywood just five blocks from my front door. I officially live in the perfect city neighborhood.
Sure, we all want to live where the air is clear and the water untreated. But I am convinced I live in paradise right here right now. LOCAL living in the city makes all my environmental dreams a possibility. Vegan sneakers on the sidewalk keep my transportation, diet and consumption as green as it can be. And that little neighborhood walk does it’s part to shatter the “impersonal and always in a rush” city stereotype of small town fears, too. If only my vegan sneaks could bring my mom and dad closer. Now that would be paradise.