Here’s a report from the campaign trail by Nikki Benoit, Outreach Coordinator for Florida Voices for Animals:
Wearing my “Vegan Outreach” t-shirt, and accompanied by fellow animal activist Deb Greery, we secured front row seats at the entrance to the stadium of St. Pete Gibbs High this morning, awaiting Senator Barack Obama for a Town Hall meeting.
Out he came, a hand shake we got…but I needed a hug – so he obliged [well, I kinda had to pull him in...much to the chagrin of Secret Service, who peeled Deb and I off after 5 seconds]
After his speech, he opened up the floor for Q & A. I was the 6th person he called on – yay!
As I was being handed the mic, Obama read my shirt out loud – “Vegan Outreach” . . . . .YES!!! HE DID!!! AND…he pronounced it RIGHT!!!
So, though it’s mostly a blur, I first thanked him for his strong position for helping our environment, which segwayed nicely into my factory farming question.
I stated how the UN’s reporting that animal agriculture contributes more to greenhouse gas emissions than all of transportation. I mentioned that over 10 billion land animals are funneled through egregious conditions in factory farms and that it requires an obscene amount of water and resources to maintain them [70% of all our grain goes through them]. I reiterated that our health epidemic is only compounded by our environmental crises and resource depletion, and what, as the leader of the most amazing nation, would he do about this [again, this is all a blur...I believe the media picked this up, too - I hope it made more sense at the time.]
His response included an admission that our infrastructure needs fixing, and that subsidies need to be taken away from large scale animal ag, helping small family farms. He acknowledged that our health care crises needs to incorporate preventative measures, including more fresh vegetables and fruit. He also said schools need more of these items versus pre-packaged food and meat products. And of course, he pointed the finger at China and India and that their new diet [which is mimicking ours] needs to be changed.
There were a lot of claps and hoots during my question from the crowd, even a Secret Service agent gave me a wink and a thumbs up!
Received a lot of praise afterwards, and was interviewed by Rollins College and TampaBay.com, so here’s hoping they run it!
YES WE CAN!
I wonder how McCain would pronounce vegan.