Guest post by the wonderful Jenna McDavid!
When I started recruiting vegan friends to hang out for a couple of hours at Bluestockings Bookstore on New York’s Lower East Side to write letters to prisoners, I got a lot of weird looks. “What does this have to do with veganism?” they would ask. “How is this making the world a better place?”
Since the passage of the US Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act, activists and vegans speaking out on behalf of animals, people, and the planet are often targeted and imprisoned for daring to challenge the systems of oppression on which our country blithely operates. Furthermore, the mass incarceration of people of color, LGBT people, and poor people – whether they’re activists or not – should be chilling to anyone who purports to be an activist. [Editors note: if you want to learn more please read The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander.]
As a vegan, it was obvious to me: I oppose the notion of putting ANYONE in a cage, whether she is human or animal. The US prison system is a bleak, dehumanizing place, and writing letters of support to prisoners is one way to remind them that they matter, that we care, and that their lives are of value.
When I moved to Seattle in early 2015, I was connected with Anika who encouraged me to bring my letter writing passion to the west coast. The Northwest Animal Rights Network has graciously allowed me to commandeer their letter writing program, and we have been meeting monthly at different vegan restaurants and community spaces around the city to write letters of support to vegan prisoners, as well as sending messages to local businesses and government to help stop animal cruelty in its many forms.
Our next event is December 1, 2015 at Wayward Cafe! We’ll be writing a massive number of letters to Nordstrom in opposition of their sale of fox, rabbit, coyote, and mink fur. In addition, we have many other campaigns that need your support: letters to prisoners, to Skansa USA and the UW to oppose the new animal lab, to Puget Sound officials who plan to exterminate our geese — if you feel strongly about it, you can write about it. While it’s certainly easy enough to write letters from the comfort of your own home, there’s not much better than vegan buffalo “wings” and a group of friends and comrades writing right along with you. Won’t you join us?
Jenna is a social justice warrior who now calls Seattle home after spending most of the rest of her life in New York. She has been vegan since reading Peter Singer’s Animal Liberation in high school and has been fighting for human and animal liberation, through a variety of channels, ever since. Jenna has worked with Compassionate Consumers, Vegan Outreach, Living Opposed to Violence and Exploitation (LOVE), and others.