A: My vegan journey started in 2009 when a friend of mine started dating a vegan. At the time I was a vegetarian and had been for eleven years but had never considered veganism. This person asked me why I was vegetarian and I said “because I love animals.” He then asked me why I consume dairy and eggs if I love animals. I hadn’t ever given it thought before and started to learn about the dairy and egg industry from that point forward. It took me a few years to fully transition to veganism, but slowly and surely I did. I found it very difficult going vegan on my own and thankfully, I met my husband around that time and he also wanted to go vegan. We acted as each other’s support system and learned how to cook vegan together.
My inspiration definitely came from cold, hard facts that equally broke my heart and motivated me to become a better person and live with mindful compassion.
Q: I absolutely love reading your beautiful blog where you share lots of delicious recipes, meal guides, interviews with other vegans, and inspire people to live a positive, Sunshine life. Tell us more about the inspiration behind RoS and how you got started with blogging.
A: Thank you so much!!! I’m so happy you enjoy it! Rae of Sunshine slowly evolved while I was healing from an injury. In 2013, I was cooking onion rings in our kitchen. The oil in the pot caught on fire and the kitchen cupboards instantly went up in flames. I yelled to my husband to catch our cats so we could evacuate but they were running all over the place, terrified. I put on oven mitts and yelled at him to open the door. He didn’t know what I was about to do, but I grabbed the burning pot and ran with it. The fire burnt my face and hair while I was running and the oil spilled down my legs and feet, causing second degree burns all over my lower body. I chose to naturally heal myself with fruits and vegetables and didn’t take any medications (not even a Tylonel) throughout my healing process. The doctor wanted to do skin grafting surgery but because my body healed so well and so quickly by the plants I was consuming, I didn’t need surgery after all.
I spent a long time on the couch, not moving at all, while I was healing and came up with the idea for the blog. It actually only became a real blog in October 2014, where I now post four – five times a week.
Q: I read on your blog how you struggled with discovering the harsh realities of the egg & dairy industry when you first became vegan. This is something I, and I’m sure most other vegans, can definitely identify with. How did you transform this sadness and frustration into something positive and inspiring?
A: To be quite honest, because I realized the way I was channeling my passion was angry, rude and forceful towards the people I love. The more I tried to talk to my friends and family about what I was learning, the more I pushed them away. I know it’s just Facebook, but a lot of people were ‘unfriending’ me because of the graphic content I posted. I started to look at the other vegans I was surrounding myself with a little closer and really ask myself ‘do I want to be like this?’ From the outside looking in, it appeared to me that they were fighting the world rather than working productively to change it. I decided there and then that I needed to re-adjust the way I was getting my message out. I started to focus on the positive aspects of veganism, like the health benefits, and the success stories of animal rescues. I still feel very upset about it from time to time, which only affirms my passion, but do my best to remain positive.
Q: Going vegan has been an incredibly healthy transition for me as it has made me so much more aware of what I’m putting into my body and after a few months of a plant based lifestyle, my anemia and other vitamin deficiencies had completely disappeared. What positive effects has adopting the vegan lifestyle had on you?
A: That’s so amazing for you!! I’m so happy that you’ve had such an amazing experience! I’ve definitely had a lot of great experiences and changes, too. Aside from completely healing myself from the fire (I don’t have ANY scars left), I used to suffer from migraines and they’re gone, I can run faster and further, I can sink into yoga poses waaaaaay deeper than before, I’ve lost over 20 lbs and my skin is perfectly clear all the time. I feel healthy, my hair is longer and my overall sense of being feels balanced and well. We really ARE what we eat 🙂
Q: You recently posted on instagram how you were able to heal yourself through a plant-based diet after an accident – I’m always so amazed by the incredible power of plants – can you tell us a little more about your recovery.
A: Thank you! The recovery itself was difficult, I won’t for a moment say that it wasn’t. Because I made the decision to not take any medications, I felt every single ounce of the burn pain and it was quite awful at times. I used breathing techniques to get through it, but to be quite honest the psychological side of healing was harder than the physical stuff. I love the kitchen, it’s where I marvel at my cooking craft, and after the fire I was terrified to go near the stove. I spoke to a counsellor to deal with the trauma of it all and eventually got better. I allowed myself to sleep as much as I needed to, I drank AT LEAST one litre of green juice a day, I only ate organic, natural, whole food and I did little things for myself like put make up every day or paint my nails….small gestures to myself to allow me to feel good. When I could, I layered my legs in coconut oil, went for walks and runs and of course, came up with Rae of Sunshine!
Q: It can sometimes be tough for other people to understand when you first go vegan, but by far the most rewarding thing for me is when friends/family say they are going vegetarian/vegan or even switching to free-range eggs because of something they’ve learned from me. How did your friends and family react to you going vegan? Have any of them been inspired to make the transition too?
A: Yeah!! I love that part!! My mom is ALMOST vegan now and two of our friends are “vegan before six” which I think is great! I think those in our life are now more mindful of what they eat, whether they are vegan, vegetarian or meat eaters, they’re more educated on where their food comes from. I’ve never forced my beliefs or values onto my family and friends but have offered bits and pieces of education and suggestions for food choices. I’m really happy to see people in my life learning more about food and making the choices that are right for them and their bodies.
Q: You have so many exciting things going on, from writing your blog, to boutique vegan catering, to selling your gorgeous tote bags (I need to order one of these ASAP, they’re gorgeous)! Describe a day in the life of Rae.
A: Oh! Thank you so much!! I do have to tell you that my totes are sold out and discontinued BUT I am coming out with something even better in the new year 🙂
A day in the life of Rae – WELL…I work a full time job, so I wake up around 6:45 am, drink a big glass of water, have a shower, make an almond latte and a green smoothie and get ready for work. I usually work around 8:30 am – 4:30 pm and as soon as I get home I make dinner. In the evening I’ll either go to a yoga class, go for a run, write for Rae of Sunshine, experiment in the kitchen, reply to emails, work on upcoming projects or hang out with my husband or friends. I cater on the weekends from time to time and also take evenings JUST for myself where I don’t do anything but read or watch TV.
Q: Being a vegan of 4 years, do you have any tips for someone who is considering a vegan lifestyle but isn’t sure where to start?
A: Yes! Start slowly…it took me a few YEARS to fully become vegan, so please don’t punish yourself if it takes you a while as well. Choose one ingredient at a time to cut out, or possibly start being vegan at home and then transition into eating out vegan. Work in steps so that you’re being gentle with yourself while moving forward with your decision. I actually wrote a blog that you can find here, How to Master the Vegan Transition.
Q: You post so many mouth-watering recipes on your blog, if you could only eat one meal for the rest of your life what would it be?
A: Oh wow, I have no idea!!! Anything with avocado or rice noodles or coconut milk! I think if I had to eat one thing for the rest of my life, it would be a Japanese Sunomono Salad with avocado slices for an appetizer and then Aloo Gobi for the main course and a raw coconut cheesecake for dessert…..that’s three dishes for one meal? Does that count?? 🙂
Q: Do you have a favourite inspirational quote to leave us with?
A: “Live less out of habit and more out of intent”