Discovering Vegans in Wyoming: Gina Parmenter

It is once again time for my monthly interview! Every month, I have the opportunity to sit down and talk with one of the many vegans in the community and share their story. Over the past few months, it has helped other people see how easy it is to be vegan in Wyoming, given people new ideas, and shown people that there are actually quite a few vegans here in Wyoming!

This month, I had the pleasure of interviewing Gina Parmenter. I first met Gina through the farmer’s markets. She began coming early on when I first began Vegan in Wyoming, and I have seen her there on a pretty regular basis since then. Gina has been vegan for around seven years. Before that, she was vegetarian. She first went vegetarian around 22 years ago. Her reasons for going vegetarian and eventually vegan were “completely ethical.” “In the beginning it had nothing to do with the health or even the environment at all.” One of her biggest inspirations was Morrisey. She has always been a Smiths fan. “Meat is Murder, and all of the stuff they did with PETA” really inspired her to change. When she first went vegan, the transition wasn’t hard for her. She likes cooking and saw it as an adventure. At the same time, she was doing a lot of “convenience foods” before going vegan, and getting used to cooking more was one of the more difficult things.  Her mom went vegetarian a little bit after she did, then they went on a vegan cruise together. “There was the Vegan Black Metal Chef, the Vegan Zombie, Isa Chandra Moskowitz, Jason Wrobel, Miyoko.” After getting to talk with Miyoko Schinner, her mom had the confidence to go vegan, and she became Gina’s support. Other than that, she didn’t have much support. The person she was living with at the time wasn’t vegetarian or vegan, so it made things a little difficult. At the same time, she was pretty lucky and she didn’t get many of the stereotypical questions until recently. The most frequently asked question she got was “just why?”.

We talked quite extensively about food. When I asked Gina what her favorite restaurant in town was, without hesitation, she said “my house”. Mostly because she doesn’t like eating out, but she isn’t overly thrilled with the options we have here. Her favorite thing to make at home “is Jason Wrobel’s lentil cauliflower tacos.” She feeds it to omnivores and, they always love it! If she has to pick somewhere to go out in town, she’s “pretty impressed with the Arepa Barn” and “the Himalayan is definitely up there”. “They (the Arepa Barn) make a burger, and their lentil soup is really good.” When she can get out of town, she likes going to Denver. She likes Watercourse Foods, Native Foods, and “the wings from City O’ City are definitely the best!” While visiting some of her favorite restaurants, she will visit Nooch and pick up some of her favorite products like Violife Cheese and certain Miyoko’s products.

When Gina can, she tries to show activism through talking with others. She will “try to approach it from a health standpoint.” She thinks it is “more palatable…it is less emotional”. Unfortunately, here in Wyoming, veganism isn’t something that she talks about much. It bothers her because she wants to advocate for veganism, but she has to “work around a lot of people who just don’t get it or just don’t care.” Although, most people have shown a lack of interest, Gina has helped people very close to her make the transition to vegetarianism or veganism. When she got married, her partner wasn’t even vegetarian. She basically told her “This is how it is. This is how the house is. Meat is an absolute not. It is not going to happen.” She allowed a few vegetarian items, but that was it. She tried to explain the health benefits, and how there was a close relation to animal suppression and human suppression in the LGBTQ community, but that wasn’t convincing enough. After they watched “Okja” together, everything changed, and her partner has been mostly vegan since then. “She will occasionally do a little cheese, that’s it!”

To end the interview, Gina’s advice to a new vegan is “Be careful where you get your information from. You get such a wide variety from people. ‘Oh you really have to watch how much protein you get.’ or ‘Oh it doesn’t matter at all’. Don’t worry about it too much. Eat a wide variety of stuff. Don’t get hung up on using some of the pre-packaged stuff. There is this push to be completely make it yourself, or whole food plant based, and every once in a while if you want to get a package of cheeze shreds or whatever, just do it! Don’t let people let you feel bad about it.” She also recommends to look for vegan products wherever you go. She has found a lot of really unique vegan products and snacks at Marshall’s Here in Casper!

I really enjoyed getting to talk with Gina for this interview. I have never had the opportunity to sit down and actually have a conversation with her before! It always amazes me how many similarities we all have, but we also have our unique stories and experiences with veganism! I always love doing these, because I feel like it brings the community one tiny step closer together, and really that is my whole goal!

If you are a vegan in Wyoming and interested in being interviewed, please contact me or email kiki@veganinwyoming.com. I am always looking for new people’s stories to share and striving to show others how simple it can be to be vegan in Wyoming.

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