Tammy Lee

Tammy Lee at DVC

Activist Profile: February 3, 2016

Where are you from and where do you live now?

I’m a second-generation Californian, currently living in American Canyon, the southern end of the Napa Valley. 

You help run Bay Area Vegetarians. Would you tell us a bit about your group?

Bay Area Vegetarians is a small but fairly active group centered in the SF Bay Area in the Napa/Solano area. There is just one vegetarian restaurant between these two counties. We work to build and support the current veg community with different types of events, including leafleting, vegan food parties (aka potlucks), a book club, and our newest activity, a knitting group. These activities vary in attendance from 2–3 to 30–40 people.

Actually, a big part of what we do is leafleting. We’ve really ramped it up this year. We gave out 14,526 leaflets in 2014, and more than doubled that to 29,938 in 2015. I have literally applied the Adopt a College name, and “adopted” three community colleges that I leaflet at four times a semester: Napa Valley College (Napa, CA), Solano Community College (Fairfield, CA), and Diablo Valley College (Pleasant Hill, CA). We also leaflet monthly at the Vallejo Farmers’ Market.
We really appreciate the support and materials that Vegan Outreach provides to local activists like myself. If anyone is available to leaflet with us, you can reach me through BAVeg.org.

Holly Donohoe and Tammy Lee at the Vallejo Farmers’ Market
Holly Donohoe and Tammy Lee at the Vallejo Farmers’ Market.

What got you interested in veganism and animal advocacy?

Reading Diet for a New America and Animal Liberation really made me re-examine my life and the choices that I made, every day. I decided to become vegan, for the animals. This was all new information to me, and I knew others were in a similar state of unawareness. I felt compelled to share that, and with help from some new friends I’d met at a PETA conference, my first official outreach was April 1990 for a table at Concord Earth Day. I still remember our table banner was printed on a dot matrix printer, and the most frequently asked question was “Where do you get your protein?” 

What do you do for fun when you’re not leafleting?

My guilty pleasure is eating potato chips. They’re terribly unhealthy for me, and I hate exercising, so that counts as fun in my book. I’m probably the typical vegan – I enjoy eating out at vegan restaurants, entertaining my cats, gardening, photography, hiking… I also enjoy reading (mostly fiction) and watch entirely too much TV. Knitting is my newest passion, and our knitting group is working on a sweater for Hayden, a hairless pig rescued from a research lab and now living at Harvest Home Animal Sanctuary.

What was one of your favorite leafleting moments?

Giving a vegan leaflet to a gal wearing a tee that says “I wake for bacon.” I was surprised she accepted it. But, really, the best is getting feedback from someone who received a leaflet and went vegan or made reductions in eating animal products because of this information. I’ve had both happen recently and it reinforces to me the importance of this activity, and Vegan Outreach’s role in developing the Adopt a College program.

Do you have any advice for those hesitant about leafleting?

I’d suggest not dwelling on all the reasons why you can’t or shouldn’t leaflet, or how someone else is better at it and should do it instead. As an introvert, it helps me to focus instead on the real reasons for leafleting: the animals and the opportunity to raise awareness of their plight by giving someone a leaflet. I’m always hopeful my efforts and leaflets could be the catalyst to someone going vegan, or reducing the amount of meat or dairy or eggs they’re eating. And, while I get the occasional rude or passive-aggressive comment, it’s actually far more likely that I am thanked by people for providing the information.