"MY MUM ONCE TOLD ME SHE HOPED THAT MY HEART COULD STAY SOFT. A SOFT HEART IS SO IMPORTANT IN THIS WORLD".
I discovered Emma through Facebook, due to a friend of mine sharing a post about her journey of rescuing these two cows. She wrote a detailed letter to the farmer, who at that time had possession of the creatures that she simultaneously fell in love with in a field. Emma then received a phone call stating that she was welcome to become their new guardian and could lead them into a new chapter of their lives. They are now named Malayla and Elira which translate to lover of freedom and compassion in Filipino.I remember reading this post thinking that it was my last reminder from my transition into cutting out animal products, and since then i have always wanted to photograph Emma as she marked such an important segment of my life.
Often we can overlook these animals that form the agricultural industry as we are raised to believe they are merely purposed as milk machines, egg producers, plucked or skinned for fashion use hooked from our seas and then lead to cruel butchery. All in order for their breast milk and bodies to be served in our supermarkets and plates today. Many of these animals have been restrained from experiencing love, kindness or affection unlike our domestic animals. If you wouldn't eat your dog or cat, then why would you eat a pig or lamb?
Female cows in particular are stuck in a cycle of being artificially inseminated, and in some cases have their new born calfs taken away for slaughter (veal, if you are a male) or put back into the harsh reality of milk production if you are born female. The consumption of dairy and meat is not only having a harrowing effect on these animals, but also on our health and our planet as agriculture has been proved to be the leading factor in climate change.
But it doesn't have to be this way, each individual has the chance to change this, so why wouldn't you choose the compassionate choice?
Animal rights is something that I have always been passionate about and wanted to explore through photography, but felt the need to execute it in a way I thought was best in terms of spreading the vegan message. And in this case, to photograph the delicate, special relationships between humans and animals. I've always felt hesitant in sharing my opinion on such a controversial topic through social media. Not because of the fear of being slotted into the 'vegan' stereotype that I try so hard to change, but due to the fear of hearing that people would choose their tastebuds over a creatures life. My thoughts changed however after meeting Emma, and experiencing the affection and love from all the animals who share a home at the beautiful Liberation Sanctuary. Their silence worth putting a voice to. This visit and series is a friendly reminder to me why I became vegan in the first place, and why I was advocating the rights of our fury friends.
Welcome to the series where I share fragments of Emma frolicking through the mud filled fields with her cows Malayla and Elira, to the shared moments of glimmering love between Willow and Claude (her baby lambs). All intertwined with the mess of weetbix which the animals scrambled over!
"ONCE I GOT INTO THE MINDSET OF THINKING ABOUT THE VICTIMS OF MY CHOICES RATHER THEN WHAT TASTES OR EASE I WANTED, I KNEW WHAT THE RIGHT THING TO DO WAS".
How do you usually introduce yourself to new people? Or who do you want people to see you as? First and foremost, I would like people to see me as a kind, passionate and strong person.
Veganism really is a journey, and after being vegetarian for four years, going vegan was something that’d always been lingering in my mind. I remember seeing your post about saving the cows and putting them into a sanctuary which made me tear up so much, from then on I was like “fuck it I am going vegan, this is too much!”. Was there a last straw for you which made you take the next step into eliminating animal products from your life? Reading that about how the story of my cows helped you go vegan made me tear up! That makes me so, so happy! I think that when I wasn’t eating meat anymore, but was eating dairy and eggs, for a while I knew it was wrong, but I kept making excuses for myself, reasons why I couldn’t do it because it would be too hard. Once I got into the mind set of thinking about the victims of my choices, rather than what tastes or ease I wanted, I knew what the right thing to do was. It’s easy to be committed to veganism once you think properly about the suffering your actions are causing every single day.
Best advice you’ve even been given? When I was hurting a lot in the past because of some past trauma and mental health issues, my Mum told me she hoped that my heart could stay soft. A soft heart is so important in this world.
On your Instagram, it is noticeable that you are very much a physical activist, involving yourself in programs, marches etc.. Do you have any suggestions to people whom want to take veganism to the next level and spread the message even more? Most cities have a Save Movement group. For example, if you search up Melbourne Chicken Save, or any other farmed animal save, these are groups that do demonstrations, slaughter house vigils and fundraisers for each animal. These are a great way to get involved. You could see if there is an Animal Liberation group near you, you could look into the Animal Liberation Front if you are interested in rescues. If there aren’t any groups where you are, make your own! Veganism is spreading and you can help it grow even more.
You are a working model, which means a lot of your work is based around your appearance, how do you rise from moments of insecurity or comparison to other women? Especially on days you are working behind the camera? Whenever I don’t get a job in modelling, I make sure to not think of the person who got the job as ‘more beautiful’, but as what that client was looking for. There are so many different kinds of beautiful and so I should not feel lesser than another model that gets a job over me, who looks completely different to me. I am aware though, that there is a lack of diversity in the modelling industry, but from being in the industry I can see that there is progression in that sense, though there is more change needed.
If the whole world were listening to you for the short time of 5 minutes, what would you say? Ah! I think I would want to squeeze in so many things, but that wouldn’t actually be very effective. I think I would start more generally, speaking about peace and kindness. Everyone should treat everyone with love and compassion. From there, I would go into more detail about how your actions must follow this idea and that you cannot be entirely loving and compassionate if you eat animal products, buy sweat shop made clothes, don’t try to reduce your negative impact of beings living far from you, not just who are right in front of you.
What are some misconceptions of veganism that you’ve noticed since transitioning? Many people still don’t realise the cruelty of the dairy and egg industries and think that veganism is just an over the top version of vegetarianism. To that, I would suggest searching up Eggs Exposed and Cow Truth.
I have seen on your social media that you are a passionate animal rights activist but also very much into speaking out for woman’s rights. Do you find that these political movements ultimately intertwine in some ways? I think that if the world was not speciesist, we would see that we must help all beings. When I say all beings should be treated equally, I don’t mean that a pig should be allowed to vote, but treated equally in accordance to their ability to suffer – as all beings can. In this way, females, both human and animal are often abused due to their feminine body. For example, dairy cows are forcefully impregnated, have their baby taken away from them and hooked to milking machines for longer than they naturally would milk, before the whole process starts again. This abuse of female autonomy could be considered a feminist issue if people did not see animal females as less deserving of a life free of suffering.
Why is feminism/ equality important to you? Men and women are of course different, but not so different that we deserve different rights. People of all genders should be treated equally. We are all deserving of the same rights. I think that sometimes feminism gets a bad name because it focuses on women when there are men’s issues too, but here’s the thing: women are treated as lesser than men, so we must be lifted to equal to men before we can raise both genders up, or there will always be a disparity. Also, so many men’s rights issues are based in the patriarchy, in a society that has a toxic idea of hyper masculinity that does not allow for any ‘softness’ from men, as that would be perceived as feminine, which, due to the lack of respect for women, is perceived as inferior.
There are occasional days that I have the notion that I am not doing enough to contribute to such an important and passionate movement, and I know other vegans experience this too. Is there anything you do to get yourself out of this slump, or when you hear rude remarks about your lifestyle? Remember each life you save! Every year that you are vegan, you save around 200 animals. That is amazing. Even when it does not feel like there is wide spread change yet (though there is definitely a huge increase of vegans!), remember that those animals that did not have to die for your three meals a day, would be forever grateful.
What are your main tips for people transitioning into veganism? You don’t have to go vegan overnight, I didn’t. Take time if you need, but ultimately set veganism as your goal as soon as you can. I spent so long talking about the reasons I couldn’t go vegan, so long making excuses. Stop thinking of reasons you cannot go vegan and begin thinking of reasons as to why you should! Inform yourself about the issues related to veganism. It is easy to be vegan once you consider the victims of your actions, rather than the tastes you might miss out on (though vegan alternatives are so amazing!)
What were the best changes you experienced since going vegan? Knowing that three times a day, at meal times, I am choosing peace.I can also look at animals and feel no discomfort; I know I am not hurting them. Also from a more self centred perspective, I feel much better, more clean in my body.
"TO YOU IT'S A MEAL, BUT TO THEM IT'S A LIFE IN ITSELF".
Ultimately though, living a life without animal products is not difficult compared to the impact you have when taking up the lifestyle.
HERE ARE SOME INFORMATIVE DOCUMENTARIES (THAT CAN BE FOUND ON NETFLIX AND ONLINE) AS IT'S ALWAYS IMPORTANT TO EDUCATE YOURSELF WITH THE FACTS:
- Forks over Knives
-What The Health
WHY A PLANT BASED DIET IS BENEFICIAL FOR YOUR HEALTH:
VIEWS ON HOW A VEGAN DIET CAN DECREASE OUR INDIVIDUAL IMPACT ON CLIMATE CHANGE:
VEGAN TIPS, STARTER PACKS AND RECIPES: