When the breaker flips: A vegan love story

John and Ann Green serve as board members of the Asheville Vegan Society. Photo by Aiyanna Sezak-Blatt

“I was a poster child for carnivores,” says John Green of a time before he met his wife, Ann Green. “I was literally grilling meat seven nights a week.”

Ann, a devoted vegetarian and vegan all of her adult life, was seemingly the polar opposite of John. “It was very difficult for me to wrap my head around it,” Ann says. “He was everything I needed in a partner, except for the [non]vegan thing.”

John, before Ann, had never questioned the practice of eating meat. In the early ‘70s he completed a bachelor’s degree in animal sciences at the University of Atlanta. At the time, he says, there was a major shift happening in large-scale animal husbandry, with an increased interest in raising more meat with fewer resources. “You went to school to learn how to get the most pounds of meat at the least expense, no matter how inhumanely the animals were treated.”

When John moved in with Ann, he shifted to an exclusively plant-based diet and started reading about the industry of meat in America. “It’s like a circuit breaker in your brain that’s off, and when a person or thing flips that breaker on, it’s like the lights come on,” he says. “You realize that these units have feelings, they feel pain and suffering — and then they’re marketed as being healthy.”

John’s switch to veganism had another effect as well. Years later, he began experiencing chest pains while mountain-biking and was rushed to the hospital. John’s doctors discovered one of his arteries was 95 percent blocked and a stent was placed to restore blood flow. The doctors attributed the change in diet with saving John’s life. If he hadn’t made the switch, John says, “I probably wouldn’t be sitting here right now.”

Today, John and Ann serve as board members of The Asheville Vegan Society, which meets for weekly gatherings and monthly potlucks. The Greens say the Vegan Society is for the “veg-curious” and the strict vegan alike, open to anyone who wants to learn more about the benefits of a plant-based diet. “It’s wonderful to be a vegan in a nonvegan world and be with a group of others who are of like mind, where you can share your thoughts and really speak freely,” Ann says. “It’s a feeling of closeness and family.”


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About Aiyanna Sezak-Blatt
Aiyanna grew up on the island of Kauai, Hawaii. She was educated at The Cambridge School of Weston, Sarah Lawrence College, and Oxford University. Aiyanna lives in Asheville, North Carolina where she proudly works for Mountain Xpress, the city’s independent local newspaper.

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5 thoughts on “When the breaker flips: A vegan love story

  1. Lafayette

    Great article. Wonderful to hear about another who flipped the breaker. My family owned a slaughter house and sold flesh products for years. The changed has also saved my life. With a family history of high cholesterol I am the only member with a normal to low count.

  2. Joe

    The switch flipped for me at age 11 when I visited a slaughterhouse– when I told my Dad that I wanted to stop eating animals, it stopped him in his tracks for at one time he was a butcher. Over 35 years later I’m still a vegetarian (vegan for the past 20) and my Dad is plant strong! . Btw look how healthy this couple looks– you’d never guess that they have nearly 120 years of living between them!

  3. Aiyanna Sezak-Blatt

    N, This is a profile on the Asheville Vegan Society published as part of the Get It! Guide (an annual publication on building a sustainable and resilient local economy in WNC: http://mountainx.com/guide/get-it-guide). The Asheville Vegan Society is very active in this community, hosting weekly meet-ups, film screenings, and educational events on plant-based diets, health, and the environment. This profile, written about two members of the board, strives to tell the story of two people who have committed to a vegan way of life, why they made that choice, and how they’re supported by their community.

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