“…I want to become vegan.”
“It was a great presentation and very inspiring.”
“It was an eye opener.”
These quotes are from students at Blaine High School in response to a Bridges of Respect presentation on factory farming and veganism that was given on November 6. Shannon Kimball, who coordinates CAA’s humane education program, Bridges of Respect, had scheduled me to speak to two agriculture classes that had a total of 60 students.
During the presentations, I shared my story of what caused me to change from an avid meat eater to a vegan animal advocate; talked about the emotional lives and intelligence of pigs, cows, chickens, and fish; and exposed the link between animal agriculture and environmental destruction, including climate change.
Students were also invited to watch Mercy For Animal’s documentary Farm to Fridge. This 12-minute video shows the sad reality that animals face in factory farms and slaughterhouses. Because of the video’s graphic nature, students were empowered to take care of themselves and given the option to not watch. Most of them did watch it, and, because of their compassion, many of them were deeply moved and lots of tears were shed.
Empowering information was then shared on how more and more people are becoming vegan or eating less animal products, how in recent years the sales of meat have decreased (despite US population growth) resulting in fewer animals raised and slaughtered, and how thousands of people have used a vegan diet to help reverse and prevent chronic degenerative diseases.
We also provided tips on transitioning to a vegan diet, including how to eat out as a vegan, the myriad vegan alternatives, and where vegans gets their protein. Shannon Kimball also attended the presentation to share some delicious vegan food samples with the students during the question and answer session.
Based on the anonymous evaluations students turned in, the vast majority of students found the presentation to be interesting, lively, and fair, and the presenter to be knowledgeable, encouraging of participation, and respectful of different points of view.
Humane education is a powerful force for change. It encourages critical and creative thinking, the sharing of factual information, and respectful dialogue on important issues, while inspiring compassion.
I appreciate Compassionate Action for Animals and Shannon Kimball for their perceptive vision of how vital humane education is as a tool for positive transformation and for their commitment to the continuation and expansion of the humane education program Bridges of Respect. I also deeply appreciate and am honored and humbled to be one of Bridges of Respect’s team members.
When asked if they were inspired to adopt any new changes in their life, several students replied that they were inspired to eat less meat or not eat meat at all. I leave you with a few more quotes from the student evaluations:
“Very useful info.”
“I liked how we got to try foods.”
“So much information. Very persuasive. I’m going to try to go vegetarian and then vegan. Thank you.”
What You Can Do
- Encourage educators you know to request a presentation from Bridges of Respect. We offer presentations for grades 6-12, college, and adult students.
- If you are a member of a club, group, or classroom that has guest speakers, encourage them to invite Bridges of Respect to give a presentation.
Make a special donation to Bridges of Respect. To do this, donate to Compassionate Action for Animals and note that it is for the Bridges of Respect humane education program. The funds are used to promote the program to educators.