Animal Rights Activist Profile: Adam Alderson
What inspired you to first get involved with activism and to join DxE?
I remember back in August of 2013, I was 19 and experiencing my first semester at Northern Illinois University (NIU). While walking through campus I was addressed by two people with a laptop. They asked me if I wanted to watch a video for $1, I thought "why not" and agreed, even though I was already intellectually aware of animal slaughter in factory farms, that video was the first time I ever became aware of the raping of dairy cows! It may have even been the first time I actually watched a whole video on animal cruelty, where as before it was primarily a clip here and there, or a animal shelter commercial for charity at night. Previously, it had not been enough for me to change my diet or views due to the powerful grip of the protein myth, not to mention I felt justified in drinking the silk soymilk in the dining hall due to the health benefits while giving little thought to the dairy I consumed in most products besides directly from cow's milk. Nonetheless, the view of machine rods being injected into cows repeatedly stuck with me after that.
Many other things influenced my decision to stop eating animals, from a Black Studies college course, to a long term relationship with a vegetarian, to the time I told my Grandmother I wanted to stop eating animals as a child and had that idea quickly squashed. There were low points in my life too which saw my return to the standard American diet, and a loss of faith in everything I believed to be good. Eventually, I returned to plant based eating mainly for health reasons and because that had been so important to me once and I had to do something to show myself I still believed there could be a better way of being.
Fast forward to this year, I attended Madcity Veganfest where I was excited to meet other vegans since I was pretty lonely as a vegan. As I was leaving, I saw a group of people stationed outside the center, some were playing guitar, and I was just curiously staring at them, when a guy with a beard and golf cap came up to me and asked me if I was interested in protesting Whole Foods with them. I looked at him with confusion, but even more curiosity and decided a little protest with fellow vegans looked like a very interesting avenue to explore, so I told myself when in Rome you got to try everything. I saw this as a chance to learn more about a portion of veganism I was not familiar with and I remembered those dairy cows I felt so sorry for nearly two years prior. During our walk in to the store I was nervous, but once the chanting started and I heard Ernesto's song "Free the Animals" an uncontrollable smiled spread across my face, and I knew in that moment that I enjoyed what I was doing! After the protest and debriefing I hung out with DxE some more that day. I was expecting to have to go back and forth to Wisconsin to reconnect with DxE, but I learned that most of the people I met in Wisconsin were from the Chicago Chapter, and thus I've been a DxE Chicagoan ever since and plan on being one for a long time!
Veganism and activism aren't just a diet and hobby I do, they are an integral part of my life and build on the authenticity of who I want to be and how I want my life to be! I can never see myself going back to how I was before, no matter how many years go by, I am forever changed, and DxE has done nothing, but ascertain that change being for the better! I found a new, healthy social circle in veganism with DxE. I've also found and brought an awareness of veganism and animal rights too my fitness peers with the Frankfort New Lenox Running Club, and Chicago Heights Crossfit. I've attained a job at Iron Oaks Nature Recreation Center and am a Nationally Certified EMT, and member of the National Guard. There's always some problems to deal with, but I am truly satisfied with where I am at today and I am always looking to make tomorrow a tad brighter because I'm far from done .
Thank You Direct Action Everywhere for your help in my new lease on life and compassion for life!
What is your favorite or most accomplished moment in activism or other DxE activity?
My most accomplished moment would have to be the disruption of the Hillary Clinton Rally in Iowa I did with activists from the DxE Chicago Chapter. It really gave me the goosebumps, since it was my first high profile action and we all just did great! One activist got great coverage, our banners got up on National television, and we had a fantastic picture under the rainbow once that activist was finally released. You almost can't get any better than that for someone still so new to DxE!
Are you involved in any affiliate or working groups in your chapter and if so, how does this influence your activism?
I am involved in the Animal Liberationist of Color group in Chicago. I am also an admin of this group as well. I have learned a lot about the parallels between racism and specimen since becoming an activist through documentaries, books, and DxE's lectures on Youtube. It has made me even more sympathetic to human affairs and has strengthened my value of animal affairs. I enjoy taking time out of the month to meet up with people of color within the community, to introduce them to animal rights, and to have meaningful discussion on how we fit into the bigger picture of animal liberation.
How do you stay motivated as an activist?
I stay motivated as an activist by having already come to a firm decision on how I want to live my life. Even if my direct action ends at some point many years down the road, my life will always reflect my activism today and I will find someway to take part in the activism to come in the future and to always add value to this world and the life we all find ourselves in. I want anyone reading this to hold me to these statements!
What advice would you give to new activists?
Please never be afraid to explore! That is the number one thing you can do when you don't know what to do! Explore the world and explore yourself especially as you do this and hell even explore alone if you need to. See things that startle ya and make friends with those who have a different opinion than you because it's so easy to just debate with them and then leave it at that. Rediscover that which you once thought was lost in yourself either from a troubled history or natural aging, and remember as was said near the end of the movie Benjamin Button in a favorite video clip of mine, "It's never too late or too early in my case to be whoever it is you want to be!"
Why Animal Liberation?
I support animal rights for one simple reason. IT ISN'T NECESSARY TO KILL ANIMALS! It isn't because I have some weird self hatred, and contempt of humans. I believe human beings are an extremely adaptable species and can thrive optimally if we cut out animal protein from our diet. Most of the animal protein isn't in it's natural state anyway, and the animals are kept in dirty and disgusting conditions. Yes you can be fit with animal protein, but being fit and being healthy ARE NOT THE SAME THING, and if you could be FIT And HEALTHY wouldn't you want THE BEST OF BOTH WORLDS?
It's not just a health issue, it's an economic one too. We could save millions, hell maybe billions, or trillions of dollars on economic resources (food, healthcare, the environment, poverty/famine). Sure don't quote me on the exact numbers, BUT the numbers ARE OUT THERE for why adopting a plant based diet is beneficial for all of mankind, and our fellow earthlings.
A lot of the animals we eat have also been bred to be our companions, which makes them passive enough to be easily eaten in the first place. It's cruelty through genetic manipulation before the killing even begins and to think it was attempted during the slavery of my people, and during the eugenics movement with anyone some bureaucracy deemed deserving of sterilization. It appears human and animal rights aren't so distant after all!
I don't know if I can change everyone, but I can sure try with as reasonable a stance as I can muster, before the vigor kicks in.
ANIMALS DESERVE TO LIVE AND THE ENVIRONMENT NEEDS US.
WHY NOT HAVE THE BEST THE WORLD CAN OFFER WITH IT'S ACTIONS...ONE EARTH, ONE ECOSYSTEM, ONE FAMILY OF CREATION.