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Opening Blind Eyes

Artist Brittney West speaks about using the paintbrush to educate those who choose to look the other way

Tell us about your own vegan journey.

I transitioned from a vegetarian to vegan the same time I got hired in a meat and cheese department of a food coop. It was there that I saw the dark underbelly of the ‘humane’ hoax and sugar-coating of ‘local’, ‘organic’ and ‘free-range’ animal agriculture. I started doing research — diving into documentaries, into medical and scientific articles, of questioning my hand in all this unnecessary suffering. I grew up feeling very voiceless, so advocating for helpless animals felt cathartic. There’s so much unnecessary suffering in the world, and becoming vegan was one easy and accessible choice I could make. I transferred departments at the food co-op and eventually started working in the produce department. It was during that healthy transition I started my ‘Animal Activist Artwork’ series as a way to process my discoveries and as a form of activism. Art is a safe place for viewers to digest a contentious issue in the safety of their own heads. This series has encouraged a lot of inner and outer dialogue. Art can prompt new ways of looking at an issue. Sometimes it can burn an image into the viewer’s mind, planting a seed, helping people reflect on our relationship with animals.

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About Vegan Life

On New Year’s Day we posted a graphic on our social media pages that read ‘Welcome to 2018, the Year of the Vegan’ and, without being too smug, so far we think that our prediction has been spot on the money. It seems that every single day we are hearing news of vegan products that are being created to cater for the ever increasing number of people shunning cruelty towards nonhuman animals. The number of people who are waking up to the benefits of following a vegan lifestyle seems to be snowballing in 2018, more quickly than in any other year thus far, and I truly believe that this year will be the Year of the Vegan. Just flicking through this month's news section is proof that mainstream media, restaurants and shops are jumping on the vegan bandwagon. There are people who say that these companies are just trying to make a quick buck by tapping into this newly emerging market, and I think that there is some truth to that. However, if it means that more companies are avoiding animal products and therefore there is less animal exploitation in the world, and more plant based innovation, then I can only see this as a good thing. Anyway, what’s in this month’s Vegan Life? We were lucky enough to interview the mesmerising Monami Frost. Monami may not appear to be your cup of tea at first, but I urge you to read her interview. She has a unique outlook on life, especially on focusing on the now, which I think we can all learn from. Alongside this we have; a fascinating article from Fat Gay Vegan on creating your own vegan blog to spread the compassionate message far and wide; a feature exploring the war on single use wet wipes and the negative impact that they are having on the environment; and a travel piece on eating vegan in Copenhagen. I hope that you enjoy the issue and I’d love to hear your feedback, so please do get in touch!