By Lisa Rimmert, Donor Relations Manager
Not only is Jennifer Mennuti a generous supporter of Vegan Outreach and one of the most dedicated activists I know of, she’s also a member of Team Vegan and has been doing an incredible job raising funds for outreach. Let’s meet Jen!
Tell us about yourself, Jen.
I am VP of Operations for a Landscape Architectural Design/Build company in Boca Raton, FL, which I co-founded in 1999 following my passion for plants. When I’m not working, I enjoy sharing my love of plants by encouraging others to eat them – exclusively! Activism is my favorite hobby because I love sharing “the best thing I ever did” with others so they can experience this lifestyle as well. I’ve met so many friends volunteering in animal protection, that activism and hanging out with friends frequently have merged into one activity. I share my home with two adopted fur kids and three rescued feather kids.
Share with us the story of how you became vegan.
In 1997, I was driving down I-95 in South Florida and got behind a chicken transport truck. I pulled over and had a breakdown, and it had nothing to do with my car mechanics! I could see the birds’ feathers blowing out through the holes and their wings and legs sticking out. I thought it was so horrible that I could no longer support it, and I decided to stop eating chickens, turkeys, cows, and pigs. It was the only time I’ve seen a transport truck in South Florida in 20 years but I’m glad I saw that one!
Unfortunately, I never knew the truth about eggs, fish or dairy until I stumbled upon Colleen Patrick-Goudreau’s podcast Vegetarian Food For Thought in 2008 and then decided to go vegan. Shortly after, I watched the original Peaceable Kingdom and decided to do whatever I could to make this abuse stop. I became an advocate for them whenever I could.
How did you get involved with Vegan Outreach?
When I first decided that I needed to get active for animals, many things I read suggested leafleting as a very effective activity and pointed toward Vegan Outreach and your booklets. I ordered a box of Compassionate Choices booklets but was too scared and introverted to hand them out, so I went to the Adopt A College website and searched for people in my area who were already leafleting. I emailed Linda Bower in Miami who happily agreed to ‘take me to school.’ When she showed me how easy it was, I became more comfortable.
Working full time doesn’t allow me to leaflet many colleges, so I try to help animals by donating money, fundraising, leafleting when I can, and cheering on the many advocates who can get out to their local colleges or travel around the country going to others. They are my heroes!
You do so much for VO – from leafleting to donating. What inspires this?
I am most inspired by the knowledge of what is happening to animals; it’s simply so horrific that I can’t stand by and do nothing. I’m constantly motivated by fellow activists who spend their time trying to lessen suffering in the world. Every Saturday night when we show factory farming footage to people on the street in Miami and they ask questions and take information, I am reminded that the general public is mostly unaware and that given the knowledge and resources, they will often make changes that result in less suffering.
What advice would you give to someone reading this who is considering adopting a vegan diet?
Give it a try because it’s probably much better than you think it will be. I dodged it for a long time because I thought vegans just ate salads and I didn’t want to do that. Once people discover the endless variety of new things to make and eat, they can still be vegan and never eat a salad. I encourage them to join vegetarian and vegan meetup.com groups to make like-minded friends and ask questions.
Finally, share with us your absolute favorite meal.
I seem to be on a quest to never repeat a dinner, since I constantly find new vegan recipes I want to try. Picking a favorite meal is difficult. If I had to survive on the proverbial deserted island with just one meal, I’d pick a simple burrito since I make one almost every morning for breakfast! I load up a multi-grain tortilla with beans, green peppers, tomatoes, avocado, and hot sauce!
Thank you, Jen!