Written by PETA
You've seen us win campaigns, admired our stunning celebrity
ads, taken notice of our eye-catching demonstrations on the streets, watched
our hard-hitting undercover investigations, listened to our campaigners talk
about animal rights issues on TV and taken action with us online, but have you ever
met the person behind all this work? Today, 8 March, is International Women's
Day, so we thought it was the perfect occasion to introduce the woman behind
our success: Meet Poorva Joshipura!
Born in the US, Poorva has proved her commitment
towards helping animals by working for various PETA affiliates globally before
becoming our dynamic Chief Executive Officer. Poorva is also the Vice President of
International Affairs for PETA UK, which makes her the youngest vice president of
any PETA affiliates.
Poorva's known for her bold campaigning style. She has
personally conducted numerous undercover investigations of slaughterhouses and
other facilities in which animals are abused in India, has confined herself to
a cage in Nairobi to demonstrate the plight of chickens killed for their flesh
and successfully stopped a US-based animal supplier to laboratories from
expanding its business to Europe, among other achievements. She was even jailed
for disrupting a Michael Kors fashion show during New York Fashion Week to
protest against his use of fur.
Read on to learn what Poorva's got to say:
How did you
end up working for PETA?
For as long as I can remember, I've enjoyed learning
about animals. I remember watching wildlife documentaries with my father when I
was as young as 3, and I have fond memories of my grandmother as she set out
water for birds and squirrels. But when I was young, I ate meat, I wore
leather, I used products tested on animals and I went to the zoo and the
circus. Although I respected animals, because the use of animals is so
entrenched in our society, I did not realise that my daily actions caused a
lifetime of suffering and cruelty to animals. That is, until I met a girl in
school named Natalie. We became good friends, and she introduced me to
literature from PETA US. I vowed never to knowingly harm animals again after
reading their Animal Times magazine and
decided to go vegan. Natalie now works for PETA Foundation US, while I am the Chief
Executive Officer of PETA India.
the challenges that you have faced with being associated with PETA India?
We don't have the big budget of large corporations to
help us reach out to people, and the nature of our work is to expose cruelty so
hideous that sometimes television networks refuse to air it. As a result, we
need to be cutting edge. We rely on our own boldness and creativity to get animal
issues noticed. We are not afraid of doing something unusual and often act as
billboards ourselves through eye-catching street theatre–style demonstrations.
We put animals first and leave personal hang-ups against doing something
it that fires you up about animal rights?
We know a lot more today than we did in the past about
animals. We know that they are thinking, feeling, emotional, sensitive beings –
just as we are. This makes what we do as a society to animals for a fleeting
moment of taste or for a belt or a shoe even more unacceptable.
Chickens, for example, are inquisitive and interesting
animals whose cognitive abilities, scientists now tell us, are in some cases
more advanced than those of cats, dogs and even some primates.
Fish and Fisheries cited
more than 500 research papers on fish intelligence, proving that fish, too, are
smart, that they can use tools and that they have impressive long-term memories
and sophisticated social structures.
Cows are very intelligent animals who can remember
things for a long time. Animal behaviourists have found that cows interact in
socially complex ways, developing friendships over time and sometimes holding
grudges against other cows (and people) who treat them badly.
What can people
do to help animals?
Log on to PETAIndia.com to take part in action alerts.
Volunteer at an animal shelter to take dogs for walks and to help them with
adopt-a-thons. Set up an information stall at your college fests (PETA can
provide you with materials). Arrange a screening of PETA's investigative
videos. You can order a free copy of "Glass Walls", our video exposé
of the cruelty of the meat and dairy industries, to show your family and
friends. Share PETA's investigative videos online. Encourage people to become a
member of PETA India. And most importantly, speak up whenever you see cruelty.
keeps you going when you're not at work? What do you like doing in your free
I love hanging out with my rescued dog, Mr Mehboob. He
was found near Mehboob Studios during a shoot with Celina Jaitly against
cruelty to animals in laboratories, thus the name. We go for long walks along
the Bandra seafront in Mumbai over the weekends. I love hanging out with family
and friends, exploring and learning – by travelling, reading, watching films,
trying new cuisines. I'm always up for a new adventure. My favourite, however,
is to travel and meet people from different cultures. It's always good to have
an opportunity to see life from a different perspective.
Veermata Jijabai Technological
Institute (VJTI) teamed up
with PETA Youth– the young division of PETA India – to hold a 6-kilometre run and a festival. The theme for
both was the promotion of animal rights.
"We're thrilled to have partners as prestigious as VJTI", says
Richa Mithal, PETA Youth's marketing coordinator. "The marathon gave
us an opportunity to talk about animal rights on a personal level with many
young people who want to get active for animals."
The intercollegiate marathon was held in January to urge the government
to pass the Draft Animal Welfare Act, 2011, prepared by the Animal Welfare
Board of India. Passage of the new law is vital because India's current penalties
for cruelty to animals are badly outdated under The Prevention of Cruelty to
Animals Act, 1960.
Students ran wearing petaDishoom (now PETA Youth) T-shirts, which
were given to the first 100 entrants. The event was covered by Channel V and
Long before her hilarious and
candid debut novel
about a Pakistani-American family started
making waves across the country, author Jabeen Akthar made waves
with PETA US. Yep, that's right, we knew her first! A former "Tiger Lady" who bared her stripes in a PETA US circus protest, Jabeen is now a member of PETA US's Regulatory Testing
Division. Recently, we sat down with our old pal to talk shop about her new book, her thoughts
on animal rights and much more.
Tell us about your book.
to Americastan follows a young Pakistani-American
named Samira Tanweer, who, through a series of misadventures, learns her name is on the FBI's terrorist watch list. After losing her
job and losing her boyfriend to her best friend, Samira
returns to her dysfunctional family in North Carolina to make sense of what
happened to her life. The novel is a snapshot of life in the US for typical
Pakistani-Americans. It addresses serious topics such as racism, assimilation,
failure and generational differences, but in the end, I just hope it makes
Do you also write about animal rights?
My involvement in animal rights is the most important
aspect of who I am, so it will always find its way into my writing. There is a
scene in Welcome to Americastan in which Samira goes to a party full of
Muslims and criticizes the practice of slaughtering lambs during the Muslim
festival of Eid. I've been asked repeatedly if Muslims are offended by this scene.
On the contrary, lots of compassionate young Muslims have been thanking me for
putting it out there.
Tell us about how you got involved with animal rights.
I've been around forever. I was a PETA US volunteer
back when the organization had a single office in an old warehouse! It all
started with a PETA US newsletter in the 1980s. There was a black and white
photo of a cow on the ground, her eyes wide and terrified. She was a "downed"
factory farm cow who had been kicked in the face, ribs and back repeatedly by
farm workers. Not only was this story devastating to read, it also shook my
entire worldview and marked the beginning of my journey to change how we view
and treat animals. I shared the newsletter with my family, and we stopped
eating meat overnight and never looked back.
What inspired you to go vegan?
In the 80s and early 90s, being a vegetarian animal
rights activist was considered hardcore. The concept of veganism hadn't reached
the mainstream. For many years, I was under the false impression that I was
doing enough by not eating meat. I soon couldn't deny that I was contributing
to the meat industry as much as any meat-eater by continuing to eat dairy products
and eggs, so I rid my diet of those products altogether. It's awesome – I'm
savings animals by being vegan, and my diet has never been more diverse and
exciting. And going vegan is a downright blast – check out my new favorite vegan chef.
What do you do for PETA US, and what does the department you work for
As a former US government employee, I found the
perfect home in PETA US's Regulatory Testing Division – a team of highly
credentialed and dedicated scientists and researchers who push the US
government as well as international organizations to develop and use incredibly
effective and sophisticated non-animal testing methods in their testing
programs. I manage research projects by helping the team navigate through
complex federal regulations, help publish research articles in scientific
journals, and generally keep the department running as smoothly as possible
given the heavy workloads our scientists have.
What achievement are you most proud of in your work for animals?
So much of what we do for animals is teamwork, so I
can't take credit for any one thing. Over the years, I've participated in
numerous campaigns that closed fur stores, saved animals from painful and
lethal experiments, and banned gestation crates for factory-farmed pigs. On a
regular basis, I look out for injured wildlife on the roads and get them medical
treatment, and I have rescued countless stray cats. Most importantly, by just
showing people the video "Meet Your Meat" and fixing them yummy vegan
meals, I've helped a lot of people go vegetarian and vegan!
What would you say are some of the most pressing issues regarding animal
experimentation in India?
I'm pleased to see Indian educational bodies like the University Grants Commission and
the Pharmacy Council of India finally embracing sophisticated non-animal
teaching methods in the classrooms. No student should ever have to use an
animal for dissection or research when there are so many alternatives available. In the US, some states even have laws protecting the rights of
students who refuse to dissect. It's also time to see cosmetics testing on
animals banned in India – something we've already seen happen in the European
Union. With India's booming economy and growing presence on the world stage,
there's no reason it should fall behind the West in moving away from animal
experimentation and toward cheaper, more efficient and humane methods.
Anything else you'd like to add?
I knew a girl in college who constantly debated my
views on animal rights and said my activism was a waste of time. Fifteen years
later, I see her running toward me at an animal rights conference with a
T-shirt that says, "Vegan," and she tells me I'm the reason she's
there. I'm still not sure what I ever did or said to make her change her mind,
but the bottom line is this: you never know whom you're encouraging to help
animals, so don't give up on anyone!
Written by Kriti-S
With Children's Day just around the corner, we'd like to give you a
chance to win a great book on animals for your little one.
PETA founder Ingrid E Newkirk's book 50 Awesome Ways Kids Can Help
Animals: Fun and Easy Ways to Be a Kind Kid is packed with fascinating
facts about animals and fun quizzes, riddles and activities that will inspire
your child to put down that play station and get busy helping animals!
All you need to do to enter the contest is comment below and provide an
idea for how kids can help animals. The three people deemed to have the most interesting
and useful ideas will be chosen by PETA as our winners.
The contest ends on 14 November 2011. The winners will be notified by 15
November. No purchase necessary and void where prohibited by law. By entering
Recently, a phone call from Chennai brought tremendous sadness to our office. We learned that Prem Kumar, an enthusiastic PETA supporter and volunteer, passed away at the young age of 22.
Prem was passionately involved with organising demonstrations and petition drives and helping wherever and whenever animals needed him. Most recently, he helped our Chief Functionary, Poorva Joshipura, and Campaign Coordinator, Bhuvaneshwari Gupta, organise a news conference highlighting PETA's case in the Supreme Court against the Tamil Nadu Regulation of Jallikattu Act No 27 of 2009, a Tamil Nadu state law that permits Jallikattu, pointing out that this cruel event both violates the spirit of the national Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, and causes numerous human injuries and deaths every year to human participants and spectators. You can read about this campaign, which was dear to Prem's heart, here.
Here we are sharing a few pictures of Prem in action. We hope these photographs will inspire others to help animals in the way that Prem so lovingly did.
All of us at PETA extend our deepest condolences to Prem's family and friends.
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