Wednesday, June 15, 2016

10 Questions: Vegan Rock Star with Lisa Rimmert



Lisa Rimmert is like seriously the best! I met Lisa online a few years ago when she asked to interview me for her fabulous blog and I walked away wishing that all questions would be like Lisa Rimmert questions. Since then, Lisa and I have crossed paths in person and she is as fun, down-to-earth and hilarious as I’d expected she’d be and she is now Director of Development at Vegan Outreach. I am so glad that Lisa and her wonderful voice have found a home working for the animals full-time as Director of Development at Vegan Outreach and I’m pretty stoked to be able to share her thoughts today. More Lisa Rimmert’s, fewer cranky vegans! I can get behind that movement. I am happy to feature Lisa today as our Vegan Rock Star.

1. First of all, we’d love to hear your “vegan evolution” story. How did you start out? Did you have any early influences or experiences as a young person that in retrospect helped to pave your path?

I have “loved animals” since I can remember–dogs, cats, animals I was familiar with. I never thought about food animals until my friend became vegetarian in college. I made fun of him like a defensive jerk instead of looking inward at my own cognitive dissonance. A few years later, influenced by a vegan friend’s blog, I realized the hypocrisy of claiming to love animals while paying people to hurt and kill them because I liked burgers. I became vegan three years later after attending an animal welfare conference and being exposed to many vegans–none of whom had red paint, or hemp skirts and white-people dreads like I would have expected. Having it normalized like that made a big difference for me.

2. Imagine that you are pre-vegan again: how could someone have talked to you and what could they have said or shown you that could have been the most effective way to have a positive influence on you moving toward veganism?

I think I would have become vegan much sooner if I had known other vegans. I encourage vegans to go out into the world, connect with non-vegans, and lead by example. Show them how easy, accessible, and normal it is. If you have to eat Taco Bell and vegan milkshakes and buffalo seitan wraps all the time, so be it. It’s a hard job but someone has to do it. ;)

3. What have you found to be the most effective way to communicate your message as a vegan? For example, humor, passion, images, etc.?

A mix of humor and vulnerability. I like to tell people how I thought before I went vegan, and why that changed. I wasn’t always vegan, but people are often surprised to hear or realize that I was once in their shoes.

Regarding humor, it’s a very natural way for me to express myself. By nature I find the humor in most things, so I enjoy using that in my advocacy. I run a snarky/funny blog called Weird! Why Aren’t You Vegan?, and I bring up veganism and animal rights in my comedy. It disarms people and opens them up to new thinking.

4. What do you think are the biggest strengths of the vegan movement?

We are so motivated! Our compassion drives us. Even though we’re still small in numbers we’re loud and powerful and influential. Go us!

5. What do you think are our biggest hindrances to getting the word out effectively?

Letting anger and righteousness drive our tactics. Yes, we’re angry, and yes, we’re right. But we should find appropriate outlets for those feelings (punch a pillow, perhaps?), and then go out into the world and be nice.

6. All of us need a “why vegan” elevator pitch. We’d love to hear yours.

None of us like seeing or knowing that animals suffer, and yet a lot of us fund that very suffering. We don’t have to kill animals in order to live healthy, fulfilled, satisfying lives, so why would we? We can vote with our wallets for a kinder world.

7. Who are the people and what are the books, films, websites and organizations that have had the greatest influence on your veganism and your continuing evolution?

When I first became vegan, I was really disheartened by the reactions I received: people trivializing my feelings, being preemptively argumentative or defensive, and trying to poke holes in what I believe. The book Living Among Meat Eaters by Carol Adams helped so much. Now that I’ve been vegan for a while, I consider intersectional justice advocates my teachers and role models. They teach me that being vegan is not the be-all, end-all of compassion. There is more to do, and it’s important to keep learning and growing.

8. Burn-out is so common among vegans: what do you do to unwind, recharge and inspire yourself?

I’m lucky in that my job is a constant source of inspiration. As Director of Development for Vegan Outreach, I get to work every day with amazing people–from Outreach Coordinators who lug boxes of leaflets around and hand them out by the thousands each day, to donors who give their hard-earned money to make that work possible. When I get really ragey, I take my dog to the park and enjoy watching her have the time of her life.

9. What is the issue nearest and dearest to your heart that you would like others to know more about?

There are so many, but as I type this I’m particularly fired up about captivity and sexism. Mostly unrelated but I’m sure there are connections (forced breeding, hi!). I recently went whale watching in the Puget Sound. In Blackfish, that’s where over 90 Orcas were shown being herded into a net in 1970, to be sold to marine parks like SeaWorld. I had seen Blackfish previously but that trip inspired me to watch it again and learn more. Based on the makeup of their brains, scientists hypothesize that whales are incredibly sensitive, highly emotional, have speech and even dialects, and have amazing memories. Messing with their family systems, separating them, and confining them are crueler than we can even imagine. Let’s quit that. Read more here–it’s super interesting (and infuriating, so good luck).

Regarding sexism, I’ll just say that it pervades every part of our society, it’s often unconscious and invisible, and we need to knock it off. J

10. Please finish this sentence: “To me, being vegan is...”

Realizing that there is no neutral, that everything we do has an impact–and striving to make it a positive one.

3 comments:

  1. Really enjoyed reading this interview and thanks for the links. Thank you to both of you for your time in doing this interview and sharing your experience in vegan advocacy and good interview questions.
    Fiona

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  2. You're an amazing person doing important work, Lisa. Thank you for your encouragement, humor, thoughtfulness, and inspiration.

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  3. Tks very much for your post.

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