Fawn Porter

Meet Fawn, self proclaimed fitness junkie, personal
trainer, chocoholic, farm raised meat eater turned
vegan and passionate animal rights advocate.

This Not Your Typical Treehugger profile first appeared in Living Vegan magazine.

When did you go vegan and what were your reasons?

My first dot connected whilst working at the Auckland SPCA (Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) and getting involved with the farm animal residents. I used to train new volunteers and educate them on factory farming. I would encourage them to buy free range eggs, bacon and ham that was endorsed by the SPCA for the ‘animal’s sake’. It didn’t take me long to work out how blatantly hypocritical this was. The following weeks I got to know all of these farm animals on a much more personal level, learning their unique personalities and even learning that Chester, the rather plump Kune Kune pig, would come when called, sit, lie down and roll over on command and he sure did love a good belly rub! He was just as intelligent and playful if not more so than many of our canine residents. You could say at this point I had a minor revelation. The equation went something like this: Pig=Dog. Dog=Friend. Pig=Friend. This logical equation was then soon applied to cows, chickens, ducks, fish, turkeys as well as to eggs and dairy after watching the animal rights gospel documentary ‘Earthlings’ – the biggest life changing wake up call I’ve ever had.

What difficulties have you encountered and how have you dealt with them?

Fawn in action

At first there were a few bumps in the road with reconditioning my mind to thinking about what goes into making certain foods. Like accidently buying the Cadbury chocolate and then realising there’s milk in it – that was a heart breaking moment. However not nearly as heart breaking as it would have been for that mother cow to have her baby torn from her at birth and sent to the slaughterhouse…just so that I could have some chocolate. Thankfully there were supplies at hand to alleviate this and many other cravings from my previously meat, dairy and egg based diet. There was vegan chocolate, fudge, ice cream, marshmallows, pancakes, mock meats, non dairy milks and anything else you could possibly think of! It soon became a very easy way of life for me. If I can do it anyone can. It was just a matter of ironing out the kinks.

The other thing I think I found the most difficult was knowing. Simply having the conscious knowledge of knowing about the misery, pain, suffering and death that went into making each of those neatly stacked eggs, cartons of milk, and rows of styrofoam packaged meat cases. While holding back an internal urge wanting to yell at the top of my lungs “Don’t you know what you’re doing!? There’s a better way!” to every person who nonchalantly picked them up. That was something I struggled with for a while; learning how to channel the knowledge and passion I had in constructive ways for the better without giving myself a hernia every time I saw someone supporting animal cruelty. It was a matter of having the serenity to accept the things I couldn’t change and the courage to change the things I could, and with time, the knowledge and wisdom to know the difference.

You’ve started up Mean Green Personal Training, can you tell us more?

Mean Green Personal Training

I think one of the biggest stereotypes we as vegans face is that of being unhealthy or ‘weaklings’. The vast majority of the population seems to have a preconceived misconception that by not consuming animal products one will instantly shrivel up, become weak and unhealthy. This couldn’t be further from the truth when a well balanced plant based diet is adopted, anything is possible. One of the main aims of Mean Green is to really highlight the inaccuracy of this myth and to educate and empower vegans out there to take pride in their health and fitness as well as to encourage others looking at making the switch to a vegan diet. The Mean Green website gives people the opportunity to take advantage of some great value online personal training and nutrition packages as well as being able to keep up to date with what’s happening in the vegan fitness world and receive advice and tips on improving their training, health and nutrition on a plant based diet. To find out more you can visit www.meangreenpt.com or find us on facebook: ‘Mean Green Personal Training’.

How have your family and friends reacted to your veganism? Have you influenced anyone else to go vegan?

My Mum has always been very supportive given that she has practically been 90% veg herself for most of her life. In fact I used to tease her in my teenage years that she needed to eat more meat – go figure! Though not vegan herself she boasts about it to others and how proud she is of me for sticking to my guns so that has been a really great motivator for me. With most of my friends they are mostly quite respectful. There have been the odd few along the way that upon learning I’m vegan automatically put me in a stereotype box and become suddenly very defensive and almost aggressive. As if my simple act of not eating animal products is in some way an attack on them. That by my trying to make a positive impact it perhaps highlights their not so positive choices. On occasions this sometimes results in a compulsive urge to put me down, ridicule or make fun of me and my decision to not eat animal products in an attempt to make themselves feel better. Let’s face it, no one likes to be made to feel as if what they’re doing is wrong or immoral, which is why I try my best to be relatively non-confrontational on the topic and find some common ground with people.

Meeting new friends

I’d say I’ve influenced a few people I know personally to cut down on their meat intake, go vegetarian or even vegan. In fact just a few weeks ago a night club bouncer I met doing some promotional work decided to go vegan after learning that I was vegan and watching some videos posted on my facebook regarding some of the ethical reasons behind it. He wrote to me to thank me several weeks later for helping him make that positive shift in his life. That was the high point of the week for me!

What do you have to say to people who say that you can’t be a fit healthy vegan?

To that I say…would you like to feel my bulging biceps…haha! No no I’m kidding there obviously! But really most people who know me well enough will know that I’m generally a very active and fit person so I don’t often get this question but on the odd chance I do I’ll usually respond with some examples of exceptional athletic or sporting figures they might know who are vegetarian or vegan. No matter how much I could tell someone about all the nutritional aspects and how eating a well balanced vegan diet is one of the best things you can do for your health, most people I find still respond better to simply seeing examples of exactly that – fit and healthy vegans, which is why I take this approach. Seeing is believing.

Addiction Food brownies, cannot be resisted...

Can you describe some of your favourite meals, takeaway or home cooked?

I don’t hide the fact that I have a rave­nous sweet tooth. If I’m near a raw cake cheese­cake or an Addiction Food brownie they will be inhaled, no questions asked. However when I have a reign on the sweets I do love to eat clean and raw as well as hardy and savoury. Some of my favourites are green super smoothies and slow pressed juices, massive salads with the lot, tempeh nori rolls, stir frys over quinoa, roast veggies and gravy, tofu scramble over sprouted bread with avo…I could keep going but you get the idea. One of my standard breakfast smoothies goes along the lines of: fresh coconut water, chia seeds, greens (kale, spinach, broccoli, cucumber, parsley, spirulina), raw rice protein/pea protein, half banana, acai pulp, maca and berries. And if I’m craving a snack to fill me up and keep me going I can’t go past a nana smeared in peanut butter with a sprinkle of cinnamon. Hits the spot every time!

Have you encountered any absurd stereotypes, comments or negative attitudes?

When participating in peaceful demonstrations I’ve often had people tell me to “get a life” that I’m “pathetic” among other negative white noise but then there’s always someone else to tell me “keep up the good work”, and that’s what keeps me going. One thing that I find most absurd is when I often pull out something at lunch time like a pie, ‘chicken’ stirfry, or spag bol, all very meaty (and delicious looking might I add…) and people look impressed – then they realise I’m vegan. Suddenly they ask “err what’s in it?” whilst screwing up their nose as if I’d just put a plate of maggots in front of them. As if what I’m eating must be repulsive and taste horrible because it doesn’t contain the processed dead body parts of animals in it…?? It always astounds me.

What do you think are the most effective ways of helping veganism to become more mainstream?

I believe one of the best things for veganism is to make it something that people can be familiar with, by tackling the misconceptions and showing people that vegans are everyday people, just like them. To that end I think we all need to take pride in our health, fitness and overall wellbeing and present ourselves in a favourable light to dismantle any negative stereotypes. It’s also important that people don’t feel judged or bullied into anything and the same goes for what they eat. Any form of outreach I believe needs to be open and non aggressive. One of the greatest outreach methods in the media I think is from well educated people in the spotlight and celebrities who have the power to influence a vast number of the population, and usually at younger ages.

I think education and awareness also play a key role. I think it’s important to have children – who tend to have a natural infinity with animals – interact with pigs, cows, chickens, turkeys and other animals. Having them recognise that they are no different from their dog or cat at home. I think this understanding teaches children to have a greater sense of compassion and increases the likelihood of them taking action after learning of the process by which their food is produced. This is why I think education programs are the way forward. Lastly though, I don’t think you can go past outreach through someone’s stomach! Having mainstream food chains stock delicious vegan options as well as cooking your own scrumptious vegan creations and sharing them around. No one can deny a good cupcake!

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  • Hi Fawn
    Hi am a vego, been one for over 20 years, and i compete in Triathlons , including Ironman’s….but still i get question on weather i should be doing such extreme sports in my ‘condtion’ haha ….go figure!
    Anyway keep up the great work