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Chris Dietrich: Animal Rights Disruptor

December 23, 2015 by Leave a Comment

The News

He has a wife and three kids, lives in the suburbs and has a conventional job, but he is anything but your average Joe. That’s because, several times a month, Chris Dietrich enters businesses where animals are exploited and stages bold disruptions, forcing perpetrators to confront abuses they would much prefer to ignore.

TheirTurn: When did you become an activist? How did it happen?
Chris Dietrich: I went vegan four years ago and became an activist two years ago. I felt that change needed to happen, and I wanted to be a part of it. I started by leafleting, which I still do today, and then began engaging in direct action. Today, I’m an organizer with DxE in Washington, D.C., Virginia and Maryland.

TheirTurn: Why do you think that disruption is an effective approach?
Chris Dietrich: I am passionate about direct action because it’s a proven method. Social justice movements in the past were moved forward, not by those playing nice, but by those who demanded substantive change. Imagine how big an impact we would have if 100,000 of my ethical vegan brothers and sisters took to the streets.

Chris Dietrich

Chris Dietrich

TheirTurn: How often do you take actions like the ones in the video?
Chris Dietrich: Our DxE chapter stages organized disruptions in malls, restaurants and grocery stores at least once a month. Lately, I have also been entering restaurants and doing speak outs on my own.

TheirTurn: In the videos, you appear to be fearless. Are you ever scared going into an action?
Chris Dietrich: When I started a couple of years ago, it was very nerve-wracking, but, like anything else, it gets easier the more I do it.

TheirTurn: Have you exited your comfort zone? If so, what were the circumstances?
Chris Dietrich: I always like to be super prepared, so, when I was asked at the last minute to do the main speak out at a disruption in NYC, I told the organizers I wasn’t sure if I could do it. Luckily, I settled down and found my voice.

Chris Dietrich routinely enters hostile territory to be a voice for the animals

Chris Dietrich routinely enters hostile territory to be a voice for the animals. Fellow DxE organizer Barbara Sharon Glick was behind the camera supporting Chris during two actions at the Howard County Fairgrounds in Maryland.

Your Turn

In an article entitled “Why Activism, Not Veganism, is the Moral Baseline,” DxE Co-founder Wayne Hsiung argues that “it’s time for us to be inspired, not to lonely inaction, but empowered activism.” In other words, if we want to liberate animals, we must take the lead from activists like Chris Dietrich who transitioned from the passive act of not eating them to active approach of boldly and defiantly fighting for them.

To learn more and/or join DxE, please visit Direct Action Everywhere.


DxE has staged dozens of protests in Whole Foods around the country because the company misleads the public by promoting “humane” meat.

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Activists Shut Down Wall Street Journal’s “Why We Love Meat” Symposium

October 19, 2015 by Leave a Comment

The News

When animal rights activists with Direct Action Everywhere (DxE) planned a disruption at a NYC Wine & Food Festival symposium celebrating the consumption of meat, even they didn’t anticipate shutting it down. But that’s exactly what happened during the Q&A at the sold out event hosted by the Wall Street Journal.

Several minutes after the activists stood up – one by one –  to draw attention to the violence inherent in the meat industry, attendees in the audience began filing out of the auditorium.

Angry audience member grabs poster out of activist's hands

Angry audience member grabs poster out of activist’s hands

An organizer of the event, who was visibly exasperated by the disruption, stood up and said “No one here is listening to what you are saying.”  Based on the number of people who left, however, her remark was incorrect.

“While some people would urge us to be nice, our goal at this event was to send a message that, if you host an event that celebrates violence, then you will be disrupted by nonviolent direct action,” said Zach Groff, an organizer with Direct Action Everywhere.

A visibly frustrated event organizer fails to silence the DxE activists

A visibly frustrated event organizer fails to silence the DxE activists

In its advertisement for the event, the NYC Wine & Food Festival writes, “Putting the environmental and health considerations aside, we’ll focus on the culinary and cultural aspects of eating meat, its enduring appeal and shifting significance.” Notably absent from the ad was the “ethical consideration.” The activists, however, ensured that every attendee left the room thinking about the ethics of slaughtering animals.

Exasperated audience members leave meat symposium during DxE disruption

Exasperated audience members leave meat symposium during DxE disruption

Your Turn

To learn more and/or join DxE, please visit Direct Action Everywhere.

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In Historic Ceremony, Activists Worldwide to Shine a Light on the Path to Animal Liberation

July 22, 2015 by Leave a Comment

The News

The treatment of animals is a great disconnect in the world today. We oppose animal cruelty in theory, but we support it in practice. We know that our daily choices contribute to animal abuse, but we find ways to rationalize them in order to maintain our behavior. We turn a blind eye to cruelty because bearing witness would force us to take action. In short, the human desire to maintain the status quo is more powerful than the desire to do what is right — treat animals humanely.

Wayne Hsiung shines a light on cruelty of "humanely raised" hens in a factory farm

Wayne Hsiung shines a light on cruelty of “humanely raised” hens in a factory farm

But there is hope. Every individual who has adopted a cruelty-free lifestyle was, at one point, a part of the complicit majority. But someone or something before us – a friend, a protest, a documentary – helped us to see the light.

On Saturday, July 25th, activists around the world will, in an effort to awaken the masses, symbolically shine a spotlight on animal cruelty and the path to liberation. Wearing blue shirts and holding candles, activists in 130 countries will take photographs in front of a places that represent violence toward animals and post them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. According to the organizers, a large coalition of animal rights groups, participants will “stand in solidarity with a promise to the animals that we will continue to expose the violence against them and light a path towards a better world.”

Ellen Ericksen of San Diego works to help consumers see the light

Ellen Ericksen of San Diego works to help consumers see the light

The path to animal liberation is dark and long, but it has been paved. On Saturday, let us all shine the light on the path and encourage people around the world to join us on the journey.

Your Turn

Please join the Facebook event #LIGHTTHEPATH and join activists around the world in being a voice for the animals.

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USDA Uses “Demand” to Justify Intensive Confinement of Farm Animals

April 14, 2015 by Leave a Comment

The News

In a speech on climate change at Yale University’s School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Tom Vilsack, defended the intensive confinement of farm animals on the grounds of demand, saying “the market has been encouraging [farmers] to do that.” He also stated unequivocally that abuse on factory farms is the exception, not the norm, in spite of the fact that confinement is, in and of itself, abusive and that animal mutilation is standard practice on industrialized farms.

USDA versus animal rights activists

Animal rights activist Zach Groff confronts USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack

Mr. Vilsack made the remarks in response to the following question posed by animal rights activist and Direct Action Everywhere (DxE) organizer Zach Groff: “You are on the record supporting more subsidies for animal agriculture, defending animal agriculture left and right whether it goes for pink slime or keeping animal products in the [government’s] nutritional guidelines. Everyone in this room knows that animal agriculture is devastating for forests, for the climate, for the water supply. But most ignored is that there are innocent animals who are routinely the victims of horrendous violence. And I want to ask you – why do you support horrendous violence against innocent animals?”

After Mr. Vilsack addressed Mr. Groff’s remarks, categorically denying the inherent cruelty of animal agriculture, DxE activists disrupted the event, chanting “It’s not food. It’s violence” as they exited the auditorium.

Brian Burns, a DxE spokesperson said, “Tom Vilsack is dangerous. His carefully crafted messages about built-in animal protections and his sympathetic tone belie the fact that he is subsidizing the country’s most violent industry with our tax dollars. And his lies about animal agriculture, which must sound compelling to those who are uninformed, serve to marginalize the activists who are fighting to end the cruelty.”

Tom Vilsack

USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack

DxE activists disrupt USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack after he minimized animal abuse on factory farms

DxE activists disrupt USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack after he minimized animal abuse on factory farms

Activists say that Mr. Vilsack is the American version of Barnaby Joyce, Australia’s Minster of Agriculture who notoriously works to convince the public that the millions of sheep and cattle who are abused and tortured in his country’s live export trade are treated “humanely in almost every instance.”

Has Australia's Minister of Agriculture Barnaby Joyce met his match?

Has Australia’s Minister of Agriculture Barnaby Joyce met his match?

DxE is growing rapidly. In the 1.5 years since launching the “It’s not food. It’s violence” campaign, the organization has added chapters in 110 cities in 24 countries, including India, Bolivia, Romania, Indonesia and the Republic of Georgia. Following is short video highlighting their recent non-violent direct actions.

Your Turn

Please visit Direct Action Everywhere to learn about, support and/or join the organization’s ground-breaking campaign to expose animal cruelty in the very spots where it is taking place.

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Victim Uses Media Interest in His Assault to Generate Attention for Abused Animals

March 21, 2015 by Leave a Comment

The News

When Direct Action Everywhere (DxE) organizer Nicholas Shaw-Mcminn arrived at an upscale French restaurant in California to protest foie gras, he was not expecting to be attacked with a weapon by the restaurant manager. But you’d think he was, based on his thoughtful reaction that led to extensive media coverage exposing the atrocities of foie gras production.

Restaurant manager attacks DxE activist Matthew Shaw-Mcminn

Omar Haddedou, the manager of Le Vallauris in Palm Springs, attacks DxE activist Nicholas Shaw-Mcminn (photo: DxE)

La Vallauris patrons could hear DxE activists speaking out against foie gras cruelty from the restaurant's parking lot.

DxE activists spoke out against foie gras cruelty from the Le Vallauris parking lot, which is in earshot of the restaurant’s outdoor seating.

Wayne Hsiung, a co-founder of DxE, commended Nick’s reaction: “Even as his face was being clubbed, Nick directly confronted the violence with camera in hand. He did not run. He did not strike back. He did not even curse. He calmly continued recording.”

When asked by a reporter why he didn’t press charges against his assailant, Nick shifted the story to the animals, asserting that the pain he felt is something the animals experience every day: “We want to keep the attention on the animals and not make it just about me. Violent people are causing horrible harm to animals, and someone needs to be there to bring awareness and to try to end this violence.”

Nick is no stranger to being assaulted during a protest. In 2014, several staff members of BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse in San Bernadino, California, aggressively ejected him from the restaurant as he attempted – by  himself – to speak out on behalf of the animals who were being eaten.

DxE’s Wayne Hsiung argues that the physical backlash experienced by Nick and many other activists serves to strengthen the animal rights movement: “The press coverage that results from these incidents has exposed hundreds of thousands of people to the plight of animals and has triggered activists around the world to ask us how they can participate in our non-violent, direct actions.”

After he was attacked in Palm Springs, Nick insisted that the protest continue, in spite of the fact that his face was battered: “These attacks only strengthen my resolve to fight for the animals.” As they were leaving the parking lot, the DxE activists encountered a man overcome with rage who frantically repeated, “Take George Soros and go!” — giving participants a second story to tell.  See for yourself:

Your Turn

To learn more about DxE and create or join a DxE group near you, please visit Direct Action Everywhere.

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