1. What was your first experience with animals that had an impact on you?
When I grew up in Korea, not many families had a dog or a cat inside of their house. Pets and humans had a distinct territory and it couldn’t be commingled. Another way to put it: people lived in the house and animals lived outside of the house. Period! That was the norm for me. When I moved to the United States, however, the norm changed on the very first day. I freaked out when I saw my roommate’s cats laying down on my bed. I thought, “They shouldn’t be allowed to get in my bedroom. “ However, I soon I fell in love with their affectionate and loving behaviors, and I realized they are also sentient beings and have the same emotions that I feel.
2. When, how, and why did you first get involved with the animal welfare/rights movement?
When I became a vegetarian in 2003, it was mostly because of ethical and environmental reasons, yet I didn’t really realize how animal welfare was deeply linked to my vegetarian diet. Later in 2006, I became a vegan and I was still not sure what was really going on beyond the meat section shelves where nicely wrapped parts of animal dead bodies were displayed. Then, I was invited to a World Peace Diet book club in 2008 and I experienced the enlightening moment of why I want to be a voice for these innocent God’s creatures after finishing my book.
3. What are your favorite types of animal advocacy activities? Why? (i.e. lobbying, letter-writing, petitions, volunteering, protests, etc.)
I totally admire hardcore animal activists who take video footages at factory farms in order to witness the condition of farm animals. I truly appreciate the sacrifice they are making in order to witness those heartbreaking moments. I could never do it, but because of these activists, now we all know what the truth is. My favorite in-person advocacy activity is leafleting. It is amazing to come across many people who are still so ignorant about where their favorite meat dishes came from, how their beloved companion animals were possibly born, or how many little animals are killed for worthless lab testing for medicine or cosmetics. Sometimes I get into an interesting discussion on animal welfare issues with passerbyers and that is the best part of leafleting. Even though I don’t receive positive reactions right on the spot, I believe the literature will circulate and open someone’s eye someday.
4. What animal issues are you most passionate about?
It is hard to choose only one because there are so many animal issues equally treated as important. Yet, if I have to choose only one, then it would be farm animal issues because they are the biggest number of abused animals and we overlook the issues on our table every day.
5. What current animal-related issue or campaign has caught your attention, and why?
Recently my friend told me about “Swans Voice”, the local activist group to protect mute swans in Michigan which are about to be slaughtered by DNR who argues mute swans are an invasive animals and cause so many environmental problems and so on. It is so ridiculous to listen to the DNR’s position on why they should kill these innocent mute swans. Please check out the “Swans Voice” Facebook page for more information and ways you can take action: http://www.facebook.com/groups/swansvoice/.
6. How do you address animal issues within your career?
Running Veg West Michigan and Veg Meetup is a volunteer job. My professional career is not close to animal advocacy at all, however, I always seek the opportunity to address animal issues. Being a good model of a vegan is another form of animal activism because giving up meats ultimately saves thousands and thousands farm animals’ lives. Introducing or preparing a good vegan meal to my peer or colleagues is one of my favorite tactics to hook people into entering the vegan world.
7. What advice do you have for someone looking to become a more active animal advocate?
Animal advocacy isn’t necessarily being a PETA protest-kind of activist. Of course they catch your eyes immediately and make a huge impression, yet if you are sort of shy and not fond of radical methods, you are still able to be an active animal advocate. Stay alert to what’s going on in your area by joining a local animal advocacy group’s email list or social media pages. You may not save a Moon Bear in Asia, but you may save wild geese or mute swans who are forcefully transferred to a local facility and eventually killed. If your friend looks for a new pet, then tell them how it is a great idea to adopt him or her from local animal shelter.
8. What book, quote, photo, video, story, etc. have you found most inspiring/has inspired you?
I highly recommend the World Peace Diet by Dr. Will Tuttle. His profound thoughts on our meat eating culture and how we became so desensitized to killing animals for food helped me to structure the foundation of my vegan lifestyle.
Interested in Veg Eating? Join the Veg West Michigan Facebook Group & Veg Meetup Group!