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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Radish and Lauren

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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10 Billion Lives Tour Rocks Riot Fest!

Our 10 Billion Lives National Tour, led by Angie and Loren, had an amazing time doing outreach at Riot Fest in Toronto, Chicago, and Denver! In this blog post, the crew tell us about their experience.

Greetings from the road! The National Tour Crew has had an amazing start to our fall touring adventure. We kicked off early September with three weeks of traveling from Toronto, Canada to Denver, Colorado with the music festival, Riot Fest!

 Toronto

Riot Fest brings in tens of thousands of music lovers to each of their 3 festival locations (Toronto, Chicago, and Denver) and our crew and dedicated volunteers were ready and waiting at each one to educate the masses on the realities of life for animals in the meat, egg, and dairy industries. One of the greatest things about touring with Riot Fest is that many of the bands playing the festival have outspoken vegan musicians and lyrics about animal rights, like Rise Against and Bring Me The Horizon. This sets the scene for having great conversations with viewers about the ways in which veganism is becoming mainstream in society and is already present in their own lives. Not only that, but all three Riot Fest locations offered lots of delicious vegan food options! Highlights of our time at Toronto Riot Fest included: enlightening over 1000 viewers in 2 days, chatting with viewers while Death Cab For Cutie played live in the background, and being hosted each night by a fantastic local animal rescue, All Creatures Rescue!

 Chicago

From Toronto we travelled to beautiful (yet much colder!) Chicago, Illinois for three more awesome days of outreach. Highlights of our time at Chicago Riot Fest included: getting insanely delicious vegan food delivered (via bicycle!) from Upton’s Breakroom every day for lunch, hearing the words “I’m ready to go vegan” again and again and again, and hanging out with dedicated volunteers day after day like Alex, pictured above, who spent all three days volunteering with us and on top of that spent one evening leafletting festival goers when we’d finished up pay-per-view! Now THAT’S dedication to the animals! (Check out the FARM leaflet Alex was handing out here: http://farmusa.org/LiedToInfo.html)

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From Chicago we traveled to our final Riot Fest destination: Denver, Colorado! We were absolutely blown away by the number of people in Denver who came up to the truck thanking us for being there, and explaining that they were already vegan or vegetarian. Not surprising in an area with so much animal activism and so many incredible vegan restaurants! Highlights of our time in Denver included: Meeting Liz, pictured below, who told us she credits our video with helping inspire her to go vegan a year ago and who then came back to our truck the following day in-between band sets to volunteer with us, the truly phenomenal activist scene we received so much help from, and visiting Nooch, the Denver all-vegan grocery store!

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With the festivals over we’ve headed back to the Midwest to begin our campus tour and are currently in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Thanks for catching up with us! More on our adventures on college campuses next time!

– Angie & Loren

Cheer on all THREE of our 10 Billion Lives crews on Instagram

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Get to Know the Fall 2014 10 Billion Lives Crews!

The Fall 2014 10 Billion Lives tours are underway and off to an AMAZING start! This semester is the first time we have THREE tours going at once! That’s right: our Southwest tour is taking over California, the National Tour is conquering the Midwest, and our brand new East Coast Tour will cover from the Southern New England area down to Florida. We’re very excited to cover so much of the country with our eye-opening message. We’re educating more people than ever about the atrocities of animal agribusiness and encouraging them to work toward a vegan diet.

But not just anyone can do this lifesaving work. We’d like you to meet the six individuals who are operating the three tours this fall and learn about their background and passion for helping farmed animals.

National Tour
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Angie Fitzgerald of Alameda, California, is heading up the National Tour this fall. You’ll recognize Angie from her previous TWO tours with the Southwest campaign, making Angie a Seasoned Billionaire! Before embarking on the fall tour, Angie took some time off to cycle across New Zealand this summer. Next summer she plans to cycle across the United States! Welcome back, Angie!

Joining Angie on the National Tour is newcomer, Loren Hart, a philosophy major and preschool teacher turned activist from Durham, North Carolina! Loren has volunteered with Vegan Outreach and The Humane League leafleting, organizing events, fundraising, and more.

Southwest Tour
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Our Southwest Tour this fall is also headed up by a Seasoned Billionaire: Radish! Some of you will recognize Radish from pictures of the last two Warped Tours. Before spending their summers with the 10 Billion Lives campaign, Radish did a tour with peta2’s Glass Walls campaign, canvassed with Environment Oregon, and volunteered with Food Not Bombs. We’re happy to have Radish return as a tour operator this fall!

Joining Radish in the Southwest is Lauren Boushey. If Lauren looks familiar to you, too, that may be from her recent win of peta2’s Cutest Vegan Alive 2014 contest! Lauren has canvassed with Fund for the Public Interest and volunteers at the Bellingham Food Bank in her hometown in Washington state. On her application for the tour, Lauren wrote, “Veganism is love, life, respect and gratitude, all in one lifestyle.” Well said, Lauren!

East Coast
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Our brand new East Coast tour features two new kids on the block. Lead Operator, Blake Underwood, comes to us 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.

Associate Operator, Alison Moser, is a certified optician from Rochester, New York. After spending more time with animals (interning with Southeastern Guide Dogs) and advocating for them (through leafleting, vegan food sampling, and attending slaughterhouse vigils), Alison was ready for a change. “Knowing that working with and for animals was my true calling, paired with adopting a vegan lifestyle, motivated me to quit my profession last month to work full time on activism,” she says.

Please give a warm welcome to these six great individuals who are dedicating their lives to helping our farmed animal friends this fall!

This fall semester, we hope to reach 50,000 viewers with our important 10 Billion Lives message. With our unique Pay-Per-View model (a $1 incentive gets 1 person to check out our video), we definitely need some support to reach that goal. Every $1 donated to the campaign helps us reach that many more people across the country this fall. Will you donate $25 to bring us closer to our 50k viewers goal? Donate today! 

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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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