A Peaceable Kingdom

Greta Lorenz’s commitment to loving and supporting all life
By Cara Lucas

They nicknamed her “Vegan” in high school. Her conversion happened after viewing the film Peaceable Kingdom, a documentary exploring the changing relationships between farmers and the animals they raise for meat.

An emotionally gripping story, it won numerous awards and prompted people to change: notably Greta Lorenz, who says she actually likes being called “Vegan” because “it is always said with affection and it is a constant reminder to my friends that being vegan is a priority in my life.”

“My connection with animals is very strong,” says Lorenz. “I’ve always had pets and volunteered in a wide array of rescue organizations, shelters, and so on. Although I had always been vegetarian, I was an admittedly a cheeseaholic until seeing how and where cheese and other dairy products come from.”

While we all have different motivations for choices we make, Greta Lorenz decided to go vegan primarily for ethical reasons. The lifestyle quickly became her passion—even in high school, she was already making an incredible impact on her local community.

She likes to call veganism “kindness on a plate” and lives out her ideology in her daily activities. “To me the concept of kindness on a plate means simply that I could never enjoy eating anything that I knew had been brought to my plate via any suffering whatsoever,” says Lorenz. “At this point in my life, I really cannot ‘go back’ and un-know what I now know, and that is the great price that is paid by our fellow creatures just to satisfy the palate. It’s the very least way in which I can practice ahimsa, or nonviolence. If we can start on our plate, that action can, I believe, ripple out into other decisions and actions.”

Lorenz volunteers with H.O.P.E. and the Downtown Women’s Shelter in Los Angeles. She cooks meals at home and brings them to the shelters. “I am a staunch, but hopefully not too obnoxious, vegan and so I always try to make the meals vegan…” she writes. “I make mashed potatoes using Earth Balance and one of my most popular dishes is baked cauliflower with soy cheese. Because I am aware that many in the homeless community really crave ‘comfort food,’ I try to make that as much as possible. Also, it is important that they get sufficient protein, so I always make sure that happens. I make a lot of pasta dishes with tofu, tempeh, or seitan, as well as beans and rice burritos. I also make PB&J sandwiches to pass out to anyone who wants to take them for later.”

In addition to her work with the homeless in Los Angeles, Lorenz spent time in southern India where she worked at an ashram cooking healthy vegetarian meals for large numbers of people. Through this experience she learned new recipes and how to prepare delicious vegan and vegetarian food in less-than-perfect conditions. Her parents initially funded her trips to India until her father became ill and could no longer work (he died in 2012). She did odd jobs to buy her ticket back and visited an orphanage in Paripally, India, where she saw children sleeping on metal bed frames with no mattresses. Upon her return, she made jewelry, sold it, and sent the money to the orphanage for mattresses.

Her activism actually goes back years. Just as she was entering high school, Lorenz was awarded an environmental stewardship grant for her research on the ecological impact of animal agriculture, which she presented to her student body. Following the award, she was asked to be her school’s representative in the Green Schools Fellows program.

Most recently, the Vegetarian Resource Group presented Lorenz with a $5,000 college scholarship for her exceptional vegan activism on behalf of both animals and the environment. She plans to go to UCLA, where they have a vegan-leaning club called Bruins for Animals.

Lorenz’s passionate advocacy touches lives and inspires those young and old alike to truly make the world a more peaceable kingdom. Her five-year goal?

“To graduate college! Seriously though, I am looking forward to entering the bigger ‘pond’ of a university (and UCLA is a very big pond!), and connecting with other like-minded individuals my age. Up until now, I’ve not known many others my age that hold the same values regarding compassionate eating.”