A Polite Introduction
May 21, 2009
By Michael Parrish DuDell
I hope this isn’t rude, but who are you?
That was the question the reporter at Experience Life magazine opened with when interviewing me for The New Vegan – a piece written on the neo-traditional approach to the plant-based lifestyle appearing in their May issue.
I laughed. It was a totally fair question. Every other “expert” being featured was a published author or had a successful line of products. And then there was me. “Who are you?” The question echoed in my brain for days after.
For the record: I am Michael Parrish DuDell – the senior editor at Ecorazzi.com, the co-founder of VEGdaily.com and the founder and executive director of the brand spanking new nonprofit organization Citizens for a Compassionate Planet. Oh yeah, and chances are you’ve never heard of me.
You see, I’m the new guy on the block – the friendly neighbor who through a series of random events has somehow inherited this great big house and is now trying to fix it up just right.
I guess the first thing people notice about me is that I’m freshly 26 (which to me feels light-years old, but to others generally elicits rolled eyes and comments ending in the word “baby”). The second thing you might notice is that I love what I do more than just about anything in the entire world.
I’ve been vegan for 8 years, but spent most of those basically silent about what I chose to eat. It’s strange, really. In every other aspect of my life I’m brazen and strong, but when it came to veganism I was constantly afraid of turning people off or rocking the boat. And then something happened…
The year was 2006. I had just recently graduated from college and was volunteering at Farm Sanctuary’s 20th Anniversary Gala. It was the first animal event I’d ever been to and I was immediately blown away by how many people shared my passion. Each speaker seemed to say exactly what had been on my mind for all those years. You mean there were other people who felt this way?
Finally Alicia Silverstone came on stage to accept an award and said something that would change my life in a big way. Silverstone confessed that some people find her annoying because she speaks about veganism at every chance she gets. Still, she said, it doesn’t matter to her what they think because she’s certain her words have inspired even more people to change their life. And suddenly it hit, “Oh my God – she’s right!” It was nothing profound, but it connected the pieces in my brain and all of sudden things seemed clearer. I decided then and there to be more active in my community and never afraid to speak my mind about an issue I find so important.
Some months later I saw an ad looking for writers for Ecorazzi – a blog that spotlights all the fantastic things celebrities do for green living, humanitarianism and animal rights. I had never written professionally, but knew my way around a keyboard well enough to feel confident submitting a few samples. And the rest is history. After a year of writing for Ecorazzi, the owner, Michael d’Estries and I decided to launch VEGdaily.com.
So that’s me…almost.
During the fall of last year I decided that I wanted – no needed – to do more. The joy I get from writing for thousands upon thousands each week is mind-blowing. But what I love — what I really, really love – more than any amount of hits on a webpage is knowing that what I’m doing on a daily basis is inspiring others to help make the planet a more compassionate place. OH MY GOD! I’ve got it!
All of sudden it hit me. Citizens for a Compassionate Planet. I HAVE TO START IT! And so I did.
On March 16th, 2009 I officially launched Citizens for a Compassionate Planet – a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting the health, environmental and ethical benefits of a plant-based diet through the establishment of advocacy and public education programs within local communities.
Through a series of support programs, outreach initiatives and educational presentations, my goal is to inspire the young people of the world to make long-lasting, positive change towards a healthier diet and a cleaner planet.
As I march to battle to the sound of an optimistic drum beat, I am reminded of the famous quote that Maragret Mead once uttered: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has.”
So no – it isn’t rude.
My name is Michael Parrish DuDell and I’m here to help create something wonderful.