The Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me About Being an Animal Rights Activist

Hello everyone,
I hope that you have all had an incredible summer.  I know that it’s been a bit…
I cannot believe that summer is almost over! Where does the time go?!  My summer consisted of working at the gym as fitness director, running my own business, taking a plant based nutrition course, activism, volunteering at a sanctuary, going to a wedding in San Francisco with the hubby, attending my 20 year high school reunion (whoah, I know!), and kissing Layla (our fur baby).  It was filled with ups and downs; the lowest of the downs took place a few weeks ago.  And that brings me to the subject of this blog:  “The Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me About Being An Animal Rights Activist”.
I know that seems like a rough transition, but hang in there.  It’ll make sense by point 3.
1) Being an Animal Rights Activist is one of the hardest jobs in the whole world!
Not only do you not get any financial support for your actions, but the job never stops. I am no where near as active as some other activists, but I co-hosted a Cube of Truth almost every weekend for a year. In addition, I try to cook vegan food for people to sample, offer online challenges and to post something valuable/informative on social media every day! This work may not sound difficult but you never hear the end of it when you are fighting for something that is against the social norm.  It is full of Internet trolls, family insults including “you are a f*ing moron”, and strangers posting pictures of tortured animals.  The hours also never stop.  Being an activist means knowing the truth about what happens to animals and never being able to get away from the images: on social media, going to the grocery store, at family dinners, smelling barbecues in the neighborhood, seeing commercials on the TV’s at the gym, listening to food commercials on the radio, in your dreams (or nightmares).  It is a constant battle of trying to be compassionate, yet knowing what a dark place this world can be.
2)  Self-Care is crucial and must be done to sustain this movement! (And this is where my breaking point comes in….)
As an activist, you feel like you can never stop.  At this very moment, thousands of animals are being slaughtered and I should probably get off my butt to advocate for them instead of writing this blog.  I don’t have time for a bath or a vacation because the animals need me (and if one more person tells me abut their vacation when I am trying to save the world!). I am tired but I need to go to a Cube.  I want to cry but I can’t stop.  I don’t have time to be sick…..and vegans don’t get sick!
These are all thoughts that go through our heads.  I have heard fellow activists who feel guilty for sleeping in a warm bed because the animals the animals don’t get the same luxury.
For me, it had been months of no sleep, anxiety, and months of activism when I simply broke: both physically and mentally.  I saw a video on Instagram of an activist who was entering a meat market.  At this market, the customer went inside, purchased a live animal and the animal was killed right there for them to take home.  There was a video of a baby cow, and this is where I lost it.  I cried so hard, one of those gut-wrenching cries where you have to hold back the vomit.  Since then, I have been broken.  I have not been able to think of activism, I cannot see a video on social media and I have had the most intense stomach pain for the last two weeks.  Not doing self-care or taking care of my mental well-being finally caught up with me.
As an activist, we have to remember that we have to put our oxygen masks on first.  We cannot take care of this planet and save animals if we don’t take care of ourselves.  It is not selfish.  It should be a requirement.  This is a lifelong movement and the animals need us for the long haul.
3)  It is okay…better yet, more than okay to be happy!  
I think sometimes as activists we think that we have to watch the slaughterhouse videos, we have to study the facts regarding how animals are killed and how we are destroying the planet.  And we become so angry at the world, at our family and at our friends.  We scream at them that “meat is murder” and we become people that aren’t fun to be around.  While I don’t think that we should ever sugar coat our feelings, I do think we may get more people on board if we are happy and compassionate human beings.  Someone is more likely to jump on board if they see us as an inspiration instead of someone who is sad all the time (“I don’t want to be vegan if it makes me angry like you!”).  In addition, what is that doing to our health if we are angry and sad all the time?!  The animals don’t want that.  They want people to be strong so that we can thrive in this fight.
Having said all of this, I am not quite sure when I will completely recover from my breakdown.  I am spending my free time doing Yoga, meditation, eating healthy foods, taking baths and staying off of social media (that’s a whole other subject).  I am not quite sure when I will be able to dive back into activism 100%.  I know that when I do, I will try to remember these points so that I can make it through this long haul.  Maybe some extra Layla kisses will help ❤
Thank you all for reading.  I will be back with something happier soon.  And to my fellow activists, please take care of yourselves!  ❤

Why I Went Vegan and My Tribute to Jake

Hello everyone,

I hope that you are having a wonderful week so far!

I have been in kind of a funk lately, and I realized it was because I was coming up on an anniversary of one of the worst days of my life.  Two years ago yesterday, I lost my best friend and fur baby, Jake.  Jake was the most incredible dog I have ever known and was part of our family for 11 years.  Not only was he part of our family, but was basically a child to us (since we don’t have human babies).  He was there when I woke up, went on every trip with us, spent the entire day by my side and snuggled against my stomach all night long.  Jake was never grumpy and was always filled with unconditional love, compassion and the energy of a puppy (until his last week on this planet).

Jake became ill in September 2016.  We had noticed a small lump on his paw, which we were praying was just an infection.  Unfortunately, after many round of antibiotics, it didn’t go away and testing came back positive for cancer.  We ended up amputating his toe to try to stop the spread and were initially successful.  All of the margins were clean, and his blood work and X-rays were impeccable.  We had many long months of bandage changes and keeping him calm, but were optimistic about the future.

Right after Thanksgiving, Jake developed a cough that wouldn’t go away.  We finally took him into the vet one late Monday night and were praying that maybe it was a cold or even whooping cough.  When the vet came back in with the X-ray results, she just said, “You guys, I am so sorry.” Jake’s lungs were completely filled with cancer and there was truly nothing we could do.  She said it could be weeks, months or even years but she really didn’t know how long he would make it.  Jake was gone by the following Sunday.

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What I didn’t realize at the time, was that losing Jake would transform the rest of my life. Not only because this was my first real experience with death, but also because he helped me discover my true passion: saving animals and helping people.  You see, when I watched Jake suffer and take his last breath, I realized that I never, ever wanted to contribute to another animal’s suffering for as long as I live.  I also realized at that moment that ALL animals want to be loved, feel fear and want life.  There is no difference between a dog, chicken, cow, pig, sheep, fish, cat, horse, donkey, etc.  So why would I fight so badly for one while paying someone to torture and kill another?!  At that moment I became VEGAN and later discovered animal activism.

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I will miss Jake every day for the rest of my life, but I am so grateful for the lessons that he taught me.  It’s amazing how one, little, 30 pound dog can change your life forever <3. Thank you buddy!

 

Anonymous for the Voiceless: Why I Volunteer with Them and What We Do

When I first became vegan, I knew that I wanted to do more than just change the food on my plate.  I started researching about the animal agriculture industry and was horrified by the practices that were referred to as “humane”, “organic”, “free range” and felt the grief and suffering deep in my body.  Honestly, I was completely lost knowing that I wanted to do more.  But what more could I do from my couch then just post on social media about all of the facts that I had found and to scream at people to go vegan?!  Most days, I sat there in tears, feeling completely alone and useless.

Then one day I stumbled upon a Youtube video with James Aspey and he was participating in a peaceful demonstration with a group called Anonymous for the Voiceless. I knew immediately that I had to find a local chapter and to be a public voice for the animals.  Unfortunately, there weren’t any chapters that were less than two hours away.

So, I thought that maybe I could start my own.  I jumped on it but before I could finish the process, a wonderful team started a local chapter here in San Diego.  I was so incredibly excited and there was nothing that would stop me from attending.  Seven months later, the San Diego chapter is still in action and I have teamed up to start an additional chapter in North County San Diego.  I have been organizing that one since June, and it truly has been a dream come true!

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What is Anonymous for the Voiceless and what do we do?

“ESTABLISHED APRIL, 2016.

ANONYMOUS FOR THE VOICELESS IS AN ANIMAL RIGHTS ORGANISATION THAT SPECIALIZES IN STREET ACTIVISM.

OVER 4,026 DEMONSTRATIONS IN 805 CITIES WORLDWIDE, WE’VE CONVINCED AT LEAST 271,747 BYSTANDERS TO TAKE VEGANISM SERIOUSLY.

THROUGH THE USE OF LOCAL STANDARD-PRACTICE FOOTAGE, WE EXPOSE TO THE PUBLIC WHAT IS INTENTIONALLY HIDDEN FROM THEM WHEN IT COMES TO ANIMAL EXPLOITATION. COMBINING THIS WITH A VALUE-BASED SALES APPROACH AND RESOURCE LITERATURE, WE FULLY EQUIP THE PUBLIC WITH EVERYTHING THEY NEED IN SWITCHING TO A VEGAN LIFESTYLE. WE HOLD AN ABOLITIONIST STANCE ON ANIMAL EXPLOITATION.” (www.anonymousforthevoiceless.org)

Basically, in a peaceful demonstration (almost like an art exhibition) we show the truth of the animal agriculture industry.  We show real footage of factory farms and we have thought provoking conversations with the public.  We do not yell and we do not leaflet.

Honestly, there are many forms of activism out there, but for me, this has proved to be the most effective.  I have amazing conversations with people every week who truly had no idea that their “food” was produced this way.  They are angry, feel like they have been lied to, are animal lovers and are ready to make the change.

When leaving what is referred to as the Cube of Truth, the individual will receive a card from us that is full of resources to help them make the transition.

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Being part of Anonymous for the Voiceless has truly changed my life.  I absolutely feel that I am making a difference, have met some of my best friends, am surrounded by people who truly get me and am no longer sitting on my couch feeling hopeless.

If you are vegan, and are looking for a way to help the animals, I truly suggest volunteering with your local chapter.  And if you are not vegan, I hope that you will one day be able to experience a Cube of Truth in person.  Maybe we can have a conversation….

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Experiencing Vystopia in the Real World

Hello everyone, I hope that you all had a wonderful weekend and are ready for a fabulous week!

I had an incredible weekend at Farm Animal Refuge in San Diego.  It was their bi-annual open house and I spent all day Saturday with farm animals, my vegan family, and ate delicious food.  It was pure Heaven!  I came home after a 9am-5pm day and felt like I was on a vegan high.  I was encouraged after being surrounded by people who completely got me and who felt the same way that I do.  Every person I talked to was a true, animal lover who is dedicating their lives to advocate for ALL animals, and I truly felt like the world was changing.  I completely felt at peace (and btw, had the best night of sleep that I have experienced in months)!!!

Today has been completely different: it’s as if I have woken up from a great dream into a nightmare that won’t end and is surrounding me.  I am suffering from what Clare Mann refers to as “Vystopia.”  By definition Vystopia is the “existential crisis experienced by vegans, arising out of an awareness of the trance-like collusion with a dystopian world. It is an awareness of the greed, ubiquitous animal exploitation, and speciesism in a modern dystopia”.

Let me take you through my morning.  It started by driving to work, passing the beautiful cows down the street who are being raised to be slaughtered for beef.  Along the way, I pass a dairy truck, filled with milk from cows who have impregnated and have had their babies stolen (and killed!) from them. I pass a Jack in the Box, McDonalds, and Burger King, filled with lines of people who are waiting to eat animals.  Not to mention the constant ads on the radio filled with propaganda from the animal agriculture industries!  Within the 20 minutes that I am in the car, I have become very aware that I am the minority.  One of the few who thinks that animals should live and deserve better!

I always try to remain positive and to stay optimistic.  But today I am feeling sadness, grief and hopelessness.  I am feeling guilty for judging the non vegans that surround me and for worrying about their health and for also selfishly worrying about our planet.  I am tired of worrying about offending people when there are BILLIONS of animals being killed EVERY year for their taste buds!  (And why is it that we have to celebrate birthdays and holidays with a corpse on our plates?! More to come on that one later…..).

In ways I get it.  We have been conditioned to believe that we need to eat animals and I used to do it too.  We all run around with our busy lives and do what we have been told to do, not considering the actions that we are taking.  What I don’t get is how when you know the truth, when you have seen the footage, how you can ever put that piece of animal in your mouth again.

Sorry for the rant but I think it’s important that you know that every day as a vegan activist is not sunshine.  There are days where you feel like the world is out to get you (think about a belief that you have that you are the most passionate about.  Now imagine a whole world telling you that belief is wrong!).

And I know that tomorrow will be better and that I will get out of bed ready to fight for what it right.  But today, I want to step back into my dream of the weekend with peace, amazing friends and animals who have been saved from this terrible nightmare.

Please let me know if you can relate to this post.  I would love to hear from you!

How one cow changed the course of my life!

Do you ever get those wonderful memories that show up on Facebook?!  Although they can be kind of irritating sometimes, I love the one that showed up yesterday.  It was the memory of meeting Fatih, the cow that changed the course of my life!

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“How can a cow change your life?!” you may be asking yourself.  Well, before I tell you about Faith, let me give you a quick summary of my life at that moment.  At this point, I had lost my dog about a year prior and had become vegan because of the connection I had made (realizing that all animals felt pain, experienced fear, and wanted to live).  However, I hadn’t yet learned about the dairy industry and would still indulge in a giant pizza a few times a year.  I also knew that I loved animals, but until Faith, I had no idea what it felt like to love a cow!

My mom and I drove about an hour away to a beautiful animal sanctuary in Temecula, California.  The incredible owner, Jen, introduced us to all of the animals and told us a little about each of their stories.  She shared how and where they had been rescued from and also a bit more about the animal agriculture industry.  I was horrified and saddened by each of their stories, but also felt overjoyed when I saw how much they were loved and cared for at Sale Ranch Sanctuary.

After we met the horses, donkeys, goats, pigs and chickens, we came upon a giant cow and her best pig friend, Cherry.  I was so thrilled, and a little intimidated, to meet my first cow.  Jen invited us into the pasture with Fatih and encouraged us to get close to her.  I have to admit that I was hesitant to get near this enormous animal.  But as I did, I immediately felt comfortable and so incredibly happy.  Faith let me scratch her chin and then she kissed my face.  At this moment, I was in love!!!  I realized just then how similar Faith was to my big puppy who was at home.  She was incredibly docile and just wanted to be scratched.  I never wanted to leave the sanctuary and told my mom how badly I wanted my own cow rescue the entire drive home 🙂

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Like I said, the owner of Sale Ranch told us a bit about each of the animal’s stories and about the industry and I was shocked by Faith’s journey.  She was dumped at a sale lot along with her brother because they had “no value” to the industry.  Her brother didn’t survive but Faith was lucky enough to be rescued.  We also learned about the horrors of the dairy industry….

Quick Synopsis of the Dairy Industry:

Dairy cows are artificially inseminated on what the industry refers to as “rape racks.”  They will become pregnant for 9 months, just like a human, and when their baby is born he or she will be ripped away from their moms (they don’t want the baby calf drinking the milk intended for humans…).  The mom will bellow for days!  If the baby is a boy, he will most likely be killed for veal.  If it’s a female, she will have the same fate as her mother.  All dairy cows become “spent” at around 4-5 years and will be killed for beef.  For more information click here

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I had no idea that any of this torture existed and just like many, I thought that having cheese once in awhile was harmless.  The second I learned the truth and met Faith, I made the decision to never “cheat” with dairy again.  From that moment there would never again be any milk, cheese, yogurt, whey, cream cheese, ice cream, etc.  I was 100% vegan and was never looking back.

Faith also changed my life because I realized how badly we need to be fighting for these animals.  These sweet animals are being tortured and killed every day and for what???  At this point, I couldn’t be silent anymore.  I knew that I had to speak up.  I wasn’t quite sure how yet, but I wanted to scream it to the world……..  I suddenly realized my life’s purpose (this part of my life) was to be an animal activist.

My life had been given meaning and it was all because of meeting one magical cow!  I will truly be grateful for her and for this day for as long as I live.

***Have you ever had the opportunity to meet a cow in person?  Please comment below.  I would love to hear your story.

Tour of Sale Ranch Sanctuary

Hello everyone!

I had the most amazing experience last weekend and wanted to share it with you all.

My mom and I went to visit Sale Ranch Sanctuary, nestled in the heart of wine country in Temecula, California.  Visiting this sanctuary was truly life changing and it is something that I recommend for everyone who can do it.

Sale Ranch Sanctuary rescues animals of all ages but focuses on babies and seniors.  While we were there, we were able to get up close and personal with horses, sheep, goats, donkeys, turkeys, pigs, chickens, dogs and….I met my first cow!!!  Not only were we able to pet and kiss these sweet animals, but we were also able to hear about their rescue stories: stories about being thrown away, or being ripped away from their mothers, because they were of “no use” to the meat or dairy industries. Although I consider myself fairly educated on the subject, I was blown away at the use of goats and horses in the dairy or racing industries.  It was an educational and enlightening day!

Here is a quick video tour of the sanctuary.  Also, in this video you will meet one of the owners, hear about their mission and you will get to see all of the animals…..including my cow ❤

Also, for more information or to schedule your own tour please visit: http://www.saleranchsanctuary.org