Meet the Spring 2015 10 Billion Lives Tour Crew!

While it’s still a winter wonderland in many parts of the country, two of our 10 Billion Lives tours are already hard at work thawing the hearts of young people. Thankfully, both of these tours have kicked off in warmer climates!

Todd and Erica, Southwest tour
Todd and Erica, Southwest tour

The Southwest tour is educating college students around California. Joining us again for his fifth tour is Todd Lee. Todd previously led 3 Southwest tours, helped out the National tour last semester, and is back in Cali for round 5! Todd has also interned with Farm Sanctuary and volunteered with Vegan Outreach. Last summer he hiked the Pacific Crest Trail. We’re excited to have you back, Todd!

Erica O’Neill is extremely proud to be joining Todd for the next four months as associate operator. She comes from Indiana to California for the first time and is very excited to take her activism to the next level.  She has previously volunteered with the Indiana Animal Rights Alliance and worked as a relationship specialist for Hampton Creek.  Even though she will miss her dear cat Henry, she knows he is in good hands and can’t wait to impact Southern California with her compassion for all animals.

Blake & Amanda, East Coast tour
Blake & Amanda, East Coast tour

The East Coast tour kicked off in sunny Florida this week! Joining us again as lead operator is Blake Underwood. Blake is 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. We’re glad to have you back, Blake!

The associate operator of the East Coast tour is Amanda Nooter. Amanda is a native of Washington, D.C. and has been a lifelong vegetarian and seven year vegan. Recently graduated from Grinnell College with a degree in Anthropology, Amanda is excited to get involved with the world of animal activism. She just wrapped up a two month long internship with Farm Sanctuary in Watkins Glen, NY in the fall, and is looking forward to a great spring on the road!

Please give a warm welcome to the Spring 2015 touring crews and join us in expressing our gratitude for their sacrifice and commitment to creating a kinder future for animals!

Want to volunteer with the 10 Billion Lives campaign when they’re in your city? Send an email to VOLUNTEER@10BILLIONTOUR.ORG.

Follow the 10 Billion Lives journey on Twitter & Instagram!

 

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Bring Good Luck in the New Year with Black Eyed Peas

Eating black eyed peas on January 1st is an old New Year’s Day tradition, said to bring prosperity and wealth into the new year. Often times, greens (kale, turnip greens, etc.) are added to represent money and wealth into the new year, as well. Whether or not you believe eating these foods will bring you wealth, they will definitely bring you health as they are rich in fiber, protein, and iron with no cholesterol. Below is a round-up of great vegan recipes featuring black eyed peas to enjoy on January 1st for a healthy, prosperous 2015!

breakfast-sausageThese gluten-free breakfast sausages would be great for a new year’s day brunch!

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Another great brunch option: black eyed peas & kale with smoky grits

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Or stuff those peas & greens into a sweet potato!

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This smoky BBQ bowl has it all: savory tofu, buttery avocado, and those good luck greens & peas!

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Another recipe that will bowl you over: Korean-inspired Black Eyed Peas & Kale Bowl

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Sink your teeth into a BBQ Black Eyed Pea Burger

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Wow! Deep Dish Lasagna Pizza with Black Eyed Peas & Tofu Ricotta!

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Mix up this simple “Texas Caviar” bean salad on New Year’s Eve & enjoy the next day!

Happy New Year!

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DIY Vegan Gifts in a Jar

We’re right in the midst of a busy holiday season. If you’re looking for some last minute gifts, you’ve come to the right place! We’ve rounded up some great do-it-yourself gifts ideas that all have two things in common: 1. They’re all vegan and 2. They’re all in a jar. To curb waste this holiday season, mason jars are perfect for packaging and reusing! You can dress them up with a little ribbon or a tag made from upcycled materials. The possibilities are endless! Read on for some sweet ideas of what to put in those jars, sure to delight every recipient!

double-chocolate-coconut-oatmeal-cookies-in-a-jarDouble Chocolate Coconut Oatmeal Cookie Mix

 

darkchocolaterosemarycookiemixDark Chocolate & Rosemary Cookie Mix

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Stove Top Potpurri (3 varieties!)

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Hot Chocolate Mix – 3 ways!

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Dirty Rice Mix

Brownie-in-Jar

Brownie Mix + Brownie for One variation

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5 Bean Soup Mix

For other great DIY vegan gift ideas, check out Vegan Food Gifts by Joni Marie Newman and Vegan Desserts in a Jar by Kris Holechek Peters. Also visit CompassionateHolidays.com for tips and recipes to make your holidays deliciously vegan!

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FARM Staffers Trot Around New Tofurky Facility

We at FARM are big fans of companies making vegan food fun, delicious, and accessible. Naturally, Tofurky is on our list of favorites! Last week, FARM staffers from the Portland office took a tour of Tofurky’s new LEED certified facility. Read on for the delicious details from FARM staffer, Beau, our 10 Billion Lives Program Coordinator! 

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Nestled in the scenic Columbia Gorge, the Tofurky headquarters in Hood River, Oregon, churns out more than 12 million packages of vegan meats a year! Last week, FARM’s Portland office staffers met with Seth Tibbott, founder and president, to check out the latest and greatest happenings at Tofurky’s home base.

 

Seth founded Turtle Island Foods in 1980 after he earned a reputation for making amazing tempeh. After expanding into other plant-based proteins, the company grew to the point where they were distributing to regional health stores. Fast forward to today, Turtle Island has grown to provide delicious vegan products under its household name of Tofurky.

 

The company recently began moving into a LEED Platinum Certified building, where they will eventually churn out even more product in a state-of-the-art manufacturing center. They will be the second food manufacturer in the United States to operate on such stringent sustainable standards.

 Tofurky_SolarRoof

The current line of Tofurky products range from deli slices and sausages to the cherished roast, and everything in between. They take local business relationships seriously, using beer from Full Sail brewery, which resides next door, and even recently swapping out their brownie in the holiday roast package to reflect their obsession with a locally-developed vegan recipe.

 Tofurky_Meal

In addition to an impressive rainwater catchment system and a swath of 400 solar panels, the new Tofurky building hosts a green roof with a bocce ball court and a view of the beautiful Columbia River. You can bet that the FARM staff stayed for one–well, three–rounds of bocce ball as we heard about many of the impressive and unique commitments to sustainability that Turtle Island follows.

 Tofurky_Bocce

Many of the new building’s doors, cabinets, and tables are made from old shipping pallets and other sources of recycled wood, some of the walls are finished with a durable form of clay, and motion-detecting lights ensure that energy use is even further reduced. Their commitment to making sustainable foods from plants as sustainable as possible speaks to their dedication to both animal and environmental issues.

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As Tofurky products continue to show up on shelves of more and more international stores, we can look forward to more people having access to an impressively sustainable and ethical source of protein.


As 2014 comes to a close, it’s important to reflect on all of the progress and victories for farmed animals that have occurred in the past year. Be sure to arm yourself with the confidence it takes to celebrate the holidays with friends and family and don’t be afraid to share some of the amazing animal-free alternatives. Visit www.CompassionateHolidays.com for tips & recipes!

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2014: A Triumphant Year for Farmed Animals!

2014 has been a year of tremendous success in the animal rights movement and FARM is proud to have played a significant role! We invite you to look back on the year and celebrate with us, and also look forward to another amazing year in 2015.

Our annual FARM Report is here and available online. Read all about the Great American Meatout, our biggest Animal Rights National Conference yet, the launch of our third 10 Billion Lives tour, and our hugely successful World Day for Farmed Animals, and more.

Read the 2014 FARM Report here!
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Also check out our year-end video below, starring many of our FARM staffers sharing highlights from the year, as well as our deepest gratitude for your support. We couldn’t have done it without you!

If you are able to fuel our lifesaving work in the new year, all donations made in December will be triple matched by a generous donor! This means a donation of $25 becomes $75 toward the freedom of farmed animals. Your tax-deductible donations can be made HERE.

Thank you again for supporting Farm Animal Rights Movement (FARM)! 

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What Are You Thankful for This Year?

Between saving animals every day at Farm Animal Rights Movement and putting the final touches on our vegan holiday menus, FARM staffers paused to reflect on the things they are thankful for this year. Between our amazing successes for animals and our own personal triumphs, every one on the FARM team has a lot to be thankful for! Hear from some of the team below. 

I am thankful for my superb team at FARM and for a cataract removal that restored vision to my left eye. – Alex Hershaft, FARM’s Founding President

Every morning when I wake up, I am thankful that I have the privilege to advocate for the beings who are most in need of our voices. And every night as I wind down, I am even more thankful that our movement is winning, and that fewer animals are exploited because of the work of FARM and the rest of the animal rights movement. – Michael Webermann, Executive Director

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I’m thankful to be able to work every day on behalf of animals with an amazingly dedicated team comprised of the most compassionate, intelligent, and hard-working individuals I know. – Jen Riley, Managing Director (who celebrated 10 years with FARM in 2014!)

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I’m thankful for the freedom to live my life the way I choose and thankful that I’ve been given an opportunity to raise awareness through FARM on behalf of others that are deprived of their freedom. – Cara Frye, Graphic Designer

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I am thankful for friends & family – spending time with those we love and who love us – a social network of people we can turn to for support and comfort, reassurance and even re-direction; good health – feeling alive and well, able to enjoy the moment and even have the energy to help others through their struggles; nice weather – whether we enjoy the great outdoors or simply have to get from point A to B (or perhaps we’re hosting an outreach effort or demonstration), with the sun shining, a warm breeze and fresh air; and, of course, delicious vegan food! – Shemirah Brachah, Food Liaison and Ed Letter Coordinator

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I am thankful for being able to live and work with some of the finest  people I have ever known each of whom are committed to working on ending the exploitation and suffering of all beings. I am thankful for working for an organization that brings the world hope for a better future.  And I am thankful for all the people around the world who I’ll never know but who are working in their own way to bring peace and tranquility to this earth. – Bryan Monell, Project Coordinator

I’m thankful for all the people and other animals that have inspired me to follow my nature and be involved in this movement at this critical time. – Ryan Frazier, 10 Billion Lives Program Manager

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I am thankful for those who give so much for the animals. Whether you’re a community organizer, potluck host, undercover investigator, volunteer, or incredible 10 Billion Lives Tour crew member, and whether or not you receive praise for your efforts, I am grateful for the sacrifices you—yes, you!—have made to make the world a better place for farmed animals. – Beau Broughton, 10 Billion Lives Program Coordinator

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I’m grateful for the opportunity to become a better activist every day on the 10 Billion Lives Tour. – Angie Fitzgerald, 10 Billion Lives National Tour Operator Fall 2014

This year I am thankful for the kindness of strangers, the beauty of coincidences and the growing number of people waking up. – Alison Moser, 10 Billion Lives East Coast Associate Tour Operator

This year I am most thankful for my friends. Both those that I’ve had for many years, and those that I’ve only recently met during my travels with FARM. Along with my mother, they have all been an amazing support system to help keep me focused and grounded during a year that has been both exciting and challenging. – Blake Underwood, 10 Billion Lives East Coast Tour Operator

I am supremely thankful for my time with the 10 Billion Lives tour (Spring 2014), an amazing experience that taught me so much about effective activism and myself. I feel blessed to work with such incredible people at FARM every single day. I am endlessly thankful for the people who have empowered me during all the twists and turns of the past year. And I have immense gratitude for individuals everywhere who are fighting hard to make the world a kinder and more just place for all living beings. – Amanda Just, Communications Manager

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This year I’m thankful to have joined the FARM team and  work on things I believe in that truly make a difference in the world. I’m also thankful for the people in my life that will always love and support me, no matter what. - Roxanne Ramirez, Communication Action Coordinator

This Thanksgiving I am thankful for having such great friends, loving family, and supportive co-workers here at FARM. I am thankful that I am healthy and that I am able to have so many wonderful experiences with my loved ones. – Matt Hersh, Office Manager

This Thanksgiving, I am thankful for piglets. They are just the cutest little creatures. Alternatively, I am also thankful for vegan pies. Pumpkin and pecan in particular, due to their obvious superiority. Preferably with a little coconut whipped cream. And, I guess, my friends and family. But mostly piglets and pie. – John Corrigan, Education Coordinator

This year, I am grateful for transformation. In addition to the personal growth I’ve experienced as a vegan advocate, I’ve also enjoyed watching others expand into the realm of veganism, better health and personal care, and compassion for all beings around us. – Kristin Lajeunesse, Meatout Mondays Manager

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Everyone at FARM is thankful for all the major successes for animals this year, which will be highlighted in our year-end video, coming soon! We also extend our sincerest gratitude to all of our supporters and volunteers from coast to coast and around the world. Together we are changing the world for animals! Happy Thanksgiving!

What are you thankful for this year? Tell us in the comments! 

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Updates from the Road: East Coast

The fall semester is coming to a close and it’s already been a smashing success for our 10 Billion Lives tours! This year we launched our new third tour, covering the East Coast of the United States. Today on the blog, we’re going to hear from the East Coast crew, Blake & Allison. Please cheer them on in the comments and thank them for all of their hard work!

EastCoast_Blake

It’s hard to believe we have just one month left on FARM’s inaugural East Coast 10 Billion Lives tour! It’s now been about 11 weeks since Alison (tour associate) and I (Blake, tour operator) trekked out to Portland, Oregon to make sure Bessie, otherwise known as “the van,” had made a safe journey to our starting point in Columbia, Maryland. I don’t think either of us could have imagined that the time would pass by so quickly. From the outside, a four month working road trip will usually seem like either an exciting adventure, or a daunting undertaking. In reality, it’s a little bit of both. But, what some of the those on the outside won’t see is that FARM’s tour comes with the incredible reward of knowing that each day spent on the road is going directly towards saving the billions of animals we lose every single year to animal agribusiness. And the effort that the two of us have put in has been met tenfold by all the wonderful volunteers, hosts, local activists, and FARM staff that have made our lives so much easier while we move from city to city, campus to campus.

Being that this is 10 Billion Lives’s first full East Coast tour, we’ve been venturing into a lot of unknown territory. With so many untested campuses and student bodies, we were hoping for the best, but always preparing for the worst. Thankfully, we have yet to feel as if even a single day has been wasted. At larger campuses like the University of Maryland and the University of Georgia, we have been able to spend several days reaching students, sometimes doing as many as 300 students in a single day, and 700 over a three day stint. At the smaller colleges like Baltimore City Community College and the University of North Georgia, we have found ways to maximize a day in order to make sure we reach as many students as possible. With student populations  often less than 1/4 the size of the larger state schools, we try to have longer, more probing conversations with the students. With less pressure to keep the kiosks full and the line moving, we use the extra time to really engage with and challenge each viewer to consider the ramifications of everything they see in the video, and to think long and hard about how their own behavior plays into the cycle of violence and death.

EastCoast_viewers

While in Georgia, we’ve also learned and been able to shine quite a bit of light on the state’s own role in global animal slaughter. UGA’s student group Speak Out for Species informed us that Georgia’s chicken slaughter industry is so large that it would qualify as the sixth largest poultry production country in the world, right behind China and Brazil. More than 1.2 billion chickens are killed in this state every year. It’s hard to miss all the slaughter transport trucks while we’re on Georgia’s highways, so we are bombarded with constant reminders of why we do this work for the animals.

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The longer discussions also give us an opportunity to really unpack the question we get the most. “So what do you guys eat?” Sometimes it’s not enough to point out how short the list of things that we don’t eat is compared to the list of things that we do eat. Thankfully, we’ve been in lots of cities where there is amazing food to be had. Even those cities that we’ve only passed through on our way to events have provided plenty of opportunities to indulge in the local vegan fare. From Fern in Charlotte to Sunflower in Atlanta, we have been treated to some of the best vegan dining in the country. And it would be hard to count the number of amazing meals we’ve had in the homes of our hosts and volunteers.

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We are spending our last week here in Georgia, heading a bit further south towards Macon and Valdosta, before we finish our last month of tour in Florida. Though the the general makeup of our day will be consistent, we’ve learned that no two conversations are ever the same. We’ll keep making the best of every opportunity we’re given, and hoping that the impact we have continues to grow.

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Updates from the Road: 10 Billion Lives Southwest Tour Saves Animals in California

Our 10 Billion Lives campaign is halfway through its fall tours and the crews are changing lives everywhere they go. We recently heard from the National Tour about their experience following Riot Fest. In today’s blog post, we’ll hear from Radish and Lauren, the crew for the Southwest Tour, about their outreach in California. Please leave them a note of encouragement and gratitude in the comments for their sacrifice and hard work! 

Greetings from sunny Southern California! Lauren and I (Radish) have been spreading awareness about the negative impact of animal agriculture and what we can all do to stop it for the last month throughout the Southwestern United States with FARM’s powerful 4-minute documentary.

We started our tour at Ventura College, where we broke the previous record for viewers there on day one! Part of our success there and at other schools comes from our wonderful, dedicated, and knowledgeable volunteers, like Barbara Bear. She helped us draw in viewers and articulate our vegan message for 7 entire event days! Barbara and her husband, Matt, also hosted us in their lovely home the entire time we were in Ventura County. Ventura College would be the first out of nine schools that we’ve spread our message of compassion. For the last three weeks we’ve been visiting community colleges and universities throughout Orange County, and we’ve been met with overwhelmingly positive receptions! I talked to someone just yesterday who had “never been able to make it through one of these videos,” but was more than eager to learn what she could do to help animals. “I’m definitely going vegan after finding out about all that stuff. I just didn’t think our individual actions could make a difference, and I didn’t know what to eat on a vegan diet.” She said that she felt much better equipped to go vegan after sticking around to talk to us for at least half an hour and getting a Guide to Cruelty-Free Eating.

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We try to prepare a lot of our own food on tour, but the temptation of all the amazing vegan dining out options is too much to resist in California! One of our favorite spots that we’ve found is Healthy Junk in Anaheim, an all vegan restaurant serving up delicious food. I got the Fish Burger and Lauren got the Stak & Kale Taco the first time we went there. Another reason we love Healthy Junk is because of all the outreach and community events they host and support! We found out about a Cowspiracy screening through their event board. They even gave us free desserts when they found out what we are doing on tour!

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We’re almost half way through the fall semester, and we’ve already managed to reach nearly 3,000 people not just with our powerful video, 10 Billion Lives, but also with moving conversations. As more and more people become exposed to information and images of animals abused for food production, it becomes even more important for tours like these to be able to talk to people face-to-face. There are many misconceptions about veganism out there, and it is such a great feeling to be able to address those and any concerns people may have about changing their lifestyles to be more in line with their values.

We have one more week here in SoCal before heading to campuses in Arizona and Nevada. We’ll keep you all updated on our adventures from the road! Thank you to all the wonderful volunteers who have taken time out of their lives to help us in our mission of making the world a better place and our donors that make this all possible! Shout outs to our fellow road warriors making positive changes on the East Coast and National tours! And major props to all the amazing behind-the-scenes people at FARM that keep us all going, especially our Program Coordinator, Beau!

-Radish and Lauren

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Keep up with all three of our 10 Billion Lives tour crews on Twitter and Instagram

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Adolescence to Activism: Shaping the Future of World-Changing Youth

FARM’s Vegan Support Analyst, Monica, has spent her last two summers as a counselor at Youth Empowered Action (YEA) Camp, advising and motivating tomorrow’s activists. Today on the blog, Monica shares with us why this is an important endeavor and how we can all support young changemakers. 

Many of us share a vision of a world where animals are free to live a life free of exploitation and violence. This vision has led many of us to our activism. Perhaps you leaflet at busy shopping malls on your weekends, volunteer at pay-per-view events when the 10 Billion Lives Tour comes through your town, or organize all vegan community meals for Compassionate Holidays. Whatever your approach, our shared bottom line is a collective understanding that if we want things to change, we need to engage in effective campaigns and tactics to transform our world into one that offers justice for all. When I consider all that is at stake, the billions of animals each year who lead miserable lives before a painful slaughter, the devastation of the environment, and the more than 800 million people that will go hungry each night due to poor resource use, it’s easy to get caught up wondering what is the most effective way to combat all the consequences of animal agribusiness.

There’s only so much we can do as one person, but by inspiring others to do the same, we can maximize our efforts significantly. One of the best ways to expand our reach as activists is by empowering the next generation of change makers, our youth. Not only do youth have a great capacity to incite change in our world, but they will also be the ones responsible for it once we are gone. While we may be planting seeds of compassion for all the people we reach, youth have a lifetime of activism ahead of them. It is our responsibility to support them in their journey.  We can reassure them in this process by encouraging them to develop their own ideas and to recognize the power of their voices. While one teen might be ready to speak out on the environmental impact of animal agribusiness to their peers or start an animal rights school club, another may produce a video or piece of visual art to raise awareness about the treatment of animals on farms, while another might make bracelets to fundraise for their favorite farmed animal sanctuary. Celebrating each action our youth take fosters a sense of purpose and membership to a meaningful movement.

I often think of the ways in which we empower our youth to take action is rather similar to how we inspire people to go vegan. We provide them with the knowledge or reasons they may consider such a choice and arm them with the skills or the steps to transition; we build their confidence or assurance in their ability to achieve and we introduce them to a community of like-minded people that are invested in their success. Each summer I have the privilege to work with world-changing teens at a life-changing camp called Youth Empowered Action (YEA) Camp and it is these four areas that our curriculum is built on: knowledge, skills, confidence, and community. Many people need to develop greater self-confidence to speak up about issues of importance to them, as well as a sense of community to feel supported. But with these as a foundation, change-makers need knowledge and skills to make a difference too. For many of the campers, it is their first time feeling a sense of belonging within a community, building ties of camaraderie with their like-minded peers, and learning from the guidance and mentorship of the staff. With our participatory curriculum and a safe and encouraging space,  each camper – and even staff member – leave with a renewed sense of confidence.

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Within my activism, I often ask myself what is the most effective use of my time and energy. Without a doubt, empowering the next generation of activists has always proven to be a fruitful investment of my time. An investment that I am able to witness in the days and months (and eventually years) after camp as I witness and hear stories from our alumni leafleting with “Have We Been Lied To?” brochures, working to get Meatless Mondays and more vegan options in their school cafeterias, organizing and attending protests against SeaWorld and Ringling Brothers Circus, and holding screenings of “Cowspiracy”, just to name a few. I have the joy to witness how YEA Camp provides the foundation of their activist careers, a lifetime of rejecting apathy and living a life with eyes wide open to the pains of the world, fighting passionately to heal them.

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While traveling with the 10 Billion Lives tour in the spring of 2013, my tour operator and I attended an activist empowerment conference in Southern California. During the opening plenary, the woman responsible for organizing the rejuvenating conference instructed those in attendance to “thank the people who inspired them to become agents of change.” If we all contemplate on this request, I’m sure we’ll shed light onto a lineage of world-shakers that inspired you, whether that be your mother who always encouraged you to be yourself or a basketball coach that always challenged you to strive harder. For me, it was my educators; teachers, advisers, and of course the remarkable counselors at youth empowerment camps I attended myself as a teen that armed me with the skills and assurance to dedicate myself to a life of working for a kinder, more compassionate world. My work as an educator is merely a process of paying it forward by facilitating similar life changing experiences for others.

How are you inspiring the youth in your life? Whether you’re aware of it or not, you’re likely a role model to many future leaders and activists. How will you help shape their future actions?

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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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