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Part I: Jody Rasch, Vegfund
Jody Rasch is a consultant in the areas of social investing and microfinance. Prior to this he headed the Social Performance Group at Moody’s Corporation working on projects including microfinance and social investing. He developed the Moody’s Social Performance Assessment (SPA) which provides a gap analysis of practices for microfinance institutions. He also served on various advisory boards including Women’s World Banking’s Gender Performance Initiative, the SMART Campaign’s Certification Task Force, Grameen Foundation’s Social Performance Advisory Committee and the Global Impact Investing Rating Service (GIIRS). Mr. Rasch has presented on social and financial issues at conferences worldwide, including Eastern Europe, Africa, Latin America, Asia and the United States. Prior to joining Moody’s in 2002 Mr. Rasch owned, for 15 years, a training company that conducted financial training programs for international commercial and investment banks. He also headed the New York derivatives sales desk of Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce and has worked in the corporate treasury departments of two Fortune 500 companies. Mr. Rasch has a B.A. degree in Economics from the University of Michigan and holds an MBA in Finance from New York University.
Mr. Rasch is on the Board of Directors of two not for profit organizations. Battery Dance Company, which conducts cultural diplomacy in over 60 countries and the United States through its “Dancing to Connect” program; and VegFund which supports grass roots activists in promoting a vegan lifestyle. Mr. Rasch is also a painter (www.raschart.com) and is completing his first novel, “The Day After Yesterday”, which has an animal rights theme.
Part II: Jane Velez-Mitchell, Jane Unchained
Jane Velez-Mitchell is the editor of JaneUnChained.com, a multi-platform social media news outlet that reports on crimes against people, animals and the environment. Her reporting on animal issues has won four Genesis Awards from the Humane Society of the United States.Velez-Mitchell is often seen commenting on high-profile cases for national TV shows. For six years she hosted her own show on CNN Headline News. Velez-Mitchell also reported for the nationally syndicated Warner Brothers/Telepictures show Celebrity Justice, and was a news anchor for many stations including KCAL-LA and WCBS-NY. She is the author of four books. The 2014 non-fiction New York Times bestseller, “Exposed: The Secret Life of Jodi Arias” details a gruesome, twisted crime and the salacious trial that gripped the American public. “Secrets Can Be Murder: The Killer Next Door” delves into the secrets unearthed in more than twenty of the most widely covered murder cases of recent times and the secrecy and deceit embedded in these tragic scenarios. “Addict Nation: An Intervention for America” with Sandra Mohr focuses on greed and consumption. Her other New York Times bestseller is her memoir titled “iWant: My Journey from Addiction and Overconsumption to a Simpler, Honest Life.” She is active in the LGBT community, an animal activist and a vegan and lives with her partner, Donna Dennison, and their companion animals in Manhattan.
TRANSCRIPTION PART I:
Caryn Hartglass: Hey everybody! How are you doing today? I’m Caryn Hartglass, and you’re listening to It’s All About Food! How are you today? I’m good, thanks for asking. I’m really looking forward to today’s program. But first, I want to let you know a few things that are going on. I may have mentioned this last week, but every year around this time—around Earth Day, which is April 22nd, next Wednesday, and it’s also my birthday—the organization Compassion Over Killing hosts the U.S. Veg Week. This year, U.S. Veg Week 2015 will be going on between April 20th and 26th. You can go to usvegweek.com and you can sign up and take a seven-day veg pledge. You’ll get all kinds of free stuff: coupons for yummy food and lots of great information, so if you need that kick in the butt to up your diet a notch or to finally take the plunge, take the pledge and go over to usvegweek.com. The other thing I wanted to mention of course, as I mentioned Earth Day, my nonprofit Responsible Eating and Living is having our big fundraising event next week and it’s going to be a lot of fun. We’ve got the Swing Gourmets coming in with a great performance and that’s going to be in Queens, the number one travel destination for 2015, named by Lonely Planet. So if you haven’t been here, you can swing on over. It’s so easy to get here. The venue is right by the Long Island Railroad, by the subway. You can even fly in; the airports aren’t that far away. Okay. So that’s it for my brief announcement. Now I want to bring on my first guest, Jody Rasch. He’s a consultant in the areas of social investing and microfinance. He’s also on the board of a number of non-profit organizations: Battery Dance Company, which conducts cultural diplomacy in over sixty countries and the United States through its “Dancing to Connect” program; and VegFund, which supports grassroots activists in promoting a vegan lifestyle. He’s also a painter and is working on his first novel, The Day After Yesterday, which has an animal rights theme. Jody, welcome to It’s All About Food!
Jody Rasch: Oh, thank you very much.
Caryn: I love talking to Renaissance people.
Jody: I’m not that old.
Caryn: No, no, no, what I mean is—you know what I mean, people who do whatever makes their heart sing.
Jody: Yes. That’s important. Helps also keep you sane.
Caryn: Absolutely, and that’s like probably the biggest challenge humans have here on this planet, staying sane. Or at least working toward feeling good most of the time, because there is a lot that can bring us down.
Jody: Very true.
Caryn: Yeah. So first let’s talk about something that’s very important to many of us, and that’s money. You’ve been involved in social investing and microfinance. Can you just give me an idea of where social investing is at these days and what it is?
Jody: Yes, well. Defining what it is is probably the more difficult of the questions because there are a lot of different types of social investing that goes on. Historically, what social investing has been is what they call negative screening, where you don’t want your money invested in certain areas. It started out more as a religious thing, where you didn’t want to invest in sin stocks. That was really the first level. And then it went from being more religious to then having a social aspect to it. You would have divestures of companies that were in South Africa. You’re seeing it now with a lot of the larger funds that are looking at divesting any of their holdings in carbon or in the oil and gas industry. That’s kind of the next stage of that. And then you have we’ll call impact investing, where you would invest your money to have a social impact. So rather than negative screen, you try to invest your money in a way that’s positive. For example, if you want to do something about greenhouse gases, rather than not investing in oil companies, you might invest in solar or in wind farms and other aspects that have a social aspect to it. And then the final area of social investing is really advocacy, where you would actually invest in a company that’s doing something you don’t like so that you can actually have a seat at the table and potentially give shareholder resolutions to try to elevate the discussion and actually make change. Those are the different aspects of it, and depending on who you talk to and how narrowly you define social investing, there’s potentially around seven trillion dollars that’s been invested in total in impact investing. Some of it might be just negative screens and not necessarily very impactful, but that’s kind of the realm of what we’re looking at.
Caryn: I remember when I first learned about social investing, it was about not supporting companies that were involved in tobacco or involved in the war machine.
Jody: Right. They also looked at pornography as one of the sin stocks as well. The problem with that, really, is that it made the investor feel good, but it didn’t actually change anything. The fact that you’re not investing in Lockheed doesn’t hurt their access to the capital markets, so they don’t change. It was really expensive for the investor, because you’d have to have somebody springing and managing these investments for you, and you really weren’t… We didn’t stop war when people stopped investing in war stocks, and so on.
Caryn: Right, haha.
Jody: So the advocacy of that type of investing is somewhat in question.
Caryn: So I thought that getting a seat at the table and investing in getting shares in a company whose mission you don’t support is something that I think is a really excellent idea. I’ve heard some good things that’ve come out of it, and I imagine that’s a more productive route.
Jody: Yeah. Personally, I think that can be very productive, and also doing positive investment, investing in companies that are doing something to promote change in whichever areas that you’re looking at. Those things are more effective and seem to be where the social investment market is going.
Caryn: And the thing about social investing, just like any investing—people want to put their money in and make money on it. Right?
Jody: Right, absolutely.
Caryn: Nobody wants to lose money on their investment.
Jody: Yeah. And that’s important in social investing, because it’s not like giving to a not-for-profit, where you’re giving them money to accomplish a specific objective. If you’re investing in a company, the way the company has impact is if they grow. So if you invest in a small company and it stays small, even if they’re doing something good, then the impact you’re having is not particularly large. If you invest in a solar company or a wind company and they expand, well that means that their product is expanding and you’re having more and more impact. The idea of getting a social return and a financial return are, in this case, not inconsistent.
Caryn: Also, there are lots of great things that someone can invest in that are going to make a positive difference on the planet. It may not be intuitive. You may think that these things are too expensive, but I think more and more as energy becomes more expensive and more polluting, these more sustainable choices become more attractive, more affordable, and just a better idea.
Caryn: Yeah. All right. So that’s social investing. You’re also involved in microfinance, which I’ve read a bit about over the decades. It’s really been a powerful thing to help a lot of individuals and small people all over the world that never had access to any kind of financial support to create.
Jody: Right. So the idea behind microfinance, and it’s expanded since its early days where it was actually microcredit where you gave small loans to the poor to help them invest in their own businesses. That’s now expanded quite significantly. Microcredit is part of it. But it’s now more in a larger tent referred to as financial inclusion. Not everyone needs a loan, and for some people getting a loan is actually a bad thing because they have no real way to repay it. But there are other products that’re financial that we take for granted. Well actually, maybe we don’t, because one of them is insurance, and it’s very different types of insurance products that are for this market. And also, another really big product that seems to have potentially even more impact on the poor is savings plans—getting people to save on a regular basis so that they have money for contingencies. Other types of programs that seem to have a very big impact on the poor is financial education. Institutions not only give financial products, but the question is should they be doing other nonfinancial things. Other issues might be things like health programs and along those lines. One thing that’s always, being vegan, bothered me about microfinance and my involvement in that is that a lot of these microfinance loans that go into rural areas are in many cases used to fund the purchase of animals, so sheep or ducks or cows.
Caryn: I’m glad you brought that up because you just read my mind. That was my next question, and you just kept going with it, so please, yeah.
Jody: Yeah. So that, for me, created a pretty big conflict. I wasn’t involved in the loan side. I was actually working for one of the big rating agencies, and what we developed was a way to rate microfinance institutions to how socially responsible they are. We developed a rating system for that. But that really bothered me, that these institutions— It’s almost like you’re solving one problem or trying to solve one problem, poverty, but creating a whole range of new problems on health and environment and all that, and trying to get institutions to pay attention to that. So what I got the idea and had some success in this, is trying to work with some of these microfinance organizations to start doing we’re calling “healthy microfinance,” where, in addition to making the loans, you talk to them about the health aspects of animal agriculture and eating animals, and the environmental aspects, which come to the forum in the U.S. where you look at the drought in California. The reason they have a drought is because forty-seven percent of the water goes to support animal agriculture. You get a lot of that in the developing world, where you talk about desertification and people make arguments saying, well on marginal land you can only have animals grazing on it. But in fact, if you go back in history, the reason they became marginal lands is because of the grazing, and there are ways to rectify that. That became, in my mind, something that I wanted to try to push. It was interesting, because one of the big microfinance institutions, which is Grameen, which was one of really the first that started in Bangladesh, they also have an initiative in the United States and actually in the Americas. I started talking to the person who headed up Grameen Americas about this concept and he was very skeptical at first about doing this. But he had one of the people that worked for him start researching this. We put them in touch with people from PCRM, Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, and others as well, about the benefits of a whole foods, plant-based diet. I bumped into the guy who headed this up a year later and it turns out, first of all, he turned vegan, which totally shocked me. All the nutritional counseling they were doing through this Grameen Health Initiative they were calling it, was all plant-based because they just were convinced it was the better way to go. So that affects thousands of people, not only in the U.S. but also in, I think Central America is also part of what they do. The power of speaking up and actually saying these things for people, you never know where it’s going to go.
Caryn: That is really outstanding. I’m very excited to hear about that. Now the question is how to get a broader reach with that. I attended a meeting last year with the president of IFAD, the… What does IFAD stand for? International Fund for… They help rural people and they invest in rural people. The president was here in the United States and a few of us met with him and he was telling us about what they were working on and doing. I love the idea of investing in rural people and giving them what they need and helping them rather than just giving them donations—giving them the tools so they can help themselves, because that’s what people really want.
Jody: That’s right.
Caryn: And then I asked him, kind of saying everything you just said, saying we have so much knowledge now about plant foods and growing animals to feed people and what it’s doing for the environment and our health. What is it that you are promoting and encouraging? Of course, they’re doing what they shouldn’t be doing, which is giving people animals and helping them raise chickens and… He didn’t really have an answer when I asked him why he’s doing it because he doesn’t know.
Jody: That’s one of the issues, also. I’m working with other groups that are looking into sustainable agriculture. Whenever they define sustainable agriculture, so much of the time it involves animals. You just look at them and say, let’s not just call something sustainable. Let’s look at the science behind it. Anything involving animals is not sustainable. I think it’s a good thing to reach out to these type of groups because in their minds they want to do good, but they just don’t have the information. You mentioned that I’m on the board of VegFund. In addition to the grants, the grassroots activists, and supporting people on the Facebook campaigns and all that, we’re actually starting to do outreach in microfinance. We want to do outreach for some of the environmental conferences as well to bring these issues up in those environments and see if we can start spreading the message of veganism from a health, environmental, and social aspect of it as well.
Caryn: I think what people don’t even realize is helping these rural people and people in poverty to lift themselves up and get their families fed and going to school and improving their lives… I’m assuming that it would be… If you’re promoting a plant-based diet rather than animal agriculture in any form, you can have a much greater reach with plant foods. It’s just cheaper to do, period. Cheaper and easier.
Jody: That’s right. Yep. It’s cheaper, it’s more healthful, it supports the local environment. You have huge problems with groundwater pollution, so even if we… You try to bring up global warming when you’re dealing in microfinance, they don’t want to hear about it. They’re just basically trying to survive and get by the next day. But there’s much more very local issues of land use, water use. Someone upstream, well their runoff is going into the water and polluting the water downstream. Also, that runoff is manure from the animals there. As water becomes more and more scarce, these issues become more and more important and also are going to lead to things like violence and wars and also some other issues related to that. It’s a very important issue, especially in the developing markets, for things that are particularly important to the local populations.
Caryn: I remember the name of the organization I was talking about before. IFAD, the International Fund for Agricultural Development. I believe they’re part of the UN. They’re doing a lot of great things, but again, they’re doing it with animals a lot.
Jody: That’s right. One of the places you can actually open a dialogue with them… You have to be patient, you have to do it over time, but you can open a dialogue to them and it’s interesting how open people are to this. Luckily, people surprise you at times and they get it. You give them enough data and information from reputable sources. For the United Nations, they actually did “Livestock’s Long Shadow.” If you provide that information to some of the United Nations, they got to believe the source ‘cause it’s their own organization.
Caryn: Very good. Let’s talk a little bit more about VegFund. What are some of the things that VegFund has been involved with?
Jody: A lot of different projects. The core of what we do is give away money, which makes us very popular. We give money or we support grassroots activists. For example, if you want to do a food sampling in your area and need the money to buy the food and if you’re doing it in a place where there are fees or something like that, you can apply for a grant and we’ll cover the costs. If you want to do a pay-per-view, which I found… My wife used to do them before I went on the board. I guess she can’t be compensated by VegFund anymore, so I ruined that for her. Where you show little clips of a video about animal agriculture, you pay someone—typically it’s a dollar—to watch it. You’re paying them to view it. If you need money to do the dollar and do the payment, you can apply to VegFund for that. If you want to arrange a movie screening, as long as it’s a movie we feel is an appropriate movie for the vegan message, and if you have costs involved in that, then you can apply to VegFund and we’ll deal with that. We also have a number of Facebook campaigns where we’ll pay people for the clicks through to get a vegetarian starter kit. We’ll compensate somebody for the costs on the Facebook campaign or something like that. You can go to the website, which is vegfund.org, and look at that. The best part that I like, the best with that is, we also have this thing called our merit award. That can be for something that’s different and innovative that isn’t part of our normal programming. You can apply for that and we can take a look at what you proposed. If it supports veganism and supports college potentially, it’s something we can fund. We encourage people to be creative.
Caryn: That’s great. That’s great. I got a very tiny VegFund award last year as a speaker.
Jody: That’s good.
Caryn: When I went to talk to 250 cattle ranchers about animal agriculture’s impact on global warming, which was really fun.
Jody: Did we pay you so you could keep the car running on the way so you could get out quickly?
Caryn: I didn’t include that in my budget. But I did. Actually, like we were saying before about talking to people about different issues, especially when you think that they won’t be open to them, people really appreciate dialogue and information. Even talking to cattle ranchers about alternatives. They were asking questions. They were open, they were interested.
Jody: Yeah. Where was it, I think it was in Finland where they actually paid cattle ranchers to switch to growing berries, and they found heart disease rates went way down. It also made money. If it’s put the right way, there can be common ground.
Caryn: We’ve got this drought going on in California, and there’s all kinds of conversation about the reason behind it. I really wish that our government was able to rise above all the nonsense and do the right thing, and one of the right things would be to support people who are in businesses that are not environmentally friendly. People that are raising cattle out in Nevada and think there’s nothing else that they can do with that land that doesn’t seem to want to grow anything should be learning how to grow drought-tolerant crops and things that can help put the soil into health. Things like teff and other plants like that. We need some support there. Okay. Now. We just have a few more minutes left, and I wanted to talk about your art. Is that okay?
Jody: Okay. That’s perfectly okay.
Caryn: Great. I really believe that art is important in life for so many reasons. I myself am a singer, a performer. When I do get a chance, I like to dabble in watercolors and oil. I just think it’s important for each of us individually to express and create. I would like to see a lot more support behind the arts. These days it’s exceptionally frustrating. There’s just so much power in art. I’m looking at your website. I don’t know how you pronounce it, but…
Jody: Rasch Art. It’s Rasch Art.
Caryn: Your name is Rasch. I didn’t pronounce it correctly.
Caryn: raschart.com. Right. I was really enjoying looking at your work. Under the “Astronomy” section, I’m looking at the first piece, Four Seasons of Dark Matter. I’m like seeing a little van Gogh in there, Starry Night. What I love is, you look at the macroscale with the astronomy, the big universe, and then the microscale under biology. Everything can be fascinating and beautiful.
Jody: Yeah. The idea behind that… For me, what’s interesting about it is that, whether it’s on the macroscale and you’re looking at radio astronomy images so that they don’t actually appear to be stars or something like that, it’s more abstract images. Or the biology or the subatomic physics that I use as themes in all the art. These are things that really make up the world but we don’t actually see. There’s actually a common bond between that and my outlook on life, particularly the veganism. If you think about the animals involved in our food supply, most people never see that. They never go beyond what’s just right in front of their eyes. What I want people to do, and what I challenge them to do in my art is to look beyond just the surface, to see what the world is made of and what really happens. For example in the biology, one of the things that I do quite a bit of is the different viruses. There’s an HIV virus. Bubonic plague is one of the images I’ve used. They look quite beautiful in their microscopic level, but then when you think about what their impact is on the world, just the difference between those two, the duality of it is really trying to get you to think about how things really are and really what the impact of our decisions are on the macroworld. There’s kind of a common theme. I started the painting because it helped me think about these types of issues. Helped me just go beyond what you’re seeing, and telling you to think more deeply about these type of factors.
Caryn: Mmhm. I just want to tell you, my favorite of what you’ve got on your website is the Synapse / Neuromuscular Synapse. I love the color, the balance. I think that’s my favorite. My favorite today. Could change at any time. I just wanted to mention one more thing before we go. I went through a little romp with advanced ovarian cancer eight-and-a-half years ago and I had this Gustav Klimt connection in my cancer story. It’s a long story, I’m not going to go into it here. I had some PET scans during this period, and it would light up where this little mass was. We kept thinking—Gary, who you met, my partner, and I—how that little mass in the PET scan looked a lot like the images in one of my favorite Klimt paintings. There’s that kind of—
Jody: Maybe there’s an art series in this one as well. We should talk.
Caryn: Okay. Let’s do that. Great. Well Jody, thanks for joining me on It’s All About Food and for everything that you’re doing. It’s so important. Thank you.
Jody: Thank you as well.
Caryn: Okay, take care and we’ll talk soon.
Jody: All right. Bye-bye.
Caryn: Okay. Bye-bye. Let’s take a really quick break, and then we’re going to be back with Jane Velez-Mitchell. I can’t wait.
Transcribed by JC, 04/14/2015
TRANSCRIPTION PART II:
Hello everybody I’m Caryn Hartglass and we’re back for the second part of It’s All About Food. Woo! You know what I just wanted to mention something. Do you like the music that I play at the beginning of the program and during the break and at the end? I just have to mention it’s composed by, composed and played by my brother Barry Hartglass. Who is an awesome musician, I don’t get to mention him very often he’s at BarryHartglass.com. But I just wanted to bring it up because he’s going to one of the musicians whose accompanying us next week at our Responsible Eating and Living fundraiser the Happy B-Earthday Review. Which is on Earth Day, and I’m very happy about that. So for more information on that just go to responsibleeatingandliving.com, and you can always email me about just about anything at email@example.com. Very good. Now let’s get to the really exciting part.
Caryn Hartglass: Jane Valez-Mitchell, are you there?
Jane Valez-Mitchell: I am how are you dear?
Caryn Hartglass: Good! Very good! You know I normally read bios, but you know you are just bigger than big and I just want to talk about the news and the good stuff and everything. But anyway, for those of you who don’t know this amazing individual. She’s the editor of a new website janeunchained.com. We’re going to be talking a lot about that. She’s won four genesis awards from the Humane Society, she’s an author. She had her own program on CNN, headline news, and….just a powerhouse. So thank you for being on this planet Jane.
Jane Valez-Mitchell: Well thank you for being on this planet.
Caryn Hartglass: Okay! Well you know we didn’t really have much say about it when it happened did we. (Laughs)
Jane Valez-Mitchell: (Laughs) That’s true. That’s true. Some people do have choice as to whether they’re going to have children or how many children they have. You know we’re going to hit 2050, by 2050 we’re going to have nine billion people on this planet, and the Earth just can’t sustain that much more. So I like to say there are so many kids out there who need good homes who are, who need to be adopted. Think about that as an option. If you know you want kids, there are children out there who have no homes, and our world can only sustain so many people.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah, you know this show is called it’s all about food and we talk about veganism, plant based diets, and the environment, and the treatment of animals, and everything connected to food. But you know it really is related to the population of humans on this planet because if we had fifty or a hundred or you know a million people on the planet, we wouldn’t be experiencing the stuff that is going on today.
Jane Valez-Mitchell: More people have been born since 1950 then existed in the entire history of the world up to 1950.
Caryn Hartglass: Yes, well I’m doing my part.
Jane Valez-Mitchell: I think you’re absolutely right, and let’s talk about food. I want to talk about the growing vegan movement.
Caryn Hartglass: I chose long ago that I didn’t want to have children, and I love kids, and I love my nieces and nephews, and all my friend’s kids. But you know, it’s just a piece of it deciding how many children to have or not have is important.
Jane Valez-Mitchell: Yeah, and you know these shows that 19 and counting, the Duggars that encourage that sort of self indulgence when it comes to having many many children I just think it’s so unfortunate. Again, there are so many children that need homes. You know while we’re talking about population and food we could solve world hunger today, and as we’re talking there are kids dying of malnutrition all around the world and we could feed all those kids very easily. If for example America stopped eating meat and took the nine billion animals that we raise and slaughter for food every year and stop that production and the intimidation of those animals and the breeding of those animals and took the food that those animals eat and distributed it equitably around the world we would end world hunger today. So when people say to me, why are you so worried about animals and getting people to eat plants, don’t you have something more important to talk about? What’s more important than world hunger? What we’re talking about, the resources that these animals use. We’ve got this massive drought in California. I find it amazing that the news media which is really so biased on this issue. When they talk about the water the farmers use they go to amin.
Caryn Hartlglass: I know! I know!
Jane Valez-Mitchell: It’s the meat and dairy companies that are using all the water!
Caryn Hartglass: You know, I haven’t done the math. But I’m tempted, I really want to do the math. How much money is really going into animal production and water. It can’t even be the tip of the iceberg going into the plants that are grown to feed animals, to feed those cows, and the that alfalfa we’re growing to export to China
Jane Valez-Mitchell: Of course it isn’t, but here’s the point. You’re not going to get any mainstream media to talk about that. Look at the advertisers. The advertisers are connected to the meat and dairy industry so you can’t even say that. You say the word vegan on mainstream TV they shut you right down.
Caryn Hartglass: Now just some…you were on CNN for a while and….
Jane Valez-Mitchell: I’m just talking about media in general. I was just on an un-named show on television today and I started talking about veganism because it came up. We were talking about Hilary Clinton going to Chipotle and somebody said, very fun host he’s a friend of mine, he goes yeah she’s doing what everybody does she’s eating fast food trying to be a populist. I said not everybody eats fast food, I don’t eat fast food. Somehow we ended up talking about veganism and he said right out, don’t talk about that the people here on the show that eat meat don’t like that. People don’t want to be confronted about their behavior. They don’t want to have to look at it and if they have the power to say don’t talk about it, that’s what they’re going to do. So the way that things change is with the new generation, and that’s why I jumped the internet and I’m doing social media. Where I’m shooting tons of protests, animal rights protests, and going to the veggie festivals. The New York City vegetarian foods festival which had eight thousand people! No coverage! No coverage from the media.
Caryn Hartglass: Yep I know, no coverage.
Jane Valez-Mitchell: Yeah, so we have to become the media for animals. This is the point that I have been trying to make over and over again with everyone. To all our listeners, if you care about the animals it’s up to you to spread the message. Nobody else will do it but you, and that’s the same thing when it comes to animal activism in general. You’re upset about something just do something about it, because there’s nobody else that’s going to be able to do it. All the animal welfare organizations and the animal rights organizations are stretched thin. They get hundreds of calls every day with people saying “do this, do that”. How do I know that? I get hundreds of emails every week, that they’re kidnapping elephants in Zimbabwe, they’re taking the wild horses and running them off the land. It’s one thing after another, every day. Dozens and dozens of things. You’re upset about it, you do something about it! Just like how I’m doing something about it, because the idea that somebody else is going to do this it’s just not true.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah and that’s it, just do something. Each one of us has to do something and for everyone that’s listening. For everybody that’s listening number one thank you for listening, but now you got to go and do whatever it is you can do.
Jane Valez-Mitchell: For number one you can share videos. There are many many animal rights videos that pop up all the time. I’m shooting them go to janeunchained.com and share my videos. Go to my Facebook page facebook.com/janevalezmitchell and start sharing the videos. Go to Mercy For Animals and start sharing their videos. Go to PETA and start sharing their videos. Become the media for animals that’s number one. Anybody that says “Oh, I can’t do this. I don’t have time.” It doesn’t take any time at all click a button that says share. It really doesn’t take that much time. Facebook is an incredible medium. Twitter is an incredible medium. You can get the message out there, but you’ve got to be part of the process.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah so the message is share, share, share, like, click, share. Takes no time at all and it makes a big difference. Now it’s important to get to the young people the next generation, and I really have a lot of faith in them getting this message, because we do so much exploitation on so many levels. Exploitation of people, of non-human animals of the planet. I believe that the younger generations are more sensitive to all of it. So I’m hoping that’s going to change. But the other big piece of it is money, and you said the shows that you’ve been on the advertisers don’t want to hear this information.
Jane Valez-Mitchell: I’m not just talking about the shows that I’ve been on. I’m talking about in general all you have to do is turn on any TV show anywhere and you just look at the advertisers are mostly meat and dairy companies. So they’re not going to want people talking about factory farming the hideous things. See once you open the door, the Pandora’s box of animal rights and you start saying look you know what’s happening to Lolita down at the sea aquarium, what’s happening to Tilikum, and the other Orcas at Sea World what has happened to them. That opens the door, because once people start caring about one Orca all of the sudden their minds start doing calculations. Then they start realizing wait a second if I care about this one Orca how can I sit here and eat a hamburger because that’s another animal? People want to remain in a state of denial about that once they start, once you open that Pandora’s box you’re on the journey. There is no turning back. You may be on the slow train, you may be on a fast train. But you had the light bulbs go off in some way shape or form and that’s what’s really going to happen in terms of evolution in terms of us evolving as a species beyond killing. When we’re incapable of having factory farms and people are eating a plant based diet. We will have evolved beyond war. We will have evolved beyond all sorts of violence. So I mean this is all a limits test for evolution of our human species and it’s probably. No it’s not probably it’s undoubtedly the most important issue facing the world today. Ironically when you talk to people about this issue they scoff and they laugh at you and say get a life because they can’t make those connections. But once the light bulb goes off and they go “ahh” it’s like everything else in life. Gravity, until that apple hit the ground and then all of the sudden oh gravity well that makes sense that’s obvious.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah and when Newton was talking about Gravity they all said he was a nut right?
Jane Valez-Mitchell: Right, and you know there’s a good ole song. They all laughed at Christopher Columbus when he said the world was round. So we’re a little ahead of ourselves, we’re a little ahead of the herd.
Caryn Hartglass: (Horse noise)
Jane Valez-Mitchell: We’re doing this really important work and I applaud you for talking about this. We’ve really just got to let people know that we’re in crisis right now and that it doesn’t mean that we have to go walking around being depressed or just talk amongst ourselves. I don’t like to sit around and talk to other animal rights activists about what’s happening. It’s either a plan for action or talk to someone that doesn’t get it yet, because that’s wasted energy. I mean I’m talking to you about it, you’re an animal activist and obviously a proponent of a plant based diet and so am I. We’re talking to each other because other people are listening otherwise you and I should be talking about what’s the next demo we’re going to? What’s the next the next demonstration? We have to be talking about spreading the message.
Caryn Hartglass: Yes or we could talk about what’s the next wonderful new vegan restaurant that’s showing up.
Jane Valez-Mitchell: Yeah, those trends or……
Caryn Hartglass: No, I mean just you and me. Not for our listeners. Just saying if we were going to be not…..anyway that’s like a fun thing that we can do when we’re just socializing with our own kind. Just rejoicing about the access to wonderful delicious food that’s popping up everywhere. I have a lot of listeners that are not vegan and many of them have written to me and say they want to move in that direction, and they struggle on so many levels. Personally I’ve been doing it for over twenty six years. I can’t see you doing it any other way it’s not hard for me but my heart goes out to those who are challenged by it for whatever reasons. But I want to say it really isn’t hard.
Jane Valez-Mitchell: It’s so easy, and it’s so much fun. I mean who wants to sit there eating the same thing over and over and over again? Let’s have a challenge. Today I did this early morning hit on a station and I came back and I stopped at a grocery store. I felt the urge for noodles so I got some Chinese noodles making sure that they didn’t have any egg in them and I put those in a pot with Cauliflower and broccoli and tofu. I added some rice amino, which is like a soy sauce but with lighter sodium, and some nutritional yeast, and I added a vegetarian bullion cube with low sodium, and I put that all together with some water and it was the most delicious soup. It was kind of rainy here today, I’m in New York. It was the perfect lunch. That was a delicious lunch that I had. Then later I still was hungry even though it was a nice big soup. Then later after a couple of hours, I did get up at like six AM, so that was a weird breakfast. But I had been up since six so I had that at about eleven and then later I had a really great…. It wasn’t Ezekiel bread but it was very similar it was all grains, sprouted toast with some organic peanut butter and some sugar free jam that is just really good. That was another delicious lunch right there and it’s not difficult. I’m not a cook, It’s not like I’m a gourmet chef or anything but I whip things up all the time. I use coconut oil, and canola oil, and olive oil, and garlic, and Bragg’s Aminos, and nutritional yeast. Remember ninety percent of the things it’s the sauces you put on them that give them the flavor. They did a taste test with The Today Show, I was watching it at home, probably watching it on the computer I don’t remember but I don’t watch The Today Show. I don’t watch any television I watch everything on the computer so I saw this on the computer. They did a taste test, they brought in Beyond Meat the chicken version. They made some real chicken and they asked the stars of the show “Tell us which is the real chicken and which is Beyond Meat” and they got it wrong! They picked the wrong one. So if you can’t tell the difference why kill an animal. I remember this women this very sort of sophisticated woman when I was in LA I had some kind of a meeting and I had brought something as food. I brought some soy bologna, so I was bringing something that might have been palatable, and the woman was going for it then I said “Oh that’s soy bologna” and she stopped herself and she stopped herself and she went “Oh, I don’t know if I can go there.” I didn’t want to be rude but I thought wait you can rip an animal away from his mother you can stick him in a crate and have the grieving mother chasing after the cow and beaten away. You can stick animals in crates never allowing them to turn around. You can drive them to the slaughterhouse. You can slit their throats in terror as they defecate on themselves and everything else. You can take the veins out of them and the eyeballs out of them and hang them upside down. Of course she didn’t have to do any of that she’s ordering the hit. She’s not carrying it out. But you know what they say in crime, my whole thing on janeunchained.com is to treat crimes against animals whether they’re legal or not moral against animals as crime. I’ve found myself in the crime genre and I can’t tell you how I got there, but somehow I ended up in the crime genre. My whole thing is crimes against animals should be just like crimes against people. So you know when it comes to crimes against people if you order a hit you are also culpable of murder. You don’t have to pull the trigger yourself.
Caryn Hartglass: (Laughs) I’ve never heard that before, I love it! If you order a HIT, that’s brilliant!
Jane Valez-Mitchell: Well if you’re involved in a carjacking, and you didn’t necessarily shoot the person, you were involved in that carjacking. You’re as guilty as the person who the driver.
Caryn Hartglass: That’s right. Guilty, guilty.
Jane Valez-Mitchell: That’s right, or a bank robbery. Any of these kinds of crimes, it’s the same concept. You don’t have to go there and slit an animal’s throat to be responsible for the torture and the death of the animal, and remember we’re talking about nine billion farm animals raised horrific factory farming conditions and slaughterhouses every year.
Caryn Hartglass: That’s a number that nobody…
Jane Valez-Mitchell: Do not trump moral responsibility. Okay? I would like to eat chocolate all day long, I love chocolate I’m a chocoholic. You know, I don’t. When I was a little kid I thought of it because my parents were macrobiotic for a while they went through that phase. I thought “When I grow up I’m going to have ice cream, and snow cones, and chocolate all day long. That’s all I’m going to eat.” But taste buds don’t trump everything. I don’t want to go into sugar shock and get diabetes and become obese so I constrain myself. The people that say “Don’t tell me what I should do! Don’t restrict my right as an American!” I don’t personally believe you’re right extends to killing another sentient being.
Caryn Hartglass: Amen, that’s right. I’m talking to Jane Valez-Mitchell and you are probably the biggest or the most famous animal rights journalist reporter that we have had on the planet. Is that true?
Jane Valez-Mitchell: I don’t know about that. I mean there are so many wonderful people. I had the opportunity to ride in a car for eight hours for what was supposed to be a five hour trip turned into eight hours with Ingrid Newkirk a few months ago who is the president of PETA.
Caryn Hartglass: But she’s not a reporter or a journalist. She runs a non-profit organization.
Jane Valez-Mitchell: She does, but you want to talk about heroes you want to talk about inspiring people.
Caryn Hartglass: No, it’s journalist like you who are really telling it like it is like so many don’t. So I’m just applauding you. Yaaaay Jane! (claps)
Jane Valez-Mitchell: Thank you. That’s sweet of you but I don’t want the exclusive on the story. I would love nothing more than for everyone else to reporting it to the point where I wouldn’t need to report. It’s the agitation of responsibility that these journalists don’t report on these stories. I just want to say this, when I started Jane Unchained on a fluke because basically my girlfriend had given me a go-pro camera for my birthday. So when I was free to do whatever I wanted to I had a nice run on a show it ended and I came home and was like “Well what am I going to do now?” I thought look we’ve got a go-pro. I hadn’t even used it once just to go bike riding and when I knew there was a protest I went and covered the protest. This is how It started. So we get there and there’s no other journalist there, it was a great protest I forget what it was. I just started, and my girlfriend and I, she’s really savvy on social media and editing and everything else and she taught me to edit. But anyways we just started going to these protests. Not one of these protests was there another, maybe one maybe one or two of the forty or sixty protests that we’ve gone to now. Some of them, like when we covered the Lolita protest. That was covered because that was a big deal. When we’re covering the monkey issue down in southwest Florida. Please go to Jane Unchained and get involved with monkeygate down there they’re trying to turn southwest Florida into the last monkey breeding capitol of America. Hendry county officials have been secretly been approving these facilities without telling the public and now the public knows and they’re outraged and they’re trying to do everything they can to stop it so please get involved. Read the stories on janeunchained.com write to the Hendry county officials. Tell them how you feel as an American and that you don’t want this to happen. Do whatever you can. Share the videos, call everybody you know who lives in the Fort Myers Naples area and get people involved. Fly down there! I’m flying down on Monday. It’s my third trip down there. You know it gets down to if you want you want something done do it yourself. People love to sit around and chat over cocktails over the terrible state of the environment and animals “This is what needs to be done and this is what needs to be done!” and what I tell people is just do it. There is no one else.
Caryn Hartglass: Wow, well that’s a great way to end because we’re at the end. I know you could talk about all kinds of important things all day long and you do. Thank you for joining me on It’s All About Food Jane Valez-Mitchell with your video for the voiceless janeunchained.com. Go there, get involved, and do stuff. Thank you Jane.
Jane Valez-Mitchell: I love you, keep it up!
Caryn Hartglass: I love you! Okay, Stay fueled and inspired.
Jane Valez-Mitchell: Bye!
Caryn Hartglass: Bye! Well that was great Jane Valez-Mitchell. Go to janeunchained.com we have a minute left and I wanted to remind you again about responsibilityandliving.com our upcoming fundraiser is on Earth Day which is birthday on Wednesday April 22nd you can still get tickets if you’re in the New York Metro area it’s really easy to get to and I want to you there! Okay? Meanwhile you can also go to Responsibility and Living because there’s a lot of great things going on. I’ve got my What Vegans Eat blog and there are links to wonderful recipes when you go there. Jane was mentioning the importance of sauces and how they make the difference in making food taste good and that’s why we started the transition kitchen and we started with the traditional French mother sauces that we are veganizing. Showing you how easy they are to make and they’re the foundation sauces to make everything taste delicious. So you can go to our video button and check out the transition kitchen and we’ve got more of those coming. Thanks for joining me on It’s All About Food everybody! Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and have a delicious week okay.
Transcribed by Thomas Merica, 4/19/2015