Thank you for attending this conference. Your presence here today says a lot about how much you care and it speaks volumes about your character. I may not know many of you but I feel like I do. I also want to thank the compassionate people at FARM for organizing and hosting this important event. Today I will speak to you about my efforts leafletting, letter writing, and making phone calls to advance the cause of animal rights, human health, and the environment.
In 1993, I met Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel at the opening of the National Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C. Wiesel asked a question in reference to the atrocities at Bergen-Belsen, Auschwitz, Buchenwald and elsewhere that applies today. He asked, “Where was the rage? When we discovered the magnitude of the cruelty, how come we were not compelled to extraordinary rage? Why didn’t we have more rage towards the indifference?”
Like you, I can’t believe what humans are doing to animals, I’m horrified by it, and I want to stop it. The question we all ask ourselves every day is how? We wonder why it is that the Golden Rule “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” doesn’t apply to animals. If the Golden Rule has exceptions, it’s not golden; it’s fool’s gold. We may be witnesses to the horrors of animal cruelty but we do not have to idle through the killing season. Indifference can be tempting – it is easy and it is relaxing but I don’t believe it is the fabric of people’s hearts and so we seek to change it because we believe we can.
We’ve heard every argument to justify current conditions – animals were put on this earth to be eaten, I need my protein, animals don’t feel pain, I can’t live without cheese, and I didn’t work my way up the food chain to eat lettuce. It’s true that some animals are smarter than others as some people are smarter than others; in fact, some animals have superior intelligence to humans. But if the right to inhabit this earth was based on intelligence, well, I’ll let you use your imagination how it would affect the human population.
How can you help save animals’ lives?
Leafletting provides us an opportunity to inform the public in a non-threatening and effective way. In order to recruit friends to join our leafletting campaign, I post announcements on Facebook when and where we’re distributing them and volunteers sign up to join us. We go to the beach and hand out educational fliers on animal agriculture, seal hunting, fur farms, the environment, and the benefits of eating vegan food. People read them, ask questions, and most importantly, they think. In some cases, we see people weeks later and they tell us that they’ve made life-decisions to lead a more compassionate life. In the past year, we’ve handed out more than 20,000 leaflets. You might consider ordering some of these leaflets online to distribute them in your community. It’s an effective way to educate the public.
There are many ways you can use letter writing to advance our cause. Recently, I wrote a letter to the Governor of Florida suggesting that our students might benefit from a trip to a local farm sanctuary in order for them to develop a better appreciation for animals. I’ve found that when people interact with a pig, they’re less likely to eat bacon.
Most recently, I wrote to Oprah to ask her if I could appear on her program to correct some of the misinformation provided on her Vegan Challenge show, including a statement by a guest that fast food comes from free-range farms. I hope you’ll consider writing your own on issues that matter to you. Sometimes they affect change.
The Florida legislature recently passed a statute detailing required instruction in Florida’s K-12 public schools. One section requires students to learn “kindness to animals.” I made some phone calls to determine the legislature’s definition of “kindness to animals.”
At the heart of my inquiry was a desire to determine how the state in good conscience could require its teachers to provide instruction in kindness to animals while serving students inhumanely confined, tortured, and slaughtered animals from factory farms for lunch. Not even Hercule Poirot could solve this mystery.
As a result of the discussions, I gained an invitation to join an agricultural task force to provide suggestions for vegan food options in Florida’s public schools and I’m developing humane education curriculum for districts throughout the state to ensure students are taught and practice kindness to animals.
Our most recent victory in Florida came gift wrapped by Tampa Senator Jim Norman who sponsored a bill to prohibit people from filming acts of cruelty on factory farms. Senator Norman argued the acts of these undercover investigators were analogous to terrorism. We initiated a calling campaign to unmask agribusiness’s heartless attempt to cover up their mistreatment of animals.
Furthermore, I asked my legislator to sponsor a bill to make it illegal to make it illegal to film something illegal. After hundreds of calls expressing opposition, Senator Norman’s bill never made it out of committee. It provided ample evidence that we are making progress. Why else would agribusiness seek to introduce legislation to conceal their treatment of animals? The truth threatens their business model.
To all the activists gathered here today and with us in spirit throughout the world, I know you want to know, “How long will it be before we free the masses of animals from the human chains exploitation, enslavement, and slaughter?”
I hear you and today I say to you with all the conviction in my heart and mind, in the words of a man who paved the way to right the wrongs of previous generations, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., “How long will it take? Not long because no lie can forever. How long? Not long because you shall reap what you sow. How long? Not long because the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends towards justice.”
We have seen the fear in their eyes and we have heard their cries for help and it is painful but we are in midst of unprecedented progress and now we know it will not be long.
How long will it be before we free every monkey, rabbit, and every other animal caged in laboratories for experimentation and every elephant from the prodding, bullhooking, and beating of circus employees? Not long.
How long before we stop the barbaric bludgeoning of every baby seal in Canada, close every puppy mill, and end the deadly transportation and sale of exotic animals? Not long.
How long before we stop deforestation, land degradation, and the pollution of our water and air from the toxic waste of factory farms and begin to use grain fed to livestock to feed millions of starving people around the world? Not long.
How long before we end the inhumane confinement, torture, and slaughter of billions of chickens, goats, sheep, cows, and pigs on factory farms? Not long.
How long before we end the electrocuting, gassing, poisoning, bludgeoning, suffocating, skinning, and hanging of chinchillas, foxes, minks, cats, dogs, and other animals for fur, leather, and wool? Not long.
How long will it be before the lights go out on every animal farm, fur farm, circus, laboratory, hunting ship, and puppy mill and every grocery store, retail store, and restaurant stops peddling the remains of animals for human consumption and profit. How long? Not long. How long? Not long!