Now that Jasmin has told you all about the Walk for Farm Animals, I hope you're making plans to attend, or better yet, coordinate a Walk in your area. And if you can bake, why not bring some delicious vegan cookies for your fellow walkers? The Walk for Farm Animals is a rewarding and fun experience all by itself, but a Walk with cookies? Forget about it!
But after you've done the Walk, you may find yourself feeling like one mile just wasn't enough. You may be eating some of those cookies while watching a broadcast of the Ironman Triathalon or the Tour de France or some other event where the mildly insane put themselves through athletic torture for fun. And you might suddenly leap out of your chair yelling, "I want to do that! I want to go on an epic adventure! And moreover, I want to go on an epic adventure for farm animals!"
Vegans on Bikes Take Over the World!
Picture it: you're running or biking or roller-skating down a long road. It's mile 20. You're dripping sweat, your muscles are pumping and you're generally feeling like an action hero. When you stop at a gas station to refuel with the sports drink of your choice, some impressed person says, "Wow, nice roller skates! How far have you come?" You tell them, savoring their expression of amazement.
"I'm doing it to raise money for the protection of farm animals," you say. “Farm animals, really?,” they ask. "Yes, let me give you this brochure!," you respond and hand them a Veg for Life brochure. And with that – BAM! – you just educated somebody about the plight of farm animals, and shattered their stereotype that vegans can't compete. (After all, you could roller skate circles around them.) Meanwhile, friends and family wait anxiously to hear the latest news of your adventure while they donate to your online fundraiser! Sounds pretty boss, right?
As several brave men and women have demonstrated recently, dreams can become realities when we put our hearts and minds into the task. Jocelyn Richards is going to run her first marathon this October, and she's going the extra mile by making it a fundraiser for Farm Sanctuary. As of this moment, she's already secured 11 percent of her $10,000 goal! Meanwhile, athlete activist John Merryfield, is planning a three-day stand-up paddle around Lake Tahoe (72 miles) in September.
Merryfield says, “I was inspired during a visit to Farm Sanctuary in Orland, where I met Josh Hooten, publisher of Herbivore Magazine, who rode his bike from Portland to Farm Sanctuary in California. He raised a lot of awareness for animals trapped on factory farms and over $12,000 for Farm Sanctuary programs. I felt it was my turn to speak out for the voiceless.”
Josh Hooten and daughter Ruby on the home stretch to Orland
Finally, I couldn't write about athlete activists without mentioning my buddy Greg Straight Edge, the founder of Exercise Compassion and this year's winner of our annual Friend of Farm Animals Award. I met Greg this summer when he accompanied me and eight others on a fundraiser bike/hike from Washington, D.C. to Watkins Glen. Having seen Greg in action, I have no doubt he's got what it takes to complete his 48-state Exercise Compassion bike tour next year, which involves stopping to volunteer at Farm Sanctuary, as well as several other farm animal sanctuaries, and doing public outreach along the way.
So how do you start your own adventure? These endeavors take time to plan and seeing yours through to completion will test your body and your spirit. But when you've told everyone in your life that you're doing a triathlon (or a roller-skate-athon) for farm animals, you'll soon find that finishing the race is your only option.
First, set a challenging but reasonable goal for yourself. If you decide to do an ultra-marathon three months from now and your last serious exercise was running laps in PE, you're headed for a world of pain. On the other hand, if your event is jumping rope around the block, you're not going to inspire much interest. Find the happy medium and start preparing early. See the links on VeganAthlete.com for great information on how to be a lean, green, vegan machine.
Finally, set up a blog where you update supporters on your training, post photographs of your event, thank sponsors and so on. With services like Blogger and Wordpress, this is also a simple process that requires no advanced computer skills. If you're a social networker, you can also get a lot of exposure for your cause by posting links on MySpace, Facebook and Twitter. Check out our guide to online activism here.
The rewards are sweet. You'll be making a wonderful gift to animals while creating memories to last a lifetime. And the next time you bring vegan power pasta to the family cookout, your omnivore relatives will take one look at your well-toned physique and say, "I'll have what you're having!"