THE SHORT STORY
Jen is an artist, graphic designer, photographer, foodie, and vegan advocate. She grew up on Long Island, is a graduate of SUNY Purchase College, and feels blessed to have lived in NYC from 1995 ~ 2001 before moving to the West Coast. She now lives on the Northern California Coast with her beloved daughter and cat, enjoying a vegan lifestyle. You can find her art and design at jenbarbato.com.
THE LONG STORY
Every Sunday as a kid, we would go to my Sicilian Grandmother's house in Queens, NY and every inch of the giant table would be covered with food. My first job was in an Italian bakery on Long Island at 14 years old. And I waitressed in Italian restaurants all throughout my art school years. As a result of all this, I was a foodie.
After graduating College with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the State University of New York at Purchase in Westchester, NY, I worked in the Atlantic Records Art Department as a Graphic Designer and Junior Art Director for 3 years, and then at Red Herring Design as a Senior Art Director for the next year.
In 2001, I took my design freelance in order to take a yoga teacher training course in Brooklyn, NY. In the Fall of 2001, I came out to the West Coast to explore the Bay Area and had the unexpected opportunity to live and work at Well Spring Renewal Center, a Retreat Center in Northern California, hosting groups of all different spiritual seekers.
In 2003, I had another unique opportunity and privilege to live and work with the people who ran Martin DePorres House of Hospitality, a soup kitchen in the Mission of San Francisco serving 150- 200 people daily. Here, I met someone who introduced me to SN Goenka's 10 day Vipassana Retreats. I was so inspired on my first sit, that I came back to volunteer in the kitchen for the 10 day retreat over New Year's Eve. I sat on one more and served in the kitchen on one more in the next year.
In 2007, I did a deep cleanse and started eating a more raw and plant based diet. Shortly after, I moved down to LA for a year and worked as the lunch Chef for a start up company serving raw vegan food. During this time, I also had the privilege to be a care-taker and yoga facilitator to a 19 year old woman with cerebral palsy.
At the end of 2016, I had a conversation with someone that changed the way I thought about using animals for food, clothing, testing and entertainment ~ and on my birthday in January 2017, I committed to a full vegan lifestyle. This means that I don't eat meat, dairy, eggs, fish or honey. I don't wear or purchase products made from leather, wool, silk, or feathers. I don't buy products that are tested on animals. I don't support Zoos, Circuses, or riding on the backs of animals. This quote by Alice Walker sums up how I now feel about our relationship to animals:
"The animals of the world exist for their own reasons. They were not made for humans any more than black people were made for whites or women for men."
This new way of eating, thinking and BEING made me so happy, that I wrote a cookbook to help others go vegan in a simple way. I also have a Facebook page where I share articles celebrating good vegan news, stories of transformations, and beautiful photos of animals. I have an Instagram account where I share photos of vegan food I make, food I eat out, and my unique polydactyl cat, Mittens. And I have a YouTube channel where I share helpful information.
Along side of being a vegan advocate and a mother, I run a graphic design business. You can check out my work at jenbarbato.com.