Day 72 - Rachel (4th person I approached)
March 13, 2014 - Rachel was born in Richmond, British Columbia (BC). When she was about four years old, her family moved to Langley, and she spent the next ten years growing up on a farm.
“We raised horses, pigs, chickens, rabbits, cats and dogs. The farm across the street had Llamas and next door to them were cows. We all worked together, so I had a lot of animals around me. I guess I kind of took it for granted that I got to ride horses all the time,“ Rachel recalls.
Rachel had attended only one elementary school, but moved around to a few different high-schools.
“High school was tough for me. I felt a bit alone. I didn’t feel like I fit in. I started drinking when I was about 13 or 14, and was eventually kicked out of school. I look back now and wonder how anyone thought that kicking a 14 year old out of school was the answer to someone who was having issues with alcohol.”
The drinking lasted for about a year, and when Rachel’s grandmother was diagnosed with cancer, Rachel decided to stop drinking and spent a lot of her time looking after her grandmother.
“I never went back to school. I took night classes and did correspondence until I completed high school,” said Rachel.
After completing high-school, Rachel went to the Art Institute and studied Culinary Arts and Hospitality.
“Ironically I was learning about wines in the program, because working in the food industry, the two go hand in hand. You don’t need to consume wine to know about it though.”
Rachel got a job working at the prestigious Vancouver Club, and worked there for three years. She told me
“People's attitude toward food really started to stand out to me. Here I was serving some of the richest people in the country, and if something wasn’t exactly as they thought it should be, they wouldn’t eat it. There are people who can’t pay their rent, or buy groceries, and it just seemed so wasteful. Our thoughts about food and the food industry are really messed up.”
While she was attending culinary arts school, Rachel started volunteering at a shelter for women. The shelter supports women who are in the first stages of transitioning from detox for drug and alcohol addiction, and helps them to relearn basic life skills. On the day that Rachel graduated from the Culinary Arts program, she became a vegan.
“Working at the shelter, with people who had very little, really impacted my views on the need for a healthy diet and more so on body image. I was helping women who couldn’t eat because they were sick because of their addictions to drugs and alcohol. And then there are the women who get sick because their told they are too fat,” she says passionately.
Rachel is now an on-call worker for the shelter, and has gone back to school again to get her certification to become an addiction counsellor.
“I want to be a counsellor. I plan to go to university and get my Bachelors degree in psychology, with a minor in sexuality studies. And then after that, I’ll go for my Masters degree in Psychology.”
While we are talking, Rachel is drinking a green smoothie. I notice that she has a bike helmet with her, and I ask her about bicycling.
“Yeah, I bike everywhere, it’s my mode of transportation. I try to eat healthy, to look after myself and exercise.” #notastranger