Mark your calendars, and tell your friends that peta2 is hitting the road!...
Although it’s a fairly new organization to the University of California-Irvine campus, Irvine Students Against Animal Cruelty (ISAAC) has already been featured on the front page of the campus newspaper and increased vegetarian and vegan options in the dining hall. The group’s hard work has helped reach thousands of students with a compassionate message and inspirational actions to promote animal rights. ISAAC member Charlotte Gordon, a seasoned peta2 Street Teamer, got a chance to answer some questions for us in between daydreams about a brand-new vegan restaurant near campus, The Veggie Grill.
Why did you go vegetarian or vegan?
It was all because of Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle, a muckraking novel I read when I was 13. That powerful book exposed the horrid conditions for workers, as well as animals, in the U.S. meat-packing industry all the way back in the early 1900s. The novel makes an incredibly tight connection between the immigrant workers and the animals. They are both viewed as disposable and have no voice. I wondered then—have conditions changed for animals and workers in last 100 years? Surprisingly, no. This anyone can see in Fast Food Nation or in various PETA videos.
What is your position in the group?
I am the Web mistress! I also help organize events, like our successful KFC demo, and I’m spearheading a campaign to get more veg food at UCI.
What are some of the most successful events you have held?
We had a successful KFC protest on Campus Drive. It made the front page of the campus newspaper, The New University, with a big picture of ISAAC members holding a banner that reads, “Hungry for dead, decayed chickens?”
What advice can your group offer other student organizations looking to organize around animal rights at their schools?
Remember to have a helpful and approachable atmosphere within the group to avoid burnout and isolation. Hang out and have lunch at a local veg restaurant as well as tabling and attending protests. Veggies are still a minority (hopefully not for long!), so it’s nice to have other vegetarians/vegans to talk with, get support from, and relate to.
How are the dining options for vegetarians and vegans on campus?
Well, the veg options were pretty scarce on campus. There was one restaurant that offered a Boca burger, but that was about it if you don’t count salads. But hey, we’re vegans, not supermodels! We want more than just a salad. So, after some inquiring in administration and many comment cards filled out and left in the dining halls by students, I was directed to the head chef of the Pippin dining hall. We talked, and I told him about Veg Advantage, an online resource to help facilities incorporate vegetarian and vegan foods into their menus. The head chef now has separate cooking equipment for the veg food, is putting more emphasis on healthy dining options, and has a vegetarian or vegan option at each of the five food stations!
Who would win in an arm wrestling match between your group and KFC executives?
Well, I don’t know if the match would happen. I mean, ISAAC would show up to put the smack down, but the KFC executives seem so disconnected from reality, what with their being seemingly oblivious to the nationwide protests at their restaurants and ignoring their own animal welfare committee’s suggestions for humane treatment of animals. I doubt they would even know we were there.
* * * * *
Thanks to Charlotte and everyone else in ISAAC for taking time to table, leaflet, protest, and otherwise campaign for animals. Don’t forget to check out the peta2 Street Team for ways to get involved, or just drop us a line at College@peta2.com.