An animal rights advocate and committed vegan for over 16 years, Amy recently launched her own clothing line Legends & Vibes which, like her, is 100% vegan. The line combines vintage, bohemian vibes with gorgeous and innovative designs. All materials used for her clothes are sourced locally, and provide great alternatives to fashion options which use animals as any part of their production process.
We were delighted to get the opportunity to speak with Amy about her experiences living in the city that is leading the way in tackling climate change and fur-free activism, as well as finding out her future plans for Legends & Vibes.
MGP: We would love to hear about what initially propelled you to become vegan and begin a lifestyle of animal advocacy?
ARW: If there were ever a perfect candidate to go vegan, I was it. I wasn’t raised vegan, but made the switch as soon as I became informed. My parents said that, since day one, my eyes would light up whenever I saw an animal. My third word was “Bubbah” the Golden Retriever that lived on our street.
At a very early age I was bringing home injured birds and other critters to rehabilitate and re-release. Any animal that could not be re-released became a member of the household. Our menagerie quickly grew.
When I was seven we took in three chickens. Once I put two and two together about where our food comes from (that there is no difference between my chickens and the chickens that are slaughtered for our consumption) I immediately cut chicken out of my diet and went vegetarian soon after.
I went vegan the day I learned about the lifestyle. I was 15. It completely changed my life and the way I perceived the world. On one hand I was horrified and overwhelmed at the extent of animal cruelty in our society. At the same time I was excited to find that there wasn’t just a lifestyle, but a movement working to end animal abuse. I knew I had to be a part of it. Easiest decision I’ve ever made. I’ve never looked back.
MGP: Since becoming vegan 16 years ago, have you noticed a positive shift in attitudes towards the lifestyle and that it has become more mainstream?
ARW: Oh, absolutely! I went vegan in 2002. The hardest part about going vegan back then was just how much of an outcast it made me. I literally had people telling me that I couldn’t survive without eating animals. I was bullied for it. I felt like the Dixie Chicks during the Bush Administration.
The social impact was definitely hard, but there was never a time I questioned my decision. I think that was a testament to how much veganism meant to me, and the impact I knew it could have. So I’m beyond thrilled at how far its come. Seeing the changes and social acceptance over the years has been amazing. Even though it has come a long way, I do get concerned that the definition of what it means to be vegan has been misinterpreted and watered down with its expansion. We need to make sure it isn’t just seen as a dietary label.
There is so much cruelty and waste in the fashion industry and that cannot be ignored. Billions of animals are killed every year. We’re facing cataclysmic climate change. The stakes are very real. So that requires finding a way to respectfully educate the public so that there is a clear difference between a plant based diet and a vegan lifestyle.
Why is that important?
When veganism is misconstrued at a diet, actual vegans that follow a vegan lifestyle are labeled as “extreme vegans.” Words matter. If compassionate living is seen as extreme or too difficult, it not only turns people off, but lessens the impact of veganism. So that’s a huge reason why I wanted to open a vegan boutique and launch a vegan clothing line.
Vegan fashion and veganism as a whole needs to be accessible. I’m very proud of the work we do at Vegan Scene. On a personal note, I feel very fortunate that my vegan journey has led me here.
MGP: We hear exciting things are in the works for a potential 100% vegan factory, tell us more?
It’s definitely a goal of ours. One of the big reasons for launching a clothing line of our own was to finally have a fashion label that met all of our high standards of ethical criteria. We are meticulous in our production process, which definitely takes extra attention to detail. Having a factory of our own would allow us to have everything under one roof so we can have a centralized production system, and easily ensure that our production is standards are met. It would be the first vegan apparel factory of its kind. So we’re pretty stoked about that, but we also want to make sure we scale organically, and make moves when the time is right.
“The hardest part about going vegan back then was just how much of an outcast it made me. I was bullied for it. I felt like the Dixie Chicks during the Bush Administration.” – Amy Rebecca Wilde
MGP: Protein based vegan options may soon be required by law at designated LA venues. Do you think LA is becoming a trend-setting city for veganism, sustainability and animal advocacy?
LA has always been at the forefront of the vegan movement. I’m very fortunate to have grown up here and been a part of it. I love California and I’m proud that it’s been a leader in tackling climate change. It cannot be understated that we are facing dangerous times. What we’re experiencing now, and the doomsday predictions that are being reported, is nothing short of terrifying. It’s going to take a lot more than just switching from incandescent to LED to save this planet. Animal agriculture is one of the top polluting industries, a plant based diet is not just a compassionate choice, its key to a more sustainable future. So there should absolutely be more done to make plant based a readily available option.
MGP: ‘Fur Free LA‘ made all the headlines worldwide and we hear you may have had something to do with that?
In 2010, I was organizing protests and got a number of retailers including Planet Blue, Urban Outfitters, True Religion, and Dolls Kill to ditch animal skins and go fur free. Fur free activism was a huge part of my life up until starting Vegan Scene. I saw how important it was to have compassionate, animal-free retailers. Especially a brick and mortar. I can’t take all the credit because activism is a grassroots movement, but I know my work had an impact and I am excited that we have come so far.