Andrew Kirshner

Activist, speaker, writer and teacher.

SS: What made you go vegan and why?

AK: I learned about industrial factory farming which dispelled my culturally entrenched beliefs about the idyllic family farm and the so-called humane death of animals. While attending a fundraiser for a local animal shelter, they played a video of abused and abandoned dogs and cats. Through their tears, attendees donated thousands of dollars to save them while simultaneously eating steak, hamburgers, chicken breasts and wings, and veal at the event. In that moment, I made the connection. It was my vegan epiphany. I did some additional research on animal agribusiness and educated myself. I never ate another animal again and I never will. I’m ashamed that I lived in such a state of unawareness and indifference although it now fuels my efforts to help others evolve as I did. I get it now and I'm very grateful that I do. Animals have the same right to inhabit this earth as we do. We don't own the planet -- we are privileged to share it with all of its other inhabitants and our actions should reflect that sentiment. A dose of humility and compassion would serve the cause of animal rights and human survival well.

I want animals to be left alone to live their natural lives -- all of them -- the same wish we have for ourselves. Animals are no more meant to be eaten, worn, tested on, or exploited than we are. To think otherwise is to drown in an escapable cultural norm that although deeply rooted has no place in a civil society. It is time for people to sync their hearts and minds with their actions. The ability and desire to change exists within people – our goal is to work to help them reveal it. It will not be long.

SS: Has it been difficult for you? If yes, what was difficult and did it get easier?

AK: No. It's easy, fulfilling, fun, and life changing. It has been difficult trying to forgive myself for being so uninformed for so many years and not going vegan sooner. The food I eat now tastes better than the food I ate before and I've never been healthier or happier. Most importantly, no animals suffer so I can eat. When people tell me they can't give up eating steak, I explain, "You would if you met the cow." Animals’ lives matter to me. It’s that simple.

SS: What are some animal rights related things you participate in?

AK: I volunteer at local animal shelters and rescue centers, participate in environmental clean-ups, walks, and boycotts, write letters, create videos, organize protests, leaflet, and forge partnerships with the state and federal government to affect changes in laws, policies, and practices to improve conditions for animals, people, and the environment. I'm also running for U.S. Congress in Florida's 22nd District as a Humane Party candidate.

SS: What are your favorite AR organizations?

AK: PETA, Humane Party, FARM, EarthSave, United Poultry Concerns, Greenpeace, Tri County Humane Society, Release Chimps, South Florida Wildlife Sanctuary, Post Carbon Institute, Sea Shepherd, Vegan Outreach, farm sanctuaries, grassroots activists, and many more.

SS: What would you say to someone who is considering becoming vegan?

AK: Learn about the impact of industrial agribusiness on human health, animals, and the environment. Read about how companies needlessly test on animals. Watch a video of an industrial farm that produces leather, wool, and fur. Examine the relationship between political leaders and these corporations to understand the impetus behind their policy decisions. It will help you make an informed decision. I hope you make the one that keeps you healthy, shows compassion for animals, and helps save our planet -- there's only one choice. The compassion exists in all of you to make it.