According to Dawn Moncrief, Conference Director and Executive Director of the Farm Animal Rights Movement (FARM), a vegan lifestyle is the absolute best way to help animals. As she relates in a Q&A below on the non-profit animal rights public interest organization where she began working in 2002, animals killed for food are absolutely the largest majority of animals abused by human, more than all other abuses combined! Simply put, why wouldn't you focus on a vegan diet?
After working on her Master's degree in International Relations, Dawn began reading about the inefficiencies and environmental harm of animal agriculture and decided to work on hunger issues from this perspective. After hearing Pattrice Jones speak at the Animal Rights 2001 National Conference speaking on behalf of the Global Hunger Alliance, she was inspired to join FARM, especially because so few people and organizations worked on this issue. She also founded A Well-Fed World
, an organization to promote the benefits of sustainable, plant-based solutions in response to global food security, health, hunger, and environmental concerns and encourage others to think about the benefits of plant-rich diets and reduced meat consumption.
In lieu of the upcoming World Farm Animals Day on October 2nd, we'd like to present this interview with Dawn Moncrief about her work on FARM.
Tell me all about FARM and how it was created?
FARM (Farm Animal Rights Movement) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, public-interest organization promoting vegan, plant-based diets to save animals, protect the environment, and improve health. We operate from the nation's capital and work through our Compassionate Activist Network (CAN) with volunteers in all 50 states and two dozen other countries.
FARM grew out of the Vegetarian Information Service, which was formed in 1976 to disseminate information on the benefits of plant-based eating on consumer health, animal protection, and environmental integrity.
FARM was officially launched as an animal rights organization in July 1981, along with other groups forming the modern US animal rights movement, at the "Action For Life" Conference in Allentown (PA). The conference brought seasoned leaders of the established vegetarian movement together with animal rights advocates searching for a national organizational outlet for their passion.
Since our beginning in 1976 and official formation in 1981, FARM has launched a variety of grassroots campaigns in pursuit of our mission: World Farm Animals Day (1983), Great American Meatout (1985), Gentle Thanksgiving, CHOICE School Lunch (1991), Letters from FARM (1994), Sabina Fund (1997), Vegan Earth Day, Bite Global Warming and Equal Justice Alliance.
These reflect FARM's strategy of pursuing dietary and agricultural reforms on the local, national and international levels simultaneously.
In addition, FARM conducts movement-wide programs, like the Animal Rights National Conference. Every summer between 1981 and 1987, then in 1997, and every year since 2000, FARM has been organizing national conferences that turn concerned individuals into effective animal advocates. Currently, the conferences alternate between the East Coast (Washington, DC) on the even years and the West Coast (California) on the odd years.
Why promote a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle as a way to promote animal rights?
FARM focuses on a vegan diet because animals killed for food are by far the largest majority of animals abused by humans… much more than all other abuses combined.. Not counting aquatic animals, animals raised for food represent 98-99% of all animals abused/killed by humans. You can’t have animal rights without veganism, plus diet change is one of the easiest acts an individual can make.
FARM has a plethora of programs including the Great American Meatout, World Farm Animals Day, and the Animal Rights National Conference. Highlight some of the most fun or major programs.
Each program is special in some way… The Great American Meatout is our largest and most well-known with a thousand communities represented around the world. It’s festive and fun. World Farm Animals Day is special because it focuses on animal suffering directly (not the health and environmental benefits). WFAD is also our first campaign, dating back to 1983. The conference brings activists together to recharge our batteries, network, and learn from each other. It represents all animal issues, not just farmed animals and veganism.
Aside from these programs, what are some of the ways you try to turn the skeptics into believers? How do you convince people that veganism is the way to go? (For example, do you provide educational materials, do you stick to the facts, do you go to schools, do you have ads, do you flyer?)
We do all those things. Of special note is our Meatout Mondays colorful e-newsletter with recipe, product and health information, and inspiration. It’s a great start! We also have easy activism for everyone with our free postcards. We have them for just about every issue and in a variety of styles so you can choose peace/Gandhi or a more graphic “Make the Connection.” We have them for special occasions and generic ones for any occasion. Each offers a brief intro to the issues and a free Veg Starter Kit for more details.
Besides keeping animals alive, what are some of the benefits of a vegan diet?
There’s EVERY reason… reducing global warming, conserving scarce resources (including food supplies which decreases costs), reducing pollution and energy consumption, improved health and disease prevention (America’s top killers are diet-related: heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes, obesity…).
Tell me about some of the ways to get involved with FARM.
Request the postcard handouts mentioned above and join our Compassionate Activist Network by participating in events like The Great American Meatout, World Farm Animals Day, Gentle Thanksgiving, and Vegan Earth Day. Forward Meatout Mondays to your friends and family (or sign them up directly).
What’s the Compassionate Activist Network and what kind of events, networking, does it do?
It’s a network of our regular event coordinators… join the action and you’re included with special notices, certificates and other tokens of appreciation.
What is A Well-Fed World and how does it differ from FARM? Why create two organizations on the sort of subject?
A Well-Fed World focuses on the environmental, health and global hunger benefits of reducing/eliminating meat and other animal products from our diet. It focuses on policy and working with other non-profit groups whereas FARM works more directly with grassroots activists and is very direct about the need to go veg to save animals. A Well-Fed World will better reach those people and decision-makers., working with other non-profits, and providing grants to small groups around the world. Some people and organizations tune out when the issue is approached from an animal perspective. It will better reach those people and decision-makers. It was officially incorporated this month, September 2009.
Though it mainly focuses on people, does A Well-Fed World tailor to animal needs to and how? For example, the lessening in the use of animal products.
It does not focus on the animal issues directly though if the policies were adopted it would help animals immensely.
What are some things we can do in our own community to spread the word on animal rights?
All FARM’s programs and materials are designed for people to use in their own community. The Meatout and World Farm Animals Day websites have a great deal of information in their Action Centers on tabling, leafleting, library displays and other ways to “get active.”