Some of my friends have called me “Super-Vegan.” In fact, at a costume party, I once indulged the idea and dressed as a vegan superhero, much to everyone’s amusement. In everyday life, I do what I can to help animals. I eat a healthy and kind plant-based diet, I work at PETA, and I give baths to chained dogs on the streets of Manila—but trust me, I don’t fly. I wasn’t always a superhero for animals. I started out just like everyone else, clueless and curious but very determined.
Becoming an activist for animals actually had a lot to do with PETA. Because of the group’s relentless campaigning to raise awareness of animal issues, becoming educated about animal rights was easy. But long before I was handing out leaflets or baking vegan cupcakes, I encountered someone whose insight and intellect inspired me to do more—Lisa Simpson. Yes, a cartoon character!
I was 11 years old when the episode “Lisa the Vegetarian” aired. In it, Lisa decides to ditch meat, struggles with acceptance, eats a tofu dog, and meets Paul and Linda McCartney. Lisa was someone who came into my living room every week, and she was someone I could relate to. We’re all changed by things and people, and—like it or not—television has a big impact on all of us. The Simpsons is broadcast all over the world—including China, India, Mexico, and the Philippines—and that’s some mega-influence for a little girl who plays the saxophone and cares about animals.
Lisa was just the catalyst for me. Over the next few years, I started teaching my friends how to make hummus, campaigning to urge people to adopt animals from shelters rather than buying them at pet stores, volunteering at a farm animal sanctuary, and using my voice to help every animal I could. When I went to a university, I joined a local animal rights group, baked vegan cupcakes, and helped PETA gather signatures for a “Meatless Monday” at my school’s cafeteria. I’m not a superhero—I just do what I can.
Animals everywhere need our help, and we have a voice, two hands, and a brain that can move mountains. Start like I did, by eliminating animals from your dinner plate. It’s actually a lot easier than you might think—start with one day a week and exploring the world of vegan cooking. Soon, you’ll be eating tofu with the best of them and sharing recipe tips with “veg-heads” from around the world.
You can also visit your local animal shelter to volunteer. Most shelters are in need of all the help that they can get and would welcome your support. Dogs and cats waiting for adoption might be waiting for weeks or months for their forever home, so in the meantime, they need attention and love. You can volunteer to clean cages and housing areas, give baths, or take them for walks—or even to participate during playtime.
Posted by Edwina Baier