I have long been a huge fan of Chantal Poulin Durocher’s Amazing artwork of farm animals and since we know each other on social media, I decided to ask her to share her story with you. Some of you may know Chantal from her portrait of Esther the Wonder Pig. Seen here below!
Like my previous interviews you’re definitely in for a treat:
N: Chantal, I have long been an admirer of your amazing artwork. Please tell me about who or what inspired you to start doing artwork. Have you always drawn animals? What made you decide to go in that direction?
C: I am a professional artist for almost 40 years now. I did my first solo show in 1978. I painted mostly landscape at that time but few years later, I started painting children, mostly little girls with animals.
At that time, my artist name was Chantal Poulin.
When I look back at my career, I realized that I always painted the vulnerable ones, children and animals. It is only 5 years ago, when I became Vegan, that I really became an activist and decided to use my talent as a tribute for animals we exploit. I realized that I had a small mission on this earth, to paint the beauty, the sensibility, the intelligence, and the vulnerability of those animals we exploit for our pleasure…hoping that it might open the eyes of some people.
N: Many vegans know of your amazing work, including your drawing of Esther the Wonder Pig. I would imagine that non-vegans buy your work as well. Do you have any stories related to your work of either someone deciding to go vegan or conversations you have had as a result of your artwork?
C: People who buy my original artworks are mostly vegan. My pieces are huge and a bit pricey. Some members of my family or old friends think I am crazy. They say things like, “ Who in the world would buy a huge painting of a pig or a calf to put in their living room?” I am glad to answer them, “ Well, the co-founder of Twitter for example, just bought one.” People who come in my studio that are not vegan, are surprisingly saying thing like, “OMG, this is so beautiful!” And I answer, “ Yes, this is why I’m vegan!” Usually they do not answer anything…But it’s like they have a flash…that there’s link! Hopefully, it makes people think. But honestly, I don’t think my paintings make people go vegan just like that. I have had many people go vegan from following my Facebook and my art on the long term though!
I want to be part of that historic movement of veganism, and my way to do it is to paint animals with all my talent, skill and love. I think my art plays a role in changing people’s perception of animals and their place in our society.
N: Well, Chantal you definitely are a part of this historic movement!
N: How long have you been a vegan? Who or what inspired you to go vegan?
C: My husband and I are went vegetarian 25 years ago when I read Diet for a New America by John Robbins (btw, I prefer the French title they translated it into : Se Nourrir Sans Faire Souffrir / literally: to feed ourselves without creating suffering.)
N: That’s a great title!
C: We went vegan about 5 years ago. I read a Facebook post saying that there was more animal suffering in a glass of milk than in a steak. We did some research, watched the film Earthlings, and the day after, that was it! We are both happy vegans!
Chantal says, “We live with 12 abandoned dogs that we rescued, that is why there are often a few dogs in the pictures!”
N: Do you have a favorite vegan dish? Product?
C: Where we live here, in Panama, there are not a lot of vegan products, like plant-based meat or faux cheese. Eating for me is not so much about taste at all costs anymore, my happiness of eating in a way that does not harm any animals is greater than the pleasure I could experience eating a delicious meal. Eating is now more like a spiritual experience. It brings me a profound happiness in my soul and heart more than in my palate. I love all vegetables and fruits and nuts and cereals! I prepare a lot of Indian, Middle Eastern and Thai food. It’s easy and very tasty…and, of course, we eat a lot of the Latin American classic …Rice & Beans!
N: Is it easy or difficult to be vegan in Panama? How has your family or friends reacted to you going vegan?
C: It is very easy to be vegan here because you can find rice and beans everywhere! At any little restaurant, and it is very cheap. However, there are no product like plant-based meats or non-dairy cheese or even vegan prepared food.
Some of my friends turned vegan as a result of spending a bit of time with me, or on social medias or in real life. But I also lost some friends and some member of my family because of my beliefs. They are very upset by the fact that we are vegan.
N: Yes, that unfortunately happens to many people, but some are also very fortunate to me met with understanding! I think the people who are supposed to stay stays…and those who are not, leave!
N: Which person or non-human animal has inspired you the most on your vegan journey? Why?
C: I would say Pigs, fish and cows. 35 years ago, I had a friend who raised a pig with the intention to eat it when he would be adult. We all discover at that time, how smart and sensitive a pig was. I never ate pigs after that. Then, when we moved here, in Panama, every day I see fisherman with dead fishes in their nets…sometimes I see them suffering, asphyxiated…make me sad and realize how much fishes suffer before dying. Also, along the roads here, hundreds and thousands of baby calves every year in the fields. They come and go rapidly… no females, only little males that will be turned into meat very rapidly. It is very sad to see.
N: Yes, I completely agree.