I've asked Lynn to answer a few questions for the blog. And since she is such a modest person, some of her answers are new to me :)
* Why did you go vegan and when ?
Lynn: A little over 20 years ago I noticed that I felt increasingly disturbed when I was eating animal flesh. Around the same time, I was pursuing an interest in keeping dairy goats and got involved with a local dairy goat club. I soon learned what happened to most males, even on small scale and hobby goat dairies. I didn’t want any part of that. Instead, I took in some rescued goats and sheep that were never to be bred and milked. I became vegetarian and, as I learned more about the egg and dairy industries, became vegan a few months later. It sort of all came together.
* You have been tabling, leafleting, teaching vegan cooking, catering and rescuing for a long time ( how long ? ) ...what changes have you seen in the general public ?
Lynn: People are more familiar with vegan foods and the concept of veganism. It is less often that we need to explain that it means no meat, fish, eggs or dairy. Veganism is mentioned more in both the entertainment and news media and the commentary is not always derogatory, which was usually the case a decade ago. Cooking segments on many programs feature vegan food and the hosts are often very enthusiastic about the taste and presentation whereas in past years, if vegan food was on at all it was treated with scorn and derision. Extreme caution when attempting a vegan diet is no longer advised by most health professionals. In fact, I’ve seen several recommend it as a healthy lifestyle. Vegan options on supermarket shelves and in eating establishments have increased. Food labels and restaurant menus more often clearly mark items as vegan.
On the other hand, there has been an increase in the marketing and consumer interest in so-called “humane” meat, eggs and dairy. A closer examination of the production methods inherent in any animal agriculture (http://www.humanemyth.org/ and http://www.peacefulprairie.org/humane-myth01.html) will reveal that these foods are certainly not cruelty-free. It is obvious that animals are slaughtered to produce any meat products. When it comes to egg production, all the male chicks are killed within a day or two and the hens, considered spent when egg production begins to slow at 1-2 years, are killed as well. Dairy cows are continually impregnated, have their children torn from them and then are slaughtered after a few years. Their male children are raised for veal or just trashed at birth. These are standard practice in virtually all animal farming, whether industrial, small scale, organic, free-range, etc. Just ask the farmers - what happens to the hens and dairy cows when their output declines? What happens to the male chicks and male calves that are of no use for egg and dairy production?
*What do you think is the best way to educate people about animal cruelty and veganism ?
Lynn: I wish we had the resources to flood the media and the mainstream consumer consciousness the way that industry does, but we don’t and thus it seems we have to try to sway people via grassroots activities and outreach, one person at a time. Of course, the internet levels the playing field some and provides plenty of opportunity to spread information and inspire change and there are, thankfully, many talented people doing that. I generally like to staff outreach tables when I am able to make food samples available. This brings people to the table willingly and provides an opportunity to have conversations while they are able to have an experience with vegan food they may not otherwise have had. Obviously, a few morsels of food will not change a person’s entire dietary habits, but it might be just one more experience that will help to break down any barriers to fully embracing vegan food. We are also able to provide other recipes, information on cruelty to animals, environmental impact, health, etc. It just opens up an avenue to dialogue.
Last weekend I volunteered at a mobile pay-per-view video truck (http://www.10billiontour.org/about.html) whereby people are offered $1 to watch a documentary – “a 4 minute glimpse into the lives and deaths of farmed animals”. I thought that was extremely worthwhile form of outreach. People must bear witness to the horrors that we have become so adept at shutting out. Yet they have done so voluntarily and on their own terms, so they are less defensive. Certainly those evocative video images will be etched into their memories and will have some lasting effect on most. Nearly everybody seemed visibly moved.
However, if we knew what would inspire people to change their consumer habits, the world would be vegan. Different things work for different people, so I think we need all tools in our tool belt.
* What keeps you motivated?
Lynn: I am always aware of the horrific lives and deaths that animals are forced to endure for food, clothing, entertainment, sport, cosmetics, household products and medications when there are completely viable alternatives.
* Where is your favorite place to eat?
Lynn: Of course, vegan restaurants are a favorite because I always want to support a vegan business. In addition, I can order off the whole menu and there is no danger that a messed up order will mean the unintentional consumption of animal products. It is not so much that I am worried about consuming them in the sense that I will ingest them. It is that the whole idea of veganism for me is to abstain from purchasing and thus creating a demand for animal products. Thus, if I am accidentally served such at a restaurant, I have then “consumed” them, i.e. a consumer purchase/demand has been made on my behalf.
Unfortunately, we haven’t many options to support all vegan establishments in Colorado, but hopefully that will change. I do think it is important to support vegan options in non-vegan restaurants, so that they will remain and increase in number on menus. Non-vegans are more likely to consider vegan foods if they are tasty, convenient and affordable.
I really enjoy eating at the many ethnic restaurants that offer vegan foods that are already a part of the cuisine, either as they are prepared of with slight modifications – Indian, Chinese, Thai, Middle Eastern, Mexican, Vietnamese, Nepalese, Mediterranean, Greek, Indonesian, etc. Not only do I find this great variety of foods delicious, I often find that I am not as skilled in replicating some of the nuanced flavors at home. I still enjoy trying, but it’s always a treat when someone else is doing the vegan cooking.
*What else would you like to add ?
Lynn: We all have the power to spare animals from unspeakable cruelty simply by making one choice over another. For the animal's sake, I urge everyone to please choose compassion. Choose vegan options.