Dominika Piasecka works for The Vegan Society, follows a plant based lifestyle and is an animal rights activist in her own time. We caught up with her to talk about her personal choices and what she hopes to achieve by being passionate about veganism over social media and in person during her vegan outreach. 

Dominika Piasecka

Dominika Piasecka

What made you go vegan and when did you make this change in lifestyle?

I went vegan after watching a YouTube video by an animal rights activist Gary Yourofsky, called Best Speech You Will Ever Hear (below)– and it was exactly as the title says! I was already vegetarian but Gary opened my eyes to animal suffering in the dairy and egg industries which I was simply not aware of. It broke my heart to find out what happens to animals in those industries and I felt that as an animal lover, I could no longer support them by buying animal products. I realised that every time I buy a product that comes from animals I make a contribution to their suffering.

You are very active on social media, so why do you feel it’s important to be open about your beliefs and promote your way of living?

We are very lucky to have social media around because it’s one of the most convenient, easiest and most effective tools for activism. I use it to promote my way of living because I hope to inspire other people who see my posts, and I hope to open their eyes and their hearts to animal suffering. I believe that most people are good people, and vast majority loves or at least respects animals, but they have not yet made the connection between who is on their plate and the sentient living being it once was. I try to keep in mind that I was the same 5 years ago before I went vegan, so I always make sure to be understanding and nice to those who are not there yet.

Why do animals belong in our hearts and not in our stomachs?

Some people argue that animals are on this planet for our enjoyment but this can’t be further from the truth. As human beings, we have empathy and we take care of those somehow weaker than us, and we should therefore look after animals rather than exploit them. When we see a small child we don’t think of ways of how to use them; our natural reaction is to care for them, and this is what most people naturally feel like about animals – they just need to put those feelings in action. Unfortunately we are all victims of society in the sense that while we are born with all that love for other beings, society teaches us that it’s okay to harm and use animals because ‘that’s just how things are’ – but of course it isn’t and we are the ones who have to stand up and challenge this cruel ideology.

You went on a vegan camp this year so for those who have never been to one- what can they expect?

The vegan camp I went to was just as fun as every other camp – except that all the food on offer was vegan! It was amazing to be surrounded by so many vegans, indulge in delicious vegan treats and listen to inspiring talks from animal rights activists. The date for 2018 has already been confirmed and I’m definitely going!

You recently posted about the companies that test on animals- so what are your go to vegan and cruelty free beauty products?

I buy almost all my beauty products in Superdrug – their own brand items are not tested on animals and mostly vegan. For makeup, I use Kat Von D products and I’ve also got a couple of GOSH items. Barry M nail polish is my favourite – especially the black one!

How long have you worked for The Vegan Society and how does it feel to be working for a cause you are passionate about?

I’ve worked at The Vegan Society for half a year now, and I’ve never been happier. I moved to Birmingham just to work here and it was a difficult decision that I had to make as a fresh graduate with little money but it was so worth it. I go to work every day and spend 8 hours doing what I love to do and what I do in my everyday life anyway – inspire and help people to go vegan. I’m an animal rights activist as well, and my group does vegan outreach on the streets of busy cities every weekend. We have meaningful conversations with passers-by who ask us about veganism.

Please tell us about the most inspirational vegan story you have come across lately?

Last month I was extremely lucky to witness a former ‘beef’ farmer donate his herd of 59 cows to a vegan sanctuary. A vegetarian of 25 years, Jay Wilde contacted The Vegan Society as he wanted to stop farming animals and move towards growing crops for human consumption which is something our report Grow Green helps with. We helped Jay find a new home for the cows at Hillside Animal Sanctuary, where the cows moved last month. Jay appeared on Countryfile, alongside The Vegan Society, and also on BBC Stories and his story has been seen by over 10 million people through these channels. 

What would you say to people who argue that plants are living things too?

Plants, unlike animals, lack a central nervous system and are unable to feel pain. Even if plants did feel pain, eating them directly would ‘kill’ fewer plants because farmed animals eat more plants throughout their lifetime than a vegan ever would.

You also partake in enlightening people about veganism on the streets so how do passers-by respond to this and why is it such a vital part of what you do?

For me, animal rights activism is a rent I pay to live on this planet. I’ve been an activist for 6 years because I believe that by having meaningful, eye-opening conversations with people we can often change their minds. People don’t think about where their food comes from and who suffered for it, and we as activists simply want to help them to stop and think and look into it a bit more. We can’t blame them for it because the meat, dairy and egg industries – knowing how horrible it is – do their best to hide the truth about how animals are mistreated and killed. Veganism is simply about not harming animals and I really want to show people that it’s an amazing lifestyle for every one of us. It’s not as difficult as people think; you will find out if you only give it a go!

What vegan events have you got coming up this year that you can tell us about?

The Vegan Society is launching its biggest campaign ever later this month. Plate Up for the Planet will focus around a seven-day, planet-saving challenge that encourages participants to consume a low greenhouse gas emissions meal plan. We’ll be able to tell them what greenhouse gas savings they will be making, compared to an omnivorous diet. We will then forecast the impact of a longer-term switch and use these figures to encourage further commitment to a vegan diet. We’ll also be running World Vegan Month in November like we do every year and there will be other exciting projects in the meantime, including the launch of our vegan nutrition app. 

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