Lisa Lubin joined our team three years ago and has since become a board member and our executive director. In her role, Lisa manages the volunteers, redesigned and maintains the website and blog editorial, and helps manage current campaigns and projects.
Why do you volunteer for Crate Free Illinois?
I first learned of Crate Free Illinois (CFI) in the summer of 2016, when I attended the documentary screening for “At the Fork” which CFI was sponsoring alongside the Humane Society of the United States – Illinois Chapter. The movie spoke to my growing awareness of a need for change in our factory farming industry. After the screening, I was able to chat some with the founder, Jessica Chipkin, and signed up for their newsletter and to potentially volunteer, not really knowing what it might entail. Jessica reached out to me later, we talked on the phone and I liked what she was doing and knew I could help.
How did you first learn about how animals on factory farms are treated?
My education on factory farming and where our food comes from has been on-going for nearly two decades and continues to evolve. As a broadcast journalist, I used to produce stories on Chicago’s food scene including chefs and restaurants. Right around that time is when the term “farm-to-table” started to enter our lexicon and I started to view our huge, industrial farms a bit differently. The small “bucolic” farm scene that we always read about in school (Old Macdonald’s farm…) was gone.
It was also at that time that I started reading more books about our food system and watching documentaries on our farming industry. One of the first books that made a lasting impact on me was Michael Pollan’s, The Omnivore’s Dilemma. I also highly recommend Brian Kateman’s, Reducetarian and Melanie Joy’s, Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows. Joy takes a look at how so many of us so wholeheartedly devote ourselves to certain animals (like our cats and dogs) and then allow others to suffer needlessly, especially those slaughtered for our consumption. She covers the many ways we numb ourselves and disconnect from our natural empathy for farmed animals. She coins the term “carnism” to describe the belief system that has conditioned us to eat certain animals and not others. Her pragmatic approach to the marketing and myths we are all taught from birth about eating meat had me nodding throughout. From the influence of “big ag,” to the marketing messages we are fed, to the supposed masculinity of eating meat, it’s truly eye-opening.
In the last decade documentaries came out with many of these same messages. I highly recommend Food Inc, Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead, Forks Over Knives, and Vegucated.
Educating myself on the way farm animals are really raised made me confront my own choices. Today, I’m mostly plant-based and stick to a vegetarian diet at home, but it’s my work for Crate Free Illinois that I think can make an even bigger impact.
What do you think is unique about Crate Free Illinois?
I’m so proud to be a part of this wonderful organization. Crate Free is an entirely grassroots organization started by Jessica Chipkin a few years ago. What I think is most unique about CFI is our pragmatic and inclusive approach to helping factory farmed animals. Our aim is to influence as many people as possible to eliminate or reduce meat consumption and commit to buying humanely raised products.
I very much agree with our mission to make the lives of these animals better now. We understand that the world isn’t going vegan tomorrow or even next year, so we want to help our animals raised for food today. Ideally, we’d like people to reduce their meat intake, reject all meat that comes from industrialized farms, or replace it all with a plant based diet, but until this happens we need to act now to end the cruelty and torture happening every day to our pigs, cows, chickens, and others.
The other thing I like the most, is that Crate Free Illinois gets stuff done! Our small group is proactive and strong-willed. In its short existence Crate Free Illinois is already making an impact. We have educated people all over Illinois about the industrial farming industry at events we attend. We have taught school groups about where their food comes from. We’ve held documentary screenings and panel discussions with our partners from the Humane Society of the United States, The Humane League, and Farm Forward. We successfully campaigned Trader Joe’s to eliminate gestation crates from its supply chain and are currently in the midst of big campaign to get Aldi to do the same. That is a big impact on animals for a small group like ours.
Why is this mission important to you?
The numbers are staggering and it’s easy to lump it all into one ‘bad story.’ But, that’s why in storytelling and journalism, it’s best to tell one specific story. When you hear of the individual stories of what these mother pigs or cramped chickens go through, and how they are treated like widgets in a factory rather than living, feeling beings, it is heart-breaking. It has been proven of course that these animals feel pain and can show joy when playing and anguish when their little baby cows are being stolen from them to keep the dairy industry going.
I love animals, so how could I overlook such a huge industry that touches us all each and every day? It continues to boggle my mind at how much the agriculture industry has managed to create such a disconnect between the “food” we eat and the massive, money-driven industry of raising and killing animals by the billions.
Since we know for a fact that farmed animals are the most exploited and least protected animals on the planet, I knew this was an area that needed all the help it could get. I love all animals, but I know there are many more anti-cruelty laws and organizations dedicated to pets like cats and dogs, but not for animals raised for food. They are no different. They all just want warmth, safety, security and a life free of pain and unspeakable cruelty. I’m grateful to be doing this meaningful work.
When not working with Crate Free IL, what do you / like to do?
In my “day job,” I’m an Emmy-award winning broadcast journalist, producer and writer. I produced local TV specials for ABC7 Chicago for 10 years before quitting my job to travel around the world for three years. At that point, I became a freelance travel writer, photographer, and blogger. Today, I continue to write about travel on my blog, Slow Travel, Eat Local. I also do video production and consulting at LLmedia Video Consulting.
When I’m not working, I love traveling, eating, hanging out with my cat, gardening, cycling, exploring the great neighborhoods of Chicago and spending time with my life partner, Chris, who lives in New Jersey, where I grew up.
Do you have pets?
Yes! I have had cats my entire life. Growing up in New Jersey, we had about eight cats at various times. Pookie was there from when I was a toddler to when I went to college. After college I adopted my rescue Sneakers. After my travels, I started fostering cats and fostered nearly a dozen until I couldn’t say goodbye to my current kitty, Bug. He’s my favorite companion.