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Monday, February 10, 2014

Food Chain: Vegan Retention Newsletter


Food Empowerment Project
(F.E.P.) has completed Food Chain, our vegan retention newsletter. This blog is not to explain what Food Chain is or how you can sign up, as our website does those things (and lists some of our donors who went above and beyond to help us get it printed).

Instead, this is a celebration and explanation of Food Chain. As many of you know, F.E.P. is primarily an all-volunteer organization. Because of this, it took us about seven years to complete the series of 12 issues; however, it has been a project of love and hope.

Hope because we want to make sure that people who want to go vegan have the resources, tools, and support to help them stick with it. We lose too many people who have the passion when they first learn about what happens to animals who are raised and killed for food, and the hope is that we can keep them vegan. The more time in their lives they can spend being vegan, the more lives are saved. We want veganism to be positive as well as infectious.

Love because what we discuss are issues close to my heart, and as painful as they can be, they are issues that (for the most part) we can work to remedy, and injustices we can avoid contributing to.

The idea for Food Chain came from work I did in Texas. After I graduated from college at St. Edward’s University, I was hired to help some researchers on a project for the Texas Department of Health (the Governor at that time was Ann Richards). The project was to help prevent child abuse.

The concept is simple: babies do not come with instructions, and the more parents can learn about what to expect (development, what games to play, etc.), the less stressful it is for the parents. Also, parents (of all backgrounds, education, and income levels) might not have time to read books about raising children. So a newsletter called Building Blocks was created and sent to participants. Parents would receive one issue a month for a year (based on the age of the child) and then after the child was a year old, they would receive a newsletter every three months until the child was about three. Researchers would also go into the homes and do interviews with the parents to see how it was working. Issues included information on where the child’s development should be at certain ages (so if there was a concern, they could go to the doctor), as well as simple things such as how many children you should invite to the child’s birthday as they age. I remember receiving a letter from parents (each with a PhD) who loved receiving the newsletter, as they were very busy and it helped keep everything in check for them.

And well, that is what we are hoping to do with Food Chain. We want to give people a snapshot of information covering a variety of issues about going vegan, and collect data to determine what information is the most effective in helping them go and stay vegan. This will help shape how we craft future editions of Food Chain so we can constantly improve it (versus just printing materials and not gauging its effectiveness).

We have it in printed form, as not everyone has the privilege of regular or easy access to the internet. Students who might only have internet access at school or at the library can sign up online and have the newsletter mailed to them at home. We will also make it available for people who sign up at our events.

And lastly, the point of this blog is to thank the many, many, many individuals who made Food Chain possible.

My deepest appreciation for everyone who contributed to this one-of-a-kind effort.

Thanks to these individuals who donated countless hours of the time (years) and talents working on Food Chain: Valerie Belt (co-coordinator), Karen Emmerman, Katie Gillespie, Kate Goldhouse, Mark Hawthorne, and Niki Mazaroli.


Rescue Stories : VINE Sanctuary, United Poultry Concerns, for the Animals Sanctuary, Farm Sanctuary, and Animal Place.
Recipes: Isa Chandra Moskowitz, Fabiana Arrastia, Vegan Zombie, Carol Adams and Patti Breitman, Kate Goldhouse, Jake Conroy and Allison Rivers Samson.
Nutritional Experts: Jack Norris, RD, and Michael Greger, MD
Designers: Raven + Crow Studio
Researcher who created our survey: Carol Glasser.

And thanks to webmaster John Eckman for getting it all up.
Fundraising Video: Michelle Cehn & Pancakes

And all of those who wrote, edited, and contributed in various ways: Carol Adams, Lex Berko, Sarah Brown, Rick Chowdhry, Kat Connors, Sharon Daraphonhdeth, Karen Davis, Bob Esposito, Camilla Fox, Che Green, Josh Hooten, Laura Hudson, pattrice Jones, Rick Kelley, Jennifer Knapp, Nora Kramer, Linda LaMar, Emily Lobsinger, Mia MacDonald, Mercy For Animals, Sandra Miller, Nassim Nobari, Dana Portnoy, Sea Shepherd, Ellen Sweeny, Mat Thomas, Laura Toller-Gardner, Dave Vander Maas, Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary, and Colleen Wysocki.

Donors who contributed outside of our fundraising effort: Chris Van Breen and VegFund.

Again, to get people to sign up for Food Chain, just head over to our website.

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