1. What was your first experience with animals that had an impact on you?
I learned at an early age that my companion animals had their own needs, interests, preferences, and personalities. In high school, when I first learned about the routine cruelties inflicted upon pigs, chickens, cows and fish, I had to withdraw my support. I wouldn’t pay others to mutilate, confine, and slaughter cats and dogs, so I couldn’t justify paying others to abuse and kill farmed animals, who are every bit as capable of experiencing pain, suffering, joy and other emotions as my companion animals.
2. When, how, and why did you first get involved with the animal welfare/rights movement?
Shortly after going vegan in 2007, I saw the documentary Earthlings. The next day I began thinking about how I could raise awareness and inspire others to choose compassion over cruelty. Since then, I've been fortunate to intern, volunteer, and work for fantastic organizations effectively working to prevent cruelty to farmed animals.
3. What are your favorite types of animal advocacy activities? Why? (i.e. lobbying, letter-writing, petitions, volunteering, protests, etc.)
The power of leafleting and its benefits for animals cannot be overestimated. Leafleting is effective on a number of fronts, making it one of MFA's core strategies for promoting cruelty-free food choices. Leafleting is great because you don’t need a large group of people or extensive advance planning. If you spend only two or three hours a month on leafleting, you can easily hand out as many as 500 or more leaflets. If you conservatively estimate that one in every 100 people you leaflet is eventually compelled to go vegetarian, you've inspired five new vegetarians or vegans in that month alone.
Paid-Per-View is a new campaign whereby we invite people to watch a 4-minute segment of the 12-minute, eye-opening MFA documentary Farm to Fridge, and afterwards they receive a dollar. After watching only a few minutes of how animals are treated on modern farms, hatcheries and in slaughterhouses, many people walk away swearing never to eat animals again. Click here for info on how you can organize a Paid-Per-View event in your area.
4. What animal issues are you most passionate about?
I’m most passionate about farmed animal advocacy. Since over 95% of the cruelty to animals in the United States occurs at the hands of the meat, dairy, and egg industries, which confine, mutilate, and slaughter over 9 billion land animals each year, the standard American diet is the leading root cause of animal abuse. We can choose kindness over cruelty every time we eat, and inspire others to do so as well.
5. What current animal-related issue or campaign has caught your attention, and why?
Currently five states – Minnesota, Indiana, Nebraska, Iowa and New York – are pursuing whistleblower suppression bills, which would make it a crime to take pictures or record video at factory farms and slaughterhouses. Video footage is the most powerful tool the animal protection movement has to expose the plight of farmed animals. People have a right to know where their food comes from and farmed animals have a right to have their stories told.
6. How do you address animal issues within your career?
Mercy For Animals works to be a voice for farmed animals through effective and results-driven campaigns. Our groundbreaking undercover investigations into factory farms and slaughterhouses have resulted in corporate animal welfare policy reforms, criminal prosecutions, and mainstream news coverage, and have influenced countless consumers to choose compassion over cruelty every time they eat.
Mercy For Animals distributes hundreds of thousands of pro-veg booklets and gives presentations to thousands of students – effectively raising awareness about factory farming and veganism on a grassroots level. And every year, MFA exposes millions to the plights of farmed animals with powerful bus, billboard, magazine, web, and TV ads.
7. What advice do you have for someone looking to become a more active animal advocate?
There are limitless ways to get active for animals, and here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Move toward a vegan diet: Since over 95% of animals killed in the U.S. are killed for food, our food choices are the best place to start helping animals.
- Leaflet: By leafleting just a few times a month, you can inspire several people to choose vegetarian and spare dozens of animals a year, adding up to thousands over a lifetime.
- Become an Online Activist: Use your online social networks to share undercover investigations and interesting articles with friends and family.
- Organize a Paid-Per-View event: Offer $1 to passersby on your college campus to watch Farm to Fridge and help inspire them to choose compassion! You can receive funding for Paid-Per-View events through VegFund. For everything you need to set up a Paid-Per-View event, click here.
8. What book, quote, photo, video, story, etc. have you found most inspiring/has inspired you?
I’ve witnessed firsthand the powerful impact MFA’s short documentary Farm to Fridge can have on inspiring people to switch to a vegetarian diet. I’ve seen dozens of people cry, writhe in shock, and promise to begin making choices toward a vegan diet after seeing the video. At one festival, many Farm to Fridge viewers afterward would ask us what they could eat, and we ended up sending dozens of festival-goers over to the all-vegan food booth for lunch!
As a movement, this film is one of our most powerful tools to effect change for animals.