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Episode 570: Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Animal Rights ft. Michelle Rojas-Soto

By Jasmin and Mariann — December 12, 2020

This week’s episode features a riveting interview with Michelle Rojas-Soto that was originally recorded at the Farmed Animal Conference E-summit (FACES) earlier this year. Michelle is the managing director at Encompass, a non-profit that supports animal advocates of the global majority and provides diversity, equity, and inclusion consulting to farmed animal protection organizations. She is a long-time advocate for racial justice, women’s rights, disability rights, and LGBTQ+ rights, and her past leadership roles have always focused on equity, systemic change, and community-building. Michelle was a founding member of Gender Equity in Animal Rights (GEAR), where she launched the Amplify Career Sponsorship Program for women and gender non-conforming people.

We were so inspired by this interview, we wanted to air it again here on the Our Hen House podcast for all of our listeners. Michelle joins Jasmin to discuss the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion within the farmed animal protection movement and why Encompass is committed to creating a sense of community for people of the global majority. Michelle also dives into how falling short of these values impacts the animal rights movement internally and externally, and how a cultural sea change could further the movement’s work.

If you like this interview, you can purchase the FACE Summit Pack where you’ll receive life-time access to all 20 talks from the event.

In this week’s “Our Hen House Supports Vegan Businesses’” we’re throwing some love out to Shop Like You Give A Damn, an online store, based in the Netherlands, that sells vegan clothing, jewelry, home goods and more.

As we consider racial equity in our space, the biggest motivator is that when we achieve that, we will be talking to everyone about the movement, not just people who live and look like us.”
– Michelle Rojas-Soto

This Week in Our Hen House:

  • How Michelle’s vegan journey began
  • Michelle’s career in healthcare and why she subsequently pivoted her focus in order to realize social change
  • Why Michelle initially felt discouraged from working within the animal rights movement, and how that has since changed
  • Michelle’s reaction when she was first approached to work in the animal rights movement through Better Eating (now Expanded Circle Collective)
  • The groundbreaking work of the Encompass DEI Institute
  • Why Michelle sees the Encompass Essays project as having the potential to change the face of racial equality in animal advocacy
  • Michelle’s take on the lessons we can learn from George Floyd’s murder and the impact of the Black Lives Matter movement on the animal rights movement
  • What ‘Diversity, Equity, Inclusion’ (DEI) mean to Michelle both personally and for the growth of the animal rights movement
  • How Michelle recommends challenging racism displayed by a fellow activist without allowing yourself to be distracted from your primary purpose
  • How Michelle practices self care

Connect with Encompass and Michelle Rojas-Soto:

Connect with Our Hen House:


This episode is brought to you in part through the generosity of A Well-Fed World. A Well-Fed World provides the means for change by empowering individuals, social justice organizations, and political decision makers to embrace the benefits of plant-based foods and farming. Learn more at


You can listen to our podcast directly on our website, or subscribe on Apple Podcasts or your favorite podcatcher! Also, if you like what you hear, please rate it and leave us a comment on Apple Podcasts! Of course, we would be thrilled if you would also consider making a donation, or becoming a member of our flock (especially if you’re a regular listener). Any amount is hugely appreciated, and Our Hen House is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, so it’s tax-deductible! Thank you for helping us create quality content, and for helping us bring you a new podcast episode each week!

Don’t forget to tune into Our Hen House’s other two podcasts: The Teaching Jasmin How to Cook Vegan Podcast, and The Animal Law Podcast.

The Our Hen House theme song is written and performed by Michael Harren.

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