We are thrilled to introduce our new program, Heroes of Compassion, where we recognize people who are working tirelessly behind the scenes to help animals and make the world a more compassionate place.
Our first honoree is Jane Hoffman, Farm Sanctuary’s Board Secretary and Audit Committee Chair. Jane has been president and chair of the board of the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals since its inception in 2002. The Mayor’s Alliance is a coalition of more than 150 animal rescue groups and shelters working to reduce the euthanasia of cats and dogs in New York City shelters. Jane is also a founding and current member of the Animal Law Committee of the NYC Bar Association, one of the first animal law committees in the country. She received the Annual Excellence in the Advancement of Animal Law Award from the American Bar Association’s Tort Trial & Insurance Practice Section (TIPS) in 2007, the very first year it was awarded. Prior to creating the Alliance, Jane served as an associate at the law firm of Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP and vice president and senior consultant at Handy Associates. Jane holds a J.D. degree from Brooklyn Law School, an M.L.S. degree from Long Island University, and a B.A. degree from Boston College.
Here is my interview with Jane; you can also read her profile at Animals of Farm Sanctuary:
Cultivating Compassionate Communities: What does the term “living compassionately” mean to you?
Jane Hoffman: Living compassionately means keeping your cruelty footprint as small as possible while living in the world as it is today.
CCC: What inspired you to start down this path?
I was asked to become involved with an organization, now defunct, called Legal Action for Animals, which was run by a wonderful lawyer named Jolene Marion (who passed away several years ago). That propelled me to become a founding member of the Animal Law Committee at the NYC Bar Association, which then lead me to co-found the Alliance for NYC’s Animals.
CCC: What was the transition like for you, and what did you learn that might be useful to people currently trying to make changes?
JH: It is vastly easier now to eat cruelty-free and live compassionately than it was even 10 years ago. I think you need to take the path to living compassionately at the pace that works for you and which you can sustain. But it’s important to remember that the more you try, even if you falter, the closer you are to the lifestyle you aspire to be living.
CCC: What has been most challenging about living a compassionate life?
JH: The most challenging thing has been not giving in to anger over the cruelty to non-human animals all around us every day and everywhere.
CCC: What advice would you give to an aspiring activist?
JH: Meet people where they are on their own path. Different points of view and different arguments appeal to different people, so be informed and be prepared to make your case.
CCC: How did you learn about Farm Sanctuary, and how did you get involved?
JH: I had known about Farm Sanctuary for years and did a very early Walk for Farm Animals years ago. And I am proud to say that I was the top fundraiser. I also visited Watkins Glen with a friend and stayed in the white house (which is no longer with us, having made way for the Melrose Small Animal Hospital). I remember waking up one morning and looking out at the duck pond, and later that day meeting Kevin the calf (above). Later, I was approached by David Wolfson, a legal colleague and Farm Sanctuary adviser, about joining Farm Sanctuary’s Board of Directors to help build the Board and the organization.
CCC: Has there been a specific animal in your life that has been especially meaningful to you?
JH: All of my many companion animals (cats and dogs) over the years have been special to me. But I have to say that a guinea pig named Ginny (above), who came into my life unexpectedly (don’t all rescue animals do that to some extent?) made a huge impression on me. What a big personality and intelligence in that tiny body…who knew?
CCC: Do you have a favorite resident at one of our sanctuaries, or a special affinity for a certain species of farm animal?
JH: I just love them all…cows and goats and chickens and turkeys and sheep and ducks and donkeys. They are all such individuals and make me so happy to see them safe and happy.
CCC: How do you think things will change over the next 50 years or so?
JH: My hope is that the governments of the world get their act together and take decisive and swift action to save the environment, and that we will have moved to a totally plant-based diet that is good for the earth and all animals…including the human race.
And that the need for farm sanctuaries ceases to exist.
CCC: What is your favorite “main dish” recipe or meal?
JH: The Seitan Scallopini served at Blossom Restaurant on Ninth Avenue and 22nd Street in New York City. It is a dish made with white wine, lemon & caper sauce, truffle mashed potatoes, and sautéed kale. You can see more at their website: http://www.blossomnyc.com/chelsea/
CCC: Is there anything else you would like the Farm Sanctuary family to know? Do you have a favorite website you would like to share?
JH: Well, obviously, my favorite websites are the Farm Sanctuary website and the website of the not-for-profit organization I run — the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals, at http://www.animalalliancenyc.org/