After a flurry of outfit switches, applying glitter to eyelids, and grabbing a banana, we rushed out the door and split into two separate cars to drive to Veg Fest LA, an event put on with help of Mr. & Mrs. Vegan and a lot of other vegan activists in the Los Angeles. There were over forty food stands and inspiring speakers talking about everything from puppy mills to green peace to social media to legalizing marijuana. I was able to talk to some pioneers of the movement and learned so much about how to put our ethics into action.
In addition to being inspired at every turn, we also chowed down on some vegan food. Donuts, ice cream, pad thai, falafel, yellow curry… you know I was in heaven.
For the first half of the festival, I was honestly not present in the moment. I was being consumed by nervous energy as the clock ticked down for when I was supposed to give my speech. Iz and I sat on the grass, criss cross and knees touching, holding crystals and each others hands and focusing on what message we wanted to portray when up on stage.
When I got up there, the very first thing I did was drop the mic and swear. Nice one em. For those of you who heard me speak in person, first of all thank you for coming, and for those of you who didn’t- you can read the transcription of what I said which doesn’t include me dropping the mic, shaking, and glancing down at my notes.
VEG FEST SPEECH
Hi, my name is Emma and I am the editor of the blog and now magazine, The Messy Heads. when I started the messy heads, I wasn’t vegan yet. This was about two years ago. I just wanted to be a voice for young girls telling them that they were worth more than their appearance, if boys valued them, how their hair makeup or outfits looked. I wanted to create content that I wasn’t seeing out there, something that focused on inner beauty. I didn’t know where I was going with it but I knew for sure I wouldn’t make a girl feel the way I had felt reading magazine growing up: which was never pretty enough, never skinny enough, never desirable enough. If you are or were ever a young girl you know what I am talking about.
So my goal with the messy heads was simple: to empower young women, and men, to be more than their appearances. To emphasize their value and power. Then about 6 months into having the blog, I started college and was able to fully control what I ate and went vegan. If any have you have seen Gary Yourovskys speech, the best speech you will ever hear, that’s the one that made me go vegan, that’s the one that hit a nerve with me. It’s the part where he is talking about taking the blinders off. I think about that all. The. Time.
But the reason why I bring up the blinders, is because it rings true in more aspects of life then veganism. Even within veganism, I mean I get messages from young girls all the time asking if going vegan will help them lose weight and I want to scream that it is so much more then that. But everything, especially now with social media, goes back to appearance. That’s why those girls are messaging me and asking if veganism will make them skinny. They are concerned about how perfect their life looks to other people. To how great your makeup and your ass is. I see girls with millions of followers promoting little more then their face. That is something I want to change. Let’s put value and stock and comments and likes and however else we measure success into people who have a message, and not a facade. And it’s so attainable. This is the first time in history the youth has been so connected, able to spread huge messages and start movements and do amazing things. To share veganism and positivity and sexuality and ways we want to change the world. but when it comes down to it, the girls, the guys with the biggest influence have the least amount to say. Why is that?
I think this whole concept of perfection really gets in the way of us making progress. This feeling that there is a critical eye staring us down waiting for us to fail. Guess what, you are going to fail. Guess what, you will never be perfect. But I find immense power in that. I find extreme strength in imperfection.
Because when you release theses binds of insecurity that I struggled with and I know so many girls struggle with for far too long, you can care about something bigger than yourself.
So, because of all this, I make magazines now. We just released the first issue, the me my mess and I issue which is broken up into three sections and talks about discovering yourself, loving yourself, and expressing yourself. It has real stories and real girls and actually a lot of people out in the audience helped me make it. Because I truly truly believe that compassion starts with yourself, which is why I made the first issue about the reader.
In addition to the magazine, this summer me and three friends, Iz, Haley, & Cartia, are going on a mini road trip tour that we are calling the messy effect. We are going from San Diego to Seattle stopping in six cities to invite the youth to come and have real discussions. To talk about what we want to change and how we can change it. To take the blinders off and create an interconnected world like we have the potential to do. Me along with my three friends will be- yes talking about veganism, but talking about social issues and spirituality and depression and sexualization and suicide and things that we are have been too afraid to talk about. it’s time that we start empowering each other to actually be the change that we wish to see. I want empower young people- and especially girls to realize they are not worthy just as a body but as a mind and soul. The Messy Effect tour is happening this summer to awaken people to care about themselves. To care about the planet. To care about each other. Because at the end, we don’t remember the words of our enemies but the silence of our friends, and all I want from the messy effect is to get youth talking about things that actually matter.
Iz rounded out our time on stage talking about how amazing it is that all of these people came together united for one purpose. Iz is a truly great speaker- commanding and connecting and getting her point across with passion. While I was standing right next to her, I really did think about how truly inspiring it was that all of these people stomping around through the grass, drinking beer, eating vegan hot dogs, all care about something bigger than themselves. What a powerful uniting force.
We got off stage and I could finally breathe and actually enjoy the festival. We met up with Lexie, Finley, Koi, & Cami in the inspiration tent to hear Durian & Freelee talk about using social media to help the cause. Being surrounded by a group of people who are so passionate about creating change had me buzzing with energy.
Veg fest left me with such a good feeling- a feeling that we can all unite to change the world. A feeling that we all have purpose and power. Meeting you guys, talking with people openly about my passions, and being with some of my closest friends, it all just goes to show how love and compassion will persevere.
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
– Martin Luther King, Jr.