Here at Crate Free Illinois we are extremely grateful to our strong team of volunteers. We all come from diverse backgrounds with unique skills and passions with one definite thread — our desire to improve the lives of farmed animals. Suzanne Alton de Eraso is an attorney in Chicago focusing on consumer fraud, unfair and deceptive practices, and false advertising, which can often involve the food industry. She joined our team as a volunteer in the summer of 2019 and we are so proud that she is now also on our board of directors.
Why do you volunteer for Crate Free Illinois?
I volunteer for CFI first and foremost because of the variety of backgrounds and perspectives our membership holds with respect to animal welfare. I also champion our practical, solution-oriented programming and advocacy work. It’s really important not to get hung up on the “right” way to improve the daily lives of animals so much as to ask what we can do right now to better the lives of as many animals on industrial farms as possible. That may come through putting consumers in touch with local farmers as an alternative supply of meat, advocating for legislation, encouraging alternative meat consumption, petitioning retailers to make small-scale welfare changes with room for future improvement, or championing causes that impact the welfare of humans and animals alike–all at the same time.
I also volunteer with CFI because we are such a fun group of individuals all coming together for a common cause: to do the right thing for animals in creative ways.
How did you first learn about how animals on factory farms are treated?
Completely happenstance! I was in a bookstore in my early 20s back when a brick-and-mortar bookstore was still a thing and picked up a vegan diet book that was on sale. It was my first real encounter with what happens to the animals on large, industrialized farms. I was profoundly crushed. I had a few friends who were vegetarians at the time, but I hadn’t really understood what life on a modern, industrialized farm looked like in terms of animal welfare. I was so outraged that I immediately went vegan. The decision at the time was mildly terrifying — many around me said that I would never be able to stick with such a “strict diet” and questioned whether I could stay in good health as a vegan. In spite of these misgivings, I never questioned once whether I was making the right choice, and I haven’t eaten meat in over 15 years. About 90% of my diet is currently vegan and I am always encouraging those around me who do eat meat to support local farmers.
Along the way I became an attorney and now tirelessly advocate for all of my friends and family to carefully read and understand food labeling. Many of the statements made regarding animal welfare in the products we commonly see at the grocery store is misleading, at best. Consumers want to put their money where their morals are, but it can be challenging to know whether paying a few dollars more for a “humane” product really has the impact we think it does. CFI provides information to make informed decisions.
What do you think is unique about CFI?
Why is this mission important to you?
The simplicity of it — treating living beings with respect is one of the most natural principles of law. If we cannot treat the most defenseless well, how can we ever properly function as a society?
When not working with CFI, what do you like to do?
I enjoy distance running, traveling with my husband and dogs, veganizing Latin American cuisine, studying Civil War history, and writing murder mysteries.
Do you have pets/farm animals?
I have two dogs, Ichabod and Bianca. I live in Chicago, so no farm animals, but I certainly love to visit farms whenever I can. I also like casually riding horses, too, even though I am probably one of the worst riders ever!