Meet Hailey

Posted on by Ashley Fruno

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Hailey Chang at banana event

Hailey Chang

What do you do at PETA?
I am a special project coordinator and campaigner for PETA. I do everything from handling PETA’s website, coordinating blogs, drafting Weibo tweets, and translating news releases to organizing demos, dealing with the media, and coordinating celebrity campaigns.

If you had to describe yourself using three words, they would be …
Disciplined, bubbly, and caring!

What’s one thing most people don’t know about you?
I think I was a mermaid in my previous life. Maybe that’s why I feel so strongly connected to fish and other sea animals.

What was the catalyst that got you involved in animal rights?
It all happened gradually. When I was 6, I saw a seafood vender crack open a crab with pliers while the animal was still alive. At that moment, I could almost feel the animal’s pain, and that’s when I started refusing to eat seafood. At age 11, I went to New Zealand and saw sheep for the first time in my life. I instantly made the connection between them and the food on my plate, so I stopped eating lamb. By the time I saw a video of a cow who was slaughtered, fully aware and in pain, and I finally decided to go vegetarian, I had already cut out all meat out of my diet except for beef. The video made me stop eating beef, too. Three years later when I walked past the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C., a PETA U.S. intern handed me a leaflet about how, on egg farms, hens are confined to cages so small that they can’t even spread one wing all their lives and how calves are separated from their mothers within 24 hours of birth so that humans can enjoy the milk that’s intended for them. That’s the moment I decided to go vegan. Four months later, I applied for a position as an intern with PETA U.S. and stood in the same spot in D.C., hoping to make a difference.

Which animal issue is most important to you and why?
Veganism was the first issue that got me into animal rights. But really, all animals need us to speak out against cruelty wherever and whenever it exists. Whether we’re talking about fur farms, puppy mills, circuses, zoos, or our plates, I feel the need to protect all animals.

Which of your PETA moments are you most proud of?
When I was with PETA U.S. in Washington, D.C., I was leafleting in front of the “Glass Walls” Exhibit one day when a dad and his little girl passed by. At first, the girl was troubled by the images of factory farms and slaughterhouses. “It’s OK, honey. Look at what this girl’s T-shirt says.” Her dad pointed to me and said, “It says People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. When you grow up, you can work for them, too, so that you can save animals.” It’s moments like this that make me tear up when I think about what I do. It feels great to know that I’m inspiring people every day and that there’s always hope.

If you were an animal, which species would you be and why?
I wanted to say a cat because I’m jealous of how easy and relaxing my cats’ lives are, but I really would rather be human so that I can save all the other animals. To me, all animals are the same—cats, dogs, pigs, cows, fish, etc. They might look different and have different histories with people, but they’re all my friends. Animals so often can’t fend for themselves, and my purpose in life is to protect them.

If you could eat only one meal for the rest of your life, what would you choose?
Vegan cupcakes. That’s right—cupcakes can be made vegan, too! They’re not only yummy but also cholesterol-free.

If you could offer one piece of advice to people looking to get started in animal rights, what would it be?
Be the change. If you want to see a better world, start showing more compassion in every way that you possibly can. It’s never too late to do the right thing, and you have what it takes to help animals. You just need to trust yourself.