Edgeville Buzz

The Venture to Vegan


Robert Grillo, Free From Harm

Edgewater community resident Robert Grillo has a simple and practical goal: he asks us to act on what most of us already believe about not harming animals and the environment, unnecessarily, when we don’t have to, when we have other options. Robert is the Executive Director and founder of local nonprofit Free From Harm, a non-profit whose mission focuses on the rescue, education and advocacy on behalf of the animals America feeds on. The organization focuses on chickens and turkeys, because they represent 99% of the animals the U.S. consumes. They began as an advocacy tool in 2009 when Robert became aware of the suffering that animals endured due to our nation’s processing of food, and more specifically, dairy.

I recognized that an injustice of unimaginable and unprecedented proportions is being carried out every second of every day that is met with an almost equal proportion of collective cultural denial.” He furthers, “I developed a great reverence and respect for all animals from this awakening, particularly those trapped in our food system by no choice of their own.”

Veganism is on the rise. Free From Harm’s goal is to reach a tipping point, or the demographic that Robert considers “low-hanging fruit,” individuals who believe in advocating on behalf of animals and protest the harmful ways in which we make the food we consume. The vegan population has doubled in the last few years, and FFH continues to work towards promoting veganism to 10-15% of the nation’s population to see an accelerated change that will permeate mainstream culture rapidly over the decades to come.

Showing compassion to all animals. Sparing the life of one animal might seem small, but actually means everything to that animal, and promotes an act of compassion that everyone could learn and grown from. Robert feels as though we have been culturally conditioned to feel a certain lack of empathy towards farm animals, compared to the emotion we give towards our pets. Farm animals remain an abstraction for most of us at best — anonymous, invisible, nameless, faceless and therefore victimless. The biggest misconception is that animals in dairy farming are not harmed. The following are just a few statistics about what happens to our dairy cows…

The Lone Calf_cropped

Going vegan for the sake of our environment. Going vegan is a small step with an enormously positive impact on our planet, when we evaluate what’s at stake by not going vegan. The processing of meat, dairy and other consumable items with animal bi-products makes up 51% of America’s pollution. Environmentalist Bill McKibben has estimated a 3 – 5 year window of opportunity to prevent irreversible climate change. He isn’t optimistic that the energy sector will make the necessary transition to renewable energy in time. But reducing our consumption of animals can! Going vegan does not cost us a thing. We don’t have to donate funds or attend marches and protests or mobilize a team of engineers and scientists to figure out how to implement a complex and costly new form of renewable energy. We simply have to stop supporting the animal farms that contribute to our nation’s main source of pollution.

Being vegan can be simple. Going vegan is as easy as making one menu choice over another, substituting a few items in our recipes, and choosing to purchase animal-free products from our stores. There is a growing market for plant-based meats, cheeses, milks and eggs that make replacing animal products with plant-based alternatives accessible for anyone. For every dairy product, there is a soy substitute, a nut-based cheese, a plant-derived alternative. With so many resources and recipes available, going vegan is more of an option now than it ever has been before.

There are plenty of vegan kick starters that provide resources to make the transition, offering recipes, weekly meal plans, nutrition tips, personal guidance, and an online community to collaborate with other vegans to talk about your experience. Feel free to check out amazing articles on the FFH site by contributor Ashley Capps, one on going dairy free and the other on making the most amazing vegan cheeses ever.

For additional resources for those looking to venture towards vegan…




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