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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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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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!

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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.

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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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