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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FARM Says Farewell to Spring and Welcome to Summer 10 Billion Lives Crews!

We’re halfway through the year and our 10 Billion Lives campaign is going full speed ahead!

Our spring tours were a great success! Todd and Angie wrapped up nearly 10 months of outreach in the great state of California with our Southwest tour. Together they visited 67 schools and spoke with 23,962 students! Be sure to read their tour recap here.

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Andy and Amanda had an unforgettable 5 months with our National Tour, bringing our effective campaign across the South despite extreme weather and mechanical issues. They reached thousands of people across Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, and Oklahoma!

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Now we’re turning up the heat on our 10 Billion Lives outreach with our Summer of Saving Animals! Meet our crews for the summer who will help us reach more people and save more animals than ever before!

Josh and Di are taking the Southwest Tour by storm! Josh has been vegan for 8 years and will be returning to school in the fall for a PhD in Philosophy. Di has been vegan for two years and previously interned at Farm Sanctuary.

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We have crew of fierce advocates for our Warped Tour outreach this summer featuring THREE tour alumni: John returns as tour operator, and Andy returns as our driver. We also have three great interns: Andrea, Tiana, and returning crew member, Radish.

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You, too, can join us for our Summer of Saving Animals!

Volunteers are needed during Warped Tour to help us reach as many people as possible. We’ve seen firsthand how volunteers bring in more viewers. More viewers = more animals saved! If you’d like to help out and make a BIG impact while the tour is in your city, please fill out a quick volunteer application here.

If you’re short on time, consider donating to our Summer of Saving Animals fundraiser. Every dollar brings us another viewer of our powerful video, and every viewer goes on to save more animals!

Also, be sure to follow us along on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, where we’ll be posting regularly about our outreach, using the hashtag #SavingAnimals.

Together we can make this a summer of monumental change for animals!

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Todd & Angie Say Farewell to the Southwest Tour

Todd and Angie recently concluded nearly 10 months of touring with the 10 Billion Lives Southwest Tour, traveling around the state of California, educating people on the treatment of animals on farms and how to work toward a vegan diet. What follows is their recap of their experience on tour. 

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When we received word that FARM was interested in having us join their team as operators for the Southwest Tour, we were ecstatic. For both of us, this was our first job doing direct advocacy with the public on behalf of animals. Before joining the FARM team, Angie had spent her years since college balancing working for nonprofits with traveling and volunteering around the globe, and Todd had dedicated the last 9 years of his career to being a special education teacher at a middle school in his hometown.We couldn’t wait to get started talking to people every day about the plethora of issues surrounding meat, egg, and dairy consumption.

The Southwest Tour kicked off in San Francisco at San Francisco City College last August. SFCC was the first of 67 schools we would end up visiting, talking to 23,962 students before finishing on May 29th in Los Angeles. Most of the students we talked to went on to make changes that will impact millions of animals. The range of the SW tour is nothing like the FARM’s National 10 Billion Lives Tour. We stayed in the Golden State and traveled around, from the aptly named Southwestern College in Chula Vista, as far north as Sacramento State, and many schools in between! One of the best perks of operating a tour like this is meeting the dedicated activists who run campus clubs that advocate for animal rights and environmental conservation. We were blown away by the dedication and compassion of these students.

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 We reckon we must have accumulated some seriously good vegan activist karma over the past year because our final day on tour was one of the best days of both of our lives. Our tour coordinator, Ryan had contacted us a month before to let us know that a sophomore from Sonia Sotomayor Learning Academy (SSLA), a high school in Glendale, California, had invited us to an ‘Awareness to Action Fair,’ organized by the students. We’d never taken the kiosks to a high school before and we weren’t entirely sure what would transpire, but we decided to give it a shot. Little did we know that we would arrive that morning to one of the most inspiring scenes we’d ever see. What began as just a routine paper/project on critical world issues had been taken by the sophomore English class and transformed into an entirely student driven fair, discussing dozens of critical topics for 1,500 students and their parents. We were blown away. We spent the day speaking with students, their parents, and their community, about what they could do to create less animal suffering in the world, and it was phenomenal. We ended the day with 454 viewers, the most viewers we’d had in a single day all school year!

If either of us are ever asked for the top three things we learned on tour we’ll probably give an answer that goes something like this:

  1. Everyone (and we really mean everyone) who has changed their diet and lifestyle, even in the slightest, is making a difference. We can’t count the number of times a viewer told us that they had already been thinking about making changes because their Mom’s best friend has started doing Meatout Mondays, or their partner has been eliminating different foods from their diet, or their boss has been vegan for years and brings in delicious goodies to the office to share. Change is happening, and it’s happening because of you, and because of us, and because we are speaking up.
  2. Sometimes people don’t need to hear statistics, they just need to know what you had for lunch. Often times we found that viewers would finish the video and feel intrigued yet overwhelmed by the idea of going vegan. The term ‘vegan’ still brings up images of iceberg lettuce and sliced tomatoes in so many people’s minds, and while that may be laughable to those of us who spend our days eating meals that would have a jaw-dropping effect on the surest of meat eaters, often people just need to hear that they can still eat a burrito, or that their favorite restaurant likely has vegan options for them, and if they don’t there are so many restaurants that will. Our follow up conversations after the video were critical to giving people the confidence to move forward.
  3. And lastly, if you really want to get to know someone, spend 9 ½ months living in a tiny van with them doing outreach. Lessons learned: don’t bother trying to talk to Todd while he is listening to the daily news, and don’t even think about asking Angie if she wants to split dessert.

There were tears when tour ended, but we were also excited for our own new adventures to come, and also for the tour, as we’ve left it in incredibly capable hands. Di & Josh are already doing amazing work saving the lives of animals, non-human and human, and we can’t wait to follow along their adventure. Our year living in a van and speaking on behalf of animals will surely go down as one of the best of our lives, but we don’t just have each other to thank for that. We’re finding it hard to find the words to express the gratitude we have for all of you for having been a part of this journey with us, because none of them encapsulate exactly how important you all were to making this a success.

To our coworkers and fellow road warriors at FARM, especially Ryan, thank you for always having our backs and inspiring us with your dedication and compassion. To everyone we met on the road, the students who gave us hope, and the community members who opened up their homes and hearts to us, thank you for keeping us going, and for being the change we wish to see in the world. For all of you who support this tour, financially or with your words of encouragement, we wouldn’t be here without you. Every dollar matters, every dollar saves lives. Through follow-up surveys, FARM has found that on average 13 animals are saved every year for each person that watches our video on the kiosks. That amounts to 311,506 animals annually that will be spared a life of suffering and a brutal slaughter from our 9 ½ months on tour. That number doesn’t belong to just us, you were a part of that. We couldn’t have done it without you. Thank you for saving animals and the planet with us. It has been an honor.

FARM thanks Todd and Angie for their tremendous work with the 10 Billion Lives tour! Please join us in acknowledging their hard work and a job well done by congratulating them in the comments. Coming soon: meet the new summer crew on both our Southwest and National tours! 

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From the Road: Everything is Bigger in Texas, Including Compassion Toward Animals (Part Two)

Students baring witness to the atrocities that take place every day on animal farms.
Students bearing witness to the atrocities that take place every day on animal farms.

Andy (truck tour operator) and I (Amanda, tour assistant) spent several weeks in the great state of Texas, educating hundreds of people about the treatment of animals and encouraging people to adopt a vegan diet. We recapped the first half of our time in Texas in Part One. Now, in Part Two, we’re highlighting our last Texas stop and also sharing some of the great vegan eats we enjoyed statewide.

Our time at the University of North Texas in Denton was memorable, to say the least. UNT is home to Mean Greens, the first all-vegan college dining hall. It was very helpful to refer students interested in vegan meals to an all-vegan cafeteria right on their campus. Andy and I ate at Mean Greens multiple times and were happy to recommend it! The food at Mean Greens is a fantastic representation of vegan fare. From cozy comfort foods like pasta dishes, casseroles, soups and stews to fun foods like pizza and soft serve, they really cover it all. Their salad bar is fully stocked and offers a couple different housemade salad dressings (their ranch dressing is the best we’ve ever had) and the Panini station is always open during lunch and dinner, offering pressed veggie sandwiches or a housemade black bean burger. We met with Ken Botts, the man who started Mean Greens, many times while we were at UNT. Ken was greatly enthusiastic and supportive about the 10 Billion Lives tour being on campus and cheered on our work every day.

Andy, Amanda and Ken Botts, the man behind Mean Greens (from left)
Andy, Amanda, and Ken Botts, the man behind Mean Greens (from left)

UNT also has a recently-formed animal rights group called Mean Greens for Animals. This group arranged fantastic volunteers to join us throughout our three days on campus. It was great to connect with these young activists, and their group was yet another on-campus recommendation we gave to viewers who were eager to start helping animals. There’s no doubt in our minds that MGFA will be doing great things for animals!

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Truck Tour Cuisine with The 10 Billion Lives Crew

Mashed sweet potatoes, BBQ Beyond Meat, slaw with Beyond Mayo, and Gluten-Free/Dairy-Free Amy's mac & cheese.
Brussels sprouts, BBQ Beyond Meat, slaw with Just Mayo, and Gluten-Free/Dairy-Free Amy’s mac & cheese.

Andy (truck tour operator) and I (Amanda, tour assistant) love finding vegan meals in restaurants everywhere we go with the 10 Billion Lives tour. And while there really are vegan options everywhere, most of the time we cook our own meals. Though we lack a full kitchen as we’re touring the country, we’re able to whip up some gourmet meals with limited equipment. Since we talk to a lot of people who themselves have limited (or no) kitchen space, are short on time, and are cooking on a budget, we wanted to share some of our favorite meals we make while on the road that use affordable ingredients that can be found in any supermarket, can be made in a rice cooker, and don’t require much prep work.

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From the Road: Everything is Bigger in Texas, Especially Compassion Towards Animals (Part One)

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When Andy (truck tour operator) and I (Amanda, tour assistant) told our friends that we would be bringing the 10 Billion Lives program all around Texas, we were usually met with pity laughs or dropped jaws. Everyone seemed to picture us going into a “Meat Country” war zone. On the contrary, our several weeks in Texas proved that the Lone Star state is full of surprises. They say everything is bigger in Texas, and that includes compassion toward animals.

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