If you ever have the opportunity to meet Sarah Swingle for a (vegan) smoothie at Dellz Uptown, do it. You’ll leave with a newfound sense of confidence knowing that Charleston gets to claim this humble animal activist as one of our own. Simply put, when it comes to everyday living, Sarah Swingle is always thinking of the underdog.
Life for the self-proclaimed “cheese addict” took a pioneering turn in 2007 when she stumbled upon an article about factory farming. A mother to four rescue animals, Sarah immediately thought: “I’ve got to make a change or it’s going to eat me up with guilt.” So, in an effort to support those without a voice, the small-town Tennessee-native began introducing changes in her everyday routine and slowly evolved from mac ‘n cheese lover to vegetarian to full-fledged vegan in 2009. Inspired by her newfound—and expanded—palette, she created her own blog What I Vegan, where she shares everything from recipes and life without cheese to one of her most read blogs to date: her views on downtown carriage rides.
But before you go and categorize Sarah as a red-paint throwing protestor, think again. She says she understands that her lifestyle isn’t for everyone. “I try to be encouraging of any little change,” she explains. “Little simple shifts that aren’t that difficult for you, but mean life or death for animals are very empowering.”
And there’s more to Sarah than Meatless Mondays. She is currently pursuing a master’s in Animal Policy and Advocacy from the Humane Society University, where she hopes to fulfill her goal of working with a National or International animal protection organization. Between studying, she volunteers for the local pups with Unchain Charleston, an umbrella of Pet Helpers spreading awareness about the plight of chained dogs and building fences.
She helps humans with her involvement in things like Charleston Area Justice Ministry and Charleston HALOS. When it comes down to it, Sarah just wants people to be more educated and understand their options.
“I just like to say, ‘here’s the information. Take a look and you can make your own compassionate choices for your health and for the environment.’”
If Sarah’s views on Veganism have you all fired up yet conflicted because, really, how can you possibly give up milk and cookies - no need to fret. She and her husband, Hanes, are working on their own ready-to-bake Vegan sweet company, A Better Batch. Here, you’ll find cookie dough available online in flavors ranging from Lemon Poppyseed to Mocha Oatmeal. Cookie Dough. Now that’s something we can all agree on.
Words by: Evans Craddock
Photography by: Corey Tenold
Location of photo shoot: Cotton Branch Animal Sanctuary