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Activist Profile: Nikki Benoit

Nikki Benoit

February 24, 2010

Continuing our series of activist profiles, we meet Nikki Benoit, famous for schooling Obama on vegan issues (note that Obama pronounces “vegan” correctly). Leafleting for Florida Voices for Animals, Nikki has reached tens of thousands of individuals with VO booklets.

Where do you live and what are your favorite things to do outside of leafleting?

Born and raised in Maryland, but migrated south to Tampa Bay Florida in 1998 to thaw out my sanity :)
Kayaking, camping/hiking, reading, playing at the beach…and everywhere else.

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

My on-ramp to animal oppression issues was through the eyes of wildlife, so Rachel Carson and Jane Goodall were my first inspirations. Learning about farm animals brought in a new level of awareness, where Henry Spira’s diplomacy molded me from the start. Colleen Patrick-Goudreau helped keep my heart and head in alignment. So many amazing humans, so little time to brag about them!

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

Slowly “woke up” in 2000 c/o a silverback gorilla’s enslavement at Busch Gardens in Tampa, and it’s been all picket signs and leaflets since!

What led you to start leafleting?

Jodi Chemes introduced the AR group in Tampa to it, so when I came back from college in 2006, I did whatever initiatives were already underway to get the word out.

What was your most positive leafleting experience and why?

Nikki Benoit

At St. Pete College – Gibbs campus, I leafleted a group of students and kept walking. Fifteen feet away I overheard, “That’s IT! I CAN’T do this anymore, damn it! I can’t contribute to this abuse! I’m DONE!” She went veg on the spot! Her friends were moaning that their lunch plans would have to change, so I told them about local veggie options. After lunch the new veg and a friend walked past me, and the non-veg said, “She’ll have me changed by the end of the day…guaranteed.” BONUS ROUND, WOOT WOOT!

What would you say to individuals hesitant about leafleting?

If you can, join a leafleting veteran the first couple times. When you’re up and doing it, have fun! Don’t approach this animal abuse issue with resentment, fear, anger, anxiety, frustration – it shows. Accept what’s going on and realize that change IS possible, and it’s HAPPENING. Be at peace with yourself and this moment, and know that those receiving a leaflet have every right to be a part of the solution, too…you’re doing them a favor :)