New NW Advocate for Animals – an interview with Rachel Huff-Wagenborg

Humane League logoRachel Huff-WagenborgHow did you first get interested in the plight of animals and of farm animals in particular?

I have gravitated towards helping animals for as long as I can remember, especially feeling a drive to rescue and save injured, abandoned and neglected animals.  Undercover footage of factory farms opened my eyes to the cruelty farmed animals endure and I immediately stopped consuming animal flesh.  As I learned more about the condition of animals used for dairy and eggs, I eliminated those items from my diet as well.  The same for eschewing leather, fur, wool and honey, my behavior changed as I learned more.  My journey to be vegan has been a path of progression. The urge to protect animals is the driving force behind every choice I make.

What moved you to work with The Humane League?

The Humane League’s vision of seeing a world where animals are treated with respect and compassion really appealed to me.  I have worked with companion animals in shelters and through internships with HSUS, I was able to work on projects about marine animals, equines, animals in research and blood “sports.”  Even so, the magnitude of suffering on factory farms far outweighs all other animal suffering, over 9 billion land animals are killed for food in the US each year!  This was an area where I felt I could make a difference for a lot of animals.  I was impressed to learn The Humane League is certified “Best” by Independent Charities of America, and rated as one of the two most cost-effective animal protection charities in the world by Animal Charity Evaluators.

Tell us something about what The Humane League does?

The Humane League advocates for farmed animals, promotes a vegetarian diet and works to end the suffering of as many animals as possible.  The methods of advocacy we employ are researched and tested for efficacy through our research division, Humane League Labs.  The three pillars of our work are outreach, education, and campaigns.  Our humane education program offers free presentations about factory farming and the impacts on animals, health and the environment.  I provide these presentations to high schools and colleges in the greater Seattle area.  Outreach efforts include distributing free vegetarian starter guides in news racks around the city, handing out booklets on factory farming and veg eating at universities, concerts and events, and tabling with vegetarian information at festivals.  While we work on a variety of campaigns, my current focus is bringing Meatless Mondays to Seattle Public Schools – this program would spare 25,000 animals a year. I’d also love to see the City of Seattle adopt a Meatless Monday resolution, which aligns with the city’s climate action plan where reducing meat consumption is already encouraged.  Numerous other cities have already adopted similar resolutions, to include South Miami County, FL; Los Angeles, CA; San Francisco, CA; Boone, NC; Oakland, CA; and Philadelphia, PA!

What are some of the things you wished people knew more about or understood better about farm animals?

I wish people knew that these incredible sentient beings are unique, with distinct personalities who have the ability to experience pain and pleasure, and they have a desire to live – like we do.  Pigs have dreams, chickens can count to ten, and fish rub against each other to relieve stress.  Like dogs and cats, farmed animals are intelligent and emotional creatures that deserve our moral consideration and protection.  I encourage people to spend time at farm sanctuaries and develop our innate bond with animals.

Do you see progress, are you optimistic about the future?

Yes! I am optimistic about the future and I’m seeing progress.  Sometimes the progress seems too slow or too small given the enormous challenges ahead, but I appreciate it is still movement in the right direction.  I’m inspired by the next generation of animal advocates who are seeking professional training to become more effective for animals and the number of students pursuing humane education and careers that will benefit animals.  I’m watching this movement become an unstoppable force!

Anything else?

The Seattle office of The Humane League opened in January of this year, if we haven’t met, I hope we get to meet soon! http://www.thehumaneleague.com/  rachelhw@thehumaneleague.com 206.708.3292