Aug 6 2008 by ATAAC
First of all, thank you so much Alamela for taking your time out to speak to us! It is an amazing opportunity for ATAAC to talk to such a compassionate and respectable person.
Firstly, what made you decide to give up eating meat?
When I was 10 I was travelling around the world with my dad. Issues such as poverty and homelessness changed my perspective forever, and since then I always wanted to do all I can to make the world a better place. It was when I was working with street animals in Egypt that I finally decided to stop eating meat, it made no sense to eat the same animals I was saving.
How long have you been vegetarian?
You were a finalist for this year's season of Australia's Next Top Model, and arguably the most recognised model from the series due to the controversy surrounding your treatment in the house from the other girls. You have won respect and admiration from girls Australia wide who have had to deal with bullying. What tips do you have for people struggling with vegetarianism due to people's negative perceptions about it and therefore feel pressure to give in and keep eating meat?
Be educated, there are so many valid reasons to be vegetarian, ranging from a desire to minimise your carbon footprint to wanting to eliminate the unnecessary suffering of other animals. There was a story published by BBC NEWS, 'High IQ link to being vegetarian' which I like to quote: "Men who were vegetarian had an IQ score of 106, compared with 101 for non-vegetarians; while female vegetarians averaged 104, compared with 99 for non-vegetarians". I think that sums it up nicely.
Was it difficult living in the Next Top Model house eating vegetarian food whilst the other girls ate meat?
In the model mansion we had to cook for ourselves, so I ate what I usually eat at home. About once a week we would make a group meal, and the girls were very considerate to always make sure that there was a vegetarian option for me.
Why do you think vegetarianism and veganism have such a negative connotation in the media and in general, ironically despite the fact that giving up meat is a conscious and compassionate decision?
The myth that eating other animals is the only way to good health has been perpetuated by the meat industry for decades. It is because of their resistance to change, and these industries will continue to develop new campaigns using old and outdated data in an attempt to persuade the public to buy their products. This is why it is critical that organisations like ATAAC exist, so that there can be a balanced and educated discussion on the topic of vegetarianism.
Animals have a certain vulnerability that makes it easy for humans to exploit and therefore they are the bullied victims in society. Passive and considerate humans are often targeted as well. Why do you think the human race feels the need to do this?
People bully to feel in control of a situation. Bullying involves a desire to hurt, a hurtful action, a power imbalance, the unjust use of power, repetition, and the enjoyment of an aggressor. Unfortunately, the profiting of industry from inhumane practices means that animals often are exploited, and this will remain a problem if people continue to buy into cruelty. If you can buy free range, buy free range. If there are alternatives to wearing fur, take them. Once consumers start to change their spending habits, society will move forward.
You are a strong believer that the world will remain the same unless people are educated and therefore can make an educated decision in their lives. ATAAC's main aim is to educate teenagers about what occurs to animals every day worldwide. If you could educate the world about one thing concerning animal protection, what would it be?
Before I was on Top Model, I was working with the Orangutans in Indonesia. These animals are on the verge of extinction for so many reasons, gold mining using mercury and resulting in mercury poisoning, illegal poaching, and the mass production of palm oil, resulting in unprecedented deforestation. I think the palm oil issue needs addressing right now because of the speed at which habitat is being lost to palm oil plantations. Palm oil is used in almost everything from candles to cakes, and as long as there is no legal requirement for companies to label products containing palm oil, it is near impossible to avoid using it. It is important that the international community step up to source palm oil from nondestructive plantations, and designate a common name to palm oil as an ingredient. Currently palm oil can be listed as any of the following: cety alcohol, dicetyldimonium chloride, elaeis guineensis, e471, isopropyl palmitate, octyl palmitate, potassium palmitate, retinyl palmitate, palmitic acid...
You are passionate about humanitarian aid work and conservation as well as animal rights. Where did you get this compassion from and this drive to change the world?
If I did nothing I would feel responsible. I think it comes from growing up overseas where I was confronted by so much injustice. No one wants to see needless suffering, so you either turn away, or you get up and do something about it.
Being a model, there will inevitably come a time when a stylist asks you to wear fur in a shoot, what is your stance and how will you react?
I would give a reason, and tell them no.
Fave animal? Snake
Fave veg restaurant to eat at? 'The Cardamom Pod' in Byron Bay
Fave food? Something you can cook on a campfire, like potato or bananas...
Fave band? ABBA
One cruelty free product you could never live without? My new ATAAC tshirt!
Modelling dream? Modelling internationally, and saving the world in my free time
Life motto? You can always have fun doing something you know needs to be done
Ambition for the future? Finish year 12 before I leave to model overseas, then come back to study environmental science at uni
Fave TV show/movie? Desperate Housewives / the Notebook
Fave Model? Twiggy (also anti fur)
Fave label? Chanel