Attorney Thea Langsam explains how and why she stands up for activist rights and the animals.
Name: Thea Langsam
Profession: Public interest attorney
Are you vegetarian or vegan, and for how long? Vegan, 6 years.
What motivated you to make this change? Two things: (1) Learning about the intense, enduring suffering of animals used for dairy and egg production. (2) Becoming friends with a vegan and realizing that she enjoyed her vegan diet, rather than feeling deprived. I decided just to try giving up animal products for a bit and soon realized that I loved it. Really!
What are you working on?
I host a KFC protest in San Francisco for BAVeg once a month. This is a fun, friendly, peaceful way to let people know about KFC cruelty and, more generally, just to raise awareness about animal suffering and food choices. I also serve as Vegan Outreach’s attorney, the organization that publishes Why Vegan, Even If You Like Meat, and similar leaflets that encourage reduction of animal product consumption.
How can others get involved?
Come to a KFC protest. Date, time, location are available at BAVeg’s events page. I bring posters and flyers, all you have to do is show up. Also, join Vegan Outreach’s Adopt-a-College program, handing out leaflets like Why Vegan to college students.
Who/what inspires you to keep going?
I was a vegan for a few years before I took any affirmative action to help animals. What inspired me to do more was a trip to Farm Sanctuary, where I petted turkeys and sheep and realized — just like the dogs and cats I grew up with — that they actually enjoy affection. We also watched the movie Peaceable Kingdom, and there are two scenes in particular that I think about sometimes when I need a little extra inspiration: (1) A scene of a mother cow, frightened and trying to protect her calf, they’re in some sort of padlock area together, a man is yelling, hitting at the mother cow, perhaps with an electric prod, suddenly we realize at the same time the mother figures it out, that this violence was done to get the calf away from his mother, and they’re separated. Cows noticeably mourn when they lose a calf, bellowing for days. That is what milk production is about. (2) A scene of another cow, this one a “downer,” meaning she cannot stand by the time she makes it to the slaughter house. It would cost money to euthanize her, and we see her being pulled, alive and conscious, by a chain around her neck into the scoop of a bulldozer (as I recall the details). Her suffering is more visible than almost any suffering I’ve ever seen. Her head is up, she’s aware, her face looks scared, but worst of all is the shaking, her whole body just uncontrollably shaking.
What advice would you give to an aspiring vegan?
It’s not just about sacrifice. Vegan food is yummy, once you learn how to make and order things you like. When I first stopped eating dairy & eggs, I realized that for years I’d been drowning out the taste of foods like tomato sauce and refried beans with cheese and that tomatoes, beans, etc. have delicious flavors I’d been missing. I really believed that my taste buds were changing, allowing me to appreciate things I never had before. So my advice is to try to see what you can enjoy about veganism, rather than thinking of it as a sacrifice. Of course, just as when you ate animal products, not every meal can be good. Oh, but adding salt always helps!
What advice would you give to an aspiring activist? There are so many different events in the Bay Area, check out a few things and see what you like. The BAVeg events are always friendly, positive experiences you can feel comfortable coming to no matter what your age, personality, experience.
Favorite saying: “Think occasionally of the suffering of which you spare yourself the sight.”
Favorite dessert: Double Rainbow Soy Cream — all the flavors are awesome, but I love the mint chocolate chip.
From Vegan Outreach’s website: Easy Nutritional Yeast Cheese
3/4 C nutritional yeast flakes
1/4 C flour
1 t salt
1/2 t garlic powder
2 C water
1/4 C vegan margarine
1 t mustard
Mix dry ingredients in saucepan. Whisk in water. Cook over medium heat, whisking until mixture thickens and bubbles. Cook an additional 30 sec., remove from heat. Stir in margarine and mustard. (Note: Cheese will thicken as it cools, or you may add water to thin it.)