Community Leaders Spotlight #3: Meaghan Marton

Meaghan is a kind, positive person who cares for all around her. A generous host, athlete, friend, and entertainer, Meaghan has a contagious energy that makes her one of our proud, plant-based community leaders. 

Introduce yourself: What's your name? Where are you from? What do you do?

My name is Meaghan Marton and I’m from Amherstburg, Ontario but now live in Windsor! Which is located in the southernmost part of Ontario/ Canada! I’m really proud to be from this region and absolutely love my community. Windsor/ Essex County is a great place to live and I’m grateful for everything our community has to offer. 

Whenever I’m asked the question “what do you do?”, I always laugh and tell people to pull up a chair and ask them if they have a few moments to spare. I wear a lot of “hats” and what I do doesn’t particularly fit into a one-word or phrase answer. My current “job” is as a retail worker at Pet Valu. However, I don’t associate or hold my job title as the marker of who I am. My position at Pet Valu is something I love but it’s not everything I do. I also work part-time for Motivate Canada. a national organization that inspires youth leaders from across the country, as the social media coordinator. I’m a volunteer at my local animal sanctuary Charlotte’s Freedom Farm (https://www.facebook.com/charlottesfreedomfarm/). I also run my own local community organization called “The Sweet Life of Being Vegan” (https://www.facebook.com/thesweetveganlife/), in which I host monthly vegan potlucks, offer support and advice for people transitioning to a plant-based lifestyle and share content online!

What is your athletic background and how has being plant-based changed or affected your athletics? Do you have any advice for endurance athletes looking to go plant-based?

I have been an athlete my entire life. From beginning soccer at the age of 4, playing on all sports teams in elementary school, to moving into specializing in long-distance running in track and field and cross country. I was a competitive runner for ten years. I ran for the University of Windsor varsity Track & Field and Cross Country team for four years and retired from competitive racing in 2015. After retiring from running I started boxing at a local boxing club and became a youth boxing coach for a bit and then began rock climbing in the summer of 2017! In November of 2019, I completed my first “unofficial” marathon. I ran 42 km to Charlotte’s Freedom Farm to raise money for our animals. 

I transitioned to a plant-based diet in February 2015, Which ironically was the exact same time I retired from long-distance running. No correlation, just ironic that they happened to happen at the same time. However, I do wish I would have transitioned much sooner. Although I don’t train as seriously or compete as I did before, I do find that being plant-based has had a significant impact on my health, strength and endurance! I hope to run more marathons and continue to run to show the world how strong, fast and healthy a plant-based diet can be. 

My advice really to anyone looking to transition is to first discover your WHY. This will solidify the decision and make it much easier. I became vegan for ethical reasons, and the health benefits followed. I watched the documentary “Earthlings” and essentially became vegan overnight. And I’ve never turned back because of how strong my ethics and morals are for the animals. Once you determine your WHY, find people around you who are already vegan, the support from others makes a world of a difference. Then try out local vegan restaurants and start to cook on your own! It’s much easier than you think! And for anyone worried that their athletic performance may be affected negatively, seek out other athletes who are plant-based and perform at a high level.

What is something you look forward to every day? What motivates you?

This is such a great question. And honestly, I’d have to say I look forward to the simple things of life that make me happy and make others happy. What motivates me is my ability to make a positive difference in the world each day by my presence. I strive each day to be kind, love, and extend compassion to all, including myself. 

Who is someone you look up to or consider a role model?

This can be a difficult question to think about on the spot because there are definitely a lot of people that I look up to. However, I always seem to go back to my late grandfather, Robert Bondy. He passed away when I was only ten years old. Although I didn’t have that much time with him, he was a huge influence in my life. As I grew up over the years after his death I learned more and more about the man he was and it made me very proud to be his granddaughter. I still feel his presence with me on occasion and I have a tattoo on my back that symbolizes him. At his funeral, there was a monarch butterfly that flew over our family and each time we gathered together we’d always spot a monarch. So we began to associate our Papa with monarchs. To me, he is in every monarch butterfly that I see and that always inspires me. 

What is one of your biggest goals? How do you plan to achieve it?

I had to take a moment to think about this one. I definitely have MANY goals that I would consider BIG! But if I had to narrow it down to the “BIGGEST” I would have to choose to be a motivational speaker. I thrive off of community and speaking in front of a crowd. I’ve given many talks on various topics to different groups and it’s most definitely a huge passion of mine. I absolutely love sharing motivation, inspiration and ensuring people feel seen and heard. I want to be able to instill hope, love and compassion in the lives of others and inspire them to make a difference in the world. I’ve already started on the path to achieving this goal as I’ve had the opportunity to speak on many occasions. However, I know the next step is to better market myself and become clear on the messages I want to deliver. I would also like to begin taking the next step to developing my own business that puts speaking at the forefront! 

Why is being plant-based important to you?  How did you come to practice this lifestyle? Did you have any challenges along the way?

Being vegan is a huge part of my identity. I am vegan because I believe it aligns with my ethics and morals as an animal lover and steward of the earth. I love animals and after I made the connection of what I was eating and WHO they were as individuals I could never turn back. Becoming vegan was a multi-step process for me. Initially, I stopped drinking milk because in 2013 I broke out with severe acne and learned that dairy was inflammatory to our bodies and caused acne. So milk and other dairy products were first. Then in June of 2014, I had a realization. I had been following a Facebook page for months, “Esther the Wonder Pig” and fell in love with this 600lb house pig. One day in June I was putting a piece of ham on my plate and stopped in my tracks. I thought, this is “Esther”, and I put the ham down and haven’t eaten pork since then. Then the following fall, I was listening to a friend's in-class presentation on the connections between feminism and veganism and it just made too much sense. After that, I vowed to begin the transition to becoming fully vegan. It didn’t take long because after I started watching the documentary “Earthlings” I essentially went vegan the next day.

I would say the most challenging part over the years of being vegan has been other people’s opinions. Unfortunately, many people seemed to have an opinion on this decision and would give me a hard time. I ignored them. Another challenge would be that so many products have milk ingredients in them. In the first year or two, I accidentally had consumed a few things with dairy or eggs in them but now I am much more careful and there are so many vegan options now! 

(We're all still learning!)

If you could post a message seen daily to everyone around the world, what would that message be?

My life motto is one shared with many across the world and a very well known quote, “be the change.” It’s something I live by each day and deeply believe in. If each person lived their life with the understanding that they could “be the change,” I think we would live in a much better world. 

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