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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Vegan MoFo Sweeps the Internet in September!

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If there was a map of the Internet, some of its largest continents would be pictures of cats, grammatical errors, and vegan food. Although veganism is popular and enthusiastically represented in the online world, during the month of September, the corner of the Internet dedicated to plant-based food will become much larger. That’s because this year’s Vegan Month of Food (“Vegan MoFo,” for short) is happening every single day in September!

Vegan MoFo is a month-long celebration of all things vegan and edible. Bloggers, seasoned and newbie, take to the web and share delicious, cruelty-free food on the daily. With a blogroll at least a foot long, there’s no shortage of mouthwatering reading material and kitchen inspiration this month. Here are just a few Vegan MoFo blogs we’re most excited about:

Cadry’s Kitchen With an adorable Mister Roger’s Neighborhood-theme (and an adorable matching Facebook layout to boot!), Cadry’s Kitchen is focusing on vegan foods that “feel like home.”  With all the great comfort foods she’ll be whipping up, we sure wish we were her neighbor!

Fork and Beans Cara, the kitchen wizard behind the fantastic blog, Fork and Beans, is always up to something fun. For Vegan MoFo this year, she’ll be creating Halloween-themed vegan treats, like these Frankenstein Rice Krispie Treats! Recipes from Fork and Beans have often been a part of our weekly Meatout Mondays newsletter.
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Olives for Dinner Many of us have stacks and stacks of vegan cookbooks, right? With an overwhelming number of recipes across the Internet, it can be easy to forget about our paper-filled nuggets of inspiration sitting on the shelf. This month, popular vegan blog, Olives for Dinner will be cooking from her top 10 favorite cookbooks. With her stunning food photography, we can’t wait to see what she whips up!
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Eco-Vegan Gal Eco-Vegan Gal is doing her Vegan MoFo in front of the video camera! Tune into her blog for great videos on vegan cooking.

Kale and Cupcakes Got a sweet tooth? The Kale and Cupcakes blog will be focusing on healthy vegan desserts all month long!

Vegan Yack Attack A whole month dedicated to vegan mac & cheese? Say no more; we are THERE! Follow Vegan Yack Attack this month for all the cheesy, carby goodness.

Zsu’s Vegan Pantry  Burger fans, get yer buns ready: Zsu’s Vegan Pantry is dedicating the whole month of September to the endless possibilities of vegan burgers!

And there’s so, so, SO much more happening around the Internet this month for Vegan MoFo! Check out the full blogroll here, follow the hashtag #veganmofo on Instagram, and keep up with VeganMoFo.com for daily giveaways!

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Turning Point: What Inspired You to Start Advocating for Animals?

Over the weekend, we asked our Facebook followers, “What inspired you to start advocating for animals? What was the turning point for you?” We received nearly 200 heartwarming comments, some of which we will share with you here. 

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My mom taught me from a very young age to treat animals with compassion, and when I was 16 I decided to stop eating meat because I couldn’t justify the disconnect between the dead animal on my plate and the living cat at my feet. I went vegan at age 19 after taking an ethics class in college and reading the insightful work of Peter Singer and Tom Regan. My senior year in college I started an animal rights organization, Mean Greens for Animals. Now I’m about to start working with Hampton Creek Foods to make the egg industry obsolete. Working for animals is my passion, and they need every single one of us.” – Alexandria Kaye 

As a vet I felt that I cannot eat my patients. Started off as a vegetarian and am a vegan now.” – Vanaja Panickar

My parents killed my pet chicken on July 12, 1962 and served him for dinner. It was the first time I consciously understood what meat was.” – Samantha Curtis

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I was involved in animal rescue work, mostly with dogs and cats. A little girl, whose parents were divorcing, brought me her pet turkey, “Turkey Lurkey” and I promised she could visit any time. I fell in love with that bird and when Thanksgiving rolled around, I thought WTH am I doing, caring for the beautiful creature and now thinking about cooking one? That was the end of meat for me (my family soon followed). This happened in 1994 – my regret in life has been that it took me way too long to be where I should always have been.” – Holly Kathleen Stevens-Bondy

A video that my husband brought home. He is an animals rights lawyer. I couldn’t stop crying and that was it. Being an endurance athlete I wasn’t sure if I can go Vegan. Reading, Scott Jurek, vegan ultra runner and Brendan Brazier pro ironman, helped me to turn into vegan athlete. I appreciate my diet every single day, I recover way faster than I did before, no injures, sicknesses ever. I love to wear vegan shirts during races to show people that vegans are awesome.” – Gamze Kircalioglu

I was being attacked by a former boyfriend, and my dog Brady got him away from me and saved my life. I made a vow that day that I would forever fight for animals in every way. GO VEGAN!” – Nicole Furlan 

I worked about three days at a small town slaughterhouse. That was enough to make me reconsider a lot of issues: animal welfare and rights; personal health and diet. Slowly over the course of years I evolved into a mostly vegan diet.” – Stephan Caldwell

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We are all united by our compassion for animals and our commitment to helping them. Many people have said that their only regret is not learning about animal suffering and taking action sooner. The good news is that it’s never too late to change, it’s never too late to go vegan, and it’s never too late to speak out for our animal friends.

Click HERE to read all the responses on Facebook.

Photo credit: JoAnne McArthur / We Animals

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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!

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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

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Earth Balance is Bringing Cheesy Back

Vegan cheese isn’t a brand new creation, but in the last few years, the vegan cheese scene has exploded with delicious, animal-free options. Vegan cheese shreds, slices, blocks, and crumbles abound, leaving endless possibilities for vegans who miss the cheese they ate in their pre-vegan days. However, there’s one vegan company in particular that has been elevating vegan cheesy foods to a whole new level lately: Earth Balance.

Earth Balance has veganized a lot of dairy staples: mayonnaise, sour cream, cream cheese, butter, and milk. In the last two years, Earth Balance has waved their magic wands and turned favorite snacks vegan, with much rejoicing!

First came their cheesy popcorn and puffs. Former fans of Smartfood found delicious comfort in EB’s Vegan Aged White Cheddar Flavor Popcorn. Give Chester Cheetah a break and try that same flavor in puff form.

Next came the kettle potato chips. Available in three flavors, the cheddar-style arguably outshines the original and sour cream styles, and easily gives non-vegan cheesy chips a run for its money.

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If you spend any amount of time on the Internet, you no doubt caught wind of Earth Balance’s release of their vegan cheese crackers. Resembling popular non-vegan crackers, such as Cheez-Its and Cheese Nips, EB’s version packs that cheesy punch without any animal products. Social media was abuzz with the news and the crackers were flying off the shelves of vegan grocery stores across the country!

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Now, Earth Balance is blowing our minds and tastebuds again with the news of their new macaroni and cheese. Packaged in that slender box that many of us associate with “the blue box blues” (Kraft dinner), EB’s version contains no animal products, meaning no one gets the blues, not us or the animals! The new mac & cheese comes in classic cheddar and white cheddar flavors. The mac & cheese is available at select vegan grocery stores (such as Food Fight! in Portland, OR) and will hit Whole Foods in July.

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With more and more vegan options becoming available, it just makes me think of that T-shirt slogan: “Anything You Can Eat, I Can Eat Vegan!” It also makes me wonder, “What will Earth Balance think of next?!”

Photo credits: Earth Balance & Food Fight!

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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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“Never Too Late to Go Vegan:” An Interview with Virginia Messina

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Virginia Messina, also known as The Vegan RD, has a few books under her belt including “Vegan for Life” and “Vegan for Her;” both which I highly recommend. In her latest installment, co-authored with Carol J. Adams and Patti Breitman, “Never Too Late to Go Vegan: The Over-50 Guide to Adopting and Thriving on a Plant-Based Diet,” Messina provides essential nutritional information pertinent to folks who are over age 50. In addition, the trio of authors tackles some of the challenges facing folks who are interested in transitioning to a vegan diet later in life and help guide their readers towards a goal of ultimate health.

I was privileged to have the opportunity to interview Virginia Messina regarding her latest book. My interview is posted below. Messina will also be speaking at this year’s Animal Rights National Conference held July 10th-13th in Los Angeles, California.

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

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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.

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