My name is Heather, founder and owner of Love Gang Store. I turned vegan in 2014.
I was vegetarian as a child. At a very young age when learning that meat was in fact animals I didn’t want to eat them. I did go through many years as a teenager and young adult eating meat as I fell into the “normality” of society that brings us up thinking this is what we are meant to do. I even liked the taste.
Strangely I began to work on a farm to help in “lambing season” because I loved them so much and found it fascinating. I couldn’t bear to eat lamb by this stage and was always extremely picky about what I would actually eat. Many things on the farm that I was told to be normal and usual practice were really sad to witness, but the people who ran the farm were nice people and I believed them when they just said that this is normal.
Its chilling looking back. A pile of dead animals that would be picked up by a different person who disposed of the bodies. Foolishly I didn’t ask many questions, but its safe to say this work experience didn’t last very long.
Skip a few years and I find myself living in Andalucía, Spain. I was young and wild, but I couldn’t help but notice many stray cats and dogs. I adopted one of the cats and looked for a local shelter where I could rescue a friend for him as he was full of energy & eager to play. I could only find one place that rescued cats but when calling up I was told that I was the only person that had ever called to come and rescue a cat as opposed to drop one off. I went to the “shelter” that weekend and was so saddened by the amount of cats with no hope that I began to do anything I could to raise awareness and money for this nonprofitable, which was basically one lady who dedicated her time and money to all the cats.
A few more years pass and one day whilst eating my meal it dawned on me that there was in fact a dead animal on my plate, yet I was doing all this work to save animals. It made no sense. Right there and then something happened within my brain and I didn’t eat meat or fish again.
"Coming out" to my friends as being vegetarian was fine, they all understood it right away. I had 4 rescue cats by this point, one with FIV that needed constant care and they all knew how soft I was when it came to any animal. They were supportive to always make sure I had something wherever we went which I’m still grateful for to this day.
A few months later, I’m sat at work, on my lunch break, eating my boiled eggs and salad. I used the time to flick mindlessly through Facebook. I had followed and liked animal pages which showed heartfelt videos that truly made my day when I saw them.
I started to watch one video, unknowing that it was an advert for the documentary “Earthlings”. I think the clip was around 50 seconds long, even if it felt like forever. That 50 seconds changed my life. I cried for a few days trying to make sense of it. I was so shocked to discover what has actually been happening whilst I was just prancing through life having a ball. That was it, I turned vegan overnight, not really knowing what it meant and what an adventure I was about to go on.
All I knew in that moment was that I couldn’t and wouldn’t contribute to animals suffering anymore. And now that I knew, I was angry that it’d been hidden from me by society, governments and large corporations all my life, and I had to tell others what was really happening.
This is where it got tough. No one wanted to know… in fact, no one even believed me & they argued with me as if I didn’t know what I knew. Any excuse to not adapt their lifestyle. I didn’t want to be one of those “preachy vegans” who told everyone all the things that they were doing wrong. So I stayed quiet, even when I was crying inside sitting round watching my family devour dead carcasses of innocent animals who had suffered just so we could “celebrate” Christmas or a birthday.
I tried to talk to my immediate family as it seemed like they would be the easiest to talk to, surely they’d understand and believe me, I could always be myself with them even if I had to pretend to the rest of the world. Unfortunately, it didn’t quite work out as id imagined.
Parents often think its just another “phase”. We can’t really blame them; we go through many phases that they’ve watched whilst we’ve grown. You’re also questioning their methods, everything they’ve ever known and lived by. Then this “child” to whom they taught everything is suddenly telling them their wrong and to change the very lifestyle they brought us in to.
Back to my journey.. I began to see people in a different light, I saw the whole world differently in fact. It was like I’d just unraveled another sense that had been sleeping until now.
As much as I’m so happy to have woken this sense, it did come with learnings within its force. Patience and understanding being a massive part of the learning which I guess I didn’t have much of before. The strongest and hardest to overcome were frustration and sadness. Which I'm sure anyone who has been on a similar journey can relate too.
I began to ask myself questions on everything I was doing. Why do we do this? What am I eating, how did it get here? Who made it? It was not only my diet that changed. My actions and mindset started changing more and more as time went by.
I had been vegan for a while and of course had not bought any leather or animal products whilst out shopping. I started to ask more questions, getting more and more concerned about packaging and finding myself buying less and less depending on where It came from and what it was made out of, as I was even more afraid of where it would end up.
This is when the idea of Love Gang Store was born. The more facts I found out about clothes, manufacturing, disposal, the time it takes the to decompose and how they're made by whom, I had to do something to get the word out. To somehow make people be more conscious about what they were consuming.
We have far more power than we believe. We are the consumers. If we stop buying products then they stop being made. If we support the companies who value their staff, pay them correctly and treat them right then these companies survive and there will be less businesses being able to work unethically.
If we demand products and businesses to use sustainable & biodegradable packaging and support those who do then this will be the future. We have to move towards this for the sake of humanity, our children and all other beings sharing this earth.
Love Gang Store has thought about the people and the planet with all aspects of the business, from clothing, packaging and people.
License number CU8284