This week we had a chance to interview Scott Heiser of the Animal Legal Defense Fund. He’ll be speaking at this year’s Veg Fest, and from the sound of it you won’t want to miss his talk. The Animal Legal Defense Fund has been fighting for animal welfare through the legal system for over thirty years. For more information on the organization’s work, visit www.aldf.org/.
CAA: What will you be speaking about?
Scott: I’m speaking about animal law in the context of food production. I’ll be laying out some of the common practices employed in factory farming and explaining how and why existing animal cruelty laws are decidedly inadequate to address this conduct. I’ll also touch on the ag industry’s fear of undercover work and the industry’s reaction to the disclosure of these practices (i.e., ag-gag laws).
CAA: How did you get involved in animal advocacy?
Scott: As a prosecutor I have always considered animal cruelty cases to be a top priority for the justice system. When I decided to leave the DA’s office back in 2007, I joined ALDF to help law enforcement and prosecutors get better results in animal cruelty cases—the move was just a perfect fit for me, my skill set and my personal values.
CAA: What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
Scott: Sailing, hanging out with my wife, our 16-year old dog (Atticus) and our two cats. Whitewater kayaking as well.
CAA: What are you most excited about at the Veg Fest?
Scott: Meeting amazing people and seeing old friends—it is such a treat to be a part of something like this!
CAA: What’s your best tip for someone who wants to go vegetarian or vegan?
Scott: I’d have to say that one might need to approach the change with some humility. When I made the switch, I brought a little too much “in your face” content about the realities of meat production in the U.S. and my friends got pretty defensive about their (un)willingness to consider the issues that drive one’s decision to bag meat.
CAA: Who/what species is your favorite animal?
Scott: That’s a tough call. Over the years, I have had some amazing bonds with some very cool animals with exceptional personalities. However, I’m going to have to say that my relationship with Atticus is it. At 16, he’s pretty dependent on me for help (he used to be such a fiercely independent soul) and seeing that level of trust he has in me is a pretty amazing thing—even more so when I think back to the tough start to life he had when we got him from the shelter 15.5 years ago.