Interview with Mary Pelletier

I interviewed my friend Mary Pelletier, who advocates for plant-based eating and animal welfare. She’s also been engaging people in conversations online and face-to-face for the past year, and she spends her free time volunteering at a farm animal sanctuary. She makes beautiful artwork as well:

Live and Let Live. (Work-in-progress, courtesy of M Pelletier.)

We talked about the challenges of engaging people— who to approach, and how to approach them. Especially in face-to-face engagement, there was opportunity for people to shut down, and take information personally.

Food is such an integral part of everyone’s life… It’s almost like attacking the very core of who they are.

She mentioned she’s found success when tailoring an approach to the individual and their motivations.

I listen to see if people—if they give any indication that they’re looking to clean up their diet, or be more environmentally friendly, if they’re interested in other social justice movements. I try to build repertoire with them and work that in.

For her, face-to-face is the one of the most effective ways to start a conversation. She finds this approach works way more powerfully when combined with documentary media:

It’s one thing to have a conversation with someone, talking about the ethics of animals. But if they never go, find a video, or look at pictures, or listen to the audio of the inside of a slaughterhouse… It can’t be understated how much the impact of that.

A few other things that stood out to me:

  • There is so much resistance built into government, fed into education, and reinforced by money and power. Mary imagines reducing resistance into the vegan conversation by aligning her motives with movements people already care about—feminism, reducing community hunger, or the environment.
  • On a plant-based future: what societal conditions will this create or require? By the time we get to a world without animal products, we will already be in a world without conflicts with human beings, “[because] we wouldn’t be practicing classifying others as commodities.”


NYTimes hack:

Link to the audio:

Link to written transcript:

Interview with Food Not Bombs Member

I interviewed an 18-year-old activist involved with Food Not Bombs, as well as Black & Pink and a few other groups. (They have asked me not to disclose their name, although they did consent on tape to the interview.)

Their work at Food Not Bombs involves cooking and sharing vegan food with the broader community. As a whole, Food Not Bombs is a self-organized (anarchist) chapter “dedicated to nonviolent social change.”

That Saturday, they had a table setup in Central Square like this, with a giant canvas banner that said: “ALL WAR IS CLASS WAR” in black paint. In front of it, they had written messages in colored chalk in different languages; for example, an Arabic: “Down with the regime!” In Spanish, “No human being is illegal.”

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About me: Kathy

Hey everyone! My name is Kathy Wu. I’m somewhat new in the world of design justice, and design activism. I’m excited and curious to learn from everyone here.

I graduated from RISD in 2015 with a background in Graphic Design/Literary Arts and I’m now working as a software designer. My skill specialty is visual design and interaction design; I’m also generally stoked about design futures. I have a little brother who goes to MIT and he is a big inspiration for me. We’re both passionate about education; together we make a very complementary STEAM pair.

These days I am looking to move my practice from one in a corporation setting to one in the community. For me, this means taking this studio class and maybe returning to school in the fall to learn more about media studies, research, ethnography. I’m especially passionate about education, pedagogy, and platforms for self-expression and learning. In my spare time, I’ve been volunteering at a kids’ science museum, which is fun.

One campaign that I’ve been following from my own school community is called Sad Asian Femmes. It was a class project by two graphic design seniors that is starting to have legs of its own! I admire their use of media to create a community and a platform that gives Asians in western spaces an artistic voice.