By Kelly Behr
Native Foods Cafe
If you read our newsletters that we have in the stores you are used to seeing someone featured as our, "In the Spotlight" special guest. This month we were very excited to feature Kelly O'Neil. She is the Education and Outreach Coordinator for Farm Sanctuary. Farm Sanctuary has become very near and dear to Native Foods. We have recently entered into a partnership with them that will allow us to work together on many fun and exciting things coming up.
I was able to visit the Farm Sanctuary in Acton, CA and meet Kelly and all the awesome animals that call the sanctuary their home. There was a baby cow who we heard mooing when we were walking away and realized he had been following us all the way down to the hill and wanted to stay with us wherever we went.
I learned about all their unique personality traits and how cool it is to hold a rooster, did you know they love belly rubs too? Well they do!
Here is Kelly holding Li Mu Bai a Silkie rooster who loves laying on his back for a good belly rub!
Position with Farm Sanctuary:
Education and Outreach Coordinator
How did you get involved with Farm Sanctuary?
I previously worked at an animal shelter and after becoming vegan I realized that there was a much bigger problem than just dogs and cats being mistreated and killed needlessly. By becoming vegan my compassion extended to all living beings especially those used in the food industry. After learning that over 9 billion farm animals are killed for human consumption each year in the United States alone I knew I wanted to do more to help spread the message that you do not need to consume animal products in order to live a happy, healthy life.
Favorite part of your job?
Educating the public about the horrors of modern animal agriculture and helping people make changes in how they view and treat farm animals. The United States is a nation of animal lovers, and a lot of people don’t want to think about what happens to farm animals, but I believe knowledge is power and that is why I work to expose and end the abuses of factory farming through education and advocacy.
It might be like picking a favorite child, but do you have some favorites at the sanctuary?
I have quite a few but I would have to say that I was most surprised by how intelligent and social chickens are. They have such distinct personalities but unfortunately, chickens are among the most abused of farm animals in the United States, with over 8 billion being killed for human consumption each year. That’s 279 every second! Not only are chickens exploited for their meat, but for their eggs as well. Li Mu Bai is a Silkie rooster that I am particularly fond of at Farm Sanctuary’s Los Angeles area shelter. You can cuddle and kiss him just like you would your dog or cat and he will fall asleep in your arms as you pet his feathers. He’s such a love!
What is the one message Farm Sanctuary really wants to make sure they portray?
That farm animals are intelligent, emotionally complex individuals, just like the dogs and cats we share our lives with, and they deserve the same respect and consideration.
Does Farm Sanctuary educate on eating a vegan diet?
Yes, Farm Sanctuary’s Los Angeles area shelter gives 1-hour guided tours to the public on Sundays at 11 a.m., 1 p.m., and 3 p.m. On these tours we introduce guests to farm animals that have been rescued from situations of cruelty and neglect, teach them about the conditions animals face on factory farms and talk about compassionate vegan living. At Farm Sanctuary we support any movement in the direction of plant-based eating. Every time someone chooses a plant-based meal instead of one containing animal products, they’re making a difference.
Do you have any advice for people new to trying a vegan diet?
Try eating vegan just one meal a week or for a whole day, and see how you feel. It’s a lot easier than people think and even little changes make a big difference. And fortunately now there are plant-based alternatives for nearly every type of meat, dairy and egg product on the market that are delicious and healthier for you and our environment, too! Farm Sanctuary has a great resource called V-lish (v-lish.com) that has recipes, videos and tips that can help you plan your plant-based shopping trip, cook delicious meat-free meals and experience vegan dining made simple.
What is your favorite menu item at Native Foods?
It’s so hard to pick just one knowing that everything on the menu is plant-based and cruelty-free! The Yo Amigo Taco Salad is probably my favorite because it is healthy, filling and delicious.
What is the one food you couldn't live without?
Definitely dark, leafy vegetables like kale and spinach. They are full of protein and calcium and perfect for salads, stir-fry’s, smoothies, and juicing!
Please stay tuned for more exciting events Native Foods will be doing with Farm Sanctuary. Our first event will be Monday, July 28th. We are having a giveback day for Farm Sanctuary where a portion of sales from all Native Foods will go back to Farm Sanctaury and a FREE DESSERT for YOU with the purchase of an entree, side & Native Drink.