She walks the talk and woks her veggies — meet Tammy of Tammy & Chris, the veggie-powered co-founder of Bay Area Vegetarians.
Are you vegetarian or vegan, and for how long?
I became aware of vegetarianism in 1989, and within six months I transitioned to being vegan.
What motivated you to make this change?
My first culinary attempts at veg cooking were, in retrospect, awful, so it definitely wasn’t the food that compelled me to make this lifestyle change. The animals, who are treated so horribly and unconscionably in factory farms, were and continue to be my motivation.
As I’ve learned more about cooking and eating different beans, vegetables, and grains, accumulated a yummy selection of cookbooks and recipes, plus enjoyed living veggie in one of the most veg-friendly areas in the world, my enjoyment of vegan foods is reinforced several times a day. I’ve also learned more about the environmental and social justice impacts of eating animals.
While I had already made the decision to go vegan, it really started when I went to a PETA “AR 101″ workshop in 1990. I had my first wonderful vegan meal; it included tofu lasagna and chocolate cake. Aside from realizing vegan food is great (I just needed the right cookbook), that led to my first advocacy activity; I tabled with new friends to share the message at Earth Day that ‘Vegetarianism is the Single Most Important Thing You Can Do’. PETA remains one of my favorite organizations working for the animals.
What are you working on?
Asking and supporting people to eat veg. More animals are killed every minute for food than any other ab/use of animals. So, I feel my best contribution to reduce animal suffering is by promoting vegetarianism.
Nearly all of my volunteer time is spent promoting veg*nism via Bay Area Vegetarians. As most folks know, Chris and I started SFBAVEG as a mailing list in 2001, it evolved into Bay Area Vegetarians, which we incorporated as a non-profit 501(c)(3) last year.
My most visible role is probably as list owner for SFBAVEG & SFBAVEG-EVENTS. I also co-host a monthly SF dinner with Chris, leaflet with Vegan Outreach’s Adopt-a-College program, manage the Compassionate Living program, and organize a few other events every year, typically a Vegan Food Party and camping trip. I’m also involved with promotion, and other responsibilities, including events & volunteer coordinator, newsletter editor, and food tester at Vegan Food Parties. And, yeah, I do this in my spare time since I have a full-time job elsewhere.
I know one person can achieve significant results, but I always feel the best results happen when we work together. I want Bay Area Vegetarians to be a valuable resource for the existing and aspiring vegetarian and animal rights community, so we can connect and support each other, and work together.
How can others get involved?
This question makes me laugh. People who know me realize that I am always asking people to help, and there are so many ways to get involved with a small, grassroots organization like Bay Area Veg. It can be as simple as organizing a Vegan Food Party, attending a letter writing party or KFC Cruelty Protest, helping us set-up chairs at an event, put out flyers, help promote the group’s activities on Craigslist, etc.
If I haven’t asked you, and you want to get involved, that’s wonderful! Bay Area Veg is always looking for volunteers. I suggest that folks start by attending events and get a feel for the community and what Bay Area Veg does. Come and talk to me about what your interests and ideas are. It’s important for new volunteers to understand Bay Area Veg and what Bay Area Veg does. Otherwise, it can eat a lot of my time to keep talking to potential volunteers who aren’t a good match for who we are, what we do, and how we do it.
There’s also lots of room for new projects and ideas. A good example is the recent ‘Project Tofurky’ that was sparked by one person seeing a plea for turkeys from the Food Bank, finding out they also wanted Tofurkys, sharing it with the community, and others wanting to work together
Who/what inspires you to keep going?
My sense of responsibility to the animals, and also seeing how my efforts make a difference. I work very closely with Chris, and we keep each other motivated. I have made many new friends through my volunteer work with Bay Area Veg. I’ve also enjoyed working closely with other dedicated local activists. Learning about what other activists are doing, both locally and nationally, is also very encouraging. Getting direct feedback from individuals how Bay Area Veg or SFBAVEG or our events or the Ultimate Guide, etc. has helped them in being veg*n also keeps me motivated.
What advice would you give to an aspiring vegan?
Take it one step at a time. Go to events, post questions to the online community (SFBAVEG or the Veggie Mentor forum) — basically, meet and connect with others who share your same interests and values towards vegetarianism. And educate yourself so you can feel confident and informed about your choices. See the ‘resources’ section on the BAVeg website.
What advice would you give to an aspiring activist?
Whether its promoting vegetarianism, raising awareness of vivisection, educating about the importance of spay/neuter — what we’re basically trying to do is “sell” people on a course of action that includes compassionate and responsible treatment of animals. So, smile, be friendly, and also respectful of different opinions; remember, most of us weren’t born veg*n either, we evolved.
Favorite sayings: “Perform a death-defying act… Go Vegan!” and “Veg*ns are like magnets. Either we stick together or we repel with equal force.”
Favorite dessert: MaggieMudd’s Peanut Butter Palooka or Tarmack
Favorite restaurants: See “UG Editor’s Choice” – http://www.bayareaveg.org/ug/featured.htm
Favorite recipes: They’ve been highlighted in previous issues of BAVeg News
Favorite TV shows: Grey’s Anatomy, House, Battlestar Galactica, The Shield, Desperate Housewives, Boston Legal (thank you TIVO!)
Favorite Movies: Matrix (first one), Lord of the Rings (all three, particularly Fellowship of the Ring)
Events I’m hosting or co-hosting this month:
01/08 Compassionate Living: Effective Advocacy for Animals – SF
01/27 San Francisco Dinner – SF
01/29 Vegan Food Party – Pacifica
01/31 Adopt a College leafletting – Academy of Arts College, SF
(see BAVeg Event Calendar for details)