The folks at Nickelodeon followed Blake for a day to see what life is like for a young animal rights activist. They couldn’t have picked a better person either—read on to find out what makes Blake a star.
Name: L. Blake Wilson
Hometown: Hinsdale, Illinois
What was the turning point when you decided to devote your life to animal rights?
There were a bunch of events that culminated in my switch to veganism and advocacy for the animal rights movement, but the turning point for me definitely occurred after reading Daniel Quinn’s Ishmael. His ideas really helped unify the thoughts I was having at the time. It’s also what drew me to PETA. At that point I was really starting to think, “You know, this really isn’t right. Animals aren’t ours.” Then I was introduced to the PETA Web site, and it said right there on the front page, “Animals are not ours!” I was meant to become a vegan. When I was little I was always extremely concerned with the well-being of every creature around me. I was the kid who would pick up spiders and take them outside so my sister wouldn’t squash them or renounce playmates after I found out they squashed an anthill. Eventually, though, I think I grew more apathetic. Our society makes it easy to forget about other creatures’ pain. It can become really easy to forget that your meal had feelings. Eventually, I was filled so full of this meat-industry propaganda that I started coming up with all these excuses for why it’s OK that humans can kill and abuse so many animals. It really wasn’t me, though. It wasn’t long before I started thinking for myself again. That’s when I became vegan.
Do you have any companion animals?
I’ve always had animals around the house. Right now I am in the service of two cats named Ravi and Tuscany and a new kitten named Lexington. We also share the house with a dog named L’allemande (Lolly). All of the cats were adopted from Kentucky, and the dog was bought from a breeder when I was too young to protest and suggest adoption! Before I became a vegan, I bought a snake named Elizabeth Bathory, whom I love and care for despite her appetite.
Is your family supportive of your animal rights beliefs?
My family varies in their levels of acceptance. My half-brother Luke actually became a vegan the same day I did and really helped me out through the early stages. My mom, on the other hand, has had very mixed feelings on the issue. Although she agrees with the morals and ideas behind veganism, I have sometimes had to really put my foot down and show her that I am firmly committed to veganism. I think she was very concerned about my health, but once I explained to her that all it takes is a little bit of effort to cut animal products out of your life, she started to feel comfortable with it. I told her that doing the right thing isn’t always the most convenient thing, and it’s certainly hard to argue against that! More recently, she has been very helpful by buying a ton of vegetables, vegan cereals, and other yum-yums. (Mmm … hummus!) My dad grew up on a farm in Kentucky. His entire family still lives and works in the area, and many of them are still farmers (my uncle is a dairy farmer). While you might think that this would make him less open to the concept, he probably understands more than anyone the damaging effects of the switch from ma-and-pa dairy farms (the way he was raised) to highly competitive factory farms.
What have others said about you and your compassion for animals?
Some have said that my compassion for animals is noble, some have said it’s radical, and some have said it’s futile. My friends admire it, my peers respect it, and my enemies fear it.
What is your favorite animal rights quote?
“The question is not ‘Can they reason? nor ‘Can they talk?’ but ‘Can they suffer?'” -Jeremy Bentham
Where do you go to school?
I’m a freshman at Hinsdale Central High School. This year I cofounded and now serve as president of an animal rights group called H.O.P.E. (Humans Out Promoting Empathy). We’re basically a conglomeration of all the AR activists, vegetarians/vegans, and animal lovers at the school. So far we have participated in a protest against Ringling Bros., worked with the food committee to help make the school cafeteria more vegan-friendly, and raised over $60 for a local humane society by baking our own vegan snacks and selling them. We even have cool T-shirts on the way!
What are your hobbies?
I play guitar and violin. I play guitar and sing in a two-man death/doom/thrash band called Pharisee (we really need more musicians!) and sing and write music for a hardcore band called D.A. (but we just started). I also love to bowl and am very proud of my Norwegian heritage!
Finally, what is your message to the Street Team members of peta2?
“En skulde aldrig ha’ sine bedste bukser pÃ¥, nÃ¥r en er ude og strider for frihed og sandhed.” -Henrik Ibsen
“You should never wear your best trousers when you go out to fight for freedom and truth.”
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