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9-Year-Old Leads the Way for 'Meatless Mondays'

Nine-year-old Genesis Butler is a young vegan activist from Long Beach who is passionate about saving the environment and protecting farm animals. She's doing her part to get the word out about reducing meat consumption and finding healthier food alternatives.

In 2015, the young vegan activist encouraged members of the Long Beach City Council to pass a city-wide "Meatless Mondays" resolution.

With the help from family and friends, the nine-year-old launched Genesis for Animals, a nonprofit that helps end animal abuse. In addition to speaking out about Meatless Mondays at her elementary school, the fourth-grader has worked closely with volunteers and staff at Farm Sanctuary, an animal rescue and shelter in Acton, Calif. 

In this segment of "SoCal Connected," reporter Dija Dowling visits vegan activists Alexandra Caswell and Genesis Butler at Farm Sanctuary.

Featuring Interviews With:

  • Alexandra Caswell, Farm Sanctuary shelter manager
  • Genesis Butler, student/activist
  • Genelle Palacio, Genesis’ mother

*Thinking of participating in Meatless Mondays? For recipes, visit kcet.org/category/meatless-mondays

Transcript

Dija Dowling: It's a chilly morning on a farm in Acton, California and Alexandra Caswell is up at the cock’s crow, literally, and getting her day started. 75 miles away Genesis Butler, a 4th grader in a suburb outside of Long Beach is getting her morning started. At a glance you wouldn't think it, but these two actually have a lot in common. Genesis Butler and Alexandra Caswell are both vegans dedicated to saving farm animals. Alexandra runs Farm Sanctuary, it's 26 acres of land about an hour outside of L.A., past freeways and golden hills. A veritable palace for wild things, they've got 105 farm animals -- cows, chickens, goats, pigs, sheep and even a llama. All of whom were rescued from factory farms, poor living conditions and what Alexandra calls "backyard butchers."

Alexandra Caswell: Farm Sanctuary....one of our biggest roles is to spread compassion and teach people how to live compassionately, live by their morals.

Dija Dowling: Genesis and I broke away from the city for the day to visit Alexandra. Hi guys!

Alexandra Caswell: So, this is Joni here and that’s Madeline over there, we just recently rescued them.

Dija Dowling: What’s the backstory on the turkeys?

Alexandra Caswell: The turkeys were owner surrender, which means we don’t really know what their backstory is, we know that, and you probably know this Genesis, um that they cut their beaks off when their babies, and its really common practice in the turkey industry to cut the tips of their toes off too, so these girls are really lucky that didn’t happen to them, but they definitely had their beaks so that indicates to us that they came from a factory farm.

Dija Dowling: Even though Genesis can’t live out on a farm like Alexandra, she's found her own way to help. It’s called "Meatless Mondays."

Genesis Butler: Meatless Mondays is when everybody doesn't eat meat on Mondays. So instead of say your usual basic is say hamburger. Instead of that you have salad and soup.... that what Meatless Mondays is. I just feel like animals are brothers and sisters, and as other people they wouldn’t eat their brothers and sisters, so that’s why I don’t eat animals. That important to me because.. Same brother and sister quote. They are family to me.

Dija Dowling: Genesis felt so strongly about mm she took a step most people would find scary -- she lobbied before the long beach city council to pass a city wide meatless Monday’s resolution. When you were talking to the city council and they were all adults, where you nervous or how did you feel?

Genesis Butler: I didn’t feel nervous, because I knew since I'm a child they wouldn't be unsupportive of it, and because I speak for animals a bunch of times, I wouldn’t be nervous, because I'm doing this for something very great and to help the planet.

Dija Dowling: Okay, so that’s seems like a big statement, so my question is: How does Meatless Mondays help the planet? People in 35 countries have joined the mm movement, from celebrities like Oprah & Paul McCartney, to Politian Al Gore, food expert Michael Pollan, and the entire Norwegian army. At home with her family meals aren't just meatless ..they’re vegan, something I thought might be tricky to pull off for a family of six.

Genesis Butler: I just want my child’s world, to have peace, I don't want them to worry about us having a drought, I don't want them to be worried about us having to die there’s no trees, I just want them to think that they'll have a very happy life and nothing will happen to them.

Alexandra Caswell: Biggest goal of Farm Sanctuary is compassion. Children have more compassion. I think teaching children when they are young they influence families siblings.

Dija Dowling: I had a great time on the farm, and learned a few things from Alexandra and Genesis, and as I watched Genesis head to school, it was nice to think that even someone this young is able to make a change, and watch it grow. I’m Dija Dowling for “SoCal Connected.”

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