Community Profiles

lauren Ornelas

Friday, July 1st, 2005

lauren Ornelas

If animals could speak English, they’d tell you about their wonderful friend and ting-crunching defender lauren Ornelas. Read the full story for yourself!

Name: lauren Ornelas

Profession: US Campaigns Director Viva!USA
City: Davis
Age: 35

Are you vegetarian or vegan, and for how long?

When i first stopped eating meat i was around 5 but was too young to stick with it. Friends remember me being veggie in 5th grade, but I think I finally stuck with it when I was 16. Then i went vegan in 1988 when I was in high school.

What motivated you to make this change?
I cared about animals. i didn’t know much about factory farming but i did know that animals had to die in order for me to eat them and that was enough for me. It was pretty simple.

What are you working on?
We are currently working to update our “Vegan Basics” guide as well as “Planet on a Plate,” a guide that deals with the environmental impacts of animal consumption on our planet.

We are also finishing up some investigations and working to keep pressure on Albertsons for selling factory-farmed duck meat and on Pier 1 Imports for selling duck feathers from factory farms.

We are still working to convince Ben & Jerry’s to carry a vegan ice cream as well.

How can others get involved?
Activists can contact Albertsons and Pier 1 Imports directly and ask them to stop supporting this cruel industry. They can get contact information for these companies on our website at:

We also encourage activists to contact us for free leaflets and posters, which they can use either as general outreach to friends and family or, better yet, to leaflet in front of the stores.

For the Ben & Jerry’s campaign, we ask people to contact Ben & Jerry’s (their information is also on our website).

For both of these campaigns, activists can also go directly to the stores and speak out as consumers.

We feel that every individual has the power to vote every day with his or her dollars–either in support of animal cruelty or against it.

Who/what inspires you to keep going?
The animals and young activists.

The animals are the big motivation, of course. Any type of injustice moves me to want to act and change things. Humans have victimized animals for a long time, but capitalism has pushed factory farming to extreme forms of cruelty that i am sure people from even 50 years ago couldn’t have even imagined.

Young activists give me hope because they care about animals and aren’t afraid to admit it–and they have the potential to change so many hearts and minds as they grow older.

What advice would you give to an aspiring vegan?
First of all, I would want them to remember to be proud for being compassionate. Being a vegan is about compassion and about using your lifestyle choices—what you buy and what you eat—to fight one of the worst forms of oppression.

Also, try Tings! Really, they are vegan Cheetos. What could be better? Aside from the amazing vegan junk food (okay and some of the healthy stuff), it is amazing to wake up every morning and know that with every meal you eat each day you are choosing not to participate in a factory-farming system that inflicts suffering and death on billions of animals. People think of veganism as losing option and I am always amazed at all that you gain.

Try new things. I am an incredibly picky eater, but over time i have eaten foods that i couldn’t have imagined i would ever try.

What advice would you give to an aspiring activist?
I would encourage them to continue the fight and not get discouraged. It’s important to work with other groups and activists and try not to get caught up in any personal drama. That’s hard to avoid sometimes, I know, but we have to keep our eyes on the prize of animal liberation.

With every action we take, we should be thinking about what we want the reaction to be.

Most of all, stay active! Every single thing we do, from requesting more vegan items at a restaurant (or thanking a restaurant for carrying some) to speaking out when stores sell products from cruel farms, makes a big difference.

Favorite saying: Hasta la victoria, siempre.

Favorite dessert: Popcorn or french fries

Favorite restaurant or recipe: Haha. Recipe? Haha. So funny! I don’t cook much, I’m afraid. My favorite food that someone else can make me? Pie with nutritional yeast gravy, broccoli & potatoes :)

Favorite website:

Anything else you want our readers to know:
It is very important that everyone use their voices to speak out against oppression–whether it’s on behalf of the hen who can barely open a wing in a battery cage or the farm workers who collapse from heat exhaustion picking our fruits and vegetables. We must remember that we need to speak out for those who have a voice but perhaps do not have the money or influence to make themselves heard. Every dollar we spend represents what we value.

David Morse

Wednesday, June 1st, 2005

David Morse

More often behind a camera than in front of it, there’s nothing coded or cryptic about David Morse and his commitment to independent media for animal liberation.

Profession: day job: website builder for online ad agency
City: Oakland
Age: 37


Are you vegetarian or vegan, and for how long?
I stopped eating meat just before my 21st birthday, so that makes it like, what, over 16 years now. Dang. I never ate huge amounts of dairy, even that dwindled over time, and I cut it out completely about 9 or 10 years ago.

What motivated you to make this change?
After being involved with activist causes since I was a very young teenager, from the Nuclear Freeze movement of the early to mid-80s to environmentalism and social justice in the later 80s, I was ripe for exposure to the Animal Rights movement in January 1989. I had one vegetarian friend a few years prior and knew of several punk bands that were vegetarian but I never really got it until the one two-week J-term class that winter at my college on the Animal Rights movement. Our assignment for the first evening was to read a few specific chapters from the book Animal Liberation. I couldn’t stop reading the book that night, read beyond the assignment, and decided I wanted no part of eating meat again from that day forward. I finally got it — my food didn’t live on little Fisher-Price farms. I had no idea what to eat as I was a lazy Burger-King-two-times-a-day kind of guy, and I lived off peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, steamed broccoli and meatless lasagna for months. But, over time, I figured it out with cookbooks and never looked back. It remains one of the best decisions I ever made.

What are you working on?

Volunteering as much time as I reasonably can with the SF Bay Area Independent Media Center (SF Bay Area IMC): I am one of the editors of the open-publishing website, focusing largely on the Animal Liberation category, and I help out behind the scenes to produce Fault Lines, the IMCs monthly newspaper. I greatly enjoy the diversity of activism these projects bring me in touch with.

How can others get involved?
Everyone can make media and be a reporter at Indybay. Attend local demos and events and write about your experiences, take photos, video, or audio, and post it all on Indybay to document your actions and share them with others in the Bay Area. Once you have your report written and/or your photos cropped, it’s as easy copying and pasting your news into a simple online form and uploading your media files. You can repost any relevent animal and vegetarian news you run across if you just link back to the source. Email me if you ever need any assistance.

Who/what inspires you to keep going?
Honestly, I can’t imagine doing anything else. To be apathetic and complacent is just not in my nature. Not that I never have lazy spells, I do (although it’s harder to with all of the committments I have made). I am just not happy sitting back and not taking stands on issues I feel passionately about. There’s is so much still to be done to make this a better world for people, animals, and our environment.

What advice would you give to an aspiring vegetarian or vegan?

Ever little bit of animal products you cut out of your life is a good thing. Every step lower you take on the food chain is a step in the right direction. Meateaters that cut out beef make a difference. Becoming vegetarian and not replacing meat with increased cheese consumption makes a huge difference. And those who go vegetarian today, especially in the Bay Area, have it much easier than I did. Cutting out leather and wool are two more steps in the right direction. When the time is right and you are comfortable with where you are, make the leap to veganism.

What advice would you give to an aspiring activist?
Pace yourself for the long haul. Don’t bite off more than you can chew. Sample around and see what you enjoy doing best over time. Make the time to take care of yourself. Have fun.

Trivia –

Favorite Movie: I only make it to a theater about once a year or less, but the best two films on video I’ve seen in the last six months are Garden State and The Whale Rider. (Half-jokingly, my wife just said to me that if you don’t like The Whale Rider, you have no soul.)

Favorite saying: Gettin’ there.

Favorite foods: Indian food, especially Chana Masala — and Soy Delicious ice cream for special treats.

Favorite restaurant: Lately, it’s been the Asian goodness at the Golden Lotus in Oakland as I live about 10 blocks away. Sometimes Lanesplitters #2’s vegan calzones (very happy they have a location closer to downtown now).

Favorite website: Indybay stories

Companion Animals: Two felines: Droogie, an 11-year old male (named by my brother from the Kubrick film A Clockwork Orange), and Marla, a 5-year old female (named from the film Fight Club because we had two males at the time of her arrival and, for the boys, “she ruined everything”).

Anything else you want our readers to know 🙂
My only brother, Stephen, passed away last September and he is constantly on my mind. He was an incredible person: an awesome surfer, a ripping snowboarder, an energetic drummer, a hardworker, exceptionally compassionate toward people and animals, and, yes, he was a vegetarian. He was my best friend and I will always love him. Be good to those around you and count every day you are alive and healthy as a blessing.

Nora Kramer

Thursday, April 28th, 2005

Nora Kramer

Give her a leaflet, a body screen TV, a pen or simply 5 minutes of your attention, and Nora Kramer is a persuasive voice for the animals.

City: San Francisco
Originally from: New York (City and suburbs). Moved here 6 years ago.

Profession: Um, don’t really have one at the moment! Check back with me at a later date.

Companion Animals:

Spanky, the most healthy, beautiful, intelligent (well, definitely healthy and beautiful), and all-around perfect 15-year old vegan Black Lab mix you’re likely to meet. She’s been to her share of protests and was even featured in VegNews! I’m lucky she keeps me around.

How many years have you been vegetarian? 8 years vegetarian, 7 years vegan

What motivated you to make this change?
When taking an environmental science class in college, we watched “Diet for a New America,” a video based on John Robbins’ book. Learning how terribly animals raised for food are treated did it for me, though I was also very compelled by the environmental and social justice arguments, and pleased to learn that I wouldn’t die from not eating meat and dairy. I had never tasted a veggie burger or even heard of soy milk, so I had no clue what to eat at first, but I knew I couldn’t in good conscience ignore what I’d learned.

Activism work (and opportunities for volunteers to help out):
I always seem to have my hands in a bunch of different things and often have a hard time prioritizing and saying no to new projects. This is my New Year’s resolution that I’m hoping to put into effect in May.

Some of them:

  • I run a humane education program called The Empathy Project, for which I do presentations at schools about animal and environmental issues. If anybody is a teacher, student, or parent and is interested in my presenting at their school (in the fall) or wants more info on The Empathy Project, let me know.
  • I coordinate, a website listing local veg-friendly restaurants, grocery stores, caterers, organizations, event listings, and more. Email if you have any suggestions for the site. I’m interested in doing a concerted campaign to expand vegan options at restaurants and would love help in this area from people willing to work with restaurant owners and managers. I would also love help from someone who could do some website updating and someone with good graphics skills.
  • I’m one of the founders and list administrators of BAARN:
  • I table at lots of veg events and show “Meet Your Meat” on the streets of San Francisco. Let me know if you ever want to join me—especially if you’ve got a car!
  • I’ve been working on a project to get vegetarian commercials airing on MTV in various cities across the country. If you’re interested in getting these aired locally and could help with fundraising for this project, let me know.
  • I write lots of letters to the editor.
  • I copy-edit and occasionally write articles for VegNews.
  • I distribute veg leaflets around town.
  • I try to support other activists and events.
  • Other things I can’t think of at the moment.

Who/what inspires you to keep going?
The fact that billions of animals are being tortured, as we sit here at our computers, to be turned into products that pollute our environment and cause loads of human health problems—and that most people have never even questioned eating meat, are totally unaware of how these animals are treated, and have no idea how great vegan food is! It’s up to those of us who know and who care to reach out to those who don’t (yet). Plus, vegetarian activists are an amazing group, and I feel privileged to know and work with and be friends with so many people in the veg community. They inspire me with their incredible dedication, selflessness and creativity.

Other social justice interests:

  • Worked in various capacities on the Matt Gonzalez, Dennis Kucinich, and John Kerry campaigns. 0 for 3. Oy.
  • Currently taking an intensive workshop on anti-racist organizing and challenging white supremacy.
  • Volunteer with People’s Grocery in Oakland, a food justice group that helps to make healthy organic vegetarian food available in low-income communities without access to this food.
  • Anti-war, pro-choice, anti-imperialist; you get the idea.

Long-term goal:

To develop (or be involved in) a camp for kids interested in activism and social change.

Pet peeves:

  • People who show up at demonstrations purely to socialize. They talk to other activists the whole time, actually preventing or distracting these activists from doing outreach. I love to socialize, but there’s plenty of time to socialize after the demo!
  • Environmentalists who don’t “get” animal rights and animal activists who don’t “get” environmentalism.

Favorite restaurant: Golden Era.

Favorite recipe: It’s a tie. I like to call them nutritional yeast pasta and nutritional yeast toast: Make toast or pasta. Add Earth Balance margarine, flax seed oil, and a ridiculous amount of nutritional yeast. Serve and enjoy! (You can tell I love to cook.)

Favorite band: Morrissey/The Smiths

I have an inexplicable love of sports (all the NY teams). Especially football. And baseball. And basketball during the playoffs. A definite guilty pleasure.

Advice to aspiring vegans and activists:
Getting further involved in this cause will be so gratifying. You will be so proud that your actions help animals and actively oppose the outrageous cruelty of animal agribusiness. Meet new and supportive people through BAV, learn as much as you can, experiment with different things, ask lots of questions, do lots of Internet research and learn about different organizations doing great work, remember that even little things you do (like leaving veg leaflets at a vegetarian restaurant or putting a bumper sticker on your car) are important, and be proud of every step you take to help.

Some articles I strongly recommend:

On making the transition:
VegCooking – Making the Transition

On activism:

Vegan Outreach – A Meaningful Life
Vegan Outreach – Vegan Advocacy
GoVeg – Get Active for Farmed Animals
GoVeg – Effective Advocacy: Stealing From the Corporate Playbook

Finally, be sure to thank unsung heroes Tammy and Chris of BAV for all of their amazing work building and supporting our local veg community.

Chris James

Friday, April 1st, 2005

Chris James

From writing code to designing flyers to being a costumed chicken or Stormtrooper, meet Chris James, BAVeg’s co-founder & general dogsbody, and a vegan force to be reckoned with.

Profession: Computer Engineer
City: Montara
Age: 36
Websites:, and my blog

Are you vegetarian or vegan, and for how long? Veg since ’89, went Vegan in ’94

What motivated you to make this change? Hard to say, it was a long process. My one line answer has always been “To be difficult”, but here’s a recent blog entry on my reasons for going veg. (link)

What are you working on? BAVeg keeps me very busy. I am the keeper of the Ultimate Guide and maintain all the technology on the BAVeg website. I write all the custom code for the site (usually PHP and MySQL), and am the graphic designer for the website, various flyers & posters, as well as list admin for SFBAVEG, the Secretary & Treasurer for BAVeg and official chauffeur for the President.

How can others get involved? Just email me, or see the BAVeg jobs page. Our current focus is building a strong outreach and advocacy team, and establishing BAVeg as a community resource for vegetarianism.

Who/what inspires you to keep going? I see the suffering and cruelty that the animals endure, and then I see that our efforts at BAVeg do make a difference in supporting and promoting a plant-based diet. I work closely with Tammy and we keep each other motivated. Ingrid Newkirk is also one of my heroes.

What advice would you give to an aspiring vegan? Get a good vegan cookbook, like Peaceful Palate, and seek out vegan friends.

What advice would you give to an aspiring activist? Don’t go it alone. Find like-minded people and build relationships and a support system. Working with others can help you avoid burnout.

What else are you involved in? I am a big Star Wars fan and a member of the 501st Stormtrooper Legion. We do charity events where I show up as a Stormtrooper, Biker Scout, X-Wing Pilot or a Jedi knight. I also have a huge collection of replica props from various movies.

Favorite band: Del Amitri

Favorite food: Baked beans on toast – it’s a British thing ;)

Favorite dessert: Black China Carrot Cake

Favorite restaurant: Shangri-La Vegetarian Restaurant, closely followed by Herbivore.

Favorite recipe: It varies every month, but currently it’s Thai Pasta (see the April 05 Newsletter for the recipe)

Favorite movies:
The original Star Wars trilogy, the first and last Indiana Jones movies, Star Trek: First Contact, All of the Lord of the Rings movies.

Favorite Quotes:
A wise woman once told me “Vegetarians are like magnets… either we stick together or repel with equal force!”,

and an even wiser man – “You don’t have to be the best to win. Sometimes luck is just on your side and others around you are simply worse.”

Companion Animals:
We share our home with 4 loving cats. Harry, Moo, Jack and Mite (pronounced Mighty). You can read all about their adventures in their very own blog.

Christine Morrissey

Friday, February 25th, 2005

Christine Morrissey

Empowered by compassion for the animals, fueled with Avocado Sushi and Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, named one of the best Local Activists in the BEST OF VEG 2004 contest, meet Christine Morrissey and learn what she’s doing to help the animals…

Profession: Education Coordinator, Contra Costa County Bar Association, Martinez

City: Oakland
Age: 24

How many years [vegetarian/vegan]? 10 Years

What motivated you to make this change?
At age 14, I entered the workforce on the wrong-foot as a cashier at McDonald’s. I came to my senses quickly and quit my job under the Golden Arches. After viewing the documentary “To Love or Kill: Man vs. Animals,” subsequently, I stopped eating meat–cold turkey. Several years later, I adopted a vegan diet.

What are you working on?
I work with East Bay Animal Advocates. Established in May 2003, EBAA is a nonprofit organization based in the Bay Area. Powered by nearly 200 volunteer supporters, EBAA defends animals harmed in agriculture, entertainment, fashion, science and beyond. EBAA is always looking for volunteers for our education, rescue, and advocacy programs. EBAA is delighted to share our recent achievements:

  • Rescued 35 farmed animals from California’s Central Valley
  • Distributed thousands of pieces of humane educational literature to the public
  • Featured in the media over 15 times
  • Organized over 100 outreach events in the San Francisco Bay Area

I am currently working on several farmed animal investigations. As well, I spend time organizing frequent public outreach events (i.e. feed-ins, workshops) to promote vegetarianism in the East Bay. Two months ago, I completed the training to become a Level One humane officer in the State of California.

Who/what inspires you to keep going?

Eminem & Poults (Baby Turkeys)

Favorite Quote:
“Let’s change the way we eat, let’s change the way we live and let’s change the way we treat each other. You see the old way wasn’t working so it’s on us to do what we gotta do, to survive.” –Tupac Shakur

Favorite Movies:
Steel Magnolias, The Blair Witch Project & Apocalypse Now

Favorite Vegan Treats:

Burritos, Lanesplitter’s Vegan Pizza, Avocado Sushi & Sierra Nevada Pale Ale

Companion Animals:
I share my Oakland apartment with Dutch, a gregarious pit bull/chow/lab mix. After rescuing Dutch from a car accident last year, I have been inseparable from this crazy canine. Dutch is a healthy vegan pup who is always looking for trouble!

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