Interview with a vegan with 27 years of experience

Hope Bohanek has been an animal rights activist for over 20 years and recently published The Last Betrayal: Will You Be Happy Eating Meat? Hope has unleashed her organizational talents as the leader of the Campaign for Animals and curates the annual Berkeley Conscious Food conference and Vegfest. She is currently working on her second book, Deceptions of Humanism.

1. How and when did you start your activity as an animal advocate? Who inspired you?

From early childhood, I loved and sympathized with animals. There were photographs of animals all over my room, and I dreamed of working with them when I grew up. I didn’t know what exactly my activity would be – perhaps in scientific research, but my rebellious teenage nature attracted me to leadership.

My first inspiration came in the early 90s with the Greenpeace movement. I was blown away by their daring rallies I saw on TV, and I volunteered for the East Coast Unit. Knowing the plight of redwood logging in Northern California, I just packed up and went there. Soon I was already sitting on the tracks, preventing timber transportation. Then we built little wooden platforms to live 100 feet up in trees that were in danger of being cut down. I spent three months there in a hammock stretched between four trees. It was very dangerous, one of my friends crashed to death, falling down … But I was a little over 20, and next to such courageous people I felt at ease.

During my time at Earth First, I read and learned about the suffering of animals on farms. I was already vegan at the time, but cows, chickens, pigs, turkeys… they called out to me. They seemed to me the most innocent and defenseless creatures, with torment and suffering more than other animals on earth. I moved south to Sonoma (only an hour north of San Francisco) and began to blockade the tactics I learned about in Earth First. Gathering a small group of fearless vegans, we blocked the slaughterhouse, interrupting its work for the whole day. There were arrests and a bill for a huge amount, but it turned out to be much more effective than other types of propaganda, less risky. So I came to understand that veganism and the fight for animal rights is the meaning of my life.

2. Tell us about your current and future projects – presentations, books, campaigns and more.

Now I work in the Poultry Concern (KDP) as a project manager. I am honored to have a boss like Karen Davis, founder and president of the KDP, and a true hero of our movement. I learned a lot from her. Our projects take place throughout the year, the International Day for the Protection of Chickens, as well as presentations and conferences around the country, became a particularly important event.

I am also the executive director of the non-profit vegan organization Compassionate Living. We sponsor Sonoma VegFest and show films and other video content on campuses. One of the main directions of the organization is the exposure of the so-called “humane labeling”. Many people buy animal products labeled “free range”, “humane”, “organic”. This is a small percentage of the market for these products, but it is growing rapidly, and our goal is to show people that this is a scam. In my book, I gave evidence that no matter what the farm is, the animals on it suffer. Cruelty in animal husbandry cannot be removed!

3. We know that you participated in the organization of VegFest in California. You also curate the annual Conscious Eating Conference at Berkeley. What qualities do you need to have to organize such large-scale events?

Next year will see the sixth Conscious Eating conference and the third annual Sonoma VegFest. I also helped organize World Vegan Day in Berkeley. I have developed the skills of planning such events over the years. You need to give people a lot of information and also provide vegetarian food, all in one day. It’s like a clockwork with many wheels. Only a meticulous organizer can see the whole picture and, at the same time, in the smallest details. Deadlines are crucial – whether we have six months, four months or two weeks, we still face a deadline. Now vegan festivals are taking place in different cities, and we will be happy to help anyone who takes up their organization.

4. How do you see the future, will vegetarianism, the struggle for animal freedom and other aspects of social justice develop?

I look to the future with optimism. People love animals, they are impressed by their cute faces, and the vast majority do not want to cause them suffering. Seeing a wounded animal on the side of the road, most will slow down, even at risk, to help. In the depths of the soul of every person, in its best depth, compassion lives. Historically, farm animals have become an underclass, and humanity has convinced itself to eat them. But we must awaken the compassion and love that lives in everyone, then people will understand that raising an animal for food is murder.

It will be a slow process as deep-seated beliefs and traditions make it difficult to turn the corner, but the progress of the past three decades is inspiring. It is encouraging to think that we have made significant progress in protecting the rights of women, children and minorities. I believe that the global consciousness is already ready to accept the idea of ​​non-violence and compassion for our smaller brothers as well – the first steps have already been taken.

5. Can you finally give parting words and advice to all animal rights activists?

Activism is like soy milk, don’t like one kind, try another, everyone has a different taste. If you are not very good at some activity, change it to an alternative one. You can apply your knowledge and skills in various areas related to the protection of animals, from writing letters to bookkeeping. Your work in this area should be stable and enjoyable. Animals expect you to give back in any field of activity, and by remembering this, you will become a better and more effective activist. Animals are counting on you and waiting for exactly as much as we can give them, no more.

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