How to Keep the Mosaic of Society Together with Ruben Lozano




Ruben Lozano, known on instagram as The Dallas Vegan Cop is changing the way we think about identity. Ruben and Carly talked about how important it is to get comfortable with getting uncomfortable and have hard conversations. We dug into the intersections of race, policing, veganism and how for Ruben it all leads back to living a life full of compassion and empathy. Ruben reminds us all that no matter what we do in life we are human first.


Please note, this episode has been transcribed by a computer, expect some typos!


Carly Puch

Welcome back to another episode of Consciously Clueless. I'm your host, Carly, and I will be your guide on this journey from cluelessness to consciousness and back around again. Today on the podcast, we have Ruben Lozano, a Dallas vegan police officer who I am so glad that I had the chance to talk to Ruben was so honest and vulnerable about his experiences as a man of color, working in the police force, and really honestly talked about his opinions about everything going on in the world right now, most importantly, about how to love compassion, understanding, and empathy will help us all move through it. Well, first of all, thank you for being on this, because it's really exciting to connect with new people and have people on the podcast.

Ruben Lozano

Absolutely, thanks for having me, I really appreciate it.

Carly Puch

I started this podcast, and it's called consciously clueless. And for me, that name kind of embodies this honest place to explore those moments where we feel like we're like consciously moving through, and we're killing it. And then also those moments where all of a sudden, we're clueless, and we're barely hanging in there. And like everything in between. So I just want to check in with you and see where do you feel like you're on that spectrum right now?


Ruben Lozano

I'm feeling okay. I mean, but I think in some ways I embody, you know, how you feel where we think that everything is, is all copacetic. And we're doing well and then eventually, we just hit a brick wall. And I think that that's the beauty of, of human beings is we have the ability to hit a brick wall and get up. And, and we are still more knowledge and we're able to seek it and, and learn more and open our eyes to to what the world has to offer us and what people have to offer us.

Carly Puch

Yeah, that's beautiful, that ability to hit a brick wall and keep going, sometimes we forget, we have that ability.

Ruben Lozano

Exactly. And it's easy for us to just give up, you know, everybody, you know, a lot of people just have a mindset that they just can't keep going. And it's so easy for us to just throw in the towel and give up. It's not what we're built for. We're built to seek, you know, to seek enlightenment and to seek, you know, more knowledge. And I think that, you know, the human mind is very resilient in the fact that even though we hit a brick wall, we can dust ourselves up in saying no, this is not it. For me. This is just the beginning.

Carly Puch

Yeah, absolutely. Oh, I love that this is just the beginning. So on Instagram, you are Dallas vegan cop. That's me. So that like embodies so many cool intersections right there. But I want to, especially with everything going on, I want to hear first of all, what is what led you to become a police officer.

Ruben Lozano

So my mom early on, so I come from all my parents, both my parents are police officers, both my brothers are police officers. I don't have any sisters. But my mom early on work as a county clerk. Full County, and I remember going to her office, often after school to help, you know file papers and anything that she she needed help with clerical wise. And I would see a lot of these police officers that would walk in that were Dallas County constables. And I just always, you know, thought that it was just really cool to see the uniform and see, you know, all the tools of the trade that they use to get the job done. And it wasn't until like high school where or junior high middle school into high school, I started hanging around with the wrong crowd. And I think I touched on this with Carlos is I don't come from a broken home. You know, both my parents are still you know, that they're married, come from a loving family, amazing people. And they raised me with, you know, compassion and morals. And they did the best that they could do. But at the end of the day, you know, we all make our own decisions. And I started to hang out with the wrong crowd and just do bad things. And it came to a head when you know, the school resource officer who was a Dallas police officer at the time, who knew my mother, and he caught me and some of the people that I was hanging around with doing some of these bad things. They pulled me to the side and in so many words just basically said hey, I know your mom and I need you to just you know focus and you're better than this. You have a bright future ahead of you and I see potential. With that said, I'm not going to tell your mom but if I do catch you continuing hanging around with these people or if I catch you doing anything bad in the future, I'm gonna make it my mission to essentially make it pay for your consequences. And that was that was it for me. You know, I did my best to kind of distance myself from those individuals and make new friends and see the true potential that I had. I always saw it, I just never, never utilized it. So yeah, that's, that's it in a nutshell. That's what made me decide, okay, yeah, I'm going to stop doing this. And maybe I want to, you know, go into law enforcement, you know, because they always intrigued me. Now, after high school, I went a few years, and I worked a couple of what I consider, you know, dead end jobs where I was in the corporate world, and I had moved up the corporate ladder pretty fast at a very young age. And I was pretty much stagnant in that position, and didn't feel like I was growing. And I said, you know, what, I think now's the time for me to to explore that dream and be a police officer. So I went to the police academy, and that was in 2004. So when a police officer for 16 years now, but I've been with Dallas for about 11 years.

Carly Puch

So what do you think it was about that moment that made something click because I think a lot of people talk about, it's not just one moment, but our life is full of these moments where something clicks into place, and it alters our path, what do you think it was about that moment for you?


Ruben Lozano

Well, leading up to that, I saw some of my quote unquote, friends that I was hanging out with, that were either going to jail, drive bys were very prevalent back in the day here in Dallas. So some of them were getting shot and killed. And that was just very, you know, heartbreaking to me. And I didn't want to lose my freedom, essentially. Right. And I just wanted to be, I wanted to make my parents proud, you know, and it was just, you know, those things leading up to that moment, in that moment, being my aha moment and saying, Yeah, this is, this is not okay, I need to change my life around and start focusing on on a better life for myself, and make my parents proud.


Carly Puch

So how is it being a man of color being a police officer in Dallas? What are those intersections?


Ruben Lozano

Like it's not very difficult, because I work with some amazing people from all walks of life, you know, I worked with a couple of black officers and white officers. Were some, some Middle Eastern officers, and they're great people. So I mean, it's not that difficult from my perspective. But, you know, what I started to see, after the George Floyd incident was this division between officers of color, and essentially white officers. Interesting, that just didn't sit well with me, you know, they, they didn't understand that there was a need for reform, they didn't understand that. What happened was wrong on so many levels, and the things needed to change. And if you don't sit back and watch that video of, of a black man being murdered at the hands of police officers, I mean, I, you know, I was just heartbroken when I saw that video. And if you look at it as not as a police officer, but as a human being, yeah, and you're not utterly disgusted by that, then something's wrong with you internally. And I think, you know, I always knew that there was a problem. But I didn't, you know, I stayed silent a lot of the times, and I think, as a police officer, a lot of us have the unique ability of seeing these videos or seeing these things play out. And we look at it from the eyes of a police officer, right? Are these officers justified? Were they in the parameters of department policy, state law? Or was it a justifiable, you know, a justifiable use of force? And then we're able to look at it through the eyes of the civilian because we have, we were one civilians before, right? Right. So we have that unique ability of doing that, where the majority of the general public just looks at it from their perspective, you know, set aside use of force continuum setting aside, you know, a penal code setting aside, you know, all of these things that we are trained to essentially zone in on and look at, right, and make and make the decision whether or not if I was in the same position as that officer, would I have acted in the same way in the same manner, and most people, they don't have the ability to do that, right. So I, I saw some division and some things that I didn't like. And, you know, it's up to me to teach I'm not in a position to change things edit administrative level, but I can change things within my own heart. And that's exactly what it did. It opened my eyes tremendously to recognize them. biases in my own heart. And I think that when we do that, then we can start to move forward and have uncomfortable conversations. Right. But it's it's not until we do that, that we're able to move forward. And that's the thing I see tons of officers that are not willing to recognize that it's not okay. You know, I mean, I think the majority of the officers saw that video and were disgusted as well. It's not just okay to be disgusted with it. You need to say something openly in public and stand with people of color, whether you're black or Hispanic, and, and you continue to see these in justices happen at the hands of law enforcement officers, profession that I love. But you got to stand up and say, okay, yes, something's got to change, you know, we have to change the narrative. If nothing changes, then nothing changes. And that's what I'm starting to see now. And it's, it's disheartening to be

Carly Puch

honest with you, the division that you saw.

Ruben Lozano

Absolutely. And it's one of those things where, you know, we have to have to become part of the call out culture, when we see something that is happening within our own circle of friends, whether it's a racial remark, or disparaging remark, you know, it's not enough just to stay silent and walk away. But you got to say, Hey, that's not okay. You know, right. And a lot of these things are taught from us through generational, you know, lessons or things that we've been taught by family members, by our friends growing up by, you know, the media, and, you know, more so now, you know, social media. And so we're taught these things. And we're taught to believe that their blackness has been weaponized, just by the color of their skin, and not by the character in the content of their heart in their mind. Not even getting to know the individual, but just seeing their color and say, That person is dangerous. Yeah. And that's, that's not okay.

Carly Puch:

Yeah, and I think that coming from somebody who's had to, and is willing to, and is jumping into, again, really examining my white privilege, I think what's really hard for people is to not say, Well, I'm not a bad person. Right. And I think that that people want so desperately to separate themselves from like those overt racist acts. At this point, we're seeing a lot of that too. But what you're kind of getting at is that call out culture of like, what are the everyday things that just perpetuate all these things? And what are the biases I have? It's not that I'm a bad person, it's that I was brought up in a broken bad system. And realizing that has been really important too. And like, you know, whether it's educational, or whether it's police officers, like whatever the system is, it's not that that's bad, inherently bad people. It's that when you're brought up in a system that has those issues, what else are you going to know?


Ruben Lozano

Absolutely. And we use law enforcement officers, we now have admit, you know, I've worked with some, some very, you know, sketchy individuals that I'll distance myself from, or either, you know, call them out whenever I see them, you know, treating somebody badly or somebody. But it's one of those things where, you know, we've got tons of officers that are fresh out of college, and they're fresh out of college. And it's good because they're educated. Right? Right. But they haven't been exposed and tons of, of different cultures and backgrounds, whether it's the way they were brought up, or the little town that they, you know, that we recruited them from, so they're growing up with strictly, you know, white people and very limited black people, very limited Hispanic people. And then what we do is we train them in our police academy. And it's, uh, when I went through, it was like a 32 week academy surrendered about eight months I know it's gotten, it's gotten longer since then. Okay, because of because of things like this, right, then they start to add more classes and more bias training and more use of force and more, you know, you name it, they're starting to add hours and hours of training. So what you're seeing is you're seeing them fresh out of college with almost little to no life experience, in dealing with with with people of different cultures. And then you put them in the academy. They're still young, and then you have instructors that will come and say, if you really want to learn police work, you need to patrol the southern sectors of Dallas, which is South Central Southwest where I work and southeast patrol, because there's a lot of drugs, there's a lot of robberies, there's a lot of sexual assaults, there's you name it. Why is that? You know what I mean, right? Why is there so much crime in the south versus the North not to say that the North doesn't have crime, they have lots of crime. But we're taught, if you want to learn, you have to go down here. And down south is where you have your black people, your Hispanic people, low income, middle to low income. And so you have these young officers that most of them are predominantly white, and you're putting them in these neighborhoods, and they don't know the community. And when you, you're putting them out there, and you're throwing them out there with the trainer. And then once they go through like a seven week, I want to say it's about seven weeks or a little bit longer of field training, then they're released, essentially, on their own or with their partner. And when they're with a partner, that partner probably has maybe six to seven months on more than they do. Okay, so they're patrolling these neighborhoods, and they're not familiar with the community, you know, and I think, you know, we need to start seeing more recruiting based here in Dallas, recruit people from Dallas that want to go out there and make a difference, versus recruiting from a small town somewhere up in the northeast, or in the Northwest or the central, you know, the central part of the US, and then we're bringing them down here, and essentially just throwing them out there, and then you start to see younger officers getting themselves in trouble. And just, it's not okay,

Carly Puch

when you're describing that situation. If you've been brought up in, you know, a small town and all you've known as the privilege of your whiteness, and then you're being told if you want to learn policing go to these areas, you're kind of being taught that that crime is equated with those people. Like instead of what you said, instead of asking why.

Unknown:16:54

One of my co workers it was interesting, because I work in a unit called the NPO. Office MPO is basically neighborhood police officers. Okay, so we're tasked with going out speaking at townhall forums, community Crimewatch meetings, we speak to a lot of individuals in the neighborhood community leaders to address quality of life issues. So we work with the Department of Homeless solutions, and we work with code compliance, and we work with, you know, a plethora of other agencies that that will go out and try to help, you know, clean up the neighborhood and address some of the issues that we don't want to overwhelm patrol officers with, we can handle it from our level, then, you know, we'll go out and handle it. And, you know, you know, I remember one, and we have, you know, maybe three, you know, people of color in my unit, three black officers, a couple of Hispanic officers, and but I remember like, a coworker of mine, who after all of this was happening. He said, Man, this is crazy. Mike, he's always a white officer, this is crazy. My, my wife can't even walk out of the apartment. And she's scared because of the color of her skin. She's a white, white person, right, because of the looting or the rioting, or the protesters. And I remember stopping in my tracks and thinking, hello, this is what people of color feel on a day to day basis, right, right to go out of their own apartment or home because of the color of their skin. And it really struck a nerve with me because I was like, people just don't get it, you know, I get it. And it's not okay, when you have individuals like ahmaud arbery, you know, going out there, you know, in the neighborhood and being gunned down. Or you have individuals like George Floyd, who, you know, despite his criminal history, I don't care about that. None of that matters. It shouldn't matter. Right, what matters is what happened and what you saw. And that's what matters. I don't care if you know, 10 minutes ago, 15 minutes ago, he did something, you know, committed a crime. What matters is you affect that arrest safely, and do it within the confines of your department policy. And it's my job as a police officer, if I go out with a partner, and I tell my partner this a lot, that it's my job to keep you out of Internal Affairs. It's my job to keep you out of prison if something goes wrong, and it's your job to reciprocate that. So if I have to be what we call an ethical role, and I see you doing something wrong, and I need to step up, and I need to call you out and you need to do the same. And I think that that's what we saw it as is and I said this in an interview because I've I've did a couple of interviews with our local news station, okay, because of a photo of me went viral. Hugging a local artist here in downtown Dallas. I'll give you the backstory that I was there the night of the riots on the first day, and we could hear it on the radio that they were, you know, looting certain stores, running Windows and things of that nature. But we couldn't get to that is our downtown Dallas is relatively big. We were on one side of the city, we could hear it in downtown. And so a couple of days passed and I started to see these murals that were popping up in, in the arts, essentially, it's like an arts district of Dallas. Okay. And their portraits of, of individuals that have been killed at the hands of police officers. And you know, the the message attached to it was spread love, not hate. And I thought these murals were just so beautiful and so powerful, right, despite the pain behind them. I said, I saw them on social media. I wanted to take a picture, right? Yeah. So I go with my partner, we find the murals I take a picture, we're driving down a nother Street. It's just adjacent to to that street where the murals were at. And I see an artist painting a picture of Sandra Bland. And I pulled over and I'm like, Oh man, he's paying, he's actually painting the picture. And at the time, I didn't know it was the same artist who painted the four murals that I had just taken pictures. Okay, so I go up to him, and I said, Hey, man, I said, I saw your murals over there, like, you know, when I saw his instagram handle, and I said, I saw your murals over there. It's very powerful. Do you mind if I take a picture of you in front of your artwork, a power pose, right? Arms, cross new, whatever you want to do? Because, yeah, trying to get into photography, you know, food photography, so to speak. So I'm trying to utilize my camera a lot more. So I decided to take a picture of him. And then I said, Can I take a picture with you? And funny artwork? He said, Yeah. So we did. And then something in that moment just asked me or it's not something, it's God, God told me, you pray for this, pray for this man. Ask him if you can pray for him. And I asked him, and he obliged, and I put my hand on his shoulder. He's much taller than me. The man on his shoulder and I prayed for him. And I remember being very, very emotional. In that moment. I'm already an emotional person. I remember crying. And I remember praying for love and understanding and compassion and apologizing to him for the things that are going on in the world today, specifically surrounding people of color and then being killed at the hands of police officers. And a little did I know that people were going to be stopping in the middle of the road, taking pictures videotaping it, people were stopping in their tracks walking on the sidewalk. And somehow it reached the media outlet, and they wanted to interview me. Okay, so they interviewed me. And, you know, part of what I said was, you know, one, I just wanted to show him appreciation and love for his artwork. I think everybody has a story to tell. And it's unfortunate that this has to happen to wake people up. Right. And I think, you know, what we saw was with three officers that stood by and did nothing, and evil flourishes, when good man stand by and do nothing. And that's exactly what we saw in this situation is we saw three officers stand by and not intervene when they saw an injustice occur. In this situation, evil still flourishes when we say nothing. So it's not just enough for me, just to post a black square on my social media. Right? Yeah, it's not just enough for that. It's, it means more. And it speaks volumes when I break the silence in my own heart, and in my own mind, and with my own peers, and call people out for racial remarks for you. I mean, you name it, you know, so it for me was it was a wake up call for me to finally say something. And I'm sure I lost some friends because I posted the picture to my social media account on Facebook, after it was already shared, but tons of people and after the news already interviewed me, I said, You know what, I want to share my story. I want to I want to put it out there as to talk for my followers, because I have tons of friends that I worked with in the corporate world. tons of friends that I went to school with, yeah, that I know, sit back. And they're probably thinking themselves. I wonder what Ruben feels about this. I wonder what he's thinking about this. So I posted the picture. And you know, it went viral. And then I had, you know, a couple of radio stations reached out to me a couple of news outlets reach out, reach out to me, and I told people it's not about me, it wasn't about me. I didn't want the attention on me the attention I want to be brought to the to the forefront was the injustice is that we continue to see and I want it to display what I felt was very, very powerful work of art by this young man. And in at the end of the day, that's that's that's all it was about. It was about of displaying his artwork and the message that was attached to it spread love not hate?

Carly Puch:25:04

Yeah. Have you you kind of started to touch on this? Have you caused any riffs or had any hard discussions within your department, because of you starting to speak out about this?

Unknown:25:19

I've had a few people kind of, like sneak into my DM and, you know, kind of, essentially try to call me out and have had some, you know, some of those discussions and I try not to get get them heated, you know, I try to just speak from a level of compassion, rather than than being what I could call a keyboard warrior and debating people. But if they don't get it, and it's hard to change somebody's heart, you know, then and, of course, I had a couple of negative comments from, from some people who didn't agree with, you know, the Sandra Bland photo, because Sandra Bland photo, you know, he he basically wrote next to Sandra Bland that she was killed at the hands of a white police officer. So of course, you got some officers that are, you know, are saying, wow, you know, she didn't kill, or she killed herself. She wasn't killed by, you know, white police officers, she killed herself. And I'm like, if that's what you're focusing on, then you're missing the point. If you're focusing on these words, and not the image of me praying with a person of color, then you're missing the point. Right? And clearly, you still like compassion? Because despite the picture, even if I blacked out the picture in the background, and you saw me hugging a black man, while I'm in uniform, you still would have had an issue with it. And to me, that's not okay.

Carly Puch

It's I think a lot of people are operating out of fear right now fear of unknown fear of not knowing or fear of losing power, even if that's not conscious, but when you've had privilege, and this feels like a fear of losing some sort of power, even if you're not conscious of that, I think that's a lot of what's happening.

Ruben Lozano

Absolutely in, you know, I had a really good conversation with somebody in my chain of command who saw the picture, and because he got scrutinized as well for for kneeling with some protesters. And he's in a leadership position of one of our police unions here in Dallas. And you know, he kneeled with him and prayed. And I think what we're seeing is a lot of officers that are just upset when they see officers kneeling, because they feel like they're kneeling out of submission. And they're still missing the point. We're not kneeling, because we're submitting to you. We're kneeling in solidarity, and recognizing that there's a problem and saying that, hey, you know, what, if it takes me kneeling, to show you that I'm with you, then I'm all for it. If it takes me hugging a man, an artist of black men, while I'm in uniform, I didn't know that that was going to happen that day. It wasn't my intention to go out there and do that. And, you know, but I felt that I needed to felt, you know, I'm a Christian man. So I felt, you know, God, God tugged on my heartstrings and wanted me to pray for him. And so often, you know, I think that, you know, the Holy Spirit of God speaks to people in different ways. But so often we don't listen. And we miss an opportunity to, to build a bond to build community, to show compassion and love out of fear. Yeah. And we're afraid of what is to come after this? What are the repercussions? What are my quote, unquote, friends going to think? What is my chain of command going to think? What is my family going to think? You know, I mean, let's just call it like it is, you know, what I mean? Like, what are they going to think if they see this, but the support has been completely overwhelming. And people reaching out to me that I went to middle school with or elementary school that they, they, you know, obviously we've lost touch. And that, you know, sending me messages. Hey, thank you. This is what we need right now, you know, this is this is exactly what we need to see. Officer stepping up to the plate, not in submission, but in solidarity and speaking out that there is a problem, right. And I

Carly Puch

think that that's something else that people are having a hard time with, like I was mentioning before is there's the analogy to the bad apple, like a few bad apples thing that I appreciated some people saying, well, it's not. It's not a bad apples situation. It's like a bad orchard. So it's like that. That systematic problem that you described, like, here's this young person that came straight out of the academy and has never had any cultural experience and gets thrown in this neighborhood. So that's a systematic issue. And I think people have a problem with rethinking a whole system that we've known our whole life could be corrupt or could have issues or could need to be reformed or money could be He put some more out like those questions, I think just cause fear.

Unknown:30:05

Absolutely. And it's one of those things where the law enforcement community is a small portion of a huge system, right? A huge system. So, yes, I fully support people going out there and protesting, you know, and vocalizing their frustration and their anger and their pain. But don't stop there. You know, we don't want to see, you know, next month come and go, and then do we don't see protesters anymore. But then again, they don't show up to the voting polls, you know, if we're going to spark change, and effectively change things, you have to continue the fight at a legislative level, at a presidential level, you have to start at a judicial level, you have to stop voting for those people that are creating laws that you feel, are oppressing you, and put somebody in there that that you feel you can trust that is going to feel you hear you and listen to your frustration and listen to your concerns and effectively make those changes. Don't just stop at protesting. You know it because I don't want to see people just stop there. If they want to reform, it's got to happen at the voting polls,

Carly Puch

right. And I think that it's easy, especially if you have privilege, to post the black square, and to say, okay, black lives matter, I stand with this. And then you know, my privilege allows me to step out of that space, I don't really have to think about that. That's what privilege is right? I can kind of put it on my to do list. But especially for people that have the means to keep pushing and keep being a part of it and affect change and vote and call and sign petitions like you're saying like that's I think the thing that we need to keep talking about is we're not done.

Ruben Lozano

Yeah. And you know, I'm, I'm a Hispanic police officer, right. But when I get in my vehicle, which is a nice vehicle, and I drive around the city, from my apartment complex, either to the gym, to the park, to the grocery store to the gas station, you name it. More often than not, I have a cut off sleeve shirt on. I've got tattoos, as you can see right there all over. But I'm not. I've experienced officers pulling me over for no other reason than the fact that that Hispanic with tattoos and I've, you know, I'd know that I've got no reason for you to pull me over. And then as soon as they come up, I show them my ID my credentials. And I'm like, Hey, I'm a police officer, there's a weapon in the vehicle. So at least I let them know, upfront, I show them my credentials. And they're like, oh, you know what? No, you're good. You're good. And I'm like, Well, what did you pull me over for? If what did you pull me over for? No, no, you're good, man. You're good. You know, have a good day. And I'm like, No, that's not okay. Because I want to know what you pulled me over for because I had my seatbelt on registrations current, I use my signal. I did everything I was supposed to do. Why did you pull me over, but I'm not going to pretend that I know what it's like to live in the shoes, or the skin of a person of color that is black? Because they go through that, you know, majority of the time, right, a lot of time they experienced, you know, officers, either racial profiling, stopping them, you know, for walking in the middle of a street in an affluent neighborhood riding their bike, things of that nature. I've gotten calls me and my partner. I've gotten a call from somebody who said, Well, there's a, there's a black male suspect who's riding his bike through the neighborhood. And I'm like, this is way before George Floyd. This was like, maybe last year sometime, right? Okay. I'm dead, we take the call, we go and we see him and I'm like, I'm not stopping that guy. Because somebody feels that he's going to commit a crime. And he's literally just riding his bike. And I'm like, No, that's not okay. Because one, I'm not going to become a viral sensation video. I'm not going to violate this man's rights. He's fully, you know, well, within his rights to ride his bicycle is not breaking any laws. If I wanted to, I can make what we call a consensual stuff and just say, Hey, man, you know, what's your name? You know, what are you doing in this neighborhood? Where are you heading to? But what's the point in that? Right? Because automatically more than likely is going to become defensive. As to why are you pulling me over? Because I'm a black man in a white neighborhood? No. Now if they're actually breaking the wall, then apps Absolutely. I have no problem making contact with them. Right? They're riding their bike. It's not okay for me to go and harass that individual.

Carly Puch

And I think that's the thing that a lot of people have hard time understanding that don't experience that as like, That man was just existing as a black man on a bike, and that cause someone to call the police. You know, like just existing. And there's been a lot of those posts that are heartbreaking where it's my friends of color, like, Okay, so now we can't sleep in our own beds, we can't wear a hoodie, we can't buy Skittles, we can't, you know, like the list goes on. But really, it's just existing as a black person in our world right now.

Ruben Lozano

Or like this, this this case, and it's not a new case, you just kind of got I don't know, essentially swept under the rug, young kid, Elijah, yes. Who suffered from anemia. Mm hmm. He's an introvert, had his headphones in walking, it's cold outside, he has a masks on, he has a mask on. Yep, it has headphones in somebody calls because he's got a mask on. The young man was super polite, even as he was being taken to the ground and being put in, in a chokehold or a carotid, you know, hold. He's still super compassionate, very polite, and just couldn't understand what was going on. And it's heartbreaking to know that, that that nothing has happened. You know,

Carly Puch

that's the power to, I think, in showing what the people can do, like, beyond posting the black square, because I believe just before this interview, and I'll have to double check, but I saw that the case was going to be heard finally, because enough people were raising awareness and saying, why hasn't this gone anywhere? So it's like there is more power, to continuing to push and push and use that momentum to say, hey, we want to see something happen here. They had his last words, and I just, it tore me apart.

Ruben Lozano

Yeah. And it's heartbreaking, because, you know, now these things are coming to the forefront after essentially that one, somewhat being, you know, swept under the rug. And now it's garnering, you know, national media attention. And people are speaking up to that injustice and making their voice heard. And I think what we're seeing now is tons of people who are have just been frustrated and hurt and angry over the years and years and years of police brutality. And it's not just the police brutality, it's when they see it. And it's not justified, and there's no accountability. Yes. And that's what it boils down to, even if it is caught. And those officers are indicted, and charged. And they go to trial, you're seeing officers get off. And that is what is frustrating. It hurts and it's heartbroken to see the videos. But it's almost as if you're kicking people of color while they're down when you get when justice is not served. Absolutely. And that is what sets me back as a law enforcement officer who focuses on community relations. When the work that I put in to build community trust gets dismantled by a video of a black man losing his life. Yes, now I have to start now I have to start all over. They just made my my job that much harder. And they put a target on my back.

Carly Puch

It sounds like I know I've I heard you speak about this in the interview you did on YouTube, I think but that you really try and lead with compassion. And I think that is very apparent in this conversation. But you also kind of connected it into the way you started living your life intersecting with being vegan and like animals, and it feels like there's all these layers of where that compassion comes from.

Ruben Lozano

Absolutely, and I think that my decision to go vegan whereas it was just an experimental you know, voyage it turned into more of an ethical choice. And then I think my experience in going vegan and doing it for true compassion for the animals. It's all intersectional with me being a police officer and finally taking the blinders off and seeing true compassion. Because I'm a human being before I'm a police officer. I know tons of officers that that that II that eat and breathe, police work. And that's not me I'm a human being first. I'm a police officer second. And law enforcement is a part of my life. It is my chosen profession, but it is not my life. Right? There's a different empire. Yeah, it is not my life, I don't wake up, you know, putting on a police shirt, a police hat on my off day and walking out of the house. I don't own those clothes. And if I do own them, it's strictly to do house chores, or go to the gym, or things of that nature. But the last thing I want is to, to eat, breathe and sleep, police work. I just, it doesn't do me any good to do that. And like I said, I'm a human being before. I'm a police officer. It's a part of my life. It is not my life. And I think that we've got tons of officers that are so proud and overwhelmed with all of that, that they don't shut it off. And it's they go home, they're, you know, they're putting on their, their, we call them 511 pants 511 Or like military slash police pants, that they were everywhere, where they're wearing their thin blue line hat or they've got a thin blue line phone case or something, right? Something has a moniker of symbolism and they got a thin blue line sticker on their car. And I'm like, no, no, I'm a human being. Yeah, I love my profession. I love helping people. But I'm a human being first and and I think going vegan and being vegan and seeing that compassion side for animals plays into my compassion side as a human being and as a police officer as well.

Carly Puch

So how did you go vegan? What started the journey there?

Ruben Lozano

A veggie pizza. Yeah, it was a veggie pizza. Because me and my girlfriend had. She was vegetarian for like five years, and had meat, she's still consumed dairy and eggs. And I used to always make fun of her and you know, throw little side jokes. How can you do that? Right? Yeah. And then finally, you know, I tried this, this veggie pizza, I have my meat pizza. And it was I was like, Man, this is great. This is good. And I tried the veggie pizza. And I'm like, wait a second, like, how does this have more flavor than my pizza? Right? I don't understand it. And I still don't understand. Right? And I said, I said, Well, let me experiment right, because I've dabbled with, you know, keto diet. You know, the Atkins you name it, I've played around with the diets. Just because, you know, I came from like a fitness background. So it wasn't uncommon for me to just dabble with what I felt was fueling my body or what's going to build more muscle and burn more fat, you name it. So I said, I'm gonna try to go vegetarian for a week. That's what I told myself. And then I said, I'll push the envelope. Why don't I just go vegan for two weeks and just see how my body responds. Yeah. And I had no idea. I've always known how to cook. I have a passion for cooking. I just have no idea what I was doing with plants, right?

Carly Puch

Yeah, it's different.

Ruben Lozano

There's definitely more prep work that comes along with it. So I had no idea. So while I'm researching stuff on like Pinterest, or YouTube, I'm figuring out Oh, man, I can make this taste like this. Right? I can make this this or you know, and then finally documentary started pop up, documentary started to pop up and like, um, you know, it's not enough just for me to make a decision. But I want to educate myself too. Right? Yeah. And before I wasn't really educated, I just want to educate myself. So I'm just gonna look at these documentaries. So I watched what the health I watched dominion, which is the one that did it for me. And that was tough. That was super, super tough. And I remember like, really breaking down in tears at what I was seeing. And then I said, this is not right. This is not okay. I can't consciously contribute to an industry that is harming the sentient beings that have a purpose and that want to live in that purpose is not to defeat us, you know?

Carly Puch

Yeah. And so for those for those listening, what the health really focuses on the health stuff, and then dominion is is a brutal look into animal agriculture and animal abuse.

Ruben Lozano

Yeah, so I, I, I do promote those documentaries. But I tell people, you know, people I don't want to see that. Wow. Okay. I understand you don't want to see it. But you kind of need to, yeah. Because it's it's easy for us to just go in a grocery store and we see, you know, a piece of steak and for us to buy it but if that stuff was plastered on the glass or Above the display, you know, on a computer screen. Well, this is how you got your mean, then different people would kind of question themselves. Yeah. I saw a video and it was, it was a funny video, a kind of comedic video on Facebook where this, this guy is in a store. And he's given up samples of pork to people. And he's like, would you give them samples of pork and they're enjoying it? And he's like, Oh, do you want some pork? And they're like, yeah, absolutely. So he starts grinding this meat, and then the meat stops coming out. He's like, Oh, wait, I ran out of meat. Let me know. Let me so he grabs a little piglet. And he puts it in the machine. But he's not going to do anything to it. But then he starts grinding and they're like, where were we? No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, we don't want that. That's not okay. But it's like, this is where your meat comes from? Yep. Yep. And we don't want to see it. We're like, Yeah, more people were like, No, I don't want it don't you know, and they're trying to save with a little pig. And you're right, it happens, and people don't want to see it. So they're uneducated as to where their meat comes from, and how it gets from the farm to market to their plate.

Carly Puch

So what happened in those two weeks that you were like, I'm gonna push the envelope. Let's see what happens.

Ruben Lozano

The Minion happened.

Carly Puch

That popped up. And you were like,

Ruben Lozano

Yeah, at that moment. At that moment. I remember. It was like, six o'clock in the morning, I was on a treadmill. And when I watched that, I said, yeah, no, no, never again. So my two weeks has turned into a year now. Okay. And I feel great, you know, I, part of my accountability is, you know, thinking about what I'm going to prepare, put on a plate and, and show people on social media. Because I want people to understand that just because somebody is vegan doesn't mean you can't have the same things that you've eaten as a non vegan person or as an omnivore, like, you know, I can cook you some tacos with jackfruit, I can cook you, you know, some lasagna with some Gardein. And you know, you're probably not going to be able to tell the difference, you know, and, and that's what, that's the most important thing for me. I just want to show people that it's possible. And I didn't change overnight. So when people say I can't live without meat. Well, when you think of the number one killer in the United States is heart disease. You can't live with it either. So so when you say you can't live without meat, but then we see a lot of people dying from heart disease. High blood pressure, diabetes, you can't live with it either.

Carly Puch

Yeah, it's all connected. So did your girlfriend go from vegetarian to vegan then to

Ruben Lozano

Yeah, yeah. Yeah, and it's made it a lot easier on both of us to hold each other accountable. Because now it's like, it's no longer me making fun of her. It's,

Carly Puch

we're gonna You admit defeat there a little bit. Yeah, I did. I had the binder me. Well, it sounds like, it sounds like all of these things. Really circle back to this exploration of consciousness and compassion. And that's really, for me becoming vegan, pushed me to feel compassion, and a lot of other areas too. Like, it just does all feel so connected. For me, my social justice, passions and all of it. Just the idea of being kinder, I think feels for me, so connected. And the confusion, like you said, uneducated, and when you were talking about that, in my head, I was like, oh, it's exactly the conversation we're having about the system of policing. Like it's just an education of how it got to this place. And it's just so interesting, our knee jerk reaction when we learn that something we thought we knew our whole lives is wrong is to be like, Nope, I don't accept it.

Ruben Lozano

Yeah, we're close. We're quick to dismiss something that we don't understand. We're quick to dismiss things. Because we fear change. Absolutely. Sometimes change is good. You know, and you know, we live in a society where you know, we have to have these uncomfortable conversations and learn from each other. I don't like the phrase Why don't see color move. You need to see color, you know, you need to see that individual for how they were created. They're created differently. But that doesn't mean that they deserve unequal treatment. And I equate it to like a mosaic artwork, okay, you think of Mosaic artwork, and it's just, you know, shattered to pieces, tile, stained glass, you name it, and you put it together, different colors. Right? And, and it's very contrasting, and it makes it very beautiful. Yes. Same way with, with human beings in our cultures, you've got black people, you've got Asian people, you've got Hispanics and whites, and, and you've got, you know, you've got Middle Eastern people. And we're a beautiful mosaic piece of artwork, and what holds the mosaic piece together, is kind of like mortar, you know, like clay, it brings it together and holds it together to make a beautiful work of art. And I equate that to what's holding us together. And what should hold us together is love, compassion, understanding, and empathy. But when we don't have that, that mosaic piece falls apart. And that's what, that's what we have now. We have multi cultures, a lot of, you know, people from different code, teachers, and we're not understanding each other. We're not understanding their pain. We're not showing compassion. We're not showing love. And we wonder why it's broken? Yeah.

Carly Puch

Yeah. Oh, that's a really, that's a really powerful image. Images like that are so powerful, because it takes it out of what we're thinking about, and puts it into this like thing we can understand.

Ruben Lozano

Yeah, because all these colors together, make something beautiful. Individually, they're beautiful as well. But all these colors together in a mosaic piece of artwork, or a stained glass window, a