Some background from Eva Hamer

My Lonely Vegan Journey

I went vegan when I was 13 and rarely met another vegan for the following decade. After high school, I moved from Northern California to Western Michigan to study music. I didn’t have a lot of success connecting with others for the first couple of years. As a vegan, and not to mention a leftist and strident atheist, it was hard to find my people between rehearsals, five hours alone in a practice room daily, and occasional mortifying events put on by the Evangelical Christian student org that I mistook for casual social invitations. I was hopeful during a short stint volunteering with Food Not Bombs, but after they shut down for the first winter, they didn’t start back up again. When I think of my first couple of years of undergrad, the most striking memory is of deafening loneliness.

Once, on a rare occasion when I had reason to leave the music building, I was offered a leaflet. Imagine my delight when I saw that it was about veganism! I declined, not wanting this precious sermon to be wasted on the choir, and let him know I was already vegan. He reached into his bag and offered me a second leaflet. This one, I guess, was more focused on recipes.

“Are you with a group or something? Is there something I can get involved with?” I asked, probably ready to join literally anything he offered.

“No,” he replied. “It’s just me.”

I don’t even think we exchanged first names.

Fast Forward

Today, I help to run Pax Fauna, an organization existing to help the grassroots animal rights movement grow into a political force to be reckoned with and change cultural norms. I’ve worked full-time in the movement for five years and been arrested as many times. I’ve given trainings to hundreds of animal rights activists and organized dozens of demonstrations with attendance of up to a thousand. I’ve taken the Liberation Pledge, investigated a handful of factory farms, and am proudly facing felonies for my rescue work. Surely, I’m a success case for the people who recruited me, but I’m just one person- anything that worked to help me transition from lonely vegan to seasoned organizer might just be a fluke. Even still, over my years of involvement, my co-organizers and I have often depended on our own experiences in guessing what might work to recruit others.

My colleagues at Pax Fauna and I designed this study with hopes for a more robust understanding of how people become dedicated organizers,