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
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: www.vivausa.org/urgentactions.
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: www.vivausa.org
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.