In this latest vegan chat, we speak to Tess Kelly an animal rights activist and animal lover. Tess is one of the co-organisers of Anonymous For The Voiceless Bendigo and is dedicated to the alleviation of all animal suffering. We chat with Tess about the journey so far.
Tell us about your journey to veganism
For me, there was no real ‘lightbulb moment’. My journey to veganism was regrettably slow. About a year before I went vegan, I slowly stopped finding meat appetizing. I think I had gotten to an age where I started making the connection between what was on my plate and the living animal it once was. I was about 13 at this time. I remember asking my mum one night when we were having roast cow (beef) if I could just eat the veggies… she said no. For a few months, I ignored what I suppose was some sort of innate opposition to meat. When I was 14 I became interested in health and nutrition and stumbled across the documentary ‘Forks Over Knives’, I couldn’t believe what I had just learnt. The next day I went vegetarian. Two weeks later I decided to eat only vegan food for a day (at this point veganism was still very foreign to me, I didn’t know a single vegan). That night at dinner I told my parents that I tried eating vegan… it didn’t go down well. I was told I wasn’t allowed to live under their roof if I went vegan. The next day I was vegan. It didn’t take me long to stumble across vegan activists such as James Aspey and Joey Carbstrong. I then watched the Aussie Farms ‘Thousand Eyes’ video and was horrified. Fast forward 2 ½ years, I’m dedicated to the animal rights movement, my sister is vegan, my parents eat predominantly plant-based at home and I have a close circle of vegan friends!
You organise Anonymous for the voiceless events, tell us where when & a little about this
I have been a co-organiser for the Bendigo, Victoria Anonymous for the Voiceless chapter for about 6 months. We hold monthly ‘cube of truth’ demonstrations at various locations across Bendigo. Cube of Truth demonstrations involve volunteers standing in a cube formation, holding screens showing farm and slaughter house footage. We then have volunteers speak to the public who show an interest. This is a great way to get involved in activism!
How have you found the response from the public over the last few years, is it changing?
Particularly over the last two years, veganism has become mainstream. It’s been all over the news thanks to actions such as the Dominion disruptions in Melbourne. Mainstream restaurants and brands have brought out vegan options such as; Dominos, Grill’d, Hungry Jacks, Zambreros, Magnum, Cornetto, the list goes on! The vegan movement has certainly grown massively, however, we still have a long way to go. People are still supporting animal agriculture, animals are still dying.
Who inspires your vegan journey?
The amazing people I work alongside of with Anonymous for the Voiceless inspire me so much. They have so much passion and bring so much energy to the cause. Other people like Leah Doellinger from meat the victims is also a huge inspiration. She has dedicated so much to the animals.
Where do you see your activism going in the next 3-5 years, what do you hope to achieve?
I have one last year of high school, during which I will continue with Anonymous for the Voiceless and attending various actions. Once I graduate, I am hoping to spend a year or two doing full-time activism and see where that goes. I just want to do whatever I can to help propel this movement.
For people thinking about going vegan, where would you suggest they start?
Challenge 22 (challenge22.com ) is a great support for people transitioning to a vegan lifestyle. It’s completely free, you get a mentor on Facebook for 22 days who can answer any questions you might have along the way. I would also highly recommend Ed Winters free ebook ‘30 non-vegan excuses and how to respond to them’, this is full of lots of great information to help with the many objections and questions non-vegans will throw at you.
Some great documentaries; ‘Cowspiracy‘ to learn about the environment side of things, ‘What the Health‘ for health information, and of course ‘Dominion‘ goes into the many ways humans exploit animals. Other than that, my number one tip would be to connect with other vegans, it will make your journey so much easier.
Where do you go for great vegan food?
If I can’t get to Fitzroy, my favourites around my area (central Victoria) are ‘Adam and Eve’ in Bendigo, ‘The Social‘ in Castlemaine and ‘Olivia’s Pantry‘ in Kyneton. I also enjoy creating meals and sweet treats in our own kitchen, with my sister.
What are some vegan brands you support?
I’m a big advocate for buying second hand wherever possible however, I also think it’s a great form of subtle activism to wear vegan messages on your t-shirts. I Love brands such as ‘Vegan Leather Co.’ and ‘In the Soul Shine‘ for this. It’s also great to buy stuff from animal rights groups, that way the money goes back into the movement. And remember to be conscious consumers and look for ethically made clothing!
Who should we interview next?
I don’t know her personally, but Leah Doellinger does amazing work and would be great to chat to 🙂
Tess, thank you so much for not only sharing your story but for all the work you are doing for the animals. You are clearly passionate about animal rights and we are sure you will continue to do great work once you leave school too! To follow Tess and all the great work her and AFV do, visit her page HERE.
If you would like to read about other amazing Vegan Chats, you can read more HERE.