Could there be a connection to Stonewall, marriage equality and animal rights? "Our Hen House," a non-profit founded in 2010 by happily married lesbian couple Mariann Sullivan and Jasmin Singer, eloquently argues that there is.
"Mariann and I have been together for eight years, married for two and a half," Singer told SFGN. "Our Hen House exists because of a need Mariann and I saw to mainstream the movement to end the exploitation of animals. The world is changing for animals. There is more awareness of their plight than ever before and delicious vegan food is now everywhere – though sometimes you have to seek it out."
Veganism – the following of a plant based diet completely free of meat, fish or dairy, is said to have many health benefits. But for Sullivan and Singer, following a vegan diet has a much deeper cause.
"The number of animals exploited and killed, all for completely unnecessary reasons, is staggering," Singer explained. "It's roughly 286 land animals in the USA every second, 24/7 in the USA alone. These animals live out their entire lives in absolute hell. The industry, and all too often the mainstream media, are literally banking on us not caring enough to look. Most people don't."
But most people, Singer ads, don't want animals to be treated cruelly.
"Mariann and I are no exception," she said. "Once we kept looking, we realized it was a lot more dismal than we thought."
And so the couple set out to create educational media to raise awareness regarding the realities of animal cruelty by the meat and dairy industries. They're not waiting for mainstream media to call, they're doing it themselves, highlighting people from many different walks of life who have become activists for this cause.
"Famous and not," Singer said. "In the arts, in the legal world, in academia, in the kitchen. This allows us and our listeners to see how replicable their efforts to change the world for animals are. Given the horrible ways farmed animals are treated in animal agriculture, combined with the vast amount of vegan food widely available, it was a no-brainer."
Singer, who was once overweight, said that she lost 100 pounds on a vegan diet.
"We always encourage those who are vegan-skeptical to open their minds and their palates and start with something that is attainable to them, maybe three vegan days a week," Singer suggested. "You will probably find that you eat vegan food more often than you realize, and that your non-vegan foods are very easily veganizable –and delicious."
There is a definite parallel between veganism, animal rights and LGBT rights, according to Singer.
"The rationalizations used to oppress any group, be they LGBT, animals, or insert-the-blank-marginalized-group-here, are often the same," Singer said. "Groups that are considered 'less than' for whatever reason are often 'othered,’ and animals are no exception. I will never claim to know the story of anyone who has been oppressed – the only story we really know is our own. But I feel like it’s my responsibility to try to live in an ethical continuum with my beliefs."
"Our Hen House" has posted "Coming Out For Animals," a short video, on YouTube which serves as an introduction to the organization and its cause.
"We made the video short because we wanted people to watch it," Singer said. "Though we don't have plans for a longer video at the moment, the issues discussed in "Coming Out For Animals" are frequently part of the dialogue on the weekly "Our Hen House" podcast – so there are indeed many hours of listening that anyone interested in these topics, and several other topics revolving around animal rights, can explore."
For more information on getting involved with "Our Hen House," or listening to the podcast, please visit: OurHenHouse.org.