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Grab a box of tissues before reading this inspirational story!
HH: Tell us a little about yourself -- how did you end up homeless?
Hi, my names Courtney Brown, and I'm a homeless vegan in Sioux City Iowa! I became homeless after a bout in the hospital, where I lost my house, and my overall footing in life, which caused me to become deeply depressed, and very caught up in the dogma of life.
HH: How do you stay plant-based in such trying circumstances?
How do I feel about being plant based while having little to no income? It feels hard. Sometimes I have to take what I can get, and when I have to eat meat, or other unhealthy, and generally unkind food, it does make me sick (physically and emotionally). But, as the Beatles say: You get by with a little help from your friends.
Most of my friends love and respect me, and know how I feel about being vegan. They do everything they can to help me, when they have a little extra to spare.
The people I live with do their best for me. I get a lot of carrots, bananas, and juice. It isn't much, so I am always looking for opportunities to find kind food. Sometimes I have to pull peanuts out of a vending machine, and that's fine with me. It better than eating meat and feeling emotional distress about it for the next three days.
HH: Is there any hope for change on the horizon, with respect to your financial circumstances?
I recently went back to work, so as of Friday of this week, I will be buying my own food. Things will go back to normal, and my body and mind will finally be at rest.
HH: I imagine most people in your situation would haven given up; done anything to make some aspect in their life easier or more convenient, but you persisted no matter how challenging -- what was the driving force?
My morals about being vegan are very strong. In my life I have been abused in every way imaginable, by people who said they loved me.
I have never believed that any being other than humans are soulless, unable to feel pain, or are not entitled to the same rights as me.
The animals in my life, have never told me that I was fat, ugly, or worthless. When I came to college I realized it was time I did something to give back to these creatures so I promised them I wouldn't eat them, and that I would do whatever I could to make their situation better.
I have never thought about giving up because my pets never gave up on me.
HH: In addition to animal rights motivations, did you have any other motivations for eating a plant-based (vegan) diet?
The health benefits too - I was a solid 200 pounds when I decided that it was time to quit living a lifestyle that didn't match my beliefs. Today I am nearing 160, and still dropping.
HH: There is no doubt in my mind that you are a strong person---a survivor. For those of us who feel weak at times, or don't know if we have your strength, what's a piece of advice you can give to us the next time we're on the edge?
Don't give up on something you believe in because times are hard.That's no different than being a fair-weather friend. I did this interview for that reason. I dedicate this to anyone out there who is in a really awful place right now. Take it from me: it gets better.
HH: Any other closing thoughts?
Thank you to Nicole Raphael (HH's intern) for not giving up on trying to get this interview with me, and working around my crazy circumstances.
I hope that my interview helps everyone out there see that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. There truly is, it isn't a myth, and the way we live our lives isn't a joke, don't let anyone ever tell you that your wrong for the choices you make.
I also hope that you all find the hope and the strength that you need, even if it is just enough to get through one more day.
Thank you Courtney, thank you.
UPDATE: Closing remarks from Courtney
I went and replied to every single comment, and left my love and support. I cried. God did I cry. I really did help someone. I really did make a difference - I wish I had the linguistic ability to convey to you how full of love and joy I feel, how my heart is singing or high I got off of looking at those comments. Thanks fellow herbivores. that was the strength that I needed - for just one more day, JUST ONE MORE DAY to get through - and all I need is one more day. - with love, support, and inner light