As an effort to bring more vegans together here in Casper, I am starting monthly interviews with people I have met that have adopted a vegan lifestyle. This not only shows that there are more people out there than everyone believes, but it also allows people to see that it is possible to be vegan in Wyoming! Every month on the last Sunday of the month, I will share someone’s story, including why they went vegan, what their favorite products are, other fun facts! This month I interviewed Nicole DeSalvo, a high school student and one of my first vegan friends here in Casper.
I first met Nicole in July of 2017. It’s actually an amazing story. We both just happened to be in the right place at the right time, and I don’t believe it was by coincidence. We were both with our families at the Himalayan Indian restaurant one night and I noticed that she was wearing a shirt from the Herbivore Clothing Company. I am naturally a very shy and awkward person, so I was telling everyone at my table about how I thought she was vegan because of her shirt, but I was too afraid to approach her. I kept looking over at her table hoping she wouldn’t notice how creepy I was being, then she finally got up. My mom said “hello” to her family and asked if she was vegan. I was slightly embarrassed because I didn’t want her to think I was crazy, but I said that I noticed her shirt. She said she was and then I told her about my Instagram account and we started messaging. The next weekend she came over and we had a cooking day. It was really incredible to be able to get to know someone so quickly and have so much in common.
It was interesting talking to her since, she is fairly new to veganism. I always love hearing how different it was for people who have been vegan for years and what the transition is like for people now. Nicole has been vegan since January 2016, and she was vegetarian for two years before she made the full transition. She said that she originally went vegan for the animals. One day she was home sick from school and she wondered where meat came from. After some research, she came across the “Meet Your Meat” video that was created by PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals). That video changed her mind and heart and she knew that she had to change her habits. At first, it was hard for Nicole to convince her parents to let her go vegetarian, but they eventually gave in. When she was ready to make the switch to veganism, it took even more convincing, but once again her parents gave in. She got a “$6 cookbook from Barnes and Noble” and was able to teach herself how to create vegan meals the whole family would like. Now, her whole household has incorporated more plant based foods into their diets! They have begun to see the health benefits of being vegan and realize that vegan food can be just as delicious.
Most vegans find inspiration from others and in turn inspire others. Nicole is no exception to that! She has found that her biggest inspiration in her journey since becoming vegan is Kalel Kitten. Kalel Kitten is vegan lifestyle YouTuber. She also gets a lot of inspiration from the Vegan Corner YouTube channel. They post recipe videos, and seriously all of their food looks amazing! As with many vegans, Nicole notices that many celebrities that are openly vegan. It definitely helps people make the transition when they know that their favorite celeb is vegan. Hers happens to be Liam Hemsworth. On the other side of that, Nicole is doing her part to inspire people and show them how important it is to be vegan. She has given speeches at school to raise awareness about the environmental destruction that factory farming causes and she openly answers questions that her classmates have. She continuously answers questions from her peers about where she gets her protein and how willing she is to remain vegan even if she was bribed.
Of course I couldn’t interview a fellow vegan without talking about food! I was curious to see what Nicole’s favorite foods and products are especially since vegan products are becoming more readily available here in Casper. She mostly cooks at home and loves making falafel or anything with her favorite vegan product the Beyond Meat Chicken. She said for the most part, the food aspect was pretty easy, but she had a hard time giving up sour cream. Luckily she found a way around that by mixing plain yogurt with lemon juice and salt! Eating out on the other hand could sometimes be tricky. Since Casper doesn’t have a purely vegan or vegetarian restaurant, I like to see where people like to go when they want to eat out. With no hesitation Nicole said her favorite place is Mongolian Grill. However, her favorite overall restaurant happens to be Sweet Melissa’s in Laramie, WY.
It was such a pleasure to sit down and get to know Nicole better! Vegans like her really inspire and motivate me to grow our community! It is amazing to have the opportunity to hear their trials and triumphs as they continue to be vegan in the Cowboy State. All I hope is to bring people together through these interviews.
If you are interested in being interviewed, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org!