Jeni Haines

Where are you from and where do you live now?

I was born in Sacramento, California and grew up in the surrounding area. I’m currently in the process of moving back to Berkeley, CA to continue my work with Vegan Outreach. I’ve lived many places and feel home just about anywhere.

What are your favorite things to do outside of leafleting?

Feel inspired! I love spoken word/slam poetry, backpacking, spending time in nature, being with animals, reading, writing, preparing delicious vegan food, swimming, traveling, exploring, climbing trees, riding my longboard, listening to music, and amazing conversations.

Who has been / is a major influence in your life and why?

My life is blessed with connections to so many amazing and inspirational humans and nonhumans who have influenced me in many ways. My mom is certainly a major influence, and I am forever grateful for her constant support of just about all my endeavors. I also find myself inspired by anyone who has passion for anything. That spark in consciousness that serves as the principal driving force behind all amazing acts is a priceless contribution that many people project into the world. I have found the works and philosophies of Martin Luther King Jr., Gandhi, Thich Nhat Hanh, Cesar Chavez, Carol J. Adams, Marti Kheel, Jack Norris, Matt & Barbara Bear, Lisa Shapiro, Brian Grupe, Katie Cantrell, and many other individuals to have profound impacts on my life.

How long have you been involved in animal rights and how did you get interested?

I have always felt deeply connected to animals, and this love and sense of connection drove me to vegetarianism at age ten. Since then, I would have considered myself “animal-rights minded,” but I did not truly become an activist until I went vegan at age nineteen. After meeting a vegan in a class I was taking at the time, I remember feeling extremely intrigued by the lifestyle, so I immediately began researching veganism. I was so horrified by the endless accounts of trauma inflicted unto animals used for food that I went vegan overnight and became involved with my school’s vegetarian organization right away. My veganism and my activism overcame me as a collective force.

What made you decide to start leafleting? If you were nervous the first time, how did you get over it?

One nice day at UC Berkeley, I saw a fine young lad leafleting to students traveling to their respective classes. I soon learned that his name was Brian Grupe, and he worked for Vegan Outreach. I was thrilled to meet him and thus began my initial spark with Vegan Outreach. I leafleted with Brian on that day and have done leafleting ever since.

What was your most positive leafleting experience and why?

I don’t think it’s possible for me to single out one experience that surpasses all others. Doing Vegan Outreach has connected me with so many incredible individuals and has sparked countless life-altering conversations. Every day that I leaflet, I am impacted. One truth that I can confirm is that I have certainly never had a negative leafleting experience.

What would you say to individuals hesitant about leafleting?

Don’t be. There’s nothing to lose, and everything to gain. Smile through any discomfort, and all will be well.