Q&A with Dara Lovitz
By Kate Farrell
Dara Lovitz is an adjunct professor of Animal Law, author, and co-founder of Peace Advocacy Network. She has written books on animal rights activism, raising emotionally healthy twins, peaceful nursery rhymes, and her latest book, Gag Reflections: Conquering a Fear of Vomit Through Exposure Therapy, is a memoir that explores her recovery from a lifelong fear of vomit.
Questions and Answers
How long have you been vegan? 16-17 years
What does inclusive veganism mean to you? I am concerned about the exploitation and oppression of all animals, nonhuman and human. Thus, my veganism and drive for social justice are connected and inseparable. All systems of oppression must be dismantled — we must fight until all cages are empty — and all chains are broken.
What is your city/location?: Bala Cynwyd, PA (near Philadelphia)
What are your favorite vegan products in your area (Food, beauty, fashion, or other)?: ALL THE VEGAN FOOD – seriously Philadelphia has so many great vegan restaurants, food trucks, catering companies, and our very own 100% vegan convenience store.
What is your day job?: Publications Manager for a non-profit legal organization and Adjunct Professor.
What are your reasons for becoming vegan (If you had any)?: For the animals. I didn’t want to harm animals in any way.
How does veganism impact your daily life/intersect with your work and home life?: I am the chef in our family and the grocery shopper so vegan food is a part of my daily life in a big way. I’m researching recipes, finding sales on vegan specialty items, planning meals, and cooking for a hungry family of four. At work, my veganism comes up only when it is time for holiday parties or when they order food for our office (In pre-pandemic times, of course). And, being in Philly, they’re always able to find something vegan to throw in the lunch order for me.
What is a good vegan life hack?: The internet. It is the place to go for vegan recipes, vegan products, and vegan activist opportunities.
How did you make the decision to raise your children vegan?: It wasn’t really a question. Before I had kids, I was committed to not harming animals. If I brought kids into the world who harmed animals, by eating them or drinking their bodily fluids, then I would be betraying my deep commitment to veganism. Of course, my husband is not vegan so there was a little reluctance on his part at first, but he is also very concerned about health and once he did his research he was convinced that a vegan diet is the optimal diet for humans and he was on-board with having a vegan household and raising the kids vegan.
How do your children talk about veganism? They are proud to be vegan. They are the only vegans in their school and camp and when people find out they’re vegan, especially teachers, camp counselors, etc., they say something like, “Oh, that’s so cool!” Which of course to an eight-year-old is very validating.
What are your children’s favorite vegan foods/products and do they understand the lifestyle?: Because they inherited my love for pizza, they enjoy both homemade and restaurant pizza. They love dal and roti from our neighborhood Indian restaurant. For snacks, they love Earth Balance Puffs. They love sweets, most of which we make at home, but they will hop in the car any day if it means a trip to get donuts from Dottie’s Donuts.
As for what they understand about the lifestyle, I think they understand as much as they can about the horrors of animal farming and why we don’t eat animals or their outputs. What I think they don’t understand or realize is how pervasive animal abuse is in the world at large (Outside of the food we eat) – they don’t know yet about vivisection or breeders or the rodeo.
Do you have any tips for new vegans?: To a new vegan I’d say, “Welcome, you’re awesome, and thank you!” As for tips, I’d say to try to find a community of like-minded folks. Social media has made this especially easy. Join vegan groups, search vegan hashtags and threads – find other vegans who can help you in your transition. New vegans (As well as experienced vegans) have questions and online vegan communities can help!
Do you have any tips for parents or parents-to-be who want to explore raising vegan children? Yes. Don’t listen to nay-sayers. You may live in a bubble in which being vegan is different and discouraged — and raising vegan kids is seen as harmful to them. Yet millions of people raised healthy vegan kids before you and millions will do it after you. You may not know any of them (Yet!), but they exist. Find vegan parenting books and read the scientific studies – you will see that you can absolutely raise healthy vegan kids and I promise it will be easier than you think. Also, as I advise above, seek out your vegan community. I am a member of multiple vegan parenting groups – some are local and pre-pandemic we had get togethers so our kids could play with other vegan kids. But many of my vegan parenting groups are people I’ve met only online and we share tips for kid-friendly recipes, fun activities, and advice for being vegan in a non-vegan world (Eg, what to do when your child’s school has an upcoming field trip to the zoo). Lastly, raising vegan kids is raising compassionate kids who understand from an early age that they have a great impact on the world around them and that each individual bears responsibility for that impact. When your kids understand the why behind your decision to raise them vegan, it makes their journey in a non-vegan world that much easier to navigate.
Meet the author:
Kate is a bookworm and a vegan endurance runner. She spent seven years diving deep into book-to-film communities as co-administrator of a Hunger Games fansite, worked for the 24th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards®, and is currently a M.A. student at Tufts University’s Eliot-Pearson Department of Child Study and Human Development.
You can follow Kate on Instagram @kfarrell94!