Our Hen House is honored to once again serve as media partner to The Pollination Project’s Lisa Shapiro Award for Unsung Vegan Heroes. Ten winners were chosen this year for the awards in memory of the amazing activist Lisa Shapiro, an award-winner in 2014, who died in June 2015 after battling cancer. Lisa was a hero to us and to so many others, humankind and animalkind alike.
THE WINNERS OF THE LISA SHAPIRO AWARD FOR UNSUNG VEGAN HEROES
In 2014, the inaugural year of the Unsung Vegan Heroes awards, almost 80 people were nominated, each of them inspiring in their own right. This year, nearly 200 outstanding people were nominated, every one deserving. A team of 45 judges representing a cross section of animal advocacy and service organizations deliberated for two weeks to determine the winners.
The Lisa Shapiro Award recognizes these quiet superheroes of our movement: people who work humbly behind the scenes, creating a world where animals do not have to suffer at the hands of humans. The Pollination Project offers no-strings-attached awards of $1000 each to these unsung vegan heroes, all in Lisa’s name. Winners also receive a $100 donation made in their honor to the animal charity of their choice, as well as vegan gifts from partner organizations including Our Hen House, Tofurky, PETA, The Humane League, Mercy for Animals, Factory Farming Awareness Coalition, HSUS, Vegan Outreach, Miyoko’s Kitchen, VegNews, Piedmont Animal Sanctuary, National Museum of Animals and Society, World Peace Earth, The Institute for Humane Education, Jewish Vegetarians of North America, PCRM, First Spark Media, Service Space, Sjaak’s Organic Chocolates, and the Center for Biological Diversity.
Please join us in congratulating these inspiring changemakers!
Read the heartfelt tributes to the winners here!
The Winners of the Lisa Shapiro Award for Unsung Vegan Heroes
- Yuri Demott Mitzkewich is the Southeast Outreach Coordinator for Vegan Outreach and a dedicated animal advocate based in South Florida. Beyond his dedication to his day job, Yuri spends his free time tabling and leafletting, volunteering at a local animal sanctuary, and participating in protests. Nominators described Yuri as “the best soldier, just going where he’s needed, without looking for any recognition or reward.”
- Mikael Nielsen has been active in animal protection since 2002 when he began volunteering with EarthSave Chicago. He has since worked with a variety of groups and projects to promote veganism and educate the public about the benefits of a plant-based diet. He is currently the National Volunteer Coordinator for Mercy For Animals. He is frequently described as a tireless, top-notch activist who “gets the job done.”
- Matthew Glover & Jane Land are the co-founders of the international “try vegan” campaign, Veganuary, which has grown by an astounding 400% in its first two years. They have put everything on the line to ensure Veganuary is a truly effective model for making veganism more accessible to the masses, and they have the metrics to prove it.
- Lynda Cozart has been involved in animal activism for decades with almost every major animal rights group imaginable, including Compassion over Killing, The Humane Society, Poplar Animal Sanctuary, and PCRM. She is described as a “devoted happy warrior” who spends most of her weekends tabling and leafletting in Miami, and participates in any opportunity she can to be a voice for animals.
- Juliana Castañeda Turner is the inspiring founder of Colombia’s only no-kill sanctuary, Juliana’s Farm Sanctuary. Nominators called her “a pioneer in the field of animal protection in Colombia.” Juliana has spent the past twenty years advocating for and protecting animals through Food for Life Global, an international vegan food relief program, through her Ahimsa line of cruelty-free beauty products, and through the Sanctuary that she pours her heart and soul into.
- Gary Lowenthal has spent nearly two decades as a prolific animal rights volunteer. He is the well-respected founder of the Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale, which has raised $350,000 for animals in the course of the past 6 years. He is the co-founder of Compassion4Animals, campaigns director for A Well Fed World, and vice president of Fish Feel. He spends time volunteering at animal shelters and farm animal sanctuaries, leafleting, protesting, doing humane education in schools, leading vegan food demos, and playing music at countless events with his band, Buntopia.
- Ellen Ericksen is the powerhouse behind almost every animal rights protest in the San Diego area, most notably the SeaWorld protest efforts. Ellen also takes on Ringling Bros., the DelMar Racetrack, the San Diego Zoo, the Rodeos, and the Farmer John’s annual protest. Nominators said she has a go-getter attitude and tons of stamina. She thoughtfully cultivates relationships with local media and law enforcement to ensure protests are successful, safe and professional.
- Ekala is the quiet co-founder of Juliana’s Farm Sanctuary in Colombia. Nominated by Juliana herself, Ekala is on site 24/7 caring for over 60 animals. Juliana wrote, “Nobody talks about him, but he started this project with me. He just followed my dream and now, after more than 8 years, he is 100% in this project. He is always there giving medicine, cleaning, taking care of the animals with special needs, and he doesn’t have any salary. His salary is the happiness he receives by seeing animals free and happy and all the people who go vegan thanks to the animals in the sanctuary.” In a country where people earn less than $2 an hour as an average wage, the award money will go an especially long way!
- Dr. Amie Breeze Harper works in at the intersection of race, gender, veganism, and food security. She is a moderator, author, organizer, convener, inspirer, and provocateur of ideas that challenge complacency. Founder of the Sistah Vegan Project, Dr. Harper has written several books and convened conferences that have inspired a new generation of black vegan feminists, and have opened up a space of learning and dialogue across the animal rights movement.
- Dr. Alka Chandna’s day job is as a senior laboratory oversight specialist for PETA, tirelessly advocating for animals used in testing. Alka turns undercover investigations and whistleblower calls into fully-fledged legal complaints and anti–animal experimentation Web features and videos. She also dedicates her spare time to organizing demonstrations on animal rights issues and tabling for PETA at every event in the Washington, D.C., area—from festivals to music shows. She spends many hours every week stocking more than forty vegetarian starter kit stands all over Washington, D.C., as well. Nominators described her as a hardworking, fierce and humble cheerleader for the animal rights movement.
- Finally, a special Lisa Shapiro Award goes to John Oberg, Director of Communications for Vegan Outreach. John was hand-picked by Lisa Shapiro as a 2015 winner prior to her passing earlier this year. Lisa described John as one of the top up-and-coming leaders of the animal rights movement, and she believed he would have significant impact throughout his lifetime.
Read more about the winners!
Your efforts to make the world better for animals are appreciated, too! Acknowledged or not, publicized or not, millions of animals are alive today because of animal rights advocates like you. THANK YOU for all you do to make the world a more compassionate place for animals!
Please join The Pollination Project and Our Hen House in congratulating the winners of the Lisa Shapiro Award for Unsung Vegan Heroes by sharing this news about their efforts to change the world for animals!