Greetings from the road! My name is Amanda and I am elated to be the assistant tour operator for FARM’s 10 Billion Lives Tour this spring with my PIC (Partner In Compassion), Andy! This is Andy’s second tour, so I’m in good company for my first, and definitely learning from a pro.
Our first month on the road was a fantastic start to this tour. We kicked off in Orlando, Florida, with great enthusiasm from students at University of Central Florida. We found that same enthusiasm at every Florida stop. Witnessing the expansion of so many hearts and minds, thanks to a powerful 4-minute video, made our own hearts grow bigger, too. Countless students were eager to make changes after learning the truth behind meat, dairy, and eggs. Despite the shock and horror that often comes with learning those facts, many viewers were extremely grateful that we were there.
As we bopped around the Sunshine State, we were blessed to have a handful of amazing volunteers and hosts. At the University of South Florida in Tampa, we were joined by Jazmine, a vegan student who dedicated an entire Friday to our event, which was actually her first time doing outreach ever! In Sanford, we had the pleasure of working alongside a vegan family. Keenun, who volunteered with 10BL during their St. Petersburg stop on Warped Tour last summer, brought her two vegan daughters to help out and save lives. In Jacksonville, we had the personable and diplomatic Lars reach out to University of Florida students with us. Lars also introduced us to some great vegan gems in Jacksonville. (Check out freshly-made-before-your-eyes vegan ice cream from Three FX and then grab some vegan nachos at Sunray Theater.)
Speaking of food, Andy and I have enjoyed some great vegan meals along our route so far. While we usually cook amazing meals on board (meals I’ll highlight in a future post), we did indulge a few times at Ethos Vegan Kitchen in Orlando. (I recommend the blackened tempeh; Andy, the sheep’s pie.) Our time in Daytona Beach coincided with the big monthly vegan dinner at the new Kale Café, which was packed with veg-lovin’ locals. We dug into some great brown stew tofu and kale salad there.
As I write, we’re finishing our time in Alabama. Our tour was briefly disrupted by the wild winter weather that shut down the entire state, but thankfully Andy and I were warm and safe during those three days. No matter how cold it has gotten (and it’s gotten mighty cold!), we are continuously warmed by the compassionate and grateful people we’re meeting on campus and the amazing FARM supporters everywhere. The 10 Billion Lives Tour is, without a doubt, changing minds and opening hearts, and it has been downright magical for me to bear witness to that.
Amanda Just is an activist and writer from Florida, who has contributed to This Dish Is Veg, ForksOverKnives.com, Eccorazzi.com and various other websites, newsletters and blogs.
Andy Tabar is the owner of Compassion Company and first toured with the 10 Billion Lives Tour in Spring 2013.