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I’m the first to admit that my initial reasons for adopting a plant-based lifestyle were selfish. I was overweight. I felt lousy. I looked lousy. I had a health scare. Basically, I just wanted to look and feel better. I wanted to enjoy my kids at their energy level. I wasn’t ready to succumb to middle age defeat.
So I took the leap. A leap without much expectation I might add.
Then the miracle. I dropped 50 pounds. My vitality returned. That long-gone youthful glow restored. I didn’t just get my life back, I got an entirely new one. Today I am living the life beyond my wildest dreams.
I could have never predicted the journey that would follow this simple decision. It has been long, at times hard, but ultimately extraordinary in every way imaginable. It’s not an understatement that everything in my life has changed for the better. And for that I am extremely grateful.
There is one thing I know with certainty. If you want a great life, give more than you receive. This is primary reason behind my decision to start this podcast — to share with you the people, information, tools and inspiration that have been so incredibly transformative in my life.
But let’s be honest. I didn’t get into this plant-based lifestyle because I wanted to save the animals. Frankly, my concern for the health of the planet could be characterized as passive lip service at best. I was the furthest thing from a food activist. And when it came to environmental, ethical and political issues like GMO’s, the deleterious effects of factory farming, slaughterhouse conditions, carbon emissions, the deforestation of the rainforests, species extinction, the mistreatment of circus animals, the pollution and overfishing of our oceans and the moral implications of harvesting animals for food, the truth is that I didn’t really give it much thought.
That was then. But this is now.
In the eight years since I began this journey, I have changed. I have grown. Ever so slowly, my eyes have started to open to a myriad of uncomfortable realities relating to how our world functions. Unpleasant and unnecessary realities that I can no longer in good conscience turn a blind eye to.
I’ve been blessed with a platform. My book and this podcast have given me an audience. With this comes a certain responsibility that I take seriously.
What is that responsibility? I can’t say that I’m entirely sure. However, I do know that it entails a commitment to the truth. A commitment to shed light on and help raise awareness around issues that affect not just me, but all of us. Things that are not right. Things that need to change.
The truth isn’t always comfortable. It’s generally not convenient. And often not popular because it challenges us to think differently and in many cases modify behaviors we might not want to modify.
To me, the truth also presents a growth opportunity. An opportunity to be bold. To do and be better. I know can do better. And if this podcast isn’t about that, then it’s just wasted air.
Our fast-paced, hyper-industrialized world lives in a comfortable haze of convenience priority. We go about our day happily and for the most part unconsciously disconnected from the process undertaken to bring consumer products into our homes. This includes the clothes we wear, the devices we use and of course the foods we enjoy.
This is process I really don’t want to look at. It’s uncomfortable because it forces me to transcend denial and truly consider what actually goes on behind the shroud of obfuscation erected by giant conglomerates, powerful lobbying efforts and governmental forces that have a strong vested interest in maintaining the disconnect that cloaks the public from certain unpalatable realities.
Dismantling the disconnect isn’t fun. Certainly not as fun as riding my bike. Given a choice, and in my earlier incarnation, I’d be the first to look the other way and go happily about my day, irked by anyone presumptive enough to challenge my chimera of comfortable ideals.
But I can’t live that way anymore. Because delusion, ignorance and consumer malaise have become more uncomfortable to me than the truth. In recovery, they say “the road gets narrower.” I didn’t used to know what that means.
Now I do. This is what this week’s show is all about.
A veteran of the animal rights movement, and this week’s guest, Lisa Lange is Executive Vice President of PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals). She has coordinated the production of some of PETA’s most popular and successful videos and PSAs and works closely with celebrity PETA supporters, including Alec Baldwin, Bill Maher, Charlize Theron, Eva Mendes, and Casey Affleck. She also networks with Hollywood directors, producers, and writers, convincing them to incorporate positive animal messages into TV programs and movies.
A gifted debater, Lisa is a regular guest on The O’Reilly Factor and has debated animal rights opponents on Today, CNBC, Nancy Grace, Larry King Live, Your World With Neil Cavuto, and countless other television and radio networks and programs. She has appeared many times on entertainment shows—such as Entertainment Tonight and CNN’s Showbiz Tonight—and on E! to discuss PETA’s work in Hollywood. Her efforts to save animals have made headlines in major publications throughout the country, including The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Chicago Tribune, and USA Today.
Again, I have never been a vocal animal rights activist. And I wasn’t sure I was all that comfortable with some of the tactics undertaken by PETA to raise awareness. Why? Because they challenged me to think about issues I didn’t really want to think about. But Lisa – a friend as well as an avid and accomplished triathlete in her own right — has been instrumental in my own personal evolution, helping me grapple with, better understand and ultimately embrace the bigger issues at play.
Being comfortable is lazy. Being comfortable is at odds with growth. And more often that not, being comfortable flies in the face of truth. Personal truth. And truth that affects all of us. And by all, I mean every living thing.
So today I’m owning it. Shining a light on uncomfortable, inconvenient realities I feel I cannot ignore — the terrible and inexcusable plight suffered by the billions of helpless animals that are abused, tortured and mistreated as cogs in the massive wheel that is our industrialized food system. A system that is beyond untenable, utterly unsustainable, unequivocally unethical and unfathomably destructive to our environment (I know — that’s a lot of “u-words”).
Intended to challenge your comfort zone, this conversation is about what we vote for when we go to the circus, buy clothes and purchase food. It’s a discussion about values. Simply put, ignorance isn’t cool. And how we spend our hard earned dollars is important. Because each dollar spent is a reflection of our values. It represents a vote for who we are and what we stand for. And that vote – as small and as insignificant and disenfranchised as you might feel it to be – actually is important. A vote we can collectively leverage to forge a better world for ourselves, our children and future generations.
Even if you are someone with a negative preconception of the animal rights movement, I implore you to set aside those notions and enter into this conversation with an open mind.
Because contempt prior to investigation is tantamount to willful ignorance.
At our core, I truly believe we are all compassionate beings. True strength means embracing that core value. And there is something about that that is just downright cool.
So let’s do something different. Let’s own it.
I sincerely hope you enjoy the conversation. Let me know what you think in the comments below.
Peace + Plants,
PS – Here’s the interview I did with Lisa back in 2009. Video by PETA with training footage directed by Stacie Isabella Turk / Ribbonhead
PPS – Here’s my friend Timothy Shieff ( RRP #86 ) in the cool PETA UK spot we discussed:
Connect with Lisa: Facebook | Instagram
- PETA Website: peta.org
- Blackfish Documentary: blackfishthemovie.com
- Steve-O’s “Sea World Sucks” Stunt [VIDEO]
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Hi Rich, good podcast to listen to today. I am going to call you out on something I didn’t like about it. Early in the pod you were talking about transparency and how folks want and demand transparancy from people and companies these days. Then the conversation turned towards Cowspiracy, and you were helping promote it. So you went to friends you know in different health and/or evvironmental groups to see if they would help push it. In minute 34 you said you weren’t going to name names about which organizations you went to. The duty of these organizations is to promote a better environment and better health for all of us. I understand and get not wanting to name friends names who work in those organizations. However, I think you were wrong in not naming the organizations. It’s time to hold those organizations to a higher standard. They are being frauds by not fighting and bringing awareness to industries that are hurting the environment when they in fact know they do. That is one thing I like about PETA. They fight on all fronts. There has also been talk that some of these organizations are getting funded by different food industries so they can’t go against them, or they’ll loose out on funds. I thought that part in the pod was a perfect time to live by what you say.
Hi Rich and Lisa! I really enjoyed the conversation you guys had on the podcast. I did have a question/comment/issue about the hunting discussion. I am totally on board with the whole rest of the conversation. I myself am not a hunter and have never been hunting and have no desire to ever go. I have been vegetarian for over 12 years, and 95% vegan for the last year. I studied wildlife management in college and I actually do think there is a place and a reason for hunting in certain situations. I do not think it necessary to hunt most things–bears, moose, wolves, ducks, turkeys and others, BUT I do think sometimes in some places deer are a problem. I say that because while I understand that animals and nature have their own checks and balances, the problem is we have removed a large check from their ecosystem–predators. We have taken out natural predators of these animals–this is very true on the east coast at least. I have been to places where the deer are not starving, but what they are doing is literally destroying the ecosystem. You can walk through forests and see there is no undergrowth due to the deer eating all of it. Often times these areas look very nice and you cannot tell that the ecosystem is not healthy unless you are a biologist or forestry person and can see what is really going on. So they may not starve in this generation, but in 20 years or so there will be no regrowth of the forest, which is not good for them or us. So while I do not think most (if any) hunters hunt because of this reason, but I do not think that it is complete bull either. Thanks for all you guys do to promote plant-based living, environmentally-friendly living and animal rights–it’s such important and necessary work.
beautiful talk.. i must confess i dont always love the tactics PETA takes (the lettuce ladies) but i appreciate their work and i was excited to learn about more that PETA does that i was unaware of. Lisa was a great guest!
Loved this conversation! Really reinstated why I choose to live a meat free lifestyle. Every little bit counts! Keep up the great work.