TPF: Along with road safety and the wild horse slaughter, what are some of the issues about horses that matter to you?
EDA: I went to New York three years ago and I was appalled and disgusted by the way that the horses were treated. Why do you want a horse pulling a carriage in New York City?!
They're being worked into the ground and to dehydration and exhaustion to the point where they're passing out. That's not normal. You have absolutely no right to do that to another being, regardless of if they’re an animal or a human.
It's baffling to me, and it needs to stop.
TPF: Do you have any favorite animal rescues, sanctuaries, or nonprofit shelters?
EDA: I’ve been working with the Dexter Foundation fostering dogs for years. It’s a small animal rescue out here in California. I’ve [also] worked with San Bernardino Shelter, Carson Animal Shelter, and Harbor Animal Shelter.
I also love The Gentle Barn and Farm Sanctuary here in California. I have a really big place in my heart for farmed animal sanctuaries. I love the country, so [those sanctuaries] make me really happy.
TPF: Along with fostering dogs and volunteering, what other ways do you like to help animals?
EDA: I’m currently donating and reaching out and asking if there's any way I can help. I'm really young and I'm on a pretty strict budget, but that doesn't mean that I can't help in some ways.
TPF: Can you elaborate on that? How could The Protego Foundation’s community also help animals on a budget?
EDA: You don't always have to donate money. You could just go to a rescue and ask, ‘Do you need a dog bed?’ and then go and get a dog bed or something. Or, round up some old toys.
There are even things that you might not think of, like old towels or blankets that you have that you're going to get rid of. A shelter or rescue might really use them! Even just talking about them to your followers on social media and giving them ‘press’ helps!
Those are ways that you can help that aren’t a big expense out of your budget.
TPF: You’ve been thinking about starting your own food blog. What about that idea intrigues you?
EDA: I feel like cooking could be a hesitation with people who want to go vegan. There aren’t enough convenient meals and you might need to spend a lot.
That's one of the reasons I’d want to start a food blog or vlog. To be like, ‘Hey, I've only been vegan for a year, and I'm still figuring it out.’ But I’d love to make veganism more accessible and personal and not as daunting.
TPF: What are some vegan food and cooking tips you have for our community?
EDA: You don't need to buy all those fancy ingredients or all organic foods. I'm still young and I have a pretty tight budget when it comes to food. As long as you’re buying produce, you’re good!
You can buy things like beans and grains in bulk and often save a lot of money. There are [also] a lot of ways to save your food when you're buying in bulk so that you get the most out of it.
You can freeze tofu and a lot of your fruits and veg and use them for other things, like smoothies, so that your food doesn't go bad. You also have to be creative with what you cook. It becomes way more exciting and will often save you money.
[For example,] in California, cashews are expensive. I wanted to make a cheesecake and I spent twenty dollars on it. I can't make a great cashew cheesecake one week and then another one the next because my bank just won't allow it. Hashtag cheesecake problems!
I want to get into tofu cheesecakes because it would save me a lot of money.
TPF: Lately, you’ve been living more eco-friendly. What have you been doing?
EDA: I’ve invested in some glass tupperware instead of plastic, [use] compostable sandwich bags, have an electric toothbrush, and put a cap on how long I’m showering.
I use reusable water bottles and have been considering not using paper towels at all and getting some dish rags to clean and wipe off spills.
I’m also into sustainable menstrual products. I know there are a lot of restrictions and everybody's body is different, but you can get organic, eco-friendly tampons and menstrual cups that can be really good.
Oftentimes, you'll find that they'll actually save you money in the long run because you can use a menstrual cup for months and years versus a tampon [you use] once. You're paying like 11 dollars for a box of tampons versus a menstrual cup that you can reuse for months and months and months that's gonna cost you 30 bucks. You're saving yourself so much money in the long run.
TPF: That’s great!
EDA: I’m finding you can still make those changes in a positive way that's not gonna break your bank. Every time you take a little step forward, you're making a little bit more of a difference. You don't have to take a huge leap to feel like you're doing something.
TPF: What were some of the myths about veganism that have been dispelled for you since you've gone vegan?
EDA: That vegan food is gross is one! That vegan food can't be as good as regular food.
That’s a complete lie.
If you’re willing to experiment with your food and get creative, or even if you buy a vegan cookbook to get you started, you’ll know what flavors work and how to cook! When I first started cooking tofu, it was the most disgusting thing, [but with practice] you learn how to become a tofu wizard!
It's just about taking a moment to invest in trial and error!
TPF: Do you have any encouraging words or advice for aspiring vegans, vegetarians, or people curious about more of a plant-based lifestyle?
EDA: Just try it! Try different restaurants or buy a meat substitute or try cooking with something new.
It took me a year to fully get the hang of going vegan, after four years of already being vegetarian, so don't feel like you have to put pressure on yourself. I used a whole year to transition from vegetarian to vegan. I would go three months vegan and then I would figure out where I was deficient in some of my vitamins or where my body needed a little bit more fuel.
See what works for you, see what doesn't. Don't give up if one thing didn't work out.
Be gentle on yourself. Consider the fact that you're making a wonderful decision and allow time for that.
You can also reach out to vegan bloggers and vloggers and other vegans on social media. Many of them would be more than willing to help. You can always message me on Instagram and I’ll respond to your DM if you need help going vegan!
TPF: Do you have any exciting plans for the rest of this year or for 2022?
EDA: I have a short film that I shot last year that is going to be running the festival circuit, hopefully towards the end of this year. It has nothing to do with veganism but is something that I’m really passionate about.
Other than that, just getting through the rest of this pandemic and coming out on the other side! That's the goal. Staying happy and healthy and living life as it comes. That's what I’m trying to do.
Thank you so much to Ellie for sitting down to talk with us!
You can follow Ellie and all of her magical vegan and activism adventures on her Instagram @elliedalden.
And be sure to look out for more conversations and collaborations with The Protego Foundation’s new ambassador and the most compassionate young witch of her age!
Written by Victoria Tomis
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