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Activist Profile: John Jungenberg

February 19, 2014

Continuing our series of activist profiles, we talk with John Jungenberg. John, still only 18, has already handed a VO booklet to nearly 25,000 individuals!

John Jungenberg at UWM

Where are you from and where do you live now?

I am from Libertyville, IL and am currently living there.

What are your favorite things to do outside of leafleting?

I enjoy relaxing in nature, hanging out with my family and friends, contemplating sustainable future cities, and playing with my cats.

Who has been / is a major influence in your life and why?

Some of the people I look up to and influence me are Gene Baur, Paul Watson, Robert Cheeke, Peter Hammarstedt, Matt Ball, Jack Norris, and Jacque Fresco.

My mom is one of the biggest influences and one of the reasons I am vegan and an activist. Because we have such a dynamic family, I realized that I didn’t want to destroy any other family, regardless of what species they were.

How long have you been involved in animal rights and how did you get interested?

I was raised vegetarian and my family always had animals around our house, so needless to say, animals were a big part of my life from early on. My sister Jamie went vegan after watching a video of male chicks being ground up alive at hatcheries. I wanted to go vegan, but I thought it would be nearly impossible for me, because I am gluten free as well. Feeling the inconsistency of my values and not acting on them, I was one of the “defensive non-vegans.” I jokingly mocked my sister for being vegan to make myself feel better about my actions. Jamie was never rude back to me, but instead was encouraging. Four years ago (January 6, 2010) I decided I was done feeling guilty about what I ate, so I went vegan. I was surprised how simple it is to be vegan and gluten free!

The reason I mentioned that I had been defensive and rude about veganism is to remind any activist reading this that it is essential to always remain calm and polite to people hostile to veganism. Jamie could have been rude back; if she had been, I likely wouldn’t be vegan, let alone an activist. Sometimes the most defensive people are the closest to changing!

What made you decide to start leafleting? / Why do you leaflet?

I was playing around with different kinds of activism for a while. Some of it didn’t seem very effective. I probably started leafleting with Mercy For Animals around 2011. I leafleted periodically for a while until the fall 2012 semester. That’s when I became good friends with Rachel Shippee. We leafleted a lot together during that semester and she really pushed me to be a better and more effective activist!

I leaflet because it is one of the simplest and most effective things we can do to help our fellow earthlings. There are studies that back up that claim too!

What was your most positive leafleting experience?

I have had so many positive experiences while leafleting so it’s hard to pick just one, but whenever someone tells me that they are going veg or have reduced their meat consumption it’s always awesome to hear!

What would you say to individuals hesitant about leafleting?

I used to be nervous before leafleting, too; but it’s not about me. It’s about the animals suffering and unnecessarily dying. You have an unbelievable potential to be involved in one of the largest social justice movements of all time. It’s so much better to be the change, than to just hear about it! One more thing to consider is, if you don’t get active for the animals, no one else will take your place. The animals need you to get involved!

John (center) with (from left) his mom Mary, sister Jamie, and other fellow activists Rachel Shippee and Kevin Cooney.
FAST activists