July/August 2014 Volunteer Spotlight: Sarah Hanshew

photoI have always loved and cared for animals, but it wasn’t until a couple years ago that I took my love and care to the next level. In 2012, I became a vegetarian, and it wasn’t until I watched the documentary Vegucated that I decided to become vegan. I learned that being vegan is the best way to live a kind and compassionate life and that animals don’t deserve to be killed for food.

Since becoming vegan, I have taken a great interest in animal rights and wish to promote veganism as much as possible. I started with my family by explaining to them my reasons for being vegan, and I have shared with them my knowledge of the horrific, yet very real, treatment of animals in factory farms and slaughterhouses. My biggest supporter is my mom, and even though she is not vegan, we enjoy a vegan meal together several times a week.

My drive to promote veganism to others is what attracted me to intern with VegFund, and it is thrilling to start my first venture as an animal activist. I am excited to use my educational background with writing and social media to successfully engage and interact with others through VegFund’s blog and their Save Farm Animals Facebook campaign. It is an extreme privilege to have this chance to help others help animals, and I am excited to continue my activism in the future.

May/June 2014 Volunteer Spotlight: Rachel Curit

VegFund intern, Rachel Curit, talks about her life as a vegan advocate and her many unique volunteer experiences.

Rachel CuritI have been an animal lover for as long as I can remember. It’s a quality my mother instilled in me. Have respect and kindness for animals. I know I wouldn’t be vegan today if it hadn’t been for her. She was the person who would yell (not too mean, though) at the local kids for harassing the ducks at the lake. We went to a circus once, and I remember her eyes filling with tears when the tiger or lion jumped through the ring of fire. And we always had companion animals living with us.

She was vegetarian in the 90s and fed me with a lot of vegetarian food. In fact, there was only a four or five year period in my life when I ate meat. As a toddler I was vegetarian and then I went vegetarian on my own when I was I was 8.

It wasn’t until I was 16 that I started reading vegan cookbooks and trying vegan recipes. I went vegan for a short period then, but finally made the official, permanent switch at the age of 19. After that, I scoured the internet for as much information as I could get my hands on. I listened to podcasts, read blogs and articles, and watched YouTube videos.

The defining moment for me was in February of 2012. I was sitting in my college dorm room, listening to Colleen Patrick-Goudreau’s podcast Food for Thought. She was talking about the horrors chickens face in the animal agriculture system. That’s it, I thought to myself. I can’t do this anymore. About a month later, I made my veganism official and I haven’t looked back.

Since going vegan, I’ve started my own blog The Vegan Mishmash, interned with Eco-Vegan Gal and Mercy For Animals, started writing for One Green Planet, and, of course, I am interning with VegFund. From MFA I learned how to do grassroots outreach. That experience vastly improved my ability to confidently communicate with people about veganism and animal rights. Through the other opportunities, I’ve learned and continue to learn the ins and outs of writing and social media. I’ve written blog posts for VegFund, including a review of Carol Adams’ Defiant Daughters and an interview with Vic Sjodin on his experience leafleting. As for the future, I can’t wait to see where my activism takes me.

Jan/Feb 2014 Volunteer Spotlight: Leslie Brefeld

Leslie describes her journey to veganism and why she decided to pursue an internship with VegFund.

My path to becoming a vegan started when I read Skinny Bitch. I can’t imagine what drew me to the book in the first place, but now it seems like there was some divine intervention. Specifically, I recall the part about how omnivores are eating the fear and terror that animals experienced just before their deaths. I read the book during a camping trip with my mom, and I decided right then that I would become vegetarian. I continued for four years before seeing the light, so to speak, and turned to veganism. The film Vegucated reminded me of the horrors of factory farming, and I tried being a vegan. However, it wasn’t until I read The World Peace Diet by Dr. Will Tuttle soon after, that I began to really have the conviction to be a vegan.

Assisting with blog writing for the VegFund internship is my first real venture into animal activism. I have been looking for a change from my current job, and I saw this as an opportunity to do something meaningful. The World Peace Diet helped me imagine a world where nonhuman animals and human animals co-exist peacefully, and I see writing for VegFund as moving toward this ideal.

March/April 2013 Volunteer Spotlight: Corey Wrenn

Corey Wrenn discusses her journey to veganism and why she decided to pursue an internship with VegFund.

I went vegetarian at age 13 after watching a cooking show where the host visited a butcher shop. In seeing this, I suddenly made the connection between “meat” and the persons who died to create it. I vowed to go vegetarian on the spot. In my teens, I read more on Nonhuman Animal rights issues and quickly discerned that veganism was the most appropriate decision if I wanted to seriously respect the interests of other animals. I went vegan on my very first day of college at age 17, when I was able to purchase my own food. I am 29 now, so I have been vegan for about 12 years.

When I started college at Virginia Tech, I immediately joined up with the student Nonhuman Animal rights group and attended some protests and video screenings. The student group eventually fizzled, but when I began graduate school at Virginia Tech, I decided to resurrect the group and soon found myself spending 20+ hours a week organizing events. When I started my doctoral program at Colorado State University, I carried over that student activism and launched another Nonhuman Animal rights student group. After that, I began working with abolitionist grassroots groups online and writing for The Examiner. I also began to incorporate Nonhuman Animal rights theory into my research, publishing several academic articles and framing my dissertation around veganism and activism for other animals.

The VegFund internship position interested me because, while my academic work is hugely fulfilling, I had begun to miss on-the-ground, real-world advocacy. Working with VegFund gives me the chance to apply my years of study and research to tangible projects. I have the awesome opportunity to collaborate with the Nonhuman Animal rights community and put my work into action.