Name: Jennifer Hillman
Occupation: Director of Strategic Advocacy and Campaigns, The Humane Society of the United States
How long have you been vegan? 20 years this year!
Why did you choose to be vegan? It was purely out of a love for animals. Once I learned about the horrors of factory farming and put two and two together about the animals we love and the animals we eat, I just couldn’t do it anymore. There was no question about it.
Biggest challenge: When I first went vegan, literally within the first few months, the biggest challenge was remembering to read ingredients! Once I started doing that, it was really remarkably easy. Even twenty years ago before the plethora of alternative meats, cheeses, ice creams, etc, it was still such a decision from the heart, that I really didn’t find it that challenging at all. I literally had those animals and their gentle souls in my mind every time I bought food. Plant-based foods are amazing and creative and delicious and they always have been. The nutrition aspect was not challenging at all either. I immediately lost weight and gained energy especially as soon as I gave up dairy products. After that, I felt healthier than I’d ever been. As a vegan, I’ve run four marathons and have never once felt at a lack for animal products as being an “essential” part of my diet.
Best reward: Eating an amazing diet that goes directly, every day, every bite, toward saving animals from suffering, protecting our precious environment and sustaining a healthy life for myself.
Are you involved in AR, vegan outreach, etc.? I work for an animal welfare organization so I feel lucky that I get to advocate for animals for a living, but I do my own type of outreach on my own as well. I enjoy cooking vegan meals for family and friends. I feel like I’ve matured as an activist over the years. I really do enjoy conversations that I have with people who aren’t vegan – and my favorite question is “what do you eat?” I love telling them that I eat a lot of the same foods that they eat and that it is easier than ever to make our eating habits help reduce animal suffering.
Advice for new vegans: Don’t think about what you can’t eat, think about what you CAN eat – the possibilities for delicious, nutritious and compassionate food choices is endless!
Parting words: Becoming vegan and advocating for a vegan diet is one of the things that I’m most proud of.
Congrats on twenty cruelty-free years, Jennifer!