Today we raise our fists high and put our hands together in celebration of our Feature Girl Warrior, the creative vegan cook, Susan Pratt, self-made founder of Susan Cooks Vegan, an irresistible lifestyle blog for delicious and decadent vegan recipes. Susan lives in beautiful North Vancouver, BC with her husband, Randy, one-year-old daughter, Carrington and cat, Mabel. She has a deep love for nature, animals, our planet, her 12-year-old Warmblood horse named Greystoke (Mr. Grey) and plant-based food. How we eat our food, what we choose to eat and how we prepare our meals are all questions Susan has explored extensively. The more she learned, the more she realized that she has an impact, on not just her own choices, but her family’s and the environment. Susan became vegan as an adult after educating herself on deforestation, over-fishing, ocean plastics and inhumane treatment of farm animals. She felt a need to make a difference, and that started with her number one passion, food! Susan believes that plant-based eating doesn’t need to be daunting or inaccessible. Cooking for friends and family is one of Susan’s favorite passions. She is also a huge advocate for the Big Sisters Program. When she was 12-years old Susan’s mom signed her up and she credits the program for having changed her life. In fact, she is still close with her Big Sister today. Susan is an avid equestrian rider and dreamt of owning a horse as a little girl and finally bought one at the age of 35! Susan is living proof that dreams do come true. And to that we say YES!
What makes you a Girl Warrior?
A warrior by definition means a brave or experienced soldier or fighter. I don’t feel I’m a fighter in the traditional sense. I would never willingly or purposefully cause physical harm to another being. What makes me a fighter is my spirit. I have an unwavering will to never give up. I love fiercely and honestly. I believe that everything life brings is a lesson and for that I am eternally grateful.
Your Mom signed you up for Big Sisters when you were 12. How did that change your life?
I’ll preface my answer by saying, at first, I was irate with my mother for signing me up! It was one more thing to make me stand out – one more thing that said I was different. When I first met Richelle I couldn’t believe my lucky stars! Here was this young, beautiful lady that was here just for me! At that point in my life I really had no one. My family was broken, and I felt utterly alone. With Richelle I had a voice. I mattered. I was someone. She saw me. I finally had a mentor. Footsteps I could follow. I had hope.
What was the biggest thing you learned about yourself from your work as a Crisis Line Counselor?
I feel like the biggest thing I learned about myself was that I need to set strict boundaries when it comes to my energy. I am a very empathetic person. It allows me to connect with others on a very deep level. If I don’t recharge with self-care or have an outlet, I can be left depleted and depressed. I also learned how valuable it is to have someone in your life who will listen to you and how to really listen to someone else.
You have a deep love and connection to animals and nature. Where did that come from?
I feel like I was born with it. My daughter was too! As a girl animals and nature represented true pure love, never waning, always available. I was often sad as a child and animals offered unconditional love that I craved.
How did you feel when you fulfilled your lifelong dream of buying a horse? Tell us about Mr. Grey and your special bond.
So true story…when I was little my Mom told me, you could wish on your eyelashes when they fell out. I walked around pulling on my eyelashes until one came out and would passionately say, “I wish I had a horse!” until I had no eyelashes left. That’s how badly I wanted a horse! Lol Yes, they did grow back eventually.
I still feel giddy when I go to the stable. I look into his big brown eyes and smell the warm comfort of his hair. Riding is the most challenging and rewarding thing I have done. I push my body to its limits and me, and Mr. Grey, are one for a moment in time. We sail over fences and run around corners. Nothing else exists except us.
What impact did having your daughter Carrington have on your life?
I want to be my best me for her. I want her to have a mother that is a strong role model. A mother that gets in the ring and lives life to the fullest. I want her to see her parents in love with each other and parents that are best friends. If I want her to love herself, we must model love in all ways.
Why are you a Vegan?
I believe we don’t not need to kill or abuse another being just to have a snack. I love animals and that means ALL animals. Not just one that I think are cute and cuddly. I feel many people have a flexible morality when it comes to animal abuse. Eating meat is also the #1 cause of health-related issues such as cancer and diabetes, inflammation and heart disease. I want to live a long and prosperous life. I see my family suffering from illness and disease, and they all eat meat and dairy. Meat and dairy consumption are also the leading cause of deforestation and climate change. We are killing our Earth by killing animals that we do not need to eat to live. Just because everyone does it does not make it right. I want to live my life that is in alignment with my values and causing needless suffering does not feel like good karma to me!
What do we need to know “for sure” about being a Vegan?
I am not lacking protein!!!! But seriously, I’m not.
What’s the biggest decision you ever made?
Saying “Yes” to my husband. He’s truly the kindest, smartest most loving person I’ve ever known. He’s my best friend and the greatest father. He thinks of others before himself and would give the shirt off his back to help a friend or even a stranger. I am more in love with him today than the day we met. We keep growing and evolving together throughout the years.
What have been the biggest challenges or obstacles that you’ve overcome – personally and/or professionally?
The biggest obstacle I’ve overcome has been myself. I’ve had a lot of trauma in my life. I am not at fault for what happened to me, but I am responsible for dealing with it, so it doesn’t take over my life and continue to hurt me. I have and will continue to do work on myself and my mental health.
What’s the most important life lesson your Mom taught you?
My Mom is the strongest woman I know. She taught me to never give up and that we are stronger than we think we are.
What would you say to your younger Girl Warrior?
I’m sorry for being so mean to you. You are strong, smart and beautiful.
What would you say to future Girl Warriors, like your daughter, looking for inspiration?
Ask questions! Ask a lot of questions! Find many people to help and guide you in all areas of your life. It’s ok to like something and then change your mind. Listen to your inner voice as it is always right. Say no when you need to say no. Just because everyone else is doing it doesn’t mean it’s ok. Make friends with people like you and unlike you. It’s ok to say goodbye to friends if you don’t feel your best when you’re around them.
Blue Sky it. No boundaries here, just limitless opportunities. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Still doing what I’m doing! Making delicious vegan recipes for my blog and my followers at susancookvegan.com. Hopefully in 5 years I’ll have enough revenue to retire my husband, working on my second cookbook, and have a cooking show on the Food Network!
What makes you laugh uncontrollably? Cry out all the tears?
I love scaring people and playing pranks. I will hide for an hour if it means getting a good scare!
What has been your biggest disappointment/triumph?
I believe that rejection is protection, so I don’t get disappointed when things don’t turn out the way I’d hope. I’d say my biggest triumph is my beautiful family.
If a Netflix Series were written about your life, what would it be called?
Slowly Colliding. It would be a movie about Randy and me.
To learn more about Susan, head over to her website at: https://susancooksvegan.com/
Follow her on Instagram at: https://www.instagram.com/susancooksvegan/
Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/susancooksvegan
Twitter at: https://twitter.com/SusanCooksVegan