Do you ever wonder where all of the vegan veterinarians are? This week, we talk to one of the few, Daniela Castillo, about animal rights, wildlife conservation, environmentalism, and medicine for farmed animal rescues.
ABOUT OUR GUEST
Daniela Castillo is a veterinarian born and raised in Oaxaca, Mexico. She earned her Veterinary Medicine degree from Universidad Veracruzana and Master’s degree in Wildlife Conservation at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia. In 2011, Daniela began volunteering at St. Francis Wildlife Association, a wildlife rehabilitation which led her to become the Director and licensed wildlife rehabilitator in charge for nine months.
Currently, in addition to her practice, she dedicates her efforts to performing High-Quality High-Volume Spay and Neuter surgeries and practicing shelter medicine for several non-profit organizations. In addition, she has gained valuable experience working with sanctuary farmed animal and sits on the boards of The Paw Project, Our Honor, Veterinarians Against Ventilation Shutdown, International Wildlife Rehabilitation Council and The Hailey Foundation.
- Animal Help Now Website
- Castillo Animal Vegan Veterinarian Website
- Castillo Animal Vegan Vet on Instagram
- Castillo Animal Vegan Vet on Facebook
- Our Honor Website
Jasmin Singer: Welcome to Our Hen House, Daniella.
Daniela Castillo: Thank you. Thank you so much for having me.
Jasmin Singer: We're so excited to talk to you.
We've been really looking forward to this interview because not only are we doing this today with the flock watching us, hello flock, but in addition to that, Daniela, you're kind of like a gem in the rough, and there aren't enough of you. So, the real reason we're having you here today is because we...
Mariann Sullivan: And it's not to get free veterinary advice, though that would be good.
Jasmin Singer: We want to figure out a way to clone you. So, if we can do that, that would be amazing. So, according to your website, Daniela, you envision a world where the rehabilitation of wild animals and the sterilization and welfare of dogs and cats and the benefits of veganism are well known and supported by all citizens.
And I love that you bring up all of these things together. We want to talk about all three, and let me just say, who is that cat who is joining us right now?
Daniela Castillo: My cat, Balito. He's just being noisy and wants to be here.
Jasmin Singer: I'm totally in, we'll interview him.
Mariann Sullivan: He's welcome!
Jasmin Singer: Yeah, he is. So we want to talk about your practice, but let's start with your vision for wild animals, since I know that's an important part of your history. Can you talk a little bit about your history with zoos and wildlife rehabilitation?
Daniela Castillo: Thank you for asking me that. I'm very passionate about wild animals. So, when I went to vet school, I originally wanted to be a zoo vet, that was my plan all along. And when I finished vet school in Veracruz, Mexico, I did a one year internship in a government, local very under resourced zoo.
And after a year, I had a lot of hands on experiences. Like I literally did surgeries on a coyote and a crocodile. It was like super fun. And, any vet will be like, this is amazing, but it made me really, really sad to learn that every single medical issue that our animals had were all of them caused by being stuck in a zoo.
Like number one is a dietary deficiency, which we were not providing their natural diet. The second one was injuries that they got in their cages. The third one was psychological issues, you know, these circling and hurting themselves because they were either isolated or too stressed about this stupid little train that went around the zoo.
Which you will think, like, which animal is not going to freak out with this loud train? Injuries, diseases, and you know, other animals that were sneaking into the zoo were giving them. So at the end, I was like, this is not what I want to do. I don't want to contribute to this. After everything that I did to get through vet school, I decided I did not want to be a vet anymore.
And I decided to study a master's in wildlife conservation, which I did 100 percent thanks to my Mexican government, in Australia. And that's where I learned more about the environmental impacts of factory farming and the grass fed, welfare meat. And at the end, I came back to the U. S. and I actually started working at a wildlife rehabilitation center, which was a brand new concept for me. I started volunteering and then I ended up working and becoming the director for the last nine months of my time there in Florida. And that was one of the hardest jobs I ever had but the best job and the best experience.
And wildlife rehabilitation means rescuing, repairing, medically helping and releasing into the wild orphans, sick and injured wild animals. That's what wild rehabilitation means, which a lot of people don't know exactly. You picture like a little, you know, drunk squirrel with a bottle of alcohol, but that's not wild rehabilitation.
Jasmin Singer: Ha
Daniela Castillo: And it's like a hard concept to get also, and especially as a vegan, I mean, it was hard for me, but it was, uh... so like one of the things is euthanasia. If you cannot release this wild animal into the wild, I say like a raptor or any other animal like that is by laws, you know, by the wildlife conservation, depending on the state, you have to euthanize that animal.
Or if they're considered invasive. So it's a really gray situation in some times, especially as vegan. It's a hard concept, again, but what I have to say is, to me this is the only hope we have for wild animals, for people to really understand, contribute, volunteer, to wildlife rehabilitation centers.
Most of them, or all of them, are non profit, they have very, very lack of resources, they are always asking for donations. And it's basically cleaning the mess of all of us as humans, because all these animals are also sick, injured, and orphaned because of human activities, because our cats, our dogs, are outside and bringing a little bunny or a squirrel or a bird. Or, you know, the bird that hit the window or got caught with the tennis net or hit by cars, lead poisoning. It's all these human interactions that wild animals lose. And to me, as vegans, it makes more sense to give our money and our time and our volunteer hours to wildlife rehabilitation centers than contribute in any possible way to zoos or aquariums.
So you know, farm sanctuaries, I love contributing to them and I think people should visit them more, but I definitely feel like we don't pay enough attention to wildlife rehabilitation.
Mariann Sullivan: Yeah, you know, I find your comments so interesting because I actually live near a wildlife rehab center and they do keep the raptors and they have them on exhibition and I just feel like I'm in a zoo when I go there, but at the same time, you know, I'm not used to being in favor of killing animals. That's a really, really hard piece of that world.
So I'm really interested to hear your perspective on it. I have a bunch of questions about this because I think it's something that happens to all of us. I mean, if you live in the world, sooner or later, you see an animal in trouble out there. So what do you do? What's your advice about the best thing to do if you see an animal who appears to be injured or sick or whatever?
I mean, it used to happen in the city. When I lived in New York City in the middle of Manhattan, it used to happen all the time. You would find birds who had been injured. So what do you do?
Daniela Castillo: So I think that's an awesome question and I think for any animal lover, I would recommend to have in their car if they have a vehicle, like a little cardboard box, a sheet or a pillowcase, a towel, and maybe like a leash. I know this amazing website because I know the developer, he's from Boulder, Colorado, and it's called AnimalHelpNow.org, I believe, like all together.
So, wherever you're standing in the country, and even maybe internationally, I believe, it will find the closest veterinary hospital or wildlife rehabilitation center for you. It asks you a couple of questions of what kind of animal and situation. Most of the time, I mean, you want to find out specifically about the species.
For example, if you find a rabies vector animal, I would not want you to put your hands on it at all, but just contact somebody that could help you, which is very challenging because, at least in L. A, I know there's very little help, like actual people to go and rescue an animal. There's just not enough people and the L. A. Animal Services. I mean, there's not enough people to help domesticated animals, let alone... I mean, there's not enough vets. There's not enough vets, period. There's not enough vets that can handle or feel comfortable handling, you know, raccoons, possums, squirrels, even though they're like super easy, well, I love handling them, but not everybody feels comfortable.
And, most veterinary hospitals are so busy that I can see them being like, you know what, I don't have time to see a squirrel, or, you know, declining. So it is really challenging to help a wild animal. I really wish that we had more resources. I just purchased and I'm offering a new service with a truck that I do surgeries for shelters, people, like private citizens, and I am going to help wildlife as much as I can. I do already sort of own a work, but I know there's not enough people doing this, and I just... you know, trying to contact this app and seeing if they can look if there's any wildlife center that can take the animal as soon as possible, because most wildlife centers will have technicians and very skilled people that will recognize signs for, say, let's euthanize this animal as soon as possible so that she or he doesn't suffer. And, you know, euthanasia is a super, super, uh, hard topic because for me, like, I do agree with euthanasia, but I can absolutely not do it. You can see on my website that I do not offer euthanasia as a service. And even when I work for these hospitals that I do only surgeries, it's in my contract that I do not perform euthanasia.
Mariann Sullivan: wow.
Jasmin Singer: Hmm.
Daniela Castillo: If it's like an emergency... I mean, I'm not going to say no to a dog that just got hit by a car or something like that, but no, no, believe it or not, there's a lot of convenience euthanasias.
Jasmin Singer: I believe it.
Daniela Castillo: I think the economic situation really hit everyone. You know, with COVID and, here in LA, with the Hollywood thing. It's crazy that most people cannot afford things that we recommend to work out their problems and they just choose to let them go because it's easier for them to just let them go.
They pay literally thousands of dollars to save or try to save their animals. So it's, It's such a hard situation to be like, honestly, some days I don't want to be a vet anymore.
Mariann Sullivan: Yeah, I would think that would be the hardest situation of all.
Jasmin Singer: Yeah, totally. I was speaking with someone earlier today and this person asked me, like, what do I do with the pain and the despair, you know, and it was such a shocking question for someone to just ask me and then I wanted to show up honestly in my reply. And so I'm going to turn that on you now, Daniella.
I give it, sorry, sorry, but I mean, like those of us listening to this and watching this now and Mariann and myself as well, you know, we have the weight of knowing about animal agriculture. It's always on us and we're trying to navigate through the world in a way that can keep us sane, but you have this added layer, Daniela, and you just sort of alluded to it a little bit.
So how do you deal with that?
Daniela Castillo: Aye yay, yay. You put me on the spot. Okay, not in that order, but it all helps me. But I am on antidepressant medications. I was resistant to it, but I ended up trying and it worked. I don't know if I would be here if I didn't start them, um, alcohol, my husband, and my feline babies, and my family in Mexico.
Those are like the things. I should say exercise and meditation, but I don't do it as much as I should. But I know it's a lot to keep your mental health. I don't know what I would do without my husband. He's a longtime vegan and not in the vet field, but he will just sit down and listen to me vent about how messed up the vet field is and like sometimes cry with me. So I feel like, uh, I feel that company, you know, I feel as humans, we need that connection with other humans. And of course I'm Mexican. I come from this family and we are really close. And they know how much I struggle through my life about animal rights.
Yeah, so that's my honest answer.
Mariann Sullivan: I really want to talk about growing up in Mexico and whatever, and about your background, but you mentioned something that I'd really like to get into first, because we had Crystal Heathon from Our Honor, which I think you're on the board, and I think you co founded, and so we've talked a little bit about what's wrong with the vet profession, but it's such an enormously important topic.
I'd really like to get your take. Why aren't vets vegan? I mean, I understand that there are some people in veterinary medicine who go into farm animal work. And I, you know, I don't know what drives them, but clearly they're on a different world. But in the general world, why do so many people in the veterinary profession seem to not get it?
Daniela Castillo: I think, first I want to say that I think the veterinary field is in a huge crisis at the moment. Not just within us vegans, but just, there's a lack, like, nationally of veterinarians. You know, school is super expensive. There's a lot of mental health, like, emotional work. Clients being a little bit more, or not a little bit, a lot more hard on us on social media, threatens, I mean, there's been like kills in hospitals from like really angry clients and like, you know, killing staff.
So that just one, it's just so difficult. Like, I mean, there's not enough vet schools. Again, it's super expensive. Not everybody can actually get into vet school. And the few that get into vet school it's just super hard... you know what, I wish I knew why more veterinarians are not vegan. I have a few friends around LA, which I am so happy.
I wish that was the answer, but I think just veterinarians are just like people, like the same percentage of people that are vegans and not in other professions that are not veterinarians. Does make you think why there's no more if we see animals through vet school and all the horrible things that we do to them like on a daily basis. That's like my conflict, like my internal conflict when I am in hospitals... you know, you guys have seen this. You know how we treat animals, and you know how their nerve system is as close as to ours, and dogs and cats, so why we want to save dogs and cats and work super hard for dogs and cats, and then you guys go home and eat chicken and cows. So, believe me, this question is in my head all the time.
I think it's a source of stress and I feel bullied, honestly. I feel like people get defensive about this particular topic in like, Facebook groups. Veterinarians will defend the idea of exploiting other animals from... how do you say? Religious statements to their personal belief that you know like humans are on top of animals no matter what you're always...
In another way I feel also that the field would be a little bit cautious because I've heard this from other vets that are considered themselves vegans, but not animal rights supporters.
That we shouldn't support animal rights because then our liability is going to increase through the roof because a human has more worth than an animal. Like human doctors, pay I don't know how many thousands of dollars on their liability a year. We have to have a liability insurance as well, that I don't suppose is as expensive as human doctors, but it's something that is in our heads, and we can get sued all the time, or even a complaint.
So this vet, I remember her words, she was like, you know, like imagine a person accidentally hitting a dog with a car, and going to jail or being repressed as somebody killing a kid. And I'm just thinking, well, I do value my own feline cats as my own kids because I decided to not bring human children into this world and my cats are like our kids, right? So I value them the same way that I will value a kid. So like if somebody kill my cat, I will want to have the same justice.
But, I don't know. I just, I think we have also like a misconception of love these days, like when you truly love somebody, you want them to be free and happy and not being hurt or injured at all, right?
So I meet a lot of these vets that are like, Oh, but I love animals since I was a kid and blah, blah, blah. And I'm like, yes, I also love animals, but I don't think about mutilating them, cutting their teeth, and so I can have them for lunch. Or you know, like, I love my husband, but I don't think about killing him and cutting him into pieces and putting him in the freezer and eating him later.
So like, what kind of concept of love is it that we veterinarians say, or any other vet staff, right, for that matter, to say that they love animals? And then, then they go home...
That's one issue that I have with a lot of these non profit rescue organizations that they claim to like, you know, love animals, but it's not really like that because they only love dogs and cats. So they should just change their marketing that they just love dogs and cats, not all the animals, because they allowed animal products into the facilities. So, it's a big conflict, believe me, like, I think about these issues all the time, yeah.
Jasmin Singer: Yeah. Wow. Daniela, like we're all just nodding our heads vehemently with you right now. And we feel we're holding so much space for you. We feel for you because we're going through that as people who want to have ethical vets. You're going through that as one of the very, very few ethical vets that, I mean, certainly in my 20 years of veganism, I think that you're the third, maybe fourth, vegan vet that I've ever met.
And, and you don't keep your veganism secret, at least on your van. So what kind of responses do you get?
Daniela Castillo: So far, like, I... you know, the guy that did the wrap talked to my driver and told him that he really was thinking. The people that converted my van, like, you know, basically made it, they all have been telling me, you know, you have really made me think about it. But, I mean, I don't get to talk to people while I'm driving it, because, you know, well I'm driving, I wish they would, you know... but so far, yeah, so good, and I'm hoping to, you know, park it outside of shelters.
I have an appointment on a shelter in, like, a couple of weeks, so I'm going to be there doing surgeries on a lot of cats, and I hope that if not already, a lot of the staff think about it.
Jasmin Singer: Well, and sorry, tell us about it. Like what is on it? I should have asked you that first.
Daniela Castillo: So on one side there's a picture of a piggy and a cat that says, Why love one and eat the other one, in Spanish and English. And then on the other side, there's like two phrases. One says something like, that we vegans have nothing to gain when you go vegan, that the meat industry has 180 billion to gain in a year or something like that.
Also in Spanish and English. And then the other one, I think I left something that says, we're destroying our beautiful planet for a few cells on our tongues or something like that. I don't remember because I was thinking about, I mean, I talked to my family and they were like, No, that sounds too la la la and then I modify it. And then I have the logos of a lot of vegan organizations, like Vegan Outreach, Happy Cow, Our Honor, and um... I forgot the name of the organization, but it's like a vegan sustainable organization, just to kind of, have people check them out. Yeah, and then in the front it says, Go Vegan for the Animals, in red. In the back it says, A vegan veterinarian asked you to watch any of these documentaries and there's The Game Changers, called, Earthlings and Dominion.
Mariann Sullivan: You excellent use of that real estate on your van, that's all. I saw a picture of it and there is a lot to absorb on it.
Daniela Castillo: I'm going as... so the name of my truck is Furia Vegana, which means vegan fury. I think I said it right or not, but it's in Spanish, of course, it's a word that it's just like, It's a little of an angry truck in these times. I think there's a sense of urgency, you know, on this message that not everybody gets, for the environment, for our health and for the animals.
I mean, I just don't get how veterinarians are some of the most intelligent people, you know, not to like. Uh, what's the expression, uh, but it's, you know, it's hard to get into vet school. We have to get all this information in our head and be critical of information and, how, how still it's not clear that what it's doing to the environment, you know, like, how are we still arguing about these facts that cut off for livestock are using the land, the water, you know, causing dead ocean zones.
How are we not aware of like this pain that animals are going through when we mutilate them, when we remove their horns? Cut their tails with no pain medication and zero analgesia, which if we did that to dogs and cats, we will literally lose our licenses, right? So like, how as we vets, we're not connecting these dots.
Um, yeah, no, I totally agree. I don't know why there's no more vegan vets. I think for vegans to go to vet school, it's a whole different... I think there's more chance for an already veterinarian to go vegan, but it's pretty hard to go to vet school as a vegan, I will say. And the majority of vegans tell me, Oh, I don't know how you did that, and I'm just like, I don't know how I did it, honestly. Like, I don't know if I would do it again. I did horrible, horrible things to animals in vet school that I totally regret, and done a bunch of therapy. Which, it doesn't remove what I did, and all the time I just keep thinking, Oh, this is a sacrifice, like, I'm gonna be helping more animals, and that's what everybody tells me, but I feel like I have, no, it is a concept, like, I think it's... Instead of PTSD is, inflicted something PTSD, like, so I inflicted so much pain into animals, like, innocent animals.
This is like a syndrome in veterinary medicine that, like, these species or animals that we went to vet school, like, the same that we are, you know, trying to save, we're actually having to kill, you know, especially these swine veterinarians that have to kill millions of these animals because of a disease or, you know, COVID or whatever.
They suffer afterwards because they kill the same animals that they, you know, were trying to help. So I think we all veterinarians have a little bit of that in some way, but I feel like we vegan vets have it even more. And that's, I will say the majority of my own depression, like this relationship that I have to have with animals as a vegan.
It's sometimes like really hard, like it hurts my heart to have to be like, poking them with needles and like cutting their organs, like sometimes it really gets in my head, like I am a monster for these animals, like I am literally a monster even though I'm trying my best. You know, like if you were a feral cat, we're trapping them, you know, spaying them and neutering them, sometimes with not the best pain control, which is one of the reasons why I wanted to have my own truck and do like my own kind of medicine with my own protocols. Because I get it, most of these nonprofits, I mean, everything is grey here and this is a really complex situation, the businesses of veterinary hospitals.
Like there's no question, like salaries, you know, laboratory supplies, medications, vaccines, softwares, everything is increasing price, everything, right? So it's like, how can we offer these services and still be affordable, such as spay and neuter? So the only way to do it affordable is with non profits, that's the only way. So my business is a for profit and I'm trying to keep my prices as low as possible, but this is a business. Like, I need to pay my loans, I want to pay my employees a good salary, you know, I also need to live and pay my bills, so it's really tricky, you know, and I think even non vegan vets get told all the time, well, if you're a vet and you love animals, you should do this for free.
But it's not, I mean, I'm not asking people to do things for free to me, you know. Um, yeah, so that was the other part of your question. I don't think it's easy to go to vet school as a vegan.
Mariann Sullivan: yeah, I think that it has become so obvious that it's a very difficult world to live in, and, you know, it's partly because you're right in the middle of the incredible conflict that we all live in, that most people are in complete denial about it, some of us are in less denial about it, and are trying a little bit. But it's a frightening planet and we do frightening things.
You mentioned something about farm animals and the issues that farm animals suffer from, and I know you work with sanctuaries, and I'm just kind of interested, what kind of challenges do they present from a veterinary perspective?
I mean, we've heard a little bit about how they're not meant to live. And so they have, I'm sure they have really interesting, is that the right word? Terrible, um, terrible medical conditions that you have to deal with.
Daniela Castillo: I think the first challenge that I see would be that there's not a lot of literature about older animals in my farm animals. I mean, you can see here, I have a ton of books, and I'm always, you know, researching and reading about, and I have large animals, but there's not a lot about problems that geriatric or old animals have, like arthritis, or, uh, like these hens that were genetically modified to be super heavy on the chest.
I feel like there needs to be more like scientific information about how to handle these issues medically. And then the other huge obstacle that I see or challenge is by law, all these animals are considered food animals. So we, as veterinarians, we can absolutely not use a lot of medications that we use in dogs and cats on these animals, and if we do, we can have our license removed.
I mean, there's some medications that you can contact, uh, the organization is called Fera, so you contact them. Tell them what medication you want to use in which animal and why, and they will send you like, Oh, well, you can use it at this dose, but then the withdrawal period, you know, before you consume eggs, milk, or whatever is, you know, these many months or weeks or years or whatever. Which obviously, if I'm asking about treating a patient, it's not going to be for human consumption. But still, there's a lot of regulations that consider all these companion animals and our friends as food animals, so they have to be treated as food animals.
So that's a challenge. I feel like there would be more options. And there's like a list of medications that we can absolutely not use no matter what. Like it's forbidden. That will be another issue. And then I think finally, well, the economic resource. I mean, these poor farm sanctuaries are not really making money. You know, it's not like a farm.
And, I think it's economically challenged for people to find a vet that will work for them. I also heard that some vets don't even want to treat farm sanctuaries. I've had people contacting me. I had a sanctuary contacting me from New York a few months ago and asking me if I could be their vet.
But I'm like, by law, I have to have a relationship in person with you and your animal, but she was like there's no vets that want to see my animals because we're a vegan sanctuary. So I think it's, again, this predisposition from some large animal veterinarians that have this misconception of us vegans.
That we're crazy or... how do you want to spend, you know, a thousand dollars for this chicken that value's, $10 or 5? Like they just don't get it. I do have to say as a veterinarian, sometimes it's a little bit challenging to work with some vegans and I'm not saying just, they're very specific.
So it's like, you're trying to get things done and I want to move on with my next appointment, but this person is like doubting everything that I'm asking and I get it. I get it. This is their baby. Like I'll probably do the same. Like I was a client of a veterinarian when my baby had cancer and we lost the bottle, but I was on the other side of the coin as a client, and I was like, holy moly, I mean, it's so hard to talk to these vets, they're treating me horrible, like what is going on, with the vet field? But I think it's related to the lack of vets, so it's hard for us to give all this time and unlimited answers to everybody, you know what I'm saying? So I think it's a lot of things that these veterinarians are like, Oh, you know, it's this kind of person. I don't want to deal with them. I just don't want to deal with them.
You know, I have so many clients. I don't need them. So, I mean, I think there's a lot of issues going on. I see. Like, I'm honestly a little bit scared because I feel like the scarcity of veterinarians is going to get even worse in the next years. And like, you know, the backyard breeders during COVID did a huge number.
I feel like at least in LA, there's so many animals. There's so many fertile cats, like I work at this place where we are open four days a week and we do from 100 to 150 cats every day and every single day I'm like, where are they bringing all these cats from? And we don't have appointments until like two months in advance.
So this is over booked. I mean, during COVID we had to close every single spay and neuter clinic because it was considered not essential. Which a lot of vets argue that this is essential. I mean, we need to control this population that is going crazy in LA. So, yeah, there's so many issues.
Jasmin Singer: Wow, there are so many more questions that we can ask you, but I think we'll just do one more for now and then hang on to you for bonus. Flock members, get your questions ready.
But, Daniela, can you tell us a little bit about your childhood and how animals became such a central part of your life?
Daniela Castillo: Yes. So I actually had a pretty happy childhood in Oaxaca, Mexico. That's where I was born and raised, and lived for the first 17 years of my life. I always had animal companions since I was a baby, there was a dog around and then I just, honestly, I don't even know where this comes from and that's what I've always wondered if there's like a gene or a biophilia that it makes you be so close to nature and animals.
But I've always felt like this love and respect and I just wanted to touch and, kiss and interact with animals. My parents were super nice. They always let me have any animal that I wanted to have. I adopted dogs, cats, geese, turtles and fish. And, I mean, I was in a normal house.
It's not like I was raising in a ranch or anything like that. But I always had cats and every time that they will disappear or be killed I will just cry like crazy. And my parents will be like, you're not allowed to have another companion animal, Daniela, because you cannot handle it.
And then two weeks later, somebody gave me another kitten. And, you know, I, I mean, I'm definitely a cat person. So I was just very happy and I just loved animals. My parents basically let me dream about anything that I wanted. They always support me and said anything that you want to do, you will do. It's just a matter of working hard towards your goal and then eventually it will happen.
And honestly, I feel like my life has been like that. Like every time that I really want something, I just put it on my wall. Like, you know, when I wanted to go to Australia and study, I just made this huge Australia sign. Visualizing myself. So I, I think that I was very, very, very, very lucky to have an awesome family. My dad and my mom were super open minded and they always let me be and do whatever I wanted. They let me go to vet school. You know, my dad supported me. I started vet school in a different state in Puebla, which I did not like at all.
And one day I just... I just took a bus to Veracruz to visit the vet school there and I liked it more, so I just called my dad from Veracruz and I was like, hey dad, guess what, I'm in Veracruz and I just decided I want to move here. Move vet schools and he's like, okay, when do you want to do that?
In Mexico, it's common for your parents to pay for your school so again I was super mega lucky that my dad was able to pay for my vet school and support me for five years in a different State and I didn't have to work. So I was valedictorian of my generation and I mean, after I finished high school, which is different from here in the United States, you can go straight to vet school, but I took a year off to travel and learn English.
I moved to Connecticut for six months with an awesome family friend. And then I traveled through Europe by myself for two months, which my parents also let me do. I don't know how they let me do, because if I had a kid, I will absolutely not let them go by themselves to Europe. But they let me and so they just let me fly, and they let me dream, so I honestly believe that anything can happen. Like, you can have impact in the world if you want, you can change the world if you really want it, and I'm trying, you know, to change the world for animals, as many of you. And I feel so happy that you guys are there and you guys have so many people believing the same things.
When I was in vet school, I thought I was an alien. I did not know anybody else that had the same ideas as me. I mean, honestly, I think they thought I was like crazy. But it was always my goal to fight for animal rights. And when I met Crystal, and I met all these amazing vegan veterinarians. In L. A. I can name maybe nine vets that are vegan, and they are my friends. And I'm so happy that I live here in Los Angeles, and that I have these soul brothers. And there's other veterinarians that think like me, and I'm not crazy.
Jasmin Singer: Well, you are definitely not crazy. I just want to scream that from the rooftops and we are just so, so honored to have had you today to chat with us here at Our Hen House, Daniela, and before we get to the bonus content, which will be an interactive Q& A with our flock, the folks who are watching this live right now. Can you please just tell our listeners how they can find you online and support your efforts?
Daniela Castillo: Yes, thank you. You guys can go to my website, which is castilloanimalveganvet. com. By the way, in case you did not know, my last name is Castle, and that's why my logo, it's a castle.
Jasmin Singer: Oh, cute.
Daniela Castillo: So like Castillo Animal in Spanish means literally animal castle, so like as a fort for animals.
And you guys can contact me through my website, fill out form that gets directly to me, so it's like you guys contact me. I live in Los Angeles and I practice in the San Fernando Valley and, I would say maybe one to two hours around LA I could travel for surgeries.
I do mostly high volume, which is spay and neuter surgeries, but I do other kinds of soft tissue surgeries because I really, really love surgery.
Jasmin Singer: Wow. Amazing.
Mariann Sullivan: I wish I lived in Los Angeles. Well, I don't actually wish I lived in Los Angeles, but you are a reason I do wish I live in Los Angeles.
Daniela Castillo: aww, you're so sweet. Thank you.
Jasmin Singer: I lived in Los Angeles and I didn't have you as a vet, so I'm going to go with that time machine and go back in time and figure this out. But in any case, maybe we could work on cloning you, Daniela, as I suggested at the beginning, and then all of our issues will be solved. Thank you so very, very much for all that you're doing to change the world for animals and for chatting with us today.
We totally adore you.
Daniela Castillo: Thank you so much for having me and for everything that you guys do for animals. We're in this together and one day, maybe we will not be alive, but it's definitely gonna happen. I really believe that.
Jasmin Singer: Love it. Thank you.
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