FARM & FFAC Empower Activists in Los Angeles

For the past few months, FARM’s Southwest Outreach Coordinator, Angie Fitzgerald, has teamed up with Factory Farming Awareness Coalition’s LA Director, Nora Kramer, to put on monthly mixer/trainings for animal rights activists. These gatherings not only empower new & seasoned activists, they also strengthen the community of compassionate changemakers in the Los Angeles area. Many of our FARM supporters from around the country have been wanting to learn more about these events, so today’s blog post comes from Angie, sharing how the meetings have inspired action!

For many people, getting involved with animal activism is an exciting undertaking, but might also be an intimidating one. ‘What is effective animal activism? How do I get started? What if I don’t know all the answers?’

Almost a year ago now, FARM launched our Compassionate Activist Network (CAN) to address these questions and more, and create an online community to encourage and reward grassroots animal activism nationwide. When FARM’s Los Angeles office opened this past January we wanted to help build the local activist community here in Southern California, so we teamed up with the Factory Farming Awareness Coalition (FFAC) and started offering monthly animal activist trainings and mixers.

A local vegan coffee shop in Hollywood that boasts the most aromatic coffee and incredible French pastries, The Blue Rose Café, welcomed us with open arms. Once a month for the past three months we’ve taken over the Blue Rose for an afternoon, inviting activists near and far and of all experience levels to join us for a few hours of networking and skills building.

We began each afternoon with the mixer portion of our event—asking attendees to throw on a nametag that had not only their name, but also the area they live in (to assist in finding local activists they can collaborate with) and three things they enjoy doing other than advocating for animal rights. After all, there’s a lot more to each of us than our compassion for reducing suffering, and we know that to effectively build our community it’s helpful to connect with each other on multiple levels.

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The attendees were then given the assignment to mingle with others and share their activist story. Listening to people describe their entry to animal activism was a major highlight of our events. It wasn’t uncommon for people to respond to our request with, “Oh I’m not really an activist” or “I don’t have an activist story.” We understood. The truth is that there are many different forms of activism and activists, and a lot of activists don’t even realize they’ve taken on that role. They don’t see that their daily activities count as activism, from boycotting animal products at the grocery store by voting with their dollars for more compassionate products, to explaining to a friend or co-worker that they’re vegan and why. Even if it was the first thing that an attendee had ever done on behalf of animals, just by stepping through the cafe door and saying ‘I want to know how to effectively speak on behalf of animals and engage within this community,’ they were standing in activist shoes. When we took a moment to explain and widen the definition of ‘activist’ from a person who protests in the street, to anyone who is actively being a voice for the voiceless, all attendees were able to own the title and begin to tell us about their journeys.

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After an hour or so of sharing stories and enjoying cappuccinos and chocolate croissants, it was time to switch over to the training portion of our events. For Nora and myself, it was time to take a moment and share our own activist stories as well as the importance of effective activism and building community. We also took a minute to thank attendees for the fact that of all the places in the world they could be on a weekend afternoon, they had chosen to come be with us, honing their skills and sharing their experiences.

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We would spend the next hour or so explaining the most effective forms of activism that an individual can engage in, from restaurant outreach to pay-per-view, school talks to leafleting, and food sampling. We talked about how to get involved in each form of outreach locally, and about how CAN is set up to support activists with free literature and guidance. Soon enough it was time to stretch our legs, so we’d give a leafleting training inside and then send everyone outside to practice what they’d learned in groups. After a good stretch and an opportunity to share tips and tricks, everyone returned for the most collaborative portion of our event: the effective communication training. We would always go over a few key things to remember before launching into a discussion about what people found most challenging when it comes to communicating on animal rights issues, and how best to tackle those challenges. Sharing thoughts and stories, the group recounted situations that worked well and situations that, if given the chance to do again, could be done more effectively.

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As the training wound down we opened up the floor for anyone to share ongoing projects or upcoming events that the group could participate in. We answered questions and talked about the next big step in the process: going out and engaging in effective activism! We handed out sheets filled with upcoming events, local resources, books we recommend reading, and our contact information to stay in touch. We then checked in with each attendee about where they wanted to get started and how we could help. Of course all that was left to do was to engage in everyone’s favorite activity of them all: eating! We’d head next door to Doomie’s Home Cookin’ for delicious vegan eats to conclude an inspiring afternoon.

The trainings have been an exciting and rewarding undertaking over the past few months and we’ve certainly learned a lot from them. Coming from all corners of the greater Los Angeles area, attendees brought their varying experiences and abilities and together we built not only our skills but also our community. From authors to DJs, students to professional animal rights activists, our attendees painted a picture of our greater community as a whole. What we found in those few afternoon hours once a month is that there is a lot we can learn from others, but also that there’s a lot that each of us have to share. There are easy ways in which every single one of us can exponentially save more lives than we currently save every day, and at the root of that is education. We must educate ourselves to be better voices for the voiceless so that we can educate our communities on these issues that affect all of us. Just as important, we must educate each other on our trials and triumphs so that as the collective animal rights movement we develop and expand.

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The trainings are currently on hiatus as Nora leaves for the summer to run her highly influential Youth Empowered Action (YEA) Camp series and I take a leave of absence to cycle across America. Not to worry – we’ll be back!

FARM’s Southwest Outreach Coordinator, Angie Fitzgerald, would like to thank the Los Angeles Director of the Factory Farming Awareness Coalition, Nora Kramer, for running with the idea of monthly activist trainings and making these events the highlight of her past few months in LA. She’d also like to thank Prabhat Gautam & The Blue Rose Café for their never-ending support of local activists and their big dreams. If you’d like to attend an upcoming training in the fall, e-mail angie@farmusa.org.

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10 Billion Lives National Tour Concludes Sensational Spring Outreach!

All three of our 10 Billion Lives outreach tours have wrapped up a fantastic spring semester of outreach! The 6 dedicated activists who took to the road for the animals had 18,882 viewers of our influential 4-minute video! Before we announce our plans for our best Summer of #SavingAnimals yet (which includes our exciting summerlong outreach with the Vans Warped Tour!), let’s hear from Tara & Jillian, the crew with the 10 Billion Lives National Tour, about their experience this spring.

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Jillian and Tara had an awesome time this semester on the National Tour! The journey began in Tennessee and traveled west through Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, and finally ending our travels in Colorado. We talked to almost 3,500 people in just three months! We love facilitating the pay-per-view style of outreach as so many viewers have told us they would have never known what really happens on farms if it wasn’t for our video. We were able to raise awareness to so many folks and we had inspiring conversations with those who participated. It has been such an incredible and empowering experience for both of us. We met amazing people, saw beautiful parts of the country, and as a bonus, ate the most delicious vegan food along the way!

Our tour began at University Tennessee Knoxville where it snowed for our first few days, but that didn’t stop us from having wonderful conversations with students. A few days later at Tennessee State University we had an awesome reception and one of our first really busy days with almost 200 people. Our final stop in Tennessee was UT Chattanooga, where we had lovely talks with students, visited Ruby Falls, and ate some of the best vegan food of our tour at Cashew!

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We had one stop in Illinois: Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. We spoke to 240 people with the help of the president of Natural Connections, a student organization dedicated to raising awareness and encouraging students to grow their own food. Onward to Missouri! At Mizzou, we met some really wonderful people along with their companion animals, specifically a hedgehog and a beautiful Great Pyrenees puppy (who’s human friend decided to switch back to a vegan lifestyle after watching our video!).

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Our next stop – Kansas! We saw beautiful sunsets, insane weather, and engaged in some interesting conversations with agricultural students. From Kansas, we made it to the last state for tour, Colorado, where we camped in the beautiful Rocky Mountains. We spent a lovely weekend enjoying nature! Finally, we held our busiest event of the tour at Colorado State University Fort Collins and talked to over 250 students! Thankfully there were wonderful volunteers from the Rams Organizing for Animal Rights (ROAR) with us all day to help us spread awareness.

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We both feel so lucky to be part of the 10 Billion Lives Tour. Traveling across the country, talking about animal rights, meeting new people every day, and exploring new places all the time has been such an amazing experience for us. We can’t wait to continue doing our part to help the animals for this year’s Warped Tour!

We at FARM are so thankful for Tara & Jillian’s hard work this semester and we are elated to have them come aboard for this summer’s outreach with Vans Warped Tour! Tara will be leading the crew for half of the tour and Jillian will be driving all summer long. Please leave a word of thanks & encouragement for these two amazing activists! 

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Say Hello to the 10 Billion Lives National Tour Crew for Spring 2015!

We’re excited to announce the crew aboard the 10 Billion Lives National Tour for Spring 2015!

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Jillian Lowry is from the Cleveland area of Ohio and has been vegan for nearly 9 years. She graduated with a MSC in Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development from the University College Dublin in Ireland in 2013 and a BA in Communications from John Carroll University from Cleveland in 2011. After years of animal rights activism in Ohio and Ireland, she’s happy to take her passion on the road for the National Tour!

Joining us from Brooklyn NY, Tara recently went vegan as of January 1st after being vegetarian for 2 and a half years. Tara was working in the entertainment industry and volunteering at farm sanctuaries on the weekends. Combining her passion for animal rights and being on the road, Tara is thrilled to be joining the 10 Billion Lives tour!

Welcome to the FARMily, Jillian & Tara! The animals are lucky to have you advocating for them!

Please leave a note of thanks and encouragement for Jillian and Tara, as well as the other crew members of our other tours, whom you met earlier this spring! You can follow the adventures of all these dedicated activists on Twitter and Instagram. If you’d like to volunteer with our 10 Billion Lives tour when it stops in your city, please send an email to VOLUNTEER@10BILLIONTOUR.ORG

 

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FARM Joins Enviro Orgs to Demand More Sustainable Vegan Food with My Plate My Planet

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Earlier this week, more than a hundred environmental and health organizations took out full-page color ads in the New York Times and Washington Post, demanding that the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Committee include sustainability of the food supply as a major factor in their recommendations. Their primary goal? To strengthen the Committee’s call for “less meat and more plants” in our diet!

This advertisement is of huge historic importance! It represents the very first time that environment and health advocacy organizations have come out publicly in support of reducing meat consumption, which our movement has been advocating for 40 years. This of course has the potential also to save many millions of animals from being used and killed for food, and we must do our best to nurture and strengthen this alliance.

FARM has signed on as a partner with the My Plate, My Planet coalition, and we need your help! Click here to submit your supportive comments directly on the government’s website no later than May 8th.

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Update from the Road: Southwest Tour, Spring 2015

We’re halfway through the spring semester, which means it’s time to check in with our fearless activists on the road with our 10 Billion Lives campaign! The first crew you’ll hear from are Todd & Erica with the  Southwest Tour, who have been educating college students all over southern California. 

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     Greetings from a very sunny southern California! We can hardly believe the tour is already half way though and we wanted to give our friends and supporters an update from the road. We’ve met so many passionate people at the many schools we’ve visited, eaten at a plethora of amazing vegan restaurants and connected with other passionate activists doing awesome things for animals!

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Our first weekend happened to line up with a celebration of former 10 Billion Lives Alum Stephanie Frankle’s first year anniversary of the Humane League’s San Francisco office. It was such a fun event full of celebrating the many wins for the animals they have achieved. Attending this event gave us an opportunity to bond with FARM’s 10 Billion Lives Program Manager, Ryan, who’s based in the Bay area. His family was beyond hospitable in accommodating us that weekend. We headed south with many baked goods from the Frazier family for the road! Valentine’s Day brought another fun opportunity to meet fellow activists and meet some farmed animal friends! We jumped at the chance to volunteer at Farm Sanctuary’s Animal Acres event, where the public could visit the sanctuary and meet some of their rescues! There are so many great people and groups out there, and we both feel lucky to be able to play our part with FARM!

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Southern California is home to so many wonderful vegan restaurants (60 at last count) and we’ve made it our mission to eat our way through them as time and our stomachs allow! Some of our favorite places have been Sage Café, Real Food Daily and Native Foods Cafe. The Native Foods nachos are not to be missed, nor is brunch at Real Food Daily! Erica still finds herself daydreaming about the spinach basil ravioli she had at Sage.  We’re already salivating at the thought of 9 more weeks of delicious food and supporting vegan businesses!

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It hasn’t all been good times and gluttony, though. We’ve been putting in long hours each day and have reached over 5,500 students in the last 8 weeks! Interacting with so many students has lead to meaningful connections for them and us. Being on tour and living in a van is hectic and stressful, but every day we talk to students who are ready or interested in going vegan and that makes all the late nights and headaches worth it.  We’re both loving the Southwest Tour, for Todd it’s a chance to see the progress on campuses he’s visited in the past, and Erica is loving the opportunity to see all the beauty that Southern California has to offer! There have been some standout student run groups at the campuses too! The Bronco Animal Rights Network (BARN) at Cal Poly Pomona and Vikings for Animals at Long Beach City College really stand out in our minds. We both see that good things are to come from the awesome people that organize these groups! FARM’s new Southwest Outreach Coordinator and 3-time Tour operator, Angie Fitzgerald, is helping us reach out to students interested in starting new clubs. She’s a great resource for assisting sometimes-overwhelmed students to get clubs going on their campuses. Thanks Angie!

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Last and anything but least, we must give huge shout outs to both Beau Broughton, our Tour Coordinator and Ryan Frazier.  Thank you both for everything you do, being so selfless to your operators and always being available 24/7!

THANK YOU to Todd & Erica for this great update and for all their hard work on the road. Please leave a comment with some words of praise & encouragement for them & our other 10 Billion Lives activists (whom you’ll hear from soon). Also be sure to follow along their adventures on Twitter and Instagram

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A Parade of Podcasts for Meatout

It’s Meatout Madness (in a good way!) at the FARM offices! March 20th, a day in which thousands of people will be trying a vegan diet, is fast approaching. While FARM staffers are busy gathering pledges, organizing events, and rounding up some fun surprises for Meatout participants (more on that soon!), our Executive Director, Michael Webermann, has been getting the Meatout word out in interviews. We hope you’ll tune in to the following podcasts to hear all about Meatout, a grassroots campaign celebrating its 30th year!

ourhenhouselogoOur Hen House – Episode 269

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Sexy Vegan Radio

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Which Side

Coming soon: An interview on Main Street Vegan and a fun Q&A session on Vegan Food Chat on Twitter, both happening on Wednesday, March 18th!

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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