Community Profiles

Teaching High School Students Wellness

Thursday, May 7th, 2009
When Marielle Ferreboeuf, Wellness Program Coordinator for the Ida B. Wells High School, contacted Bay Area Vegetarians to give a talk on vegetarianism for the school’s April 2nd Wellness Day, we knew just who to contact! Long-time vegetarian, BAVeg member, and Registered Dietitian Denise Garbinski was happy to take on the job.

Denise, who specializes in plant-based nutrition in her private dietetic practice, gave two 45-minute classes all about vegetarian diets. Reaching approximately 30 students and faculty members, she stressed the benefits of a vegan diet not just for human health but also for the health of animals and the planet.
Her classes were well-received based on the student’s participation and interest in the materials she brought.  Denise said she was grateful for opportunity to promote vegetarianism on behalf of Bay Area Vegetarians.

A big thanks to Denise for her expertise and enthusiasm in accepting this assignment, and to PETA for providing literature.

Carol and The Chicken Man Protest KFC

Sunday, October 26th, 2008

Carol organizes the monthly KFC Cruelty Protest in San Jose.  She shares how this started. KFC Cruelty Protest

“After receiving disturbing information from PETA, during March 2003, about how cruelly KFC treated the chickens they serve, I decided to arrange a protest–my first! Only one person showed up! It was Mike Borg. Read the rest of this entry »

Alex Bury

Thursday, February 1st, 2007

Alex Bury and Myshkin

Add 3 parts compassion, 1 part coffee, 2 parts advocacy, and you’ve got the recipe for an activist like Chef, PETA staffer, and BAVeg volunteer Alex Bury.

Read the rest of this entry »

Thea Langsam

Thursday, June 29th, 2006

Thea Langsam

Attorney Thea Langsam explains how and why she stands up for activist rights and the animals.

Name: Thea Langsam
Profession: Public interest attorney

City: Oakland
Age: 34

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.

Favorite recipe:

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.)

Tammy Lee

Saturday, December 31st, 2005


She walks the talk and woks her veggies — meet Tammy of Tammy & Chris, the veggie-powered co-founder of Bay Area Vegetarians.

Name: Tammy, of Tammy & Chris

Profession: Information Systems Consultant
Location: San Mateo Coastside

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

You can read more about Bay Area Veg and some volunteer opportunities here:

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” –

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)

Bob Gotch

Saturday, December 3rd, 2005

Bob Gotch

Although his family was vegan before that word even existed, he made his own decision to embrace vegan living. Bob shares his story in this month’s Community Profile.

Name: Bob Gotch
Age: 56
Profession: Administrative / Customer Service / Database Management for county governmental agency
City: Hayward

I was born into a veg family and my parents had become vegan in the early 1940’s, both of them having grown up in traditional meat-eating families. This would have been just slightly before the word was coined in 1944 by Donald Watson in England. My mother and father were admirers of Gandhi’s non-violent movement that brought about India’s independence. They were pacifists, didn’t believe in killing animals for food or clothing, and also believed that a vegan diet was best for health.

My father had had rheumatic fever as a child, which damaged his coronary valves. Since there was nothing being offered by traditional medicine at that time–no bypasses, transplants, etc., he adopted veganism and fasting in part to see if he could improve his health. He still died relatively young of congestive heart failure at 43, and after his death my mother gave in to the pressure of her relatives and friends who didn’t think her children could possibly be healthy without at least eating dairy and eggs. “How are they going to have healthy ones and teeth?”

I can’t recall the number of times I heard my mom say, “Milk is for baby cows, not for humans.” But still, I drank milk and ate cheese with great zest, once I was exposed to its fatty, salty charms. And as a child unaware of the inherent cruelty of the dairy industry that we’re aware of now, I thought that since I wasn’t eating meat, I wasn’t contributing to animal misery.

Families being the most potent cult in existence, I adopted the lifestyle and beliefs of my parents quite meekly, (except for their views on dairy) and as a kid really believed that meat was bad for me, and carefully avoided it at all times, even as the neighborhood kids tried to slip it into something I was about to eat.

Later as a teenager I had meat a few times, as exploration or rebellion, then not again until about age 26, when upon the advice of an old Chinese herbalist/chiropractor/accupuncturist, I ate meat for about 6 weeks. After that experiment I never returned to meat, but continued to eat as a lacto/ovo vegetarian, which continued until I became vegan at World Vegetarian Day in Berkeley in 1996 after listening to talks given by doctors Michael Klaper and John McDougall. By that time I had already cut way back on dairy, wasn’t eating eggs, and made the transition quite easily, even being able to walk by the supermarket free sample displays in the deli section, not feeling any inclination to pick up a toothpick full of squares of various cheeses that I had indulged in so heavily from the ages of 6 to 46.

Vegetarianism has always been a central part of my identity, even when I was exploring outside of that lifestyle. I had a few vegetarian friends along the way, plus my immediate family, but otherwise was not connected to the veg community in the Bay Area until I encountered Das Deveraj’s Bay Area Vegetarian Restaurant Trek group, Howard Dyckoff’s East Bay Vegetarians, San Francisco Vegetarian Society, and later Bay Area Vegetarians.

The Internet has been extremely influential in proving the network of activities and gatherings that are available to us today. As one of BAVEG’s monthly restaurant hosts, at New World Vegetarian Restaurant in Oakland, I can only marvel at what a difference several decades make! I remember when there were no salad bars, something taken for granted these days. And of course the opportunity to have great vegan meals at restaurants such as New World, Golden Lotus, Cha Ya, Millennium, and so many others is a fantastic difference from the fifties, sixties, and seventies to now.

As a kid I always had mice, rats, hamsters, guinea pigs, and dogs living with me. Now I choose not to share my home with animals. I love animals, want them to be free of cruelty, abuse and misery, but have no desire to live with them, unlike most of my vegan counterparts.

Looking back on my early introduction to veganism, adoption of lacto/ovo diet despite my parents’ beliefs that dairy and eggs were not meant for the human diet, and then going back to the vegan lifestyle that I was born into, I’m wondering if there could have been anything that anyone could have said, done, exposed me to, that would have made me leave lacto/ovo vegetarianism any more quickly. It’s hard to say, because I really didn’t meet any vegans until just a few years before becoming one in 1996. I think intense lobbying or guilt-tripping on anyone’s part wouldn’t have been successful, and I needed to take the path that I did to return to the vegan lifestyle that I live today which makes so much sense to me now from all three of the major perspectives–animal cruelty/exploitation, health, and environment.

So, for more than fifty years I can recall my mom’s words: We don’t kill animals for food or clothing, milk is for baby calves, not for humans, and hydrogenated oil is bad! She was ahead of her time.

Sara Jotoku

Monday, October 31st, 2005

Sara Jotoku

Mix equal parts of compassion, determination, and willingness to help, and you’ve got the makings of an activist. Meet Sara J and learn how and why she decided to put her compassion in action.

Name: Sara Jotoku
Profession: Technical Writer
City: El Cerrito

Are you vegetarian or vegan, and for how long?
Vegetarian for 10 years, vegan for 5 years.

What motivated you to make this change?
I always hated the idea of animals being killed or mistreated, but it took a while before my feelings translated into the action of giving up meat. Eventually the accumulation of images I had seen and stories I had heard overcame my passivity. Around the time I stopped eating meat, I had become interested in Buddhism, so that was also an influence. I didn’t yet know that animals who produce eggs and milk are abused and killed. Then I read Diet for a New America by John Robbins, and became vegan overnight.

What are you working on?
Since I’m new to animal advocacy, I’m trying to educate myself about factory farming and animal rights by reading and going to hear speakers. For my fledgling activist efforts, I am taking advantage of the wonderful network of people and range of activities offered by Bay Area Vegetarians.

I currently host a monthly Letter Writing Party in Berkeley and a monthly tabling at the Berkeley Farmers Market. I’m setting up a display on vegetarianism at the El Cerrito library for the month of December. I recently started leafleting at Trader Joe’s with Christine Morrissey of East Bay Animal Advocates.

How can others get involved?
If anyone would like to participate in a letter writing party or help with tabling, please RSVP through the Events list on the Bay Area Vegetarians website. I would also encourage others to host an activity, solo or with a team. The more people willing to organize events or contribute new ideas, the more vibrant the whole veg/AR community will be.

Who/what inspires you to keep going?
First, reading about and seeing images of animals in distress. I believe everyone can do something to help – it doesn’t have to be saving the world overnight, just contributing or supporting in some way can make a difference. Second, other activists are very inspiring in their commitment and courage. Third, it’s satisfying knowing you’re trying to help, and seeing signs of progress (e.g. an organization abandoning a cruel practice because of public pressure).

What advice would you give to an aspiring vegan?
Especially in the Bay Area, there’s a tremendous variety of delicious vegan food. There doesn’t need to be any denial or penance in going vegan. Learn the basics of nutrition; one good source is Guide to Cruelty-Free Eating, a new booklet from Vegan Outreach.

What advice would you give to an aspiring activist?
Start at an easy pace so you don’t become overwhelmed. Try an activity, let yourself absorb that, then take another step. Sometimes you’ll have to push yourself outside your comfort zone, but also respect your own rhythm and needs. Let yourself discover what activities are harmonious with your personality.

Favorite website:

Mat Thomas

Thursday, September 1st, 2005

Mat Thomas

Struggling with being vegan? Or finding your advocacy niche? Learn how Mat Thomas discovered his inner vegan strengths.

Name: Mat Thomas
Profession: writer/editor
City: San Francisco

Age: 35

How long I have been vegetarian/vegan:
I’ve been vegetarian 9 years, vegan for 3½ years.

What motivated me to make this change:

I became a vegetarian soon after moving from New York to California: it was a time of major transition for me, and I was wide open to new experiences. I was attending grad school, studying to be a transpersonal psychotherapist, and was assigned to read an interview with John Robbins for a class called Paradigms of Consciousness. I became a vegetarian that day, in July 1996.

Over the next few years, I tried going vegan many times, but I didn’t meet any vegans until I’d already been vegetarian for five years, so change was difficult. I was working as a business proposal writer for a managed behavioral healthcare company, occupying a cubicle in a Financial District skyscraper, when I met my first two vegans (out of 2,500 employees). We’d been going to dinner Friday nights, and their influence facilitated my transformation from conflicted vegetarian into empowered vegan.

Becoming a vegan was one of my delayed responses to 9/11: like many people, I was asking hard questions about the meaning of life, and that’s when the change took hold. I became a vegan in February 2002, after eating a cheese omelet that made me nauseous. I said to myself, “That’s it,” and it was: I just knew then that, from that day forward, I was going to be a vegan for the rest of my life.

How I got started in activism:

Determined to help animals, I began doing activism within weeks of going vegan. Through BAV, I found out what was happening in the Bay Area. I started out by leafleting with other activists (usually accompanied by a TV/VCR showing factory farming videos) because that seemed like entry-level “activism” to me. After a couple of months of this, I got involved with a local grassroots group that was just starting up at the time called Freedom For Animals (FFA). I hit the streets with them on various campaigns, and wrote some flyers using my background in marketing and psychology. I enjoyed seeing “average folks” actually read what I’d written about factory farming issues, and hopefully making more compassionate choices as a result.

I did public outreach on and off for more than two years, but decided to stop because the emotions it raised – grief, anguish, rage – were driving me to despair. Ultimately, I found I could be a more effective advocate by focusing my energies on writing. To prosper, activists must do what they find most personally exciting and motivating: for me, that’s working with language.

The hardest part of being vegan:
Living in a society that engages in a form of speciesist holocaust every moment of every day, and having to interact with those who can’t see the truth or empathize with enslaved animals. The fact is that most non-vegetarians would rather eat the corpse-flesh of a factory-farmed animal than read the words I write to describe that animal’s life and death! In psychological terms, this widespread disconnect from reality is symptomatic of an undiagnosed emotional disorder of epidemic proportions. Yet, killing and eating animals is the norm, so I strive to attain a higher level of sanity in a world where mass murder is considered natural, acceptable and inevitable. I cope by trying to use my voice to move people toward greater sensitivity.

What I am working on:

  • I work for In Defense of Animals (IDA), writing and editing their weekly e-news, action alerts (e.g., Bay Area Events), web content, leaflets, brochures, magazine articles: whatever the organization needs.
  • I’ve written a number of articles for VegNews, and wrote some profiles of companies specializing in vegan travel for the latest issue.
  • I just finished my first article for Satya magazine, which will probably be in the October issue, and have plans for more articles.
  • I write a monthly column for The Animal World, a paper out of Tennessee.
  • I enjoy writing for BAV, and a lot of my stuff is on their website to read or print out for tabling: The Rough Guide to Animal Rights,

    “But You Eat Fish, Don’t You?”, Veg Mentor flyer, BAVeg brochure Check them out

  • • I volunteer for the production crew of Undercover TV, an animal rights television show that broadcasts on over 50 public access stations nationwide, including San Francisco, Berkeley, Marin County, Pacifica and Palo Alto.

How others can get involved (with above):

  • Sign up for IDA’s e-news and action alerts at
  • Watch Undercover TV (check for days/times/channels).
  • I’m looking for artists and graphic designers who want to collaborate on advocacy materials (e.g., brochures and booklets) that will reflect a high level of visual/textual integration and eye-catching aesthetic style. E-mail me if you’re interested.

Advice to aspiring activists:
Apply your unique skills and talents to helping animals. If you’re good at something and you love doing it, make that work for yourself and the animals.

Who/what inspires you to keep going?

I share my life and apartment with two incredible cats, Zelda & Jasmine (a.k.a., Jazzie), both adopted from SF Animal Care & Control. One look in their eyes convinces me that seeking to save animals’ lives is among the noblest of callings.

Caity McCardell

Sunday, July 31st, 2005

McCardell Family

In earlier profiles, we met local folks active in promoting vegetarianism. This month, meet Caity McCardell, who is creating new vegetarians in her own special way.

Name: Caity McCardell

Profession: Mommy to a 2-year-old and a 3-month-old
City: Martinez (East Bay, near Walnut Creek)
Age: 36
Family: Husband Stefan; daughter Gianna; son Colin; dog Caine; cats Zen and Del

Are you vegetarian or vegan, and for how long?
I’m vegan — since early 2001

What motivated you to make this change?
My original motivations were purely for vanity’s sake. After 10 years of dealing with adult acne, I knew it was time to get serious about my problem. I had tried every product in the book (except major drugs) and I remembered my grandmother telling me that when she stopped drinking milk her skin problems diminished. So I tried it, too.

Two weeks later, my skin cleared up considerably. A month later, my 10-year acne problem was gone. Coincidentally, I attended a raw foods workshop that same month and it all clicked. I didn’t need to eat meat, dairy and eggs.

I read The Food Revolution and realized that I cared about animals — all animals. It was more important than my skin – I felt I was reading the truth under the façade of corporate messages. I also encouraged my husband, Stefan, to go vegan (he likes to say he was vegan by page 100 of The Food Revolution). So we were off on the same journey together.

What are you working on?
I’m on the Board of East Bay Animal Advocates, but truth be told I haven’t been participating in their work since I got pregnant with Colin (my second baby). I’m very focused on family, home, life right now since Colin is only 3 months old. We’ll be attending rallies and handing out Why Vegan’s as soon as I get used to juggling two children! Being involved means a lot to me.

How do your values of veg*nism play a role in being a parent?
Veganism touches my parenting style on a regular basis. I try to instill in my children a sense of connection with nature and empathy with animals, which is sometimes challenging when the children around us are being taught that animals are ours to be exploited.

Before Gianna was born, our belief in the rights of animals encouraged us to look at our feelings about children’s rights. We wouldn’t let our cats cry in a room alone, so why would we let our children do that (as popular parenting books teach modern parents)? I would stay out of the way of a calf and cow so they could nurse as long as nature intended — and the same applies to my nursing relationship with my children. There are plenty of other examples of how our empathetic parenting style was impacted by our feelings about nature and animal rights.

I used animals as a guide in my birth experiences. I asked myself, “what would an animal do for a more comfortable birth?” So I look to cats and giraffes and deer and how their birthing is seemingly pain free. They’re inside themselves, comfortable, focused — without machines around them and other animals nervously chattering. What does a deer do in the woods when she’s laboring and senses danger? Her labor stops. That teaches me something about what kind of environment I want to birth in. And, boy, did I have two amazingly pain-free births!

The more I produce milk for my babies, the more it is strange to me that people consume cow’s milk. People think I should wean my children at a young age from nursing — but then they question why we don’t drink milk. That is just bizarre to me.

Who/what inspires you to keep going?
Animals inspire me — the need to do something, anything, for the suffering animals on this planet. My husband helps me keep my focus. He is an incredibly firm stand for animals. He’s outspoken and unwavering — and so compassionate.

What resources were useful to you in preparing for being a vegan parent?

Erin Pavlina’s book Raising Vegan Children in a Non-Vegan World: A Complete Guide for Parents helped me a lot — mostly reminding me that there are others like me out there. (Maybe not in my neighborhood or town, but there are vegan children out there!) It also gave me information (ammunition) about nutrition for kids and general advice about the day-to-day experience of being a vegan parent.

What prepared me the most for vegan parenting was simple: Trusting my instincts. I was determined to not put junk into my children’s bodies. I knew that they didn’t need animal products to be healthy. It was just a matter of demonstrating that to my friends and family, which is easy if I don’t let their concerns bother me.

What advice would you give to an aspiring vegan parent?
Tell the world you’re a vegan parent! Don’t hide!

Also, relax as much as possible about food. It seems that whenever I get nervous about Gianna not eating enough or not eating the right food, she turns around and asks for a ton of bean salad and a box full of fruit. Providing our children (veg*n or not) a variety of tasty, healthy foods as close to their natural state as possible will give them the opportunity to eat well.

Favorite veggie parenting websites: and

Favorite shopping website:

Favorite dessert: Cold cereal with agave nectar, soy beverage, raw almonds and raisins

Favorite restaurant: Café Gratitude in San Francisco. Also, a tofu burger at Ananda Fuara. I miss it, since it’s hard to drive to The City from the suburbs now with two children!

Favorite recipe:
I love 3 Bean Salad because it’s so colorful and super tasty — a hearty salad that has lots of good nutrients in it. When I make it, I don’t use a recipe — I just throw it all together and it always comes out yummy. Just leave out or minimize the onions if they don’t agree with you.

3 Bean Salad

Garbanzo beans
Kidney beans
Green beans (cooked and cut up into 2-inch segments)
Red onion (cut up into small pieces)
Rice vinegar
Olive Oil
Salt and pepper

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.

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