To end 2017, I have the pleasure to share another part of the series “Discovering Vegans in Wyoming”. This monthly series is one small part of my effort to bring the vegan community together here in Casper, WY. It shows that being vegan in Wyoming isn’t only possible, but a lot easier than everyone believes. It also shows how big the movement is becoming, in other words, there are a lot more of us out there than people think! Each day I am amazed at how many other vegans I have met since I started Vegan in Wyoming. Every month, on the last Sunday of the month, I share the story of one of the many unique vegans living here in the Cowboy State. We talk about their trials and triumphs since becoming vegan, their favorite things about being vegan, and other fun facts. This month, I had the pleasure of interviewing Sabrina Finch!
Sabrina and I are the same age and graduated high school together, but we never actually met until this year. We first met when she came to one of the markets. She had been following me on Instagram and wanted to try some of the desserts I had been making. When she was talking about how she followed me on Instagram, I honestly had no idea who she was. The minute she told me what her user name was, I knew exactly who I was talking to. At that moment, I realized the power of social media! I had never put that much thought into it until that day, but it made all of the daily posts, the struggle to make photogenic food, and the stress completely worth it!
Sabrina has been vegan since February 2015. Initially, she went vegan for health reasons, she remembers “feeling super tired all of the time, and had poor digestion”. Her vegetarian friend told her that just by being vegetarian she had more energy. Sabrina was attracted to that, so in January 2015, she asked herself the question “I wonder if I can go just one day without eating meat?”. She hasn’t eaten meat since then. Initially she “thought that it was going to be a lot harder than it was”. Lucky for her, she had a handful of friends that made the transition a lot easier. During the month she was vegetarian, Sabrina watched as many YouTube videos and movies as she possibly could. She gained a lot of inspiration from all of those YouTube videos. Toward the end of that month, she came across a YouTube video titled “101 Reasons to go Vegan”. After seeing that video, she “pretty much went vegan overnight”. That opened her eyes to the animal rights and environmental aspects of veganism. At a much younger age, she recalls telling her mom that she “could never kill an animal, but could eat one”. When she made the connection, realizing her rationalization was wrong and illogical, she couldn’t eat animals anymore. Knowing that she isn’t contributing to as much environmental destruction or animal cruelty makes her feel less guilty about eating unhealthy every once in a while! To everyone around her, that was a very drastic change. Her family was very skeptical at first. Most of her family was convinced that people need meat with every meal, and for her whole life she believed that (she ate a lot of meat). Her mom was a lot more supportive than her dad, though. Even her vegetarian friends questioned her decision. People still continue to question her nutrition, which is ironic because she is studying integrative nutrition.
Of course we talked about food! Sabrina found that giving cheese up was the hardest thing to give up. She was “addicted to cheese”. After some time, she got over the craving for cheese. Now she doesn’t even think about it! We did talk about all of the vegan alternatives that are out there. She really likes the “Follow Your Heart: Smoked Gouda”. We both agree that Daiya isn’t good, she described it a lot nicer than I do, “its a flavor that you need to get accustomed to”. Despite her love for cheese, she doesn’t put any vegan cheese alternative at the top of her list. Her favorite vegan product is the Nature’s Life protein powder. She almost always puts it in her smoothies! Sabrina enjoys simple things like smoothies, oatmeal, fruits and vegetables, but also has a sweet spot for comfort food. Her favorite thing to make is a “cheesy” au gratin potato that she got to share with friends this Thanksgiving! When she isn’t cooking for herself, she loves going to Tasty Harmony in Ft. Collins, CO and Native Foods in Denver, CO. When she isn’t able to escape Casper, she settles for Chopstix, any Asian restaurant, Qdoba, or Chipotle. She really loves “the avocado rolls from Chopstix because the put a ton of avocado in them”!
Over the course of the interview, we managed to talk a lot about how the Wyoming lifestyle in general isn’t vegan friendly. Sabrina grew up in a family who hunted and fished on a regular basis. Her dad took her dove hunting when she was younger, and when he shot one, she just remembers bawling. As she got older, her dad would ask her when she would get her hunting license. She never did, and he has finally realized that she never will. Her sister is an avid fisher as well. It is something she realizes that she will never be alright with, but just has to accept that they are making their own decisions. That being said, Sabrina has had to change a lot of things with her own lifestyle to make it more vegan friendly. Not only has she not participated in activities such as hunting and fishing with her family, but she has had to find vegan clothing and makeup for herself. She really likes the Pacifica company for makeup products. Like any vegan, she loves the Herbivore Clothing Company! Sabrina has always used YouTube and Instagram for help when it comes to the vegan lifestyle. She continues to follow lifestyle vloggers and Instagram accounts as inspiration. In the early days, she watched a lot of videos by Essena O’Neill and Stella Rae, but now she follows a variety of blogs and YouTube channels.
Vegans are constantly trying to be activists, whether it is low key or more aggressive. When she first went vegan, she wanted to spread the great news about vegansim, but she has learned that wasn’t very effective. She finds that people who are curious about veganism are really receptive hearing the facts, so she enjoys sharing her experience that way. As I mentioned earlier, Sabrina is studying nutrition. She is taking classes online through the Integrative School of Nutrition. At the end of this year, she will be a certified health coach. Her hopes are to help people safely make the transition to veganism if they are interested. She has learned that the best way to advocate for veganism is by educating people in that way. When people ask her about where she gets all her nutrients, she gets to use the knowledge she has learned from school, while informing them about being vegan.
To wrap up our interview, I asked Sabrina what advice she would give a new vegan. She suggests doing research. “Know what you can and can’t eat”. That was the “number one” thing for her. Initially vegans get a lot of questions, and “knowing answers to all of the questions people ask is really helpful”. At first she “did’t know the answers and it was very difficult”. It also makes it easier to find other people that are vegan!
I really enjoyed talking with Sabrina for our interview. Our experiences were really similar being the same age and knowing some of the same people. Each time I sit down and talk with someone, it’s really interesting hearing how they went vegan and make it work everyday here in Wyoming. Each story is unique and I learn something from each person!
My biggest hope is that this interview is an inspiration to everyone vegan or not! If you are interested in being interviewed, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.