I met today’s interviewee in an improv class, and I knew upon meeting her that we’d be friends. She was interested in non-profits and social justice issues and – duh – improv. I knew from the start that Brenda was interesting and funny, and she just kept getting more interesting and funnier from then on. She’s had really neat jobs, was on a game show, has had many celebrity encounters, does stand-up comedy, aaaaand she’s really nice, supportive and down-to-earth! Oh, did I mention she’s into animal rescue?! Heck, she’s even an almost-vegetarian!
But not quite.
Meet Brenda Stewart.
How long have you been a non-vegan?
A fortnight. That’s a lie – I just wanted to sounded international. I’ve been a non vegan all my years.
Why have you decided not to be vegan? Describe your journey to veganism and where you got stalled.
Shamefully, I enjoy a good chicken chest on occasion but I’m not proud of it, nor do I eat meat every week. I grew up in a four-food-group household: red meat, iceberg lettuce, potatoes for my Irish roots, and Kool Aid (especially the blue kind that looks like antifreeze). I’m no longer a fan of red meat (or most meat, or iceberg lettuce). I was young and stupid and didn’t do the grocery shopping – I was a product of a southern mother and an old-school Dad.
I am currently working on becoming a full time vegetarian, but not the kind of vegetarian you are in college when you consume Totino’s cheese pizzas, carrot sticks, and Red Bull. I’m going to be healthy legit – too legit too quit. I disgusts me to support the current mass commercialized production of food and the animal cruelty that is involved.
If you had to take one step toward becoming vegan, what would it be and why only one?
I scored pretty low in the math section of the SAT and the LSAT so one step may be all I can handle. Once you start challenging me with double digits, it all goes to Heck. I would probably adopt a pot-bellied pig as my first step – their cuteness would cause so much guilt about eating their bacon-brethren that I would go Vegan. I’m working on it. I’m on a wait list to adopt a pig.
Which fad diet or meat-eating celebrity made you want to eat animals?
The Master Cleanse, with it’s Cayenne Pepper and Lemonade shenanigans, it made me so damn hungry for solids that I almost ate my cat. I blame Beyonce. I highly suspect that’s what the elevator fight was about.
What vegan food do you fear you’re missing out on as a non-vegan?
Do you eat fish? You eat fish, right?
I don’t eat anything related to bodies of water. I’m totally allergic to any and all fish, crustaceans, even seaweed. I’m a walking Epi-Pen Party.
Are there any animals in your life, such as pets or funny neighborhood squirrels? Tell us a story about them.
I’ve got Team Terrier at my house – three Cairns that my husband and I adopted from Dumb Friends League and Adams County Animal Shelter. Pip is a 11+-year-old cantankerous senior who looks a lot like Winky from Best In Show. She has no teeth, partial facial paralysis, can’t keep her tongue in her mouth, and was debarked by a former owner. She enjoys long car rides, Libra’s and Cancer’s, and snuggling the shit out of you all day.
I found Izzie on her “last day” in the Adams County slammer – she is about 8-years-old and her former owners used her in a back-yard breeding situation. Gross. She’s awesome and loves squirrels, cats, squirrels, and cats. I adopted her on the same day I met the New Kids on the Block. The two events are probably related, though Izzie’s not really into amazing music.
And then there’s Ernie. Ernie is “that” dog: heart of gold, Epileptic, crooked tail, funny, sweet, speaks with a lisp, and makes terrible choices – repeatedly. He’s had three stomach/intestinal surgeries to remove rocks he’s eaten, and some bits of polka dot underpants. He is referred to as Ernest by the ICU team at the veterinary hospital when he makes an overnight appearance.
What do you do for fun besides eating meat and dairy?
I drink blue Kool-Aid, volunteer, take out students loans, and officiate weddings.
Do you have any upcoming projects you want to plug, or are you being a huge jerk and moving away from Denver when Lisa wants to hang out with you more? Tell us about it.
I am a jerk and moving away from Denver for my husband’s job. I’m headed to the East Coast to be reminded that my western politeness holds no place in the big bad world, and that my husband has a cooler job than I do (I’m a fundraiser for non profits, he’s a marketing beer guy). In the next few months I’ll also be venturing back to Bosnia where I used to work during and after the war to work on a documentary-type project. In the meantime, please support the organization I’ve worked at for the last seven years of my life, Girls Inc. of Metro Denver – catch comedienne Wendy Liebman drop some jokes on Oct. 9th at their fundraising event, Girls & Guys Night Out. Girls Inc. empowers all girls to be strong, smart & bold and you can do that too by purchasing a ticket to laugh as some jokes! Easy peasy. http://www.girlsincdenver.org/ggno You can also support another organization that’s near and dear to my heart, the Emily Griffith Foundation. Support their upcoming Refugee Film Festival Oct. 10-12 – all money raised will go to support Refugee programs and services at the Emily Griffith Technical College. http://www.egfoundation.org/film-festival/
Make up a question of your own and answer it.
Do you think that Virgil, the wise chicken, in the enormously popular Mighty Max cartoon of the 90’s liked being referred to as a chicken?
Frankly, no, I think Virgil resented the term chicken as he often corrected Max and noted that he actually preferred to be referenced as a fowl. I think Mighty Max was trying to make strides in gaining greater respect for the poultry of the world. Virgil was an excellent spokesbird for his fellow fine-feathered-friends, what with his 10,000-year-old wisdom backing his decisions – he was ahead of his time in the early promotion of veganism in children’s cartoons.