The Food Empowerment Project

by | August 19, 2018

I had the pleasure of speaking with Lauren Ornelas, founder of the Food Empowerment Project (FEP), a vegan justice organization that aims to resolve the various issues with our food supply and its distribution. I had just recently learned about FEP and their mission, and I was eager to learn more.

What exactly is the Food Empowerment Project? What is the mission?

The Food Empowerment Project brings awareness to how animal exploitation and social justice issues are all connected, and it provides education on how individuals can make a difference. Their message is that our collective voice being used for good, not our individual food choices, is what will shift how corporations operate and will elicit real change in our world.

Why vegan, and how?

Ornelas is acutely aware of the struggles one faces when trying to go vegan and change the world. She shared that many do not have the ability to go vegan due to a lack of resources and money. She pointed out that change can happen beyond your plate, and we should all give back in any way possible. To start, we must have a better understanding of how the world works and the exploitation many people face in our country. We must recognize the injustices that many people face, which will, in turn, shift our thinking to the injustices animals face. Veganism is more than a diet; it is a lifestyle. It is important to realize just because something is marked vegan on the ingredients label, it does not necessarily mean it’s cruelty-free. As consumers, we can push our vegan lifestyle to the next level by purchasing products that do not exploit farm workers and child labor. One product that FEP draws attention to is the chocolate industry and the hidden injustices it holds.

food empowerment project
CREDIT: THE FOOD EMPOWERMENT PROJECT

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food empowerment project
CREDIT: THE FOOD EMPOWERMENT PROJECT

Food Empowerment Project

How do you effectively spread your message to a wider audience?

While non-vegans may recoil at the mention of veganism and animal abuse, The Food Empowerment Project effectively and compassionately spreads awareness by meeting individuals where they are in their journey toward consciousness and change. Their message is clear: they are vegan for the animals, but veganism is only part of the work that they do. Human rights advocacy attracts vegans and non-vegans alike, and many of their events are community-centered and focused on the issues impacting local residents. They help individuals understand how to avoid contributing to the exploitation and suffering of animals simply by making different food choices. The discussion of exploitation extends to address injustices in areas such as racism and poverty. The issues are all connected, and as Lauren shared with me, “(The FEP) sees it all as important and all necessary to do something about.”

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What are a few simple and impactful things people can do to make a difference?

If it is possible, going vegan is the most effective action you can take, but the changes you can make can, and should, go beyond what you are choosing to eat. You can also view the Food Empowerment Project’s chocolate list to make sure you are supporting companies that are cruelty-free (they have a handy app for that, too!). The practice of purchasing goods from cruelty 

free companies can extend beyond your chocolate fix as well. You can refrain from buying items whose production severely impacts our planet, like palm oil and plastic water bottles. Educating yourself on the issues and supporting campaigns and boycotts can also increase your impact.

The overarching message of the Food Empowerment Project is one we can all adopt: small, mindful changes make all of the difference. We all have a responsibility to look out for one another and stand up to injustices against humans and animals alike, and this change can begin with what’s on our plate. Learn more about the Lauren Ornelas’s mission and the Food Empowerment Project by visiting: www.foodispower.org

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Allison DeStefano Lellos M.Ed, INHC, CIHC

Allison DeStefano Lellos M.Ed, INHC, CIHC is the owner of Allison Lellos Holistic Wellness where she provides wellness coaching for mothers and families, and a regular contributor for Raise Vegan magazine.

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