Talkin’ Vegan with ‘Newsfail’ Authors, Jamie Kilstein and Allison Kilkenny

There are a lot of frustrating things going on in the news and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by it. Thankfully there are people like comedian, Jamie Kilstein and writer, Allison Kilkenny, the duo behind the independent media podcast, Citizen Radio. Through their listener-supported, sponsor-free news show, the pair cover unreported news and corporate media news blunders with wit and humor. Jamie and Allison’s new book, #Newsfail, released this week, which is basically a hardcover highlight reel of those news stories that either do not (but should) exist, or completely miss the point on mainstream media. Jamie and Allison took time to chat with FARM about their work and their vegan pride.
Disclaimer: While FARM shares many of their views, particularly regarding veganism and animal rights, the responses by Jamie and Alison to our questions are their own uncensored opinions. Some of the language and political viewpoints might be abrasive to certain readersPlease read on with an open mind and eagerness to laugh!

Jakub Moser                       KilkennyAllison

FARM: Focusing on your book’s vegan chapter [titled "Al Gore Is Fat and We're All Going to Die: Or, You Can't Blame Climate Change on Vegans"], I was very impressed with it because, in about 25 pages, you covered a lot of the really important reasons to consider going vegan. A lot of times people just focus on the animal cruelty, which is obviously a huge part of it, but I’m really glad that you both touched on worker’s rights, the environment, and even some of the feminism angle.

Allison: Yeah, we’re assuming that people reading the book would already describe themselves as progressive, so it’s a little bit of a challenge. If you call yourself liberal, if you think you’re left wing, have you embraced veganism? We have a lot of friends who would call themselves progressives, but tweet photos of their bacon at brunch.

Jamie: We pretty much had to lay out as many reasons as possible [to go vegan in the book]. You could go to a climate march hosted by Democracy Now and the spirit of Emma Goldman and you show up with veggie burgers, it’s gonna piss people off. It doesn’t matter how liberal of a room you are in, [veganism is] the thing we found, besides feminism, that divides us the most. So [in the book], we were gentle and we tried to be funny [while still presenting the facts].

FARM: Jamie, you mention in the chapter that you went vegetarian for the animals and then vegan for Allison. With all these reasons to go vegan, what was it exactly that really helped you stick with your convictions, beyond your relationship with a vegan?

Jamie: Yeah, trying to impress a girl is up there! It’s weird that I was definitely that  clichéd vegetarian, where I would proudly declare I was vegetarian, but then someone would ask if I was vegan, and I’d be like, “No, those vegans are out of their f***ing minds!” because I didn’t know anything about it! From an animal cruelty point of view, I didn’t know what the animals went through [in the dairy and egg industries]. I thought that if they weren’t being killed for meat, they were at some weird Malibu retreat, getting milked by the gentle hands of a seamstress. I didn’t know! And then selfishly, I thought all I would be eating was salad, and I hated salad. When Allison told me she was vegan, I was actually defensive. But I told her, “When I’m ready to try to eat vegan, I want you to show me the information.” And all it took was one image of a cow with an udder so big [she] couldn’t stand and I was [soon] vegan.

Jamie says once he ate healthier (no more sneaking cheese pizzas at midnight, an experience hilariously recounted in the book), he felt better and hasn’t turned back. Allison initially went vegan for health reasons, after her physician encouraged she remove all dairy from her diet due to allergies. Following the doctor’s suggestion, she did research online, discovered veganism, and dove in. Within a week, she noticed amazing changes from fewer sinus headaches to greater energy.

FARM: After going vegan, how long was it before you found yourselves getting into activism and being a voice for animals?

Allison: I’m really careful about using that word “activist,” because I really respect activists, it’s a hard job and takes a lot of commitment, so I don’t consider myself an activist in that respect.

Instead, the two consider themselves vegan “ambassadors.”

Jamie: We proudly, proudly, proudly call ourselves vegan. We talk about [veganism] a lot on our show and in our book.

Jamie points out that, under the umbrella of activism, it’s important to focus on what you’re good at. “What Allison and I are good at is making very serious, sad issues digestible or funny or approachable,” he said.

Taking that approach has really opened up the hearts and minds of their Citizen Radio listeners.

Jamie: We have gotten, literally, thousands of emails from, not just vegetarians who went vegan, but from people who hated vegans or people who grew up on farms and didn’t know what vegan was, and [after learning about animal agribusiness on the show] have gone on to do the kind of activism you guys [at FARM] do. We’re proud to inspire the next generation of activists.

FARM: Do you find that you already have a decent vegan audience [of Citizen Radio]?

Jamie: What I’m really proud of is that, the listeners who aren’t vegan, aren’t raging assholes about it. We have tons and tons and tons of readers whose vegan anniversary coincides with their anniversary of listening to the show. We get tweets about it every year and it’s awesome. Responses to vegan topics on the show are always positive, with even non-vegans sending emails saying that they have cut back on their meat consumption or are slowly working toward [a vegan diet]. Even when we go really into [veganism / animal rights], we don’t get hate mail. We either have vegans or just really compassionate people listening.

Allison: My favorite emails are the ones that come from kids that are scared to come out to their parents as vegans, and it turns out the parents are super wonderful and supportive, they get a vegan cookbook and make dinner together. And we’ve gotten a lot of those!

FARM: Focusing back on your book now, “Newsfail,” and how it’s all about “fails in the news,” let’s talk about news fails related to animal rights. It seems like nearly every day, there’s a “fail” in the news surrounding animal issues, whether it’s pro-SeaWorld/circuses/zoos, the myths surrounding “humane meat,” climate change, etc. What do you think is the most notable “news fail” regarding animal rights just in the last year?

Allison: I think climate change is the biggest one, just because it effects everyone on Earth, but I think the Ag-Gag laws are a really, really big story. There are all these First Amendment activists who get outraged, and rightfully so, when police break up protests, you need permits for protests at every level, but [Ag-Gag laws] are a huge First Amendment [threat]. This should outrage not just animal rights activist, but also First Amendment proponents.

Jamie agrees that climate change isn’t getting enough (or the right) attention in the news, pointing out the United Nation’s declaration that factory farming is the leading cause of climate change. He says that many panels will take the time to talk about carpooling and using less electricity, but if someone suggests going vegetarian, it’s treated like a joke.

Jamie: The fact that we won’t even humor in the news the one thing that will [make a difference] is the biggest #newsfail. If someone does interview someone who is vegan, they treat them like some underground mole person that emerged to just spout 9/11 conspiracies and take away your cheeseburgers.

FARM: Let’s say someone who is not vegan and has been pretty unaware of these things, they read your book and the vegan chapter and they’re all fired up, ready to go vegan, but then they don’t know what to do next. What do you recommend they do first?

Jamie: The first thing you’ve gotta do is act selfishly. And what I mean by that is, you need to go online, go to the bookstore, look at the restaurants you like, and find as much vegan food as you can that you like. I think a lot of people go after veganism as a “diet,” and diets don’t work. People cave, they go off the wagon. Don’t think of it as “you have to eat less.” I think this is better than a cookbook: just Google vegan versions of foods you already like.

Allison agrees that, if you have access to the internet, researching and trying new recipes is vital, as well as learning how to cook. She suggests getting down a basic pasta or stir-fry recipe that can be tweaked to use whatever ingredients you like and whatever ingredients you have on hand.

Jamie says they always do a vegan episode on Citizen Radio around Thanksgiving as a way to support “the baby [new] vegans who are going home to their families and have to watch their father fist a turkey.” This show always results in hundreds of “the sweetest emails,” thanking Jamie and Allison for their tips and support. The main tip is always: bring something vegan to share and make it awesome.

Jamie acknowledges that it can be a “radical shift” to go vegan after being raised with animal-based foods for so long, but focusing on all the many foods you can eat, and never seeing it as a sacrifice, can make a huge difference in sticking to veganism. Research, read, arm yourself with recipes & restaurants you like, etc. “so you don’t wind up in the middle of the supermarket having a panic attack like I did,” Jamie jokes.

Jamie also suggests that new vegans should do their research so they know and remember why they’re going vegan. “You see what’s happening to the animals and the workers and the environment, and then you can just own [your veganism] and be proud of it,” Jamie says. “It’s so hard to make a tangible difference in the world because the media is all owned by asshole corporations, the Democrats are becoming Republicans, the Republicans are insane, that sometimes you feel really helpless and worthless as an activist, but [going vegan] is actually a tangible difference you can make. You can look at the little faces of the animals that you’re helping. That pushes me through!”

What are some of Jamie and Allison’s favorite vegan things? They dished in a Live Vegan Lightning Round!

FARM: Favorite vegan restaurant.
Jamie & Allison: Vegetarian Dumpling House and all the Blossom locations in NYC

FARM:  Favorite vegan celebrity.
J&A: Rise Against! and Peter Dinklage

FARM: Go-to vegan meal to make at home
J&A: Jamie’s Pizza Pasta

FARM: Favorite vegan junk food
J&A: Mozzarella sticks from Champ’s in Brooklyn; all nachos & cake

FARM: Favorite green vegetable
J&A: Spinach

FARM: Tofu, tempeh, or seitan?
J&A: Tempeh for Allison & tofu for Jamie

FARM: Favorite vegan cookbook or blog
J&A: Choosing Raw

FARM: Favorite animal rights book
J&A: Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer  and #Newsfail

FARM: Favorite vegan/AR message t-shirt
J&A: Eat Kale Not Cow

Want to win a copy of Jamie and Allison’s new book, Newsfail? Comment below with why YOU Live Vegan and one lucky winner will be announced on Friday, October 17th at 12pm Eastern! Be sure to comment with contact info. 

 

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World Day for Farmed Animals 2014 A Worldwide Success

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This year’s World Day for Farmed Animals can be called a smashing success by numbers alone. Over 12,000 people spanning 95 countries participated in a one-day Fast Against Slaughter. Over 1,700 activists distributed our informative “Have We Been Lied To?” booklet for the 200 Brochure Challenge. 17 slaughterhouse protests occurred in the United States and Canada alone.

As empowering as those numbers are, WDFA 2014 was also a smashing success in the unity it created around the world. On October 2nd, 2014, activists passionate for animal rights from small, remote towns to large, buzzing cities felt connected to farmed animals and their suffering, and connected to compassionate human beings in a one-day Fast Against Slaughter. Through pledging to abstain from food for one day, in solidarity and remembrance of farmed animals starved en route to slaughter, thousands of people around the world were connected in this peaceful, awareness-raising act. FARM’s social media pages were abuzz with participants proudly pledging to fast, sharing links and pictures, and forming bonds with and supporting other people. When the fight for farmed animals rights can at times feel so isolating, the Fast Against Slaughter reminded people of why we fight, and gave them hope to push on.

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Here are just some of the overwhelmingly positive responses we’ve received from participants of the Fast Against Slaughter:

“It was a humbling experience having felt what animals go through before slaughter. I now have a deeper understanding of the cruelty they go through in order to fulfill our appetites.”

This was my first time fasting and it was an extremely eye-opening experience. You truly share in the solidarity. I am proud to have participated.

“I am now going completely vegan instead of just cutting out eggs and milk.”

It not only helped raise awareness but for people who are already vegan it is a good time to reflect on what we are doing and reinforce the reasons we chose this lifestyle.

“It was the easiest fast I’ve ever undertaken I think because this fast was not for me personally, but rather for a bigger cause. Seeing the unity across the globe and the great number [of people] who participated gave me strength and hope that animal activists are making a difference and increased my will to continue.”

Really emotional and moving day. Feel closer and more connected than ever to the animals.

“It helped me gain confidence in my willpower and compassion!”

Vegetarian before the Fast Against Slaughter. Vegan after.

To see some of the thousands of fantastic pledge pictures, visit our Facebook photo album, or search with the hashtag #FastAgainstSlaughter on Twitter and Instagram. Also check out pictures from FARM’s protests at the Perdue chicken plant and the USDA headquarters in Washington, D.C. and Toronto Pig Save’s WDFA demonstration in Canada.

To get the full scoop on all the WDFA 2014 activity, read the full report here.

Feeling inspired and ready to do more for animals? Join our Compassionate Activist Network and earn rewards for helping animals!

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10 Billion Lives Tour Rocks Riot Fest!

Our 10 Billion Lives National Tour, led by Angie and Loren, had an amazing time doing outreach at Riot Fest in Toronto, Chicago, and Denver! In this blog post, the crew tell us about their experience.

Greetings from the road! The National Tour Crew has had an amazing start to our fall touring adventure. We kicked off early September with three weeks of traveling from Toronto, Canada to Denver, Colorado with the music festival, Riot Fest!

 Toronto

Riot Fest brings in tens of thousands of music lovers to each of their 3 festival locations (Toronto, Chicago, and Denver) and our crew and dedicated volunteers were ready and waiting at each one to educate the masses on the realities of life for animals in the meat, egg, and dairy industries. One of the greatest things about touring with Riot Fest is that many of the bands playing the festival have outspoken vegan musicians and lyrics about animal rights, like Rise Against and Bring Me The Horizon. This sets the scene for having great conversations with viewers about the ways in which veganism is becoming mainstream in society and is already present in their own lives. Not only that, but all three Riot Fest locations offered lots of delicious vegan food options! Highlights of our time at Toronto Riot Fest included: enlightening over 1000 viewers in 2 days, chatting with viewers while Death Cab For Cutie played live in the background, and being hosted each night by a fantastic local animal rescue, All Creatures Rescue!

 Chicago

From Toronto we travelled to beautiful (yet much colder!) Chicago, Illinois for three more awesome days of outreach. Highlights of our time at Chicago Riot Fest included: getting insanely delicious vegan food delivered (via bicycle!) from Upton’s Breakroom every day for lunch, hearing the words “I’m ready to go vegan” again and again and again, and hanging out with dedicated volunteers day after day like Alex, pictured above, who spent all three days volunteering with us and on top of that spent one evening leafletting festival goers when we’d finished up pay-per-view! Now THAT’S dedication to the animals! (Check out the FARM leaflet Alex was handing out here: http://farmusa.org/LiedToInfo.html)

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From Chicago we traveled to our final Riot Fest destination: Denver, Colorado! We were absolutely blown away by the number of people in Denver who came up to the truck thanking us for being there, and explaining that they were already vegan or vegetarian. Not surprising in an area with so much animal activism and so many incredible vegan restaurants! Highlights of our time in Denver included: Meeting Liz, pictured below, who told us she credits our video with helping inspire her to go vegan a year ago and who then came back to our truck the following day in-between band sets to volunteer with us, the truly phenomenal activist scene we received so much help from, and visiting Nooch, the Denver all-vegan grocery store!

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With the festivals over we’ve headed back to the Midwest to begin our campus tour and are currently in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Thanks for catching up with us! More on our adventures on college campuses next time!

– Angie & Loren

Cheer on all THREE of our 10 Billion Lives crews on Instagram

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FARM Co-founder & President Makes a Splash on Reddit’s Ask Me Anything

On Tuesday, September 23rd, Redditors were riveted by a very special “Ask Me Anything” (AMA) with FARM’s co-founder and President, Dr. Alex Hershaft. Opening up the Internet floor to questions about his experiences during the Holocaust and how they led him to form the animal rights movement in the United States, Dr. Hershaft opened many eyes, hearts, and minds with his deeply moving stories and insights on how animals are treated in society. Below are just a few highlights from this thought provoking question-and-answer session on Reddit.com.

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Dr. Hershaft spoke candidly about his experience in Warsaw and the parallels between what he went through and what farmed animals go through.

“I was born in Warsaw, Poland, on July 1, 1934 to fairly assimilated Jewish parents Jozef and Sabina Herszaft. My mother was a mathematician, and my father was a chemist researching the properties of heavy water (used as a coolant for nuclear reactors) at University of Warsaw with his partner Jozef Rotblat.

“Their research was in great demand, as Western scientists began to recognize the potential of harnessing nuclear energy, and both received visas to continue their work in the U.K. and the U.S. Rotblat left for the U.K just before Hitler invaded Poland in 1939 and eventually received the 1995 Nobel Peace Prize for his subsequent opposition to nuclear weapons. My father insisted on visas for my mother and I, but those came too late.

“During the war, our family was forced to move into the Warsaw Ghetto, with  my mother’s parents, across the street from the infamous Pawiak prison. As the Nazis began liquidating the Ghetto in late 1942, sending inmates to the Treblinka death camp, we were able to escape to the Christian side and remain in hiding. My father was tragically caught and presumed murdered. My mother and I were liberated by the allies in the spring of 1945.”

“… I find many similarities between how the Nazis treated us and how we treat animals, especially those raised for food. Among these are the use of cattle cars for transport and crude wood crates for housing, the cruel treatment and deception about impending slaughter, the processing efficiency and emotional detachments of the perpetrators, and the piles of assorted body parts – mute testimonials to the victims they were once a part of.”

When asked about his feelings toward Germans, Dr. Hershaft replied, “I try not to hold hard feelings toward the German people. Their society committed unspeakable acts against innocent sentient beings because of six years of intense indoctrination by the Nazi hierarchy. Our society commits similar acts against innocent, sentient being because of indoctrination by the meat industry.”

One Redditor asked, “Did you ever experience any uplifting moments while living in the Ghetto or was everyday a nightmare?”

Dr. Hershaft replied, “We tried to introduce some normalcy to life by setting up schools, cultural centers, and even a symphony orchestra. Then there were acts of supreme heroism, as when Janusz Korczak, head of a local orphanage, stayed with his children as they were lead to the gas chambers, even though he could have saved himself.”

This deeply moved many readers, some of whom responded:

“This made me stop reading for a while, what a great father and man.”

“I just had to excuse myself to go cry in the bathroom. What a touching story and a brave man. Thank you for sharing these meaningful moments.”

Another Redditor asked, “What were you doing right before you were liberated? Can words even describe what it felt like to be liberated?”

“We were liberated by the Russian army in February of 1945. People were lining the streets, cheering, and throwing flowers at the Russian tanks. It was like getting a new lease on life. I still tear up thinking about it,” Dr. Hershaft resplied.

Many people asked about the acceptability of comparing farmed animal suffering to the Holocaust.

“The analogy must be introduced very carefully, if at all,” Hershaft explained. “People are apt to misperceive it as us equating the value a Jewish life to that a pig’s life. The truth is that the analogy has nothing to do with the identity, religion, ethnicity, or even the species of the victim and everything to do with the commonality and operation of the oppressive mindset. Oppression of other sentient living beings must be detected and eradicated wherever it rears its ugly head. By focusing on the most oppressed sentient living beings on earth, we hope to blaze a path to ending all forms of oppression against all living, sentient beings, including of course, humans. It’s all part of the same struggle.”

Another interesting question posed was, “What would you say the most significant difference between US animal rights is today and what it was like when you began fighting in the name of them?”

“33 years after our movement’s launch at the first Action For Life Conference in 1981, our movement has grown much larger, more sophisticated, and more influential. In the process, it has lost some of its early idealism and solidarity. It has seen profound changes in focus, tactics, and leadership.

“Prior to 1981, animal right activity in the U.S. was pretty much restricted to one book – Peter Singer’s “Animal Liberation,” a crude newsletter called “Animals Agenda,” a college student club called People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, and a lone (though powerful) activist – Henry Spira. The several animal protection and anti-vivisection organizations that had been around for a while were busy curbing abuses of animal companions and animals in laboratories, rather than promoting animal rights and veganism.

“The focus began to shift in the mid 1990s, when Henry Spira dropped his anti-vivisection campaigns in favor of animals raised for food. Compassion Over Killing joined the battle in 1995, and Bruce Friedrich turned PETA’s focus onto farmed animals in 1996. The Farm Sanctuary and United Poultry Concerns sanctuaries took on more of an advocacy role around that time.

“With our movement’s rapid growth, dozens of dedicated volunteers were necessarily replaced by hundreds of employees in corporate offices, with varying degrees of allegiance to animal rights. This, in turn, has led to vastly reduced contact and solidarity among movement activists. Fortunately, we are seeing the most drastic progress for farmed animals than we have ever before seen.”

Many Redditors were amazed to learn that Dr. Hershaft turned 80 years old this year.

“Woah dude, 80 years old? You look extremely young. I would honestly put you at 40 years old. I’m dead serious. You age fantastically. I don’t have a question, but damn man, good for you for looking so damn good at 80 years old,” said one impressed Redditor.

“I was going to say the same thing, you look younger than my 64 year old father,” said another.

“Thank you,” Dr. Hershaft replied. “I’d like to believe it’s due to my vegan diet and daily fitness regiment.”

Hershaft has certainly been eating his veggies for a long time. To another poster, he replied, “I actually became vegetarian in 1961 in Israel, but didn’t go vegan till 1981, because there was so little information about the abuse of animals and the health and environmental benefits of veganism. Veganism was virtually unknown in 1961, became somewhat known in 1976, and embraced by a respectable minority by 1981.”

Some questions popped up regarding “humane meat” and “humane slaughter,” with Redditors asking if that was acceptable or something that Hershaft/FARM supports. Hershaft’s response echoes that of FARM: “I don’t believe that raising of animals for food can be labeled ‘humane.’ For example, chickens are still acquired from a breeder who has killed all the males by grinding them up or suffocating them in plastic garbage bags. Cows have to be impregnated to keep up their milk production and their babies are killed for veal. The cows themselves are killed at a relatively young age, when their milk production drops. There is nothing humane about that.” In response to another, similar question: “Because those of us with access to grocery stores, fresh produce, and convenient plant-based proteins do not need to eat animals to survive, I deem nearly all consumption of animals in the Western world to be unnecessary exploitation. Putting effort into treating animals better when we can simply stop eating them strikes me as a gross misuse of time.”

With THOUSANDS of questions and comments in this AMA, meaningful and thought-provoking discussions were had, with many people more interested in exploring a vegan diet. While the AMA is closed now, you can still read all of the discussions HERE. Also, check out a recording of Dr. Hershaft’s speaking engagement, “From the Warsaw Ghetto to the Fight for Animal Rights,” which happened in Pittsburgh last month. Thank you to Dr. Hershaft for opening up so many eyes, hearts, and minds by sharing his incredible experiences.

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Get to Know the Fall 2014 10 Billion Lives Crews!

The Fall 2014 10 Billion Lives tours are underway and off to an AMAZING start! This semester is the first time we have THREE tours going at once! That’s right: our Southwest tour is taking over California, the National Tour is conquering the Midwest, and our brand new East Coast Tour will cover from the Southern New England area down to Florida. We’re very excited to cover so much of the country with our eye-opening message. We’re educating more people than ever about the atrocities of animal agribusiness and encouraging them to work toward a vegan diet.

But not just anyone can do this lifesaving work. We’d like you to meet the six individuals who are operating the three tours this fall and learn about their background and passion for helping farmed animals.

National Tour
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Angie Fitzgerald of Alameda, California, is heading up the National Tour this fall. You’ll recognize Angie from her previous TWO tours with the Southwest campaign, making Angie a Seasoned Billionaire! Before embarking on the fall tour, Angie took some time off to cycle across New Zealand this summer. Next summer she plans to cycle across the United States! Welcome back, Angie!

Joining Angie on the National Tour is newcomer, Loren Hart, a philosophy major and preschool teacher turned activist from Durham, North Carolina! Loren has volunteered with Vegan Outreach and The Humane League leafleting, organizing events, fundraising, and more.

Southwest Tour
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Our Southwest Tour this fall is also headed up by a Seasoned Billionaire: Radish! Some of you will recognize Radish from pictures of the last two Warped Tours. Before spending their summers with the 10 Billion Lives campaign, Radish did a tour with peta2’s Glass Walls campaign, canvassed with Environment Oregon, and volunteered with Food Not Bombs. We’re happy to have Radish return as a tour operator this fall!

Joining Radish in the Southwest is Lauren Boushey. If Lauren looks familiar to you, too, that may be from her recent win of peta2’s Cutest Vegan Alive 2014 contest! Lauren has canvassed with Fund for the Public Interest and volunteers at the Bellingham Food Bank in her hometown in Washington state. On her application for the tour, Lauren wrote, “Veganism is love, life, respect and gratitude, all in one lifestyle.” Well said, Lauren!

East Coast
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Our brand new East Coast tour features two new kids on the block. Lead Operator, Blake Underwood, comes to us from Baltimore, Maryland. He is the co-founder and worker-owner of Just Walk Collective, a worker-owned and operated pet care cooperative. Blake has also written for the Baltimore Indypendent Reader and Counter-Conduct. Blake has been vegan for almost 15 years.

Associate Operator, Alison Moser, is a certified optician from Rochester, New York. After spending more time with animals (interning with Southeastern Guide Dogs) and advocating for them (through leafleting, vegan food sampling, and attending slaughterhouse vigils), Alison was ready for a change. “Knowing that working with and for animals was my true calling, paired with adopting a vegan lifestyle, motivated me to quit my profession last month to work full time on activism,” she says.

Please give a warm welcome to these six great individuals who are dedicating their lives to helping our farmed animal friends this fall!

This fall semester, we hope to reach 50,000 viewers with our important 10 Billion Lives message. With our unique Pay-Per-View model (a $1 incentive gets 1 person to check out our video), we definitely need some support to reach that goal. Every $1 donated to the campaign helps us reach that many more people across the country this fall. Will you donate $25 to bring us closer to our 50k viewers goal? Donate today! 

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Vegan MoFo Sweeps the Internet in September!

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If there was a map of the Internet, some of its largest continents would be pictures of cats, grammatical errors, and vegan food. Although veganism is popular and enthusiastically represented in the online world, during the month of September, the corner of the Internet dedicated to plant-based food will become much larger. That’s because this year’s Vegan Month of Food (“Vegan MoFo,” for short) is happening every single day in September!

Vegan MoFo is a month-long celebration of all things vegan and edible. Bloggers, seasoned and newbie, take to the web and share delicious, cruelty-free food on the daily. With a blogroll at least a foot long, there’s no shortage of mouthwatering reading material and kitchen inspiration this month. Here are just a few Vegan MoFo blogs we’re most excited about:

Cadry’s Kitchen With an adorable Mister Roger’s Neighborhood-theme (and an adorable matching Facebook layout to boot!), Cadry’s Kitchen is focusing on vegan foods that “feel like home.”  With all the great comfort foods she’ll be whipping up, we sure wish we were her neighbor!

Fork and Beans Cara, the kitchen wizard behind the fantastic blog, Fork and Beans, is always up to something fun. For Vegan MoFo this year, she’ll be creating Halloween-themed vegan treats, like these Frankenstein Rice Krispie Treats! Recipes from Fork and Beans have often been a part of our weekly Meatout Mondays newsletter.
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Olives for Dinner Many of us have stacks and stacks of vegan cookbooks, right? With an overwhelming number of recipes across the Internet, it can be easy to forget about our paper-filled nuggets of inspiration sitting on the shelf. This month, popular vegan blog, Olives for Dinner will be cooking from her top 10 favorite cookbooks. With her stunning food photography, we can’t wait to see what she whips up!
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Eco-Vegan Gal Eco-Vegan Gal is doing her Vegan MoFo in front of the video camera! Tune into her blog for great videos on vegan cooking.

Kale and Cupcakes Got a sweet tooth? The Kale and Cupcakes blog will be focusing on healthy vegan desserts all month long!

Vegan Yack Attack A whole month dedicated to vegan mac & cheese? Say no more; we are THERE! Follow Vegan Yack Attack this month for all the cheesy, carby goodness.

Zsu’s Vegan Pantry  Burger fans, get yer buns ready: Zsu’s Vegan Pantry is dedicating the whole month of September to the endless possibilities of vegan burgers!

And there’s so, so, SO much more happening around the Internet this month for Vegan MoFo! Check out the full blogroll here, follow the hashtag #veganmofo on Instagram, and keep up with VeganMoFo.com for daily giveaways!

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Turning Point: What Inspired You to Start Advocating for Animals?

Over the weekend, we asked our Facebook followers, “What inspired you to start advocating for animals? What was the turning point for you?” We received nearly 200 heartwarming comments, some of which we will share with you here. 

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My mom taught me from a very young age to treat animals with compassion, and when I was 16 I decided to stop eating meat because I couldn’t justify the disconnect between the dead animal on my plate and the living cat at my feet. I went vegan at age 19 after taking an ethics class in college and reading the insightful work of Peter Singer and Tom Regan. My senior year in college I started an animal rights organization, Mean Greens for Animals. Now I’m about to start working with Hampton Creek Foods to make the egg industry obsolete. Working for animals is my passion, and they need every single one of us.” – Alexandria Kaye 

As a vet I felt that I cannot eat my patients. Started off as a vegetarian and am a vegan now.” – Vanaja Panickar

My parents killed my pet chicken on July 12, 1962 and served him for dinner. It was the first time I consciously understood what meat was.” – Samantha Curtis

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I was involved in animal rescue work, mostly with dogs and cats. A little girl, whose parents were divorcing, brought me her pet turkey, “Turkey Lurkey” and I promised she could visit any time. I fell in love with that bird and when Thanksgiving rolled around, I thought WTH am I doing, caring for the beautiful creature and now thinking about cooking one? That was the end of meat for me (my family soon followed). This happened in 1994 – my regret in life has been that it took me way too long to be where I should always have been.” – Holly Kathleen Stevens-Bondy

A video that my husband brought home. He is an animals rights lawyer. I couldn’t stop crying and that was it. Being an endurance athlete I wasn’t sure if I can go Vegan. Reading, Scott Jurek, vegan ultra runner and Brendan Brazier pro ironman, helped me to turn into vegan athlete. I appreciate my diet every single day, I recover way faster than I did before, no injures, sicknesses ever. I love to wear vegan shirts during races to show people that vegans are awesome.” – Gamze Kircalioglu

I was being attacked by a former boyfriend, and my dog Brady got him away from me and saved my life. I made a vow that day that I would forever fight for animals in every way. GO VEGAN!” – Nicole Furlan 

I worked about three days at a small town slaughterhouse. That was enough to make me reconsider a lot of issues: animal welfare and rights; personal health and diet. Slowly over the course of years I evolved into a mostly vegan diet.” – Stephan Caldwell

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We are all united by our compassion for animals and our commitment to helping them. Many people have said that their only regret is not learning about animal suffering and taking action sooner. The good news is that it’s never too late to change, it’s never too late to go vegan, and it’s never too late to speak out for our animal friends.

Click HERE to read all the responses on Facebook.

Photo credit: JoAnne McArthur / We Animals

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From PETA to Food Network: Exclusive Interview with Vegan Chef Kristina Addington

“How does it feel to lose to a vegan?” quips Chef Kristina Addington as she takes her position among her competitors on set of Food Network’s “Cutthroat Kitchen.” This bold statement ends up being delicious foreshadowing as Kristina became the first vegan chef to win the high stakes show known for its sabotaging twists! FARM was lucky to catch up with the talented “Vegan Temptress” about the show and vegan living.

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Growing up in a small rural town in Kentucky, Kristina was raised on typical Southern comfort foods. “I grew up eating everything fried in bacon grease,” she said. She never thought twice about it until 7 years ago, when she happened to stumble upon some information about factory farming online. That led to more research on animal agriculture, which then led to her epiphany. “It hit me like a ton of bricks,” Kristina said. “I knew I couldn’t support that [industry] anymore. I went vegetarian overnight.” Knowing she had to do more to help animals, Kristina started volunteering with animal advocacy groups as much as possible. Within a month, she was fully vegan.

And how did her “country” family take the news? “They thought I lost my mind,” Kristina said with a laugh. Though it was a big shock to the way her entire family had always lived and cooked (“My mom cooks just like Paula Deen!”), eventually they came around to the vegan side of things. Now when Kristina comes to visit, everyone enjoys preparing and eating vegan meals together.

Cooking was always a passion of Kristina’s. Before learning about factory farming and embracing a vegan lifestyle, she had already enrolled in culinary school. When her classes began, Kristina thought she could handle cooking non-vegan foods for other people, even though she herself wouldn’t be eating those animal products. That mentality changed the day the students were to “break down a chicken.” “I nearly had a panic attack. I knew there was no way I could do it,” admitted the vegan chef. From that point on, Kristina only worked with vegan foods, with which the school was very accommodating, bringing in tofu and tempeh.

But after a few semesters, Kristina’s other passion – helping animals – was calling, and she left culinary school to work with animal rights organization, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). For five years, Kristina promoted veganism and advocated for animals in the clothing industry. Throughout her time with PETA, Kristina taught vegan cooking classes on the side. Eventually, she realized she could combine her love of cooking and her dedication to animal advocacy full-time, and she returned to the kitchen.

Back in Kentucky, Kristina helped open a café and served as the executive chef, creating a vegan menu for the establishment. She created wholesale vegan and gluten-free baked goods. Her vegan cooking classes continued, as well as some small scale catering gigs. Wanting to do more to promote veganism, the Vegan Temptress looked toward national television. Specifically, Food Network.

While checking out the national cooking channel’s website, Kristina saw that they were taking applications for their competitive, high-stakes show, “Cutthroat Kitchen.” Kristina saw this as a way to really give veganism a spotlight and she applied right away, specifically stating on the application that she was a vegan chef, cooking only with vegan ingredients, and that she really wanted to highlight healthy, cruelty-free eating. “My ultimate goal [for appearing on “Cutthroat Kitchen”] was to promote veganism. Going on national TV would be the best way for me to reach the most viewers and eaters with this message,” Kristina explained. The very next day, the network called her, and a couple days later, she was booked for the show!

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Despite some “light, friendly teasing” from her opponents, as well as that jaw-dropping “sabotage” on the show where she was forced to bake gingersnap cookies with pickled sushi ginger, Kristina emerged a triumphant winner! Kristina proved that no matter what, delicious vegan food is always possible.

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The future looks bright for Chef Kristina. With her $18,500 winnings from “Cutthroat Kitchen,” she’s scoping out restaurant space for her future vegan restaurant. Until then, she has vegan catering and a possible vegan food truck on the horizon to showcase her delicious and cruelty-free Southern-style cooking. The more platforms for her food, the better; the world needs more vegan sausage gravy! Congrats again to Chef Kristina. We can’t wait to see what she whips up next!

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You can see the full “Cutthroat Kitchen” episode, titled “Two Chefs, One Toga,” on Food Network, XFinity TV, and Amazon.com.

To keep up with Kristina’s success, follow her on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

Photos courtesy of Kristina J. Addington / Vegan Temptress and Food Network

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AR2014 Unites and Empowers

“My expectations were already high, but [the conference] blew them away!”

“We loved every minute! Inspiring, energizing, and fun!”

“I came to the conference mostly vegetarian, but left completely vegan.”

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Every Animal Rights National Conference is a success because of the amazing people who attend with their minds open and leave with their hearts full, ready to take action for animals. AR2014 was exceptional in that it brought in the most attendees of any conference before – over 1,300 to be exact. Coupling that with the most speakers we’ve ever had (120+), this was definitely our biggest Animal Rights National Conference yet!

Many of the conference’s highlights occurred during our plenaries. Our most unforgettable plenary was “Tales from the Trenches,” which included first-hand accounts of undercover investigations in slaughterhouses and factory farms. Using no images and no video footage, former investigators TJ Tumasse and Taylor Radig had the audience spellbound by their harrowing experiences in these facilities. Nary a dry eye was to be found in the entire ballroom.

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Our closing plenary, emceed by VegNews’ Colleen Holland, wrapped up our conference on a positive note. “We Are Winning” highlighted all the ways in which our movement is succeeding and making huge changes for animals. We also featured a compilation video featuring clips submitted from activists around the world, including our very own 10 Billion Lives crew, sharing how they are saving animals this summer. It was also during our closing plenary that we had an Animal Rights National Conference first: a couple got engaged surrounded by 1,300 other compassionate folk!

Our Awards Banquet was an amazing event! After a colorful and delicious meal, followed by decadent chocolate cake, banquet guests were treated to a comical magic show from vegan magician, Brandon Scott. We then turned the spotlight and the mic over to some special people who deserved recognition for their contributions to the animal rights movement. We started by bestowing the first ever Lifetime Achievement Award to our very own Dr. Alex Hershaft, founder and President of Farm Animal Rights Movement. The 2014 inductee to the Animal Rights Hall of Fame was Vegan Outreach’s, Jon Camp, the “Million Booklet Man.” Known as The 300 Pound Vegan, NFL linebacker, David Carter accepted the award for Outstanding Vegan Athlete, wisely stating, “You don’t need to take a life to gain muscle.” Eighteen-year-old Andrew Pucetti won the Young Activist Award in recognition of his success in ending classroom dissections and promoting vegan eating. The Henry Spira Grassroots Awards went to dedicated activists, Armaiti May and Judy Carman, for their unpaid work to help animals in their communities.

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Of course, the biggest highlights of all came from the session rooms and the socials. Learning from seasoned activists, networking with advocates from around the country, and making like-minded friends are priceless moments at the Animal Rights National Conference. It’s what keeps this conference, an enormous undertaking!, going year after year, and it’s what powers our movement forward, day after day. This conference couldn’t happen without our sponsors, volunteers, staff, speakers, donors, or attendees. We are eternally grateful for everyone’s support. We’re all in this together!

We look forward to another amazing conference in 2015, happening at the Hilton Alexandria Mark Center July 30th – August 2nd, just outside of Washington, DC. Registration will open in February, so keep up with FARM on our website and social media platforms! 

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For even more AR2014 highlights, please check out our full report here.

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Earth Balance is Bringing Cheesy Back

Vegan cheese isn’t a brand new creation, but in the last few years, the vegan cheese scene has exploded with delicious, animal-free options. Vegan cheese shreds, slices, blocks, and crumbles abound, leaving endless possibilities for vegans who miss the cheese they ate in their pre-vegan days. However, there’s one vegan company in particular that has been elevating vegan cheesy foods to a whole new level lately: Earth Balance.

Earth Balance has veganized a lot of dairy staples: mayonnaise, sour cream, cream cheese, butter, and milk. In the last two years, Earth Balance has waved their magic wands and turned favorite snacks vegan, with much rejoicing!

First came their cheesy popcorn and puffs. Former fans of Smartfood found delicious comfort in EB’s Vegan Aged White Cheddar Flavor Popcorn. Give Chester Cheetah a break and try that same flavor in puff form.

Next came the kettle potato chips. Available in three flavors, the cheddar-style arguably outshines the original and sour cream styles, and easily gives non-vegan cheesy chips a run for its money.

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If you spend any amount of time on the Internet, you no doubt caught wind of Earth Balance’s release of their vegan cheese crackers. Resembling popular non-vegan crackers, such as Cheez-Its and Cheese Nips, EB’s version packs that cheesy punch without any animal products. Social media was abuzz with the news and the crackers were flying off the shelves of vegan grocery stores across the country!

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Now, Earth Balance is blowing our minds and tastebuds again with the news of their new macaroni and cheese. Packaged in that slender box that many of us associate with “the blue box blues” (Kraft dinner), EB’s version contains no animal products, meaning no one gets the blues, not us or the animals! The new mac & cheese comes in classic cheddar and white cheddar flavors. The mac & cheese is available at select vegan grocery stores (such as Food Fight! in Portland, OR) and will hit Whole Foods in July.

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With more and more vegan options becoming available, it just makes me think of that T-shirt slogan: “Anything You Can Eat, I Can Eat Vegan!” It also makes me wonder, “What will Earth Balance think of next?!”

Photo credits: Earth Balance & Food Fight!

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