Plant Based Solutions is a new consultancy offering sales and marketing advice to vegan food manufacturers, and also helping businesses that buy, sell, and serve food to offer more and better vegan options.
The launch party will be held from 6-8:30pm on Saturday, January 12 at Metropolitan Community Church of New York, 446 West 36th Street, between 9th & 10th Avenues, NYC.
Plant Based Solutions founder David Benzaquen is a long-time vegan, and has worked as a lobbyist and political organizer for various organizations, including three years at Farm Sanctuary. (Do you remember a guy who used to show up at Vegan Drinks dressed in a cow suit? That’s David!)
I asked him a bunch of questions about PBS and Saturday’s event.
Jason: Why start Plant Based Solutions now? Is the U.S. more ready for than this than we would have been, say, 5 years ago?
David: 2013 is the breakout year for veganism. The last few years have seen a huge jump in flexitarianism with the success of campaigns like Meatless Mondays. Now, as meat and dairy prices skyrocket, and Americans are becoming more aware of the impacts of a plant-based diet on health, the environment, and animal protection, veganism is on the rise like never before. Just weeks ago, the Values Institute at DGWB, a national consumer research institute predicted veganism to be one of the top 5 health trends of 2013. In their release, they said, “Last year’s rise of the flexitarians is foreshadowing a trend toward meatless eating and outright veganism, vegetarianism’s older brother. Look for herbivore-accommodating menus at restaurants on both coasts to start migrating to mid-America in 2013.”
In addition, the market for vegan businesses has blossomed in recent years with major financial backers (like venture capital giant Kleiner, Perkins, Caulfield, and Byers) flooding the industry with funding for meat and dairy alternatives.
Why are you the guy to start this company?
Growing up in a family surrounded by people working in finance, I learned from an early age how to speak and think like a business person. I then was fortunate to spend years building friendships with hundreds of compassionate and strategic leaders in the animal protection and vegan food worlds. As someone with a background in lobbying (ethically) and community organizing, I know how to sell the purest product: ideas. Plant-Based Solutions is about helping to sell fantastic products and telling a story of a world in which doing good is good business. Continue Reading…
Potter, “is an award-winning independent journalist based in Washington, D.C., who focuses on ‘eco-terrorism,’ the animal rights and environmental movements, and civil liberties post-9/11. His work has appeared in the Chicago Tribune, the Huffington Post, and the Vermont Law Review.” After getting arrested for leafletting, threatened by the FBI, and then testifying before Congress, he became “obsessed” with finding out how this terrifying reality came to be.
Drawing comparisons to the “Red Scare” era, Potter’s book, Green Is The New Red: An Insider’s Account of a Social Movement Under Siege is, “a thrilling memoir that contextualizes the federal Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA).” AETA, he explains, was created to expand on the Animal Enterprise Protection Act (AEPA), which was deemed “inadequate in going after radical groups.”
The article also goes on to discuss the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which might be even more scary; “a secretive organization that allows corporations to literally write bills that have been introduced around the country—with lawmakers having no idea that they were actually drafted by corporations themselves”, and provides a link to Potter’s Congressional testimony. I need a hug!
Cartoonist Ethan Young is a superhero vegan. So frankly, it’s about time that we interviewed him here. On top of that, Ethan’s new book, Tails: Book 1, is out in stores as of this week. If you don’t know Ethan, or if you only know him through reading his online comic, Tails, then read on, for your life isn’t quite complete until you learn about the life of one of the most well known vegan cartoonists there is. Hilarious and fearless, Ethan isn’t even afraid to be self-deprecating while advertising his own work.
SuperVegan: For newbie readers, tell us what Tails is about. And I’m talking, is it about you? A part of you you’re afraid to show the world? A part of you that you had to tame down because you know you have a wife watching your comic?
Ethan: Yes, Tails is about my life, give or take. I’ve always referred to it as the story of a vegan hippie with super powers. The comic incorporates comedic semi-autobiographical stories combined with epic fantasy. My cartoon facsimile is a bit of a dick at times, but my wife already knows that about me. More importantly, Tails is about arrested maturity, and the struggles of becoming a real adult. It just happens to have super-heroes and kittens. And then some super-kittens.
SuperVegan: I know you’ve done work a lot more raunchy than Tails. Tell us how you went on your strange journey and how Tails serves as the outlet for your angry superhero vegan side.
Ethan: Ha, I don’t know how much I should actually divulge. Well, my raunchiest art gig was illustrating gay porn. It was fun, to say the least; never a dull moment. I can’t remember any other period in my life where my ability to draw cute girls was utterly useless. Other than that, my professional art career is fairly perfunctory, which is why Tails exists for me to explore some zanier artistic endeavors.
I started self-publishing Tails back in 2006. At the time, I was a disgruntled worker at an animal shelter; being an aspiring cartoonist while fostering a dozen cats is generally a recipe for frustration. Not to mention the usual 20-year-old problems like relationships, family issues, and low self-esteem. I channeled all of it into Tails, and it was fairly well-received. I later reworked Tails as a webcomic and now it’s back in print, courtesy of Hermes Press.
Where I come from, MFA stands for Master of Fine Arts, but those are just really expensive pieces of paper that don’t do a whole lot. A better use of the acronym is Mercy For Animals because they do awesome things like fight for farmed animals and against the cruelty they are subjected to. Not the other way around. Do you know about this organization? I bet you didn’t know they were this cute.
On Saturday, June 2nd, I was lucky enough to attend a MFA event called Justice For All: A Night For Creatures Big And Small. This was a $500 per VIP ticket cocktail party in the West Hollywood Hills. Pretty swank. Hillary Swank was not there, but other celebrities were, like honoree Emily Deschanel and her Bones co-star Michaela Conlin, Jackass Steve-O and that Skinny Bitch Rory Freedman. The host, Freeway The Dog, and his house were incredible and the bar was not only open, but staffed with swoon-worthy ‘tenders.
The party was catered by super Vegan chef extraordinaire Dave Anderson from Madeleine Bistro, a restaurant that is open on an intermittent basis, and Maddy’s formerly known as The Shoppe, which hasn’t even opened once yet. Culinary highlights included BBQ seitan skewers, cashew cheese stuffed dates wrapped in a smokey mushroom, filet un-fish sandos, and some sort of donut/beignet thing that I am considering starting a competitive Vegan eating team for.
The party was fun, fancy and kind of like going to the airport. You had to take a shuttle van to get there (Heeeeey, to the people on my party bus!), you had to take your shoes off, and you left with a giant bag (of awesome goodies). LAXPH (Los Angeles International Party House).
There was a silent auction of all kinds of great things n’ stuff:
And after a few hours of free swim there was a short program, the three important parts of which were:
Won.) Nathan Runkle, the founder of MFA is appx. 18 years old. Or maybe that’s how old he was when he started it, either way, I have not done enough with my life.
Too.) This video. Don’t you not even try to don’t not be affected.
Three …) people in the room donated $25,000 each. 3! Nathan raised 200K in less than 10 minutes. This was impressive, but it’s not nearly enough, I’m sure. They are fighting billion dollar industries and winning, but with ag-gag bills passing, life is about to get harder for them and Bessy The Cow. Do you have extra dollars? Doesn’t have to be five figures, if you’re so inclined, they would gladly accept whatever you can give. And/Or, you could invest in the highly anticipated Shift all Vegan restaurant & bar in Venice, as they are still in need of a few chunks of money in order to open before I die from a suspense O.D.
Six workers at a Butterball turkey farm in North Carolina face criminal charges after an undercover video revealed alleged animal abuse, and a state employee who tipped off Butterball before a police raid on the farm has pled guilty to obstruction of justice.
Three workers have been arrested, according to Hoke County officials. Terry Johnson has been charged with misdemeanor cruelty to animals, Ruben Mendoza has been charged with animal cruelty and felony identity theft, and Jose Garcia has been charged with felony identity theft. Three other workers are being sought on animal cruelty charges.
I strongly suggest you read the entire ABC News story for the full details.
The arrests and the increase in public awareness of Butterball cruelty are huge steps in the right direction. But we still have two outstandingly awful things happening here: one, of course, is needless cruelty to turkeys, and the other is a state government-employed VETERINARIAN tipping off Butterball about a raid. I’m always flabbergasted by the INSANE hypocrisy of vets who, for example, love parrots but eat chickens. But enabling gratuitous stomping, beating, and otherwise torturing of birds at a factory that rips apart tens of millions of them each year? This person’s license to practice medicine on animals should be revoked and she should be jailed, but instead she’ll be required to take two ethics courses. Whose idea of ethics she’ll be learning about, I don’t know.
This sort of thing reinforces for me in a painfully direct way how important it is to support organizations like MFA who do the very difficult work of confronting animal cruelty head-on every day while I’m sitting at a desk making books. If, like me, it nags at you that you’re not on the front lines, come with me to MFA’s site and make a donation, if you can. Organizations like this need contributions in the form of help AND money.