From PETA to Food Network: Exclusive Interview with Vegan Chef Kristina Addington

“How does it feel to lose to a vegan?” quips Chef Kristina Addington as she takes her position among her competitors on set of Food Network’s “Cutthroat Kitchen.” This bold statement ends up being delicious foreshadowing as Kristina became the first vegan chef to win the high stakes show known for its sabotaging twists! FARM was lucky to catch up with the talented “Vegan Temptress” about the show and vegan living.

10492334_499243630209653_2233363344549165725_n

Growing up in a small rural town in Kentucky, Kristina was raised on typical Southern comfort foods. “I grew up eating everything fried in bacon grease,” she said. She never thought twice about it until 7 years ago, when she happened to stumble upon some information about factory farming online. That led to more research on animal agriculture, which then led to her epiphany. “It hit me like a ton of bricks,” Kristina said. “I knew I couldn’t support that [industry] anymore. I went vegetarian overnight.” Knowing she had to do more to help animals, Kristina started volunteering with animal advocacy groups as much as possible. Within a month, she was fully vegan.

And how did her “country” family take the news? “They thought I lost my mind,” Kristina said with a laugh. Though it was a big shock to the way her entire family had always lived and cooked (“My mom cooks just like Paula Deen!”), eventually they came around to the vegan side of things. Now when Kristina comes to visit, everyone enjoys preparing and eating vegan meals together.

Cooking was always a passion of Kristina’s. Before learning about factory farming and embracing a vegan lifestyle, she had already enrolled in culinary school. When her classes began, Kristina thought she could handle cooking non-vegan foods for other people, even though she herself wouldn’t be eating those animal products. That mentality changed the day the students were to “break down a chicken.” “I nearly had a panic attack. I knew there was no way I could do it,” admitted the vegan chef. From that point on, Kristina only worked with vegan foods, with which the school was very accommodating, bringing in tofu and tempeh.

But after a few semesters, Kristina’s other passion – helping animals – was calling, and she left culinary school to work with animal rights organization, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). For five years, Kristina promoted veganism and advocated for animals in the clothing industry. Throughout her time with PETA, Kristina taught vegan cooking classes on the side. Eventually, she realized she could combine her love of cooking and her dedication to animal advocacy full-time, and she returned to the kitchen.

Back in Kentucky, Kristina helped open a café and served as the executive chef, creating a vegan menu for the establishment. She created wholesale vegan and gluten-free baked goods. Her vegan cooking classes continued, as well as some small scale catering gigs. Wanting to do more to promote veganism, the Vegan Temptress looked toward national television. Specifically, Food Network.

While checking out the national cooking channel’s website, Kristina saw that they were taking applications for their competitive, high-stakes show, “Cutthroat Kitchen.” Kristina saw this as a way to really give veganism a spotlight and she applied right away, specifically stating on the application that she was a vegan chef, cooking only with vegan ingredients, and that she really wanted to highlight healthy, cruelty-free eating. “My ultimate goal [for appearing on “Cutthroat Kitchen”] was to promote veganism. Going on national TV would be the best way for me to reach the most viewers and eaters with this message,” Kristina explained. The very next day, the network called her, and a couple days later, she was booked for the show!

chefkristinaCTKchefkristinaCTKchefkristinaCTK

Despite some “light, friendly teasing” from her opponents, as well as that jaw-dropping “sabotage” on the show where she was forced to bake gingersnap cookies with pickled sushi ginger, Kristina emerged a triumphant winner! Kristina proved that no matter what, delicious vegan food is always possible.

ChefKristinaCTKwin2

The future looks bright for Chef Kristina. With her $18,500 winnings from “Cutthroat Kitchen,” she’s scoping out restaurant space for her future vegan restaurant. Until then, she has vegan catering and a possible vegan food truck on the horizon to showcase her delicious and cruelty-free Southern-style cooking. The more platforms for her food, the better; the world needs more vegan sausage gravy! Congrats again to Chef Kristina. We can’t wait to see what she whips up next!

1794786_441625625971454_691352516_n

You can see the full “Cutthroat Kitchen” episode, titled “Two Chefs, One Toga,” on Food Network, XFinity TV, and Amazon.com.

To keep up with Kristina’s success, follow her on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

Photos courtesy of Kristina J. Addington / Vegan Temptress and Food Network

Read More

AR2014 Unites and Empowers

“My expectations were already high, but [the conference] blew them away!”

“We loved every minute! Inspiring, energizing, and fun!”

“I came to the conference mostly vegetarian, but left completely vegan.”

P1330187-2

Every Animal Rights National Conference is a success because of the amazing people who attend with their minds open and leave with their hearts full, ready to take action for animals. AR2014 was exceptional in that it brought in the most attendees of any conference before – over 1,300 to be exact. Coupling that with the most speakers we’ve ever had (120+), this was definitely our biggest Animal Rights National Conference yet!

Many of the conference’s highlights occurred during our plenaries. Our most unforgettable plenary was “Tales from the Trenches,” which included first-hand accounts of undercover investigations in slaughterhouses and factory farms. Using no images and no video footage, former investigators TJ Tumasse and Taylor Radig had the audience spellbound by their harrowing experiences in these facilities. Nary a dry eye was to be found in the entire ballroom.

P1340164-2

Our closing plenary, emceed by VegNews’ Colleen Holland, wrapped up our conference on a positive note. “We Are Winning” highlighted all the ways in which our movement is succeeding and making huge changes for animals. We also featured a compilation video featuring clips submitted from activists around the world, including our very own 10 Billion Lives crew, sharing how they are saving animals this summer. It was also during our closing plenary that we had an Animal Rights National Conference first: a couple got engaged surrounded by 1,300 other compassionate folk!

Our Awards Banquet was an amazing event! After a colorful and delicious meal, followed by decadent chocolate cake, banquet guests were treated to a comical magic show from vegan magician, Brandon Scott. We then turned the spotlight and the mic over to some special people who deserved recognition for their contributions to the animal rights movement. We started by bestowing the first ever Lifetime Achievement Award to our very own Dr. Alex Hershaft, founder and President of Farm Animal Rights Movement. The 2014 inductee to the Animal Rights Hall of Fame was Vegan Outreach’s, Jon Camp, the “Million Booklet Man.” Known as The 300 Pound Vegan, NFL linebacker, David Carter accepted the award for Outstanding Vegan Athlete, wisely stating, “You don’t need to take a life to gain muscle.” Eighteen-year-old Andrew Pucetti won the Young Activist Award in recognition of his success in ending classroom dissections and promoting vegan eating. The Henry Spira Grassroots Awards went to dedicated activists, Armaiti May and Judy Carman, for their unpaid work to help animals in their communities.

P1330857-2

P1340123-2

P1340132-2

 

Of course, the biggest highlights of all came from the session rooms and the socials. Learning from seasoned activists, networking with advocates from around the country, and making like-minded friends are priceless moments at the Animal Rights National Conference. It’s what keeps this conference, an enormous undertaking!, going year after year, and it’s what powers our movement forward, day after day. This conference couldn’t happen without our sponsors, volunteers, staff, speakers, donors, or attendees. We are eternally grateful for everyone’s support. We’re all in this together!

We look forward to another amazing conference in 2015, happening at the Hilton Alexandria Mark Center July 30th – August 2nd, just outside of Washington, DC. Registration will open in February, so keep up with FARM on our website and social media platforms! 

P1350363-2

For even more AR2014 highlights, please check out our full report here.

Read More

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.

ToddAngie_Kiosks

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!

AndyAmanda10BL

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.

Di&Josh_SW10BL

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.

WarpedCrew2014

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!

Read More

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. 

ToddAngieKiosks400

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.

SWTourFullKiosks

 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! 

Read More

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!

(more…)

Read More

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

10BL_Dallasviewer_352x480

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.

(more…)

Read More

Earth Day 2014: Activists Encourage the Public to Evaluate the Impact Their Food Choices have on the Planet

+Wendy Moore, Earth Day 2014 1_640x339

Vegan Earth Day 2014 was one of our best yet! More than 154 activists from all over North America distributed our new brochures at local events to encourage people to make the environment-diet connection. While most people leafleted, others gave out food samples or held pay-per-view events. Volunteers in 40 states and 3 Canadian provinces participated in Vegan Earth Day this year, distributing nearly 15,000 of our brochures to the public.

(more…)

Read More

Skip the Easter Ham and Skip the Cruelty

Esther2_640x418

An Easter tradition here in the US has been to celebrate life and new beginnings by sitting down to a meal with a honey-baked ham as the centerpiece. Thing is… if most folks took a moment to reflect on the true meaning of this holiday, they might notice that consuming the body of a dead animal doesn’t align with the life-affirming spirit of Easter.

Pigs are highly intelligent animals, with advanced learning and problem solving capabilities. They can use tools, understand commands just like dogs do, they respond to their name only after a few months of being born, and they have a high sense of social recognition, which help them form strong social bonds. Pigs can even learn to play video games!

(more…)

Read More

All Our Water is Going to a Plant We Don’t Eat to Support a Diet We Don’t Need

CaliforniaDrought14_640x361
The cracked-dry bed of the Almaden Reservoir as seen on Feb. 7, 2014 in San Jose, California.

2013 went down as the driest year in California’s recorded history.  A major reservoir outside of Sacramento has been reduced from 83% to 36% capacity in just over 2 years.  In the Central Valley, 1,200 square miles of land is sinking at a rate of 11 inches a year from the drilling of groundwater.  And the annual measure of the Sierra Nevada snowmelt done every April 1st indicates that the end isn’t in sight.

(more…)

Read More

Eat Less Meat to Save More Wildlife, Show More Love for the Planet

CAFO_640x343
Raising animals for food is one of the largest sources of carbon dioxide and the single largest source of both methane and nitrous oxide emissions, which contribute to global warming and climate change.

When the first Earth Day was celebrated in 1970, people were concerned about air and water pollution and the survival of endangered species. They talked about how the growing human population was crowding out wildlife and how we all have a responsibility to take care of the planet. Now, 44 years later, there are 3.5 billion more of us in the world, and our appetite for energy, land and meat has skyrocketed.

It’s time for a renewed call to action for the planet and wildlife, and we can start by taking extinction off our plates.

(more…)

Read More