Activist Profile: Kenny Torrella
February 1, 2012
Continuing our series of activist profiles, we turn to the great Kenny Torrella.
Where are you from and where do you live now?
I grew up in Gaithersburg, MD (a suburb of Washington, DC), attended college in Tennessee, and I now live in Chicago, IL as the Chicago Campaign Coordinator with Mercy For Animals.
What are your favorite things to do outside of leafleting?
I like to spend time with my girlfriend and friends, run, listen to music, read books, watch documentaries, cook, and travel.
Who is a major influence in your life?
My parents have been a major influence because they’ve always supported and encouraged me throughout my life. Jon Camp was the first full-time activist I met and I’ve always considered him a good friend and mentor, but other than Jon, I would really say everyone at Vegan Outreach, Mercy For Animals, and other effective organizations working to protect animals, have all had a large influence on my advocacy and outlook. I’m also inspired daily by anyone who is working to make the world a better place.
How long have you been involved in animal rights and how did you get interested?
Shortly after going vegan in 2007 I saw the documentary Earthlings, which absolutely floored me. I couldn’t sleep that night and the next day I began thinking about how I could raise awareness and inspire others to choose vegan on my college campus. Since then I’ve been fortunate to meet and work alongside people that inspire me to be the best advocate I can be for animals.
What made you decide to start leafleting?
I became vegan during my sophomore year of college and started to host documentary screenings on campus, but I had never heard of leafleting before. I bumped into a friend on campus who received an Even If You Like Meat booklet, and he told me there was a guy handing them out. Lo and behold, it was Jon Camp! I talked with him about leafleting and activism, and the rest is history.
Why do you leaflet?
I leaflet because it’s a cost- and time-effective way to directly inform people about the routine cruelties inflicted upon farmed animals. The average person isn’t going to seek out this information, so it’s up to us to get out on the streets and inform people about what’s going on and how they can prevent cruelty to animals.
What was your most positive leafleting experience and why?
Every time I meet someone who says they went vegetarian or vegan because of a booklet, and every time someone stops to talk to me, is a positive experience. To know that I’ve helped someone make choices to reduce violence in the world, or even getting someone thinking about this issue, is very rewarding.
What would you say to individuals hesitant about leafleting?
I would say, “Go for it!” The first time is the hardest, but after that it just gets easier and more rewarding. It’s important to know that pretty much everyone will either take the booklet and say “thank you,” or they won’t take the booklet and say "no thanks." Occasionally someone will say a rude comment, but it’s rare, and I’m willing to take a rude comment now and then if it also means I’m able to inform thousands of people about this important cause.