Parker Jay-Pachirat is a member of the Farm Sanctuary Youth Advisory Committee. She is passionate about animals, plant-based living and writing for the online magazine she co-founded, Lucca. Lucca Magazine inspires with food, travel and fun while also reporting on such topics as animal rights, identity and body image, and racism. Parker lives in New York City.

What topics are you passionate about raising awareness for? And what types of things do you do to get involved in charitable causes?

Animal rights are really important to me. I’ve been involved in animal advocacy for about 5 years through Farm Sanctuary, an organization I am immensely grateful to be involved with. I’ve raised a lot of questions about animals and their roles in society though my school work and a few of my articles on Lucca Magazine. Another topic deeply important to me to have awareness on is the systematic racism existing in our society. On a personal note, I have seen my father be discriminated against because of the color of his skin, which deeply hurts and angers me. [Parker’s father is Timothy Pachirat, author of Every Twelve Seconds; Industrialized Slaughter and the Politics of Sight.] That’s motivated me a lot to work against the subtle racisms in our system today. At the moment, part of this to me still means learning about racism in our society (modern day and in the past) so that I have an informed and educated point of view. As I am not a person of color, I know it’s really important that I educate myself to the best of my ability, without claiming I “understand” what it is like to experience racism as a person of color. And of course, as a woman, women’s rights.

In what ways have you been involved with Farm Sanctuary? What is something you have learned about farm animals during your work with Farm Sanctuary that other people might not know?

My first experience with a farm sanctuary was when I was about thirteen. I volunteered there for a few years, and then I started volunteering at Farm Sanctuary in Watkins Glen. My favorite location is the one in California, I’ve volunteered there a few times. Spending time at the three sanctuaries that I have has allowed me to pick up on so much that a person who doesn’t have experience with farm animals wouldn’t. This is said a lot in the FS community, but it’s really integral: each animal has his or her completely distinct personality. In addition, they have so much more love to give than you’d imagine. I am really struck by their ability to love after having been in such vulnerable and detrimental places. I decided to become vegan after spending a lot of time at Farm Sanctuary. Having an emotional connection and understanding of the farm animals is what made me decide to stop eating any animal products, in conjunction with learning about the conditions of the animals in slaughterhouses (for example, how most cattle for veal never see the sun, and that in being vegetarian, the animals whose milk and eggs you’re eating will be killed for meat anyways.) I realized if I loved animals I wouldn’t be able to participate in a system that inflicts pain on them when I don’t have to, so I don’t. I have developed a much deeper understanding of my morals and values in being vegan.

Are there any places or activities in New York City that inspire your passion to give back to the world and to our animals?

Sometimes I spend time on the Upper West Side, and I always see carriage horses there. They are walking around the city street all day, pulling 200+ lbs, and barely get food or water, much less rest. This deeply upsets me but inspires me to work harder for change for city animals and other animals in the world. Spending time with other animal lovers inspires me beyond words too. A lot of my friends have gone vegan or vegetarian because of me. That really touches me and makes me want to keep doing what I’m doing. Sometimes it’s easy to lose sight of the animal welfare movement in NYC when you’re surrounded by so much else, but spending time with vibrant and passionate people that hold the same values and beliefs is really empowering and inspiring.

Do you have any advice for other young adults who are looking for ways to bring attention to animal causes or any other causes they are passionate about?

Be educated, strategic and fearless. Use your voice!