Toni Okamoto

Toni Okamoto

Activist Profile: June 3, 2015

Where are you from?

I am from Sacramento, CA.

What got you interested in veganism and animal advocacy?

I had been a vegetarian for a couple years, and decided to join a veg club on my college campus. Although I was vegetarian for ethical reasons, it wasn’t until I joined my campus club that I learned about the cruel practices of the dairy and egg industries that I had been continuing to support. I realized that I wasn’t comfortable identifying myself as someone who was compassionate to some farmed animals but who also still financially supported the devastating life cycle of “dairy” cows and “laying” hens.

There were fewer dairy alternatives back then, and giving up cheese was difficult for me, but I knew it was the right thing to do. With the support of my friends in the veg club, I learned how to cook delicious plant-based foods, as well as respectfully advocate for all farmed animals.

You’re VO’s Food & Lifestyle Coordinator. What does that entail?

As VO’s Food & Lifestyle Coordinator, I provide online support and resources to those who are interested in learning more and trying out veganism. Our blog that I manage consists of weekly recipes, product and cookbook reviews, as well as interesting interviews about how other people found their way to vegan living.

In addition to running the VO blog, I help with various projects that help people have an easier transition to veganism. My most significant contribution to Vegan Outreach has been the revision of the Guide to Cruelty-Free Eating. It’s the project I am most proud of.

When you’re not working, what do you do for fun?

I work on my blog, Plant Based on a Budget, and do volunteer work with End 68 Hours of Hunger. I am training for a marathon, and I dance Lindy Hop, salsa, and most recently, Ballet Folklorico. I also love traveling, talking about food, making food, and teaching people about food!

Even though your work is not centered around leafleting, you still leaflet from time to time. How have your leafleting experiences been?

A lot of my early activism revolved around leafleting, and it has been refreshing to pick back up and work alongside some of the most dedicated people to this cause. Just being around activists who are so committed to animal welfare is inspiring, but the interest that passersby have for knowledge about farmed animal issues is the most inspiring. Knowing that I have affected just one person to think about how their food choices impact farmed animals is very meaningful to me. Leafleting provides you the engagement and experience to understand how meaningful it actually is.

Do you have any advice for those hesitant about leafleting?

More often than not, people are friendly and respectfully engaging. Just be confident, don’t be afraid to get in the crowds, read our leaflets thoroughly so you know the material and can explain it in summary, and take note / apply Kassy Ortega’s dynamite leafleting techniques. With those things locked down, you’ll do great!


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