Meet Extraordinary Ordinary Vegan -
What are the names and websites of the organizations where you volunteer?
Feline Friends of PAWS
Spotlight Humane: Chicago (HSUS)
What situation or event inspired you to become vegan?
Attending a Farm Sanctuary conference, I was already vegetarian for ethical reasons, but I realized at that conference that if I was really serious about trying to live a cruelty-free life, I needed to be vegan. I decided that day and I've never looked back.
What specifically about the Farm Sanctuary Conference Inspired you?
I think it was a combination of factors--hearing people like Laurie Bauston and Michael Gregor speak, along with the videos we saw, especially the ones of the baby chicks who are by-products of the poultry/egg industry who are literally thrown alive into the garbage.
Who / what was the biggest influence on your path?
All the wonderful organizations which raise awareness of the vegan lifestyle and offer resources for living vegan--PETA, Mercy For Animals, Farm Sanctuary, etc.
What are your most significant accomplishments and / or the one(s) you are most proud of?
Helping to start up and run PAWS Chicago Cat Adoption Program (1998-2007), being part of Spotlight Humane: Chicago (2006-present) and (hopefully) inspiring others by my example/lifestyle...or at least making them think!
Also I finally finished a marathon this year. It took me a really long time to do it, but I do believe that "it's all about the journey".
Can you speak a bit more about these great organizations and why you were drawn to them. Starting a cat adoption is HUGE - is there anything you can share for someone who would like to do the same?
Ha!!! When we started up the PAWS cat adoption center we "didn't know what we didn't know" or we might not have tried it!! :) I would recommend to anyone who wants to do something like this, be sure you have an organization to ally yourself with which has resources like PAWS does... low cost spay/neuter resources, publicity resources, etc. These have been invaluable to us. PAWS provides a great service to the community with its low-cost clinic as well as the awareness-raising the group does.
HSUS is a fantastic organization in a totally different way from PAWS... they do an extremely effective job at advocacy, and are really good at effecting legislative change. It's organizations like HSUS, I think, which are responsible for the change in tone I have observed over the past few years as it relates to animal issues.
What goals are you still working toward?
Getting my husband to go all the way vegan (he's lacto-ovo vegetarian right now), and continuing to live "an examined life".
What was / is your greatest challenge?
Dealing with friends, co-workers, and members of my family (immediate and extended) who don't understand my commitment to not only being vegan, but living a more enlightened life.
What advice can you provide others regarding challenges and / or criticism they may encounter on their path?
Be strong and don't apologize or feel bad for who you are! People are giving you a hard time because you are making them think/examine their own actions, and that's not a bad thing!
Any final thoughts you would like to add?
If anyone is interested in fostering and/or adopting cats and kittens, please contact me! My colleague, Toni McNaughton and I always have wonderful felines available for adoption.