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Taking Sides: Action For Animals Newsletter

Taking Sides: Action For Animals Newsletter

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Published by: Our Compass on Aug 18, 2011
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Action for Animals Newsletter, Issue 1
Take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.

“I want to be vegan, but my parents won’t let me. What do I do?” We hear from a lot of kids who want to be vegan and their parents won’t let them, but there are a lot of ways to work towards having your parents’ support. First of all, talk to your parents about their concerns. Ask them why they won’t let you, listen to their reasons, and then address them. Many parents worry about their kids getting proper nutrition. To go over this concern with them, it can be helpful to look at a resource such as the Nutrition page of the Vegetarian Resource Group website (vrg.org) and the literature section of our website (afa-online.org/literature.html). Share with them that the American Dietetic Association approves of vegan diets for all ages. You can show your parents the information that you find and then talk with them about what foods you’ll be eating to get all of your nutrients. If your parents are just generally worried about what foods you’ll eat as a vegan and where to buy them, you can start by going through your cupboards and refrigerator with them. You can read ingredients together to discover how many of the foods that are already in your home happen to be vegan. You can then talk to them about what other vegan foods you might want to start keeping in the house, such as that

you want to start having soy milk for your cereal. Then plan a trip to the grocery store with your parents to show them where to find the foods and look at new foods with them. Make sure that they realize that they can shop at any grocery store and that they do not have to buy expensive foods at a specialty store. For lists of common vegan foods, you can look at the Accidentally Vegan website (peta.org/accidentallyvegan). While you’re at the store with your parents, you can also make suggestions for vegan foods that you think they will like as well, and point out things such as the fake meat section. Using the internet, you can find a lot of great vegan recipes that are easy to make—and that your whole family is likely to enjoy. You can do a search for a favorite food along with the words “vegan recipe” and you’ll find many options. You may also want to look at vegweb. com, an all-vegan recipe website. Many parents worry that, by having a vegan in the family, they will lose having family dinners, but you can show them that you can all enjoy new recipes together, you can alter family favorites and make substitutions, and that many staples are vegan. For example, a pasta or rice dish can easily be vegan, and a banana can be used in place of an egg in baking. Overall, it may help to assure your parents that you will be healthy and will still very much enjoy a wide variety of foods, as well as to let them know why being vegan is important to you. They can be proud of you for being vegan and glad to have raised a child who is so committed to helping animals, and you can let them know this and tell them how much their support would mean to you.

Action for Animals Founder and President Dave Bemel received the coveted Henry Spira Grassroots Activist Award at the Animal Rights 2009 National Conference in Los Angeles. Dave was selected by a committee of nationally recognized leaders in the animal rights movement for his dedication to ending animal exploitation. To qualify for the Henry Spira Award, an activist must stand out as an influential voice for the animals and must have been doing so unpaid for at least ten years. EDITOR

Action for Animals is a 501(c)(3) non-profit animal advocacy organization headquartered in Seattle, WA, USA. AFA operates under the principle that animals do not exist for human exploitation. Animals have the right to play, love, care for their families, and enjoy all the rich experiences of their lives. To this end, we promote a vegan lifestyle through educational outreach with a special emphasis on outreach to young people. AFA is funded entirely through individual donations and purchases from our online store; we do not receive any corporate funding. To find out more about our work and how you can help animals, please visit our website: www.afa-online.org.




I’ve read that the idea for That’s Why We Don’t Eat Animals came out of teaching art to children. Can you explain or elaborate on this? I was teaching art at an elementary afterschool program and the kids were always asking why I never ate the string cheese or milk they were served. They were sincerely interested and many told me they wanted to go vegan, but there was no support system in their homes or school to help them do it. I centered some projects on animals, but when I looked into finding more resources for them, I couldn’t find a book on the subject that wasn’t based on a talking animal or vegetable—which I felt they were too smart for. Around the same time, I heard that the education of children was a major factor in the success of recycling programs in Los Angeles. Kids learned about it and went home to “radicalize” their parents! I was motivated to create a book that had the potential to provide information and support, and ultimately inspire activism. What is your response to parents who want to protect their children from the realities of factory farming and where foods (animal products) come from? I understand the ambivalence around telling children the truth—no one wants to scare their little ones. But there is a prescribed notion about children—that smallness equals weakness and frailty. My experience is that children do not require the sugarcoating they usually get. At the same time, I took a lot of care to make the information and images in my book manageable for a child’s capacity. There is always a way to be honest and gentle at the same time. What is the reaction that children tend to have to your book? Children show incredible interest and insight. They ask questions and relate the information to their own lives—their pets, their gardens, their vegan aunt. One 4th grader told me that factory farms reminded her of what her class was learning about slavery! And I have never experienced one child who was overwhelmed or freaked out by the book. I think they enjoy being

Ruby Roth wrote and illustrated the children’s book That’s Why We Don’t Eat Animals: A Book about Vegans, Vegetarians, and All Living Things. It tells the true story of factory farms and the animals who deserve to be free.


let in on what seemed to have been a “secret” kept from them. They feel empowered by the truth. I’ve received a bunch of emails from parents whose kids were inspired to do things in their communities to help animals. I say in the book that each day, we have the freedom to change our lives. I think this is a very important concept for any child or adult to absorb—and one to emphasize when you read the book to a kid: we never have to fear things that we have the power to change. And they get it! What has been the reaction from parents (or other adults)? Vegan parents? Nonvegan parents? The response from the parents—and even veg people without kids—has been supremely positive and enthusiastic. I’ve heard from people all over the world, from the Czech Republic to Africa to Argentina, excited by the existence of a resource that represents their values and invites their children into the dialogue. And adults across the board have told me they learned a lot about animals from the book! Meanwhile, the negative comments have been few and far between in comparison, but they are intense. The terms “brainwashing” and “propaganda” have been thrown around in reviews, but it only goes to show that from birth, people are set on a program that normalizes meat-eating as a fundamental, God-given means of existence. People are so deeply and emotionally attached to meat, they can’t imagine their lives without it. They consider any departure from what they consider normal to be deprivative and even abusive. But, as with any historical movement that has called for progress and some reflection on our destructive patterns, we are going to confront fear and resistance. I recognize that is the process of change. You’ve gotten a lot of support from the animal rights community for That’s Why We Don’t Eat Animals. What role do you see this book playing in the animal rights movement? Or what role do you hope to see the book play? I hope this book becomes the go-to re-

source for teachers, librarians, parents, and veg families who respect a child’s capacity for information as well as their capacity to make decisions. There has never been a more relevant time to learn about veganism. It is a solution related to every crucial issue in the headlines today, from disease and healthcare to climate change and endangered species. What do you want children and parents to take away from reading your book? I hope the book provides families a sense of connectedness to animals and the environment—a feeling that we have both a place and power in this web of life because our choices ripple out into the world. I’ve seen this idea inspire kids with a great sense self-empowerment. They respond with great intelligence and learn to choose wisely. This kind of upbringing extends beyond veganism into all facets of life... and it lasts a lifetime. As an artist, what do you want the impact of the beautiful--and very powerful--illustrations to be? Were there specific motivations behind how you chose to do the illustrations? The painting style in my book was highly inspired by my students. They were really genius at reducing complexly shaped animals down to geometric shapes and I followed suit with their point of view in mind. In the process of becoming vegan, it was visual information—photos and the film Earthlings—that really solidified my commitment. The mind doesn’t always believe until it sees evidence. So I knew the paintings would be crucial to the message of the book. I wanted the paintings to be emotive so that even if there were no words to explain the details, the illustrations would still convey the magical world of free animals and the sadness of factory farms.

Gabe Saporta, vegetarian and singer of the popular band Cobra Starship, has welcomed AFA setting up an outreach table at shows on Cobra Starship’s headlining tours and expressed to us multiple times how important the topic of animal rights is to him. We recently talked with him about his decision to be vegetarian and love of animals.

What made you decide to become a vegetarian?
When I was 13 years old, I was away at summer camp and a kid said to me, “Why would you want to kill another living thing if it isn’t necessary for you to survive? Our modern existence offers us so many suitable alternatives. Why cause the pain, suffering, and death of a living and feeling being?” Now you have to understand that I grew up in South America, where we ate tons of meat and had parrilladas (barbeques) everyday where we would roast an entire pig. I loved meat, but that kid’s words rang so true to me that I said, “I love animals. If I don’t need to kill them, why would I?” It made so much sense to me that right then and there I decided to stop eating meat. It was the most abrupt change I’ve ever made in my life. So abrupt in fact that the following week, after coming home from camp, I was at a barmitzvah where they served chicken fajitas and I sincerely forgot that I no longer wanted to eat the flesh of an animal. I was eating a fajita when my friend said, “Gabe, aren’t you a vegetarian now?” I totally and honestly had forgotten. Habits sometimes take a while to change, but that was the last time I ate meat.

How did being a vegetarian develop into your concern for animal rights?
At that young age, I had the intuition that eating meat was unnecessary, and I wondered, “What is compelling me to feel this way?” When I went to college I majored in Philosophy to try to understand from a moral and intellectual perspective what my instincts were already telling me: animals have rights. By animal rights I don’t mean that animals have the right to vote or anything like that. I mean that they have a right to have their interests protected. As a minimum, the most basic of those interests ought to be protected: the interest to not be killed. Throughout history, philosophers and lawmakers have justified the slaughter of animals by basically putting animals on the same moral level as vegetables: put on the earth for us to exploit. But as I thought more deeply about this, I began to question the conventional wisdom. There is a big difference between an animal and a vegetable: an animal has the ability to feel pain. As a living thing develops the ability to feel pain, it simultaneously develops a morally justifiable self-interest in not feeling that pain, and it thus works to avoid feeling pain and avoid being killed.

We should have empathy for an animal who wants to escape pain. But instead we inflict that pain, that death, on a genocidal level in a slaughterhouse—with no semblance of humanity and no regard for the pain being endured by an animal as he or she is skinned alive. For us to evolve as a species, for our humanity to reach a new level of peace, we need to rid our lives of violence. And just because you buy a hamburger at a supermarket aisle with a sticker of a smiling cow on it doesn’t mean that you are not a part of that circle of violence. As much as I love animals, at the end of the day, I don’t abstain from meat for their sake. I do it for myself. I want to be able to look at myself in the mirror and know that I am not helping to cause the unnecessary death of an innocent being.

AFA traveled the West Coast on the Vans Warped Tour of Summer 2009 to do outreach to the thousands of young people who attend each stop of the traveling music festival. Both the people attending the shows and on the tour supported our work. Shane Told, singer of the band Silverstein, told us, “I think having information about animal rights and vegetarianism is really important at shows because for a lot of people it’s the only exposure they really have to that lifestyle.” Other AFA summer concert outreach included booths at Blink-182, Rise Against, Dave Matthews Band, and The Flaming Lips shows.
Warped concert-goers having fun showing their love for animals with our signs.

At both Portland VegFest and San Francisco’s World Veg Festival, hundreds of people stopped by our tables and were eager to talk with us and take vegan recipes and information about being vegan. We distributed thousands of flyers to many people who were not yet vegan, as well as to vegans who wanted information to help them stay vegan or to share with family and friends. It was great to meet people of all ages, from children to veteran vegans, and whole families who share a love and concern for animals. Our presence this year at animal rights conferences included a table at Their Lives, Our Voices: Midwest Animal Advocacy Conference in Minneapolis and the Animal Rights 2009 National

Conference in Los Angeles. Additionally, our President Dave Bemel spoke about online outreach and our Vice President Amanda Schemkes spoke about outreach to young people at Their Lives, Our Voices.

In Seattle, AFA actively helped the student animal rights group at the University of Washington get the school year kicked off with tabling and leafleting. We’ve also talked with high school students across the country who have contacted us about starting animal groups at their schools and supplied them with materials, advice, and support. Over the last several months, AFA has also held a veggie hot dog giveaway, done “Go Vegan” banner hangs, tabled street fairs, and leafleted festivals and other events in our local community. We have also distributed literature to restaurants and activists nationwide, as well as sent vegan starter packs by request to over 500 people per month in the United States, Canada, and Australia.
Images (top to bottom) 1. Many young people attending Warped Tour signed up on our email list to stay connected and learn more about helping animals. 2. Blink-182 fans asking questions and taking literature about veganism. 3. Picking up vegan information and recipes at our Portland VegFest table. 4. Our table outside of the University Book Store to introduce new students to their local animal rights groups.

By Mark Hawthorne
It is certainly no secret that, in sheer numbers, animals who are raised for food are the mostabused beings on the planet. Every year round the world, animal agribusiness raises and kills an estimated 55 billion chickens, pigs, cows, turkeys, sheep, goats and other animals simply because people enjoy the taste of them. And that doesn’t include the billions of fish annually consumed. It’s enough to discourage even the most ardent animal advocate. Yet, sharing meals together is one of humanity’s oldest customs. We break bread to show our solidarity. We dine to commemorate important events. And what holiday celebration would be complete without something fresh from the oven? Because of its unique position in our lives, food offers the promise of transformation, for what we place in our bellies can be the bridge to a higher level of compassion – a rich appreciation of life itself. The simple act of sharing a delicious plant-based meal with someone more accustomed to dining on dead animals may not inspire them to immediately embrace a cruelty-free lifestyle, but it helps demystify ethical eating, showing people that a meatbased diet is not necessary for good health (and, indeed, is even harmful). Following are a few ideas to help you make the most of vegan food in your outreach efforts. While people are often curious about veganism, a table filled with meat-eaters may not always be your best audience for advocacy. Parties, on the other hand, afford you the opportunity to more readily speak one-onone. Whatever the circumstances, you’ll be the best judge of how you should handle any questions and comments about animal abuse. (When asked why I’m vegan, I always begin by telling people it’s because I don’t want to support cruelty to animals – I let the situation dictate how much detail I go into.)

In addition to teaching the public about vegan-related issues, these dinners and lectures help train activists to be effective spokespeople. Whatever way you choose to advocate for animals, food is an incredibly powerful component in the activist’s toolkit. Mark Hawthorne is the author of Striking at the Roots: A Practical Guide to Animal Activism (www.strikingattheroots.com).


The idea is pretty simple: Hand out free vegan food to the public. After all, who doesn’t like free food? For a feed-in, activists prepare some vegan versions of popular meat-based foods, such as veggie burgers and “chicken” nuggets, and pass out samples at a location with lots of foot traffic – like the front of a fast-food restaurant. Passersby get to try some tasty vegan treats, have a non-confrontational encounter with an animal activist and, we hope, walk away feeling that veganism isn’t that unusual after all. Feed-ins can be as basic as one person with a platter of Tofurky sausage samples and some vegan literature or several activists going all out with a table, veggie dogs with condiments and a banner declaring “FREE Vegetarian Food!”

1 stick vegan margarine, melted (Earth Balance and Nucoa are vegan options) 2 cups (1 18-oz jar) peanut butter 1 1-lb box (about 4 cups) powdered sugar 3 cups rice cereal (optional) 8-oz bar vegan semi-sweet Baker’s Chocolate 1 bag vegan semi-sweet chocolate chips (Ghirardelli, Guittard, Trader Joe’s, and Whole Foods brands all have vegan chips) In a large bowl, mix the melted margarine and peanut butter until fully blended. Continue to mix (with a spoon or by hand) as you gradually add the powdered sugar and rice cereal. Once the ingredients are evenly mixed, mold the mixture into small balls, each about one inch in diameter. If the mixture is too dry to form into balls, add more peanut butter. Set the peanut butter balls aside. Break the Baker’s Chocolate into smaller pieces, then combine it and the chocolate chips in a double boiler. Melt the chocolate, stirring occasionally. With the chocolate on low heat, use a fork or toothpick to dip each peanut butter ball into the chocolate. Place the dipped balls on wax paper on a cookie sheet. Once all of the balls have been dipped and cooled, drizzle the remaining chocolate over the tops of the truffles to create a decorative effect. Refrigerate until all of the chocolate is firm, then remove the truffles from the wax paper. Serve chilled or at room temperature. The number of truffles varies depending on the size of each ball, but the recipe usually makes at least a few dozen.



Social gatherings where meat will be served can be especially difficult for vegans who visit their non-vegan parents and other family members. Most of us didn’t grow up on a strict vegetarian diet, so enduring the wisecracks from dubious relatives has become as customary as Dad sitting at the head of the table. But don’t avoid these events simply because a dead animal makes a cruel centerpiece; consider them opportunities to debunk the myths that vegan food is strange or that vegans are hard to please. Remember: you are representing animals who cannot speak for themselves, so remain positive. If your family already knows you don’t eat animals, chances are they’ll have something else for you to eat, but consider bringing a delicious dish with you. If there’s something else vegan to eat, enjoy it with gusto.

Popular in the UK and catching on with activists elsewhere, food fairs are a bit more elaborate than feed-ins, but the opportunities for vegan and animal advocacy are exponentially greater. Food fairs create a social context for your activism, attracting many attendees while giving you the chance to make a presentation to promote cruelty-free living. Not only do these events give attendees a better idea of what animal activists are like, but they showcase the amazing variety of plant-based food options and demonstrate that vegans do not live off of iceberg lettuce. Putting on a food fair is as simple as reserving the main auditorium in a city library and then preparing a dinner. The food may be donated by local veg-friendly businesses or activists will bring a dish. One element that helps make food fairs an event is having a guest speaker, such as a dietician, chef, philosopher or author who promotes veganism.

JOIN AFA AND MAKE A DIFFERENCE FOR ANIMALS TODAY. Yes! I support Action for Animals’ work on behalf of animals and I want to become a member.
__ $12 (student) __ $16 (basic) __ $25 __ $50 __ $100 __ $250 __ $500 __ other Annual membership benefits include a newsletter subscription, an AFA logo bumper sticker, and a 10% discount at the AFA Online Store (afastore.com). Your membership donation is tax-deductible in the U.S. Donate $50 or more and receive a free gift! Choose between an AFA logo t-shirt or AFA logo 17 oz Sausalito mug. __ Mug __ Shirt Shirt information, if applicable (please circle): Logo style: Classic or Punk Size: S __ I’ve enclosed a check payable to Action for Animals. Charge my donation to: __ Visa Credit card number: Expiration date: Signature: Name: Address: City: Email: State: Zip: Phone: CVV: __ MasterCard __ Discover __ American Express M L XL

Robert Cheeke, vegan bodybuilder

I always had a love and appreciation for animals, and from an early age I was concerned about their well-being. However, it wasn’t until December 8, 1995 that I decided to give up consuming meat. My older sister was organizing an Animal Rights Week at my high school. Out of respect for her, I became a vegetarian for the week. I attended lectures, listened to speakers, read literature about animal cruelty, and watched videos about factory farms and animal testing. That week of becoming vegetarian turned to a vegan lifestyle. As a vegan bodybuilder, I consume whole foods (fruits, vegetables, nuts, grains, legumes, and seeds) as my fundamental base for nutrition. I eat six meals a day, three large meals and three smaller meals, to keep myself constantly nourished and never too full or too hungry. This keeps my metabolism functioning at optimal levels and allows me to get adequate calories, including sufficient protein. My favorite high protein foods include greens like kale and spinach, grains like quinoa, nuts like almonds and walnuts, beans, lentils, tofu, tempeh, a variety of supplements like Vega (a plant-based meal replacement powder), and other protein powders and bars based

around hemp, pea, and rice protein. In addition to my focus on whole foods and natural muscle-building supplements, a huge part of my vegan athletic success is my dedication to my overall vision and mission of what I plan to accomplish and my consistency in my training. Aside from a sound nutrition program, there is nothing more important than consistency in training. Without consistency you cannot expect adaptation, improvement, or success. It just can’t happen without putting in the time. I work out for 60-90 minutes five days a week and focus on one or two muscle groups per workout, and I train with intensity and purpose. I never forget what I stand for and what I work so hard for. My mission is to reduce animal suffering and reduce animal cruelty and death, and the best way I know how to do that is from leading by positive example as someone who is healthy, happy, and excels on a pure plant-based diet as an athlete. Robert Cheeke is a 2-time Champion Bodybuilder, President of Vegan Bodybuilding & Fitness (www.veganbodybuilding.com), and the author of Vegan Bodybuilding & Fitness (www.veganbodybuildingbook.com).

Action for Animals P.O. Box 45843 Seattle, WA 98145


4. vegetarian Simpson 5. possible egg substitute 6. vegan talk show host 8. org. established in 1999 (abbrev.) 9. animal experimentation 10. cow milk alternative 14. vegan mayonnaise 18. gases created by animal agriculture 19. documentary about humans’ treatment of animals


1. sheep mutilation by wool industry 2. nut containing omega-3 3. cages used by egg industry 7. Babe and Wilbur 8. individual deserving respect 11. vegan sandwich cookie 12. wheat “meat” 13. “byproduct” of dairy industry 15. industry that kills male babies 16. somatic cells in cow milk 17. no animal products Crossword answers in next newsletter.

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