Jessica Carlson, Unsung Vegan Hero, 2016

Date grant awarded: October 1, 2016

Tribute by Seth Tibbott, Tofurky

What makes Jessica an epic Unsung Hero is the quietly passionate way that she goes about her life of doing things great and small for animals and veganism without expecting any recognition, money or accolades. It is just who she is at heart. Whether it’s volunteering at local farm sanctuaries, veg fests or helping injured wildlife, she fills her days with pursuits from her heart. She has an infectious, positive enthusiasm for life and an ability to organize people and get things done. Whether organizing circus protests, showings of Cowspiracy, Tofurky Trots, vegan meet-ups, or numerous fundraisers, every event that she touches is well run and well attended.

But most impressive to me is that she does all this in an area that could hardly be called a vegan friendly “hotspot” – the rust belt of NW Pennsylvania. I think it takes more work, more love, and more authentic love for humanity to bring new ideas to a population that is not known for embracing vegan diets. Jessica’s trailblazing footprints can be found throughout her community and beyond. One long-term dream of Jessica’s is to create a nonprofit learning center to help kids connect with animals, but I think that she may be farther along that path than she realizes; when she walks down the hall at the school where she teaches, kids say, “Ms. Jess is a vegan. She doesn’t eat, or wear animals!”

With her love of kids, selfless volunteering on behalf of animals, and down to earth enthusiasm, I see a lot of Lisa Shapiro in this most worthy Unsung Hero.