In the abillionveg Spotlight Series, we’re getting the inside scoop on the people who believe in abillionveg’s mission and who are doing incredible things for sustainability. Sibling rivalry, sisterly love, but ultimately, a shared love for animals and plant-based food unite Ami and Sorah Park. In this Spotlight Series feature, learn about the funny yet touching story of the Park sisters @amipark and @sp3416 and their vegan journeys throughout the years together.
Ami and Sorah Park at Disneyland.
You would probably never guess that the glowing, vegan Park sisters, Ami and Sorah, grew up in meat-heavy household. As first-generation Korean Americans, their meals consisted of plenty of flavorful beef and pork.
Sorah (left) with her stuffed dog, and Ami (right).
When younger sister Sorah came across a PETA video on the Internet at age 11, she was devastated when she learned about factory farms. “I remember going up to my mom,” Sorah recounts, “and asking: _How can people do this?_”
“That’s when I realized I’d been eating dead animals all this time. So, I became a vegetarian when I was 11 by cutting out all meat. I never liked seafood, anyways,” she adds.
Sorah enjoying vegan Ddeokbokki at Genwa Korean BBQ in LA.
Sorah’s parents were completely against her decision. They thought she would become weak or risk her health - and what about family meals? Korean stews are traditionally made with bone broth. Her mother told her: You’ll be so frail - but ironically, Sorah stands as the tallest one in the family besides their father, at 5’11” and went on to become a varsity swimmer. Her mother also told her she could only become vegetarian if she would cook for herself - thus began Sorah’s foray into cooking, beginning with basic pasta meals until she learned how to cook healthy.
You would hope that older sister Ami would have supported Sorah, but “I was a real bully,” Ami tells me in an interview. “I have to applaud Sorah because I was terrible! I was so unsupportive and always made fun of her growing up.”
Contradictory to the belief Sorah (right) would become frail as a vegetarian, she went on to become a varsity swimmer.
Sorah jumps in to add: “Ami would say: Why are you being like this, you’re being annoying and picky. Just eat! But I said no, I’m going to be vegetarian for the animals. You can’t change my mind.”
As children, Ami was unfazed. “It was a testament how much advertising companies have really reeled in our brains to show that meat is powerful and dairy is important. It’s very scary.” It was when Sorah decided to take a gap year from college to become certified in plant-based nutrition and shifted fully into veganism in college that Ami became inspired.
Ami’s disillusion with meat began a few years prior, when she was 16 and working at a Korean market in the summers. Her job was to advertise, cook, and sell the meat in front of people for 10 hours every day. Ami’s job was to finish selling enormous carts of raw chicken, pork, beef and lamb by the end of the day. “It was the most disgusting thing I’ve ever had to do, and I did it every day for months. I even had to eat the meat while cooking and selling it!”
“I was repulsed by it. I can’t tell you how much it affected my happiness until I came in tune with my own energy about why I rejected meat. I wouldn’t eat meat for months on end.”
Ami and Sorah, both grown up and now vegan.
Ami and Sorah took a trip together to Asia in 2017. In Japan, Ami contracted a stomach virus from a famous sushi restaurant on the last day, leaving her sick for the rest of the trip. When Sorah showed Ami a video about the egg industry and the culling of male chicks, Ami transitioned to veganism. “I have so much more energy now and am so much more athletic. I’m grateful to my sister you know, for quacking in my ear for a decade. It’s been such a prosperous journey.”
Ami trying out the Acai Bowl at Kynd Community in Bali.
“I think it’s amazing that we’re both vegan. For us, so much joy is food. We go out together and frolic to every vegan restaurant in LA. When Sorah was with me in LA, she took four boxing classes a day - she was known to be the crazy boxer!” says Ami.
“When people would ask me: how do you do it? I just tell them, I’m vegan!” Sorah laughs.
Sweet Potato Flautas from Gracias Madre, one of the Park sisters' favorite LA restaurants.
The Park sisters came to further share their vegan love for food on abillionveg when Ami was lured in by one of our energy balls at the Bali Vegan Festival in October 2018. At the time, she was a Yelpie with more than 1,000 reviews. But abv is about more than the number of reviews you have.
“So now I’m trying to convert all of those reviews to abv. It’s not just a platform to use and connect, it transcends with a next step by donating to animal sanctuaries and making a difference. Why isn’t Yelp, TripAdvsior, or HappyCow doing this? ” she asks, shaking her head.
A furry friend looks for a bit of the Park sisters' Love & Sunshine Bowl from Green Table Cafe.
The discovery feature is also a hit. “I love traveling and nothing makes me happier than knowing for example, that in Singapore there’s so much vegan food to try - and the only reason I know that is because I’ve seen it on abillionveg!” Ami says.
For Sorah, her experience of writing the Barnumbia Vegan College Guide gave her the chance to interact with dozens of restaurant owners. “What I like about abv is how it’s not just about vegan restaurants. It can even include steak places, and there’s the poke feature to tell them to add more plant-based options. It’s connecting consumers, activists, and businesses all in one app. Honestly,” she confesses, “this app is like a dream come true. I wish I had known about this 3 years ago!”