Simone Reyes Vegan GMOs

I am a proud tree-huggin’, peace lovin’ animal rights vegan, hippie activist. Animal rights has been in my blood since I got my first afterschool job at the local Greenwich Village vet, The Cat Practice at the tender age of ten. There I got to listen to forward thinking vets who refused clients requests to declaw cats back when it was the thing to do. That stuck with me… just because something is in fashion (or legal!) sure as hell doesn’t make it right. And it also taught me to question everything..most things aren’t what they seem.

Veganism isn’t just a word that describes my diet, it’s the essence of my being and the way I identify my lifestyle. Basically that means I don’t eat meat, fish, honey, dairy of any kind and shun all animal by-products that could creep into my food. And recently I’ve taken it a step further and have been eating mostly Raw. I wear only cruelty free clothing (no fur, leather, wool, suede, silk, feathers). I don’t believe in using animals for medical research or for entertainment purposes under any circumstance (zoos, swim with dolphin programs, horseracing, aquariums, carriage horse rides, etc.). I use my life as a platform to speak out against animal abuse every chance I get.

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As many of my friends know, one on one I’m painfully shy, but when it comes to fighting for animals I cannot censor myself and will tell anyone who wants to listen — and especially those who don’t — why they need to practice compassion. I’m a take no prisoners, in your face warrior and I know how to win any animal rights argument because I am on the side of right when it comes to the way humans treat animals. Yup, I’m hardcore. And many of my friends in the animal rights movement share my views and are certainly just as hardcore — which by the way, we don’t view as radical, just simply kind. Ingrid Newkirk (Peta) is the Leader of our Badass movement and by example, she has taught me many things — first and foremost to do my research on the issues because knowledge is power.

Even when we seasoned activists feel like we have heard it all before and nothing more can shock us, we find more ways humans are harming animals. Our mouths are constantly open in shock and our faces constantly wet from tears. This is the life of animal rights activists. Oh and our throats are usually raw from speaking our truth, THEIR truth and our fingers calloused from typing on keyboards to our Congressmen, Senators, etc. to beg them to consider those they govern who don’t vote but should count just as much as the ones who do — the animals. Watching the nightly news is always difficult because we are constantly finding a new cause within our cause that we have to add to our list of ways we need to protect animals. And now fellow warriors, we can add a yet another one to our roster: Genetically Modified Organisms.

And as most of you know, when we (the animal rights army) set our sights on something, you better watch out. So, buckle up GMOs we are coming for you. And if you don’t know why, I’m happy to explain it to you. Here is some background. Before the subject landed officially on my radar, I certainly knew what GMOs were and knew that they were probably “bad” for me. I understood that it uses laboratory techniques to insert artificial gene units to re-programme the DNA of plants with completely new properties. The artificial gene units are created in the laboratory by joining fragments of DNA which is scary enough, but what I didn’t realize was that they areusually derived from multiple organisms, including viruses, bacteria, plants and yes, animals. You can believe my antenna went up when I read this. This practice results in widespread mutations, which result in major changes to the DNA of the plant. These mutations unnaturally alter the genes’ functioning in unpredictable and lets face it, hazardous ways such as poorer crop performance, toxic effects, allergic reactions, and environmental damage that our beloved animals rely on to live (not to mention us humans).

And believe this, no matter what the industry claims, GM foods are not properly tested for human safety before they are released for sale. So who are they tested on? You guessed it…ANIMALS. That is why, my vegan warriors, we need to be especially concerned and FIGHT BACK against GMOs and demand to know when we are purchasing them. As vegans who buy cruelty free products and are quite obsessive about reading ingredient labels, we must demand that GMOs are labeled or we could be getting into bed with the enemy without even knowing it because GMOs are DIRECTLY linked to animal research. Animals used in GMO production are either the source of the genetic material, or the recipient of genetic material. Genetic material from jellyfish and coral has been used to create GM mice, fish, and rabbits as glowing pets for the novelty pet trade. Delightful. This got my attention and put the GMO issue not just in my consciousness but in my heart. And anybody who knows me personally, once you are in my heart (as animals have always been) I will fight to the death for you. And I will get all my friends on board to do the same.

So, we have to all put our heads down and get to work. Think about it; patenting of genetically modified animals treats the animals like things/property instead of innocent beings capable of pain, fear, etc. The patenting of animals breaks my heart and I’m sure it does yours as well. I am against vivisection in all circumstances and am often reminded of the Gandhi quote “I abhor vivisection with my whole soul. All the scientific discoveries stained with innocent blood I count as of no consequence” whenever I am making my case against research. This reads like a Sci-Fi horror movie but its not. That my brothers and sisters is just the tip of the iceberg. The animals have no voice, no choice. To big business they are just commodities, nameless/ faceless products that have no souls. All they have is us to fight for their welfare or often, just to fight for their right to be left alone.

So, in a nutshell, I believe that vegans should be against using animals for GMOs and testing genetically modified crops on animals. I think we should also fight the practice of genetically modifying animals. These are all directly related to the horror of factory farms, such as the practice of breeding chickens and turkeys to grow so large that they suffer from crippling leg deformities, lung collapse, and heart failure before they are ever led to slaughter. We need to keep an eye on Monsanto, who is the leading producer of and the biggest threat to us at this point. It all seems quite overwhelming of course but like any other good brawl there’s a place to fight back.

The anti-GMO movement is gaining steam and putting pressure on President Obama to hold his promise to the American people by mandatory labeling of GMO foods. So, for your own health, your children’s health and for THE LIVES OF SENTIENT ANIMALS get involved. Consider marching for your right to know what is in your food. Go to Right2Know March (@right2knowmarch) tie up your vegan kicks and start walking for the cause. Europe and Japan have already made such demands and thankfully they now know what they are eating. If marching is too much to ask of your schedule you can write to your Congressmen here.

We need to fight for our rights to know what is in our food and as vegans we have the right to know if what we are buying hurts animals. Plain and simple. The seed is the source of life. We need to keep it pure and unpolluted. Science is only useful if it respects nature and enhances our world to heal…not to make money or monopolize products. And certainly not to add yet another way humans use and abuse animals.

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We will never rest until every cage is empty. Animals need us to protect them from being another commodity in the world of GMOs. In the wise words of the brave heroes of The Animal Liberation Front “If not now, when? If not you, who?”

Image: Simone Reyes & Organic fare at @CafeGratitudeLA / photo by @maileibailey