Fierce at Fourteen: Sam Tucker

While listening to one of my favorite podcasts, NZ Vegan Podcast, I was amazed at the solid, logical sound of a very young man, 13 years old at the time, who was on fire for animal rights and veganism.  Not only was he intelligent and well-spoken, he was doing something about the injustice he was witnessing.  Sam Tucker is that young man, now 14, and he is already an enterpreneur (having owned a tee-shirt business), a radio host (Food for Thought), a public speaker (at Animal Rights assemblies and on podcasts), and a successful animal rights advocate.  He is also a snowboarder and a musician.  Sam, as you can tell, does not let any moss grow under his feet.  He is part of a growing number of young people who are making enormous contributions to changing the way people think about animals, about food, and about the earth.  Below is a recent interview done with Sam:

When did you start to realize what was wrong with the way animals are being treated? When did you go vegan and why?
It all started when I read a book called Man vs. Beast by Robert Muchamore.  It was a fictional book about vegan terrorists and one activist described the inside of a battery farm; I was horrified. I thought to myself, surely it can’t be that bad in real life.  So I did some research and found out that it was that bad.  I immediately stopped eating battery eggs and started eating less factory farmed products.  Eventually I decided that, regardless of how well treated, it is wrong to kill an animal simply because you like how they taste.  So I went vegetarian.  As soon as I learned about the horrors of all the other animal industries, I decided to go vegan.  It is only in the last few months that I’ve learned about the abolitionist approach to animal rights.

Do you have many vegan associates where you live? 
I think in total there are less vegans in New Zealand than other places, but I do know several nearby and I am on an email chatroom with about 120 local vegans.

How did the radio show get started?  How long do you plan to continue with that?  What advice would you give to anyone wanting to get into broadcasting?
Before I was into animal rights, I was co-hosting a music radio show with one of my friends. When I learned more about animal rights, I wanted a way to be more active for animals. My friend suggested that I should do a radio show on it, so I contacted the station. After two hours of technical training, I was allowed to do the show.  So far I have been doing the radio show for just under two years and I hope to continue with for as long as possible.  If anyone wants to get involved with broadcasting, the best thing to do is find a local volunteer radio station, either student radio or access radio, and ask them if you can do a show on an issue that concerns you. Radio is only one type of broadcasting, so you could try something else such as TV broadcasting.
I saw a graphic that you helped design for Coexisting with Nonhuman Animals; it was very, very good. Are you interested in graphics, design, photography, or any other artistic ventures?
Thanks for that, I am glad you liked the design! I love graphic design and filming. A few years ago my form 1 teacher taught us how to use photoshop and other graphic programs, and I have been interested ever since. I use a free graphic design program call GIMP to design things now. Earlier this year I did work experience with a graphic designer and that really helped me. I made a large animal rights poster and helped design coupons and posters for a give-away.  As well as the design for Coexisting with Nonhuman Animals, I have made a few websites, some leaflets, some web banners, and a YouTube video called, “Why Vegan?”

What are your academic interests?  Where do you see this leading you?
My favorite subjects are English, Business Studies and Social Studies. I would love to get involved with things like political science, sociology and philosophy. One day I would like to set up a vegan/fair trade business or do marketing and graphic design.  I would also like to teach philosophy, especially ethical philosophy.

Do you plan to continue advocating for veganism?  Do you have other issues you want to work on?
Yes, I am definitely going to continue advocating for veganism. Early next year, I am planning on having an information stall about abolitionist veganism with pamphlets from Gary Francione, Peaceful Prairie Sanctuary, (hopefully) the NZ Vegan Society and others.  I see all oppression as being intertwined, so I support people who spend their time advocating for human rights, although I dedicate most of my time advocating veganism.
What do you do to counterbalance all the advocacy? (sport, music, hobbies)
I love music and play the bass and electric guitar.  I am really into hardcore music, especially metalcore. I sing and play the bass and rhythmic guitar in my band, Chaos Theory. I play hockey and snowboard in winter and mountain bike in summer. I am particularly interested in downhill biking and jumping.

Who do you admire or look up to? Who is the example you most want to follow, in your family or in the movement?
Vincent Guihan, Gary Francione, Elizabeth Collins, Jordan Wyatt and Roger Yates, among many more.

Are you a guardian of any animals? Do you have any relationships with particular animals in your life that led you to want to champion their cause, or see them as fellow earthlings?
Yes. I live with heaps of nonhumans!  Two dogs, two cats, two goats (both rescued from a milk farm), a lamb (rescued from a meat farm), a horse and ten ex-battery hens. In particular my relationships with my dog Lucy and my lamb Daffy (have impacted me).  I have always recognized cats and dogs as moral persons because of Lucy, but I only started recognizing farm animals as moral persons because of my relationship with Daffy. She was originally being raised to be slaughtered and eaten and the more I interacted with her, the more I realized that it is wrong to exploit and kill animals like her.
How about eating vegan at home or where you live; is that difficult?
Being vegan is extremely easy.  Pretty much anyone can be vegan at any time of their life.  My Mum is vegetarian, so normally the vegetarian option is either vegan, or easily veganized by replacing a few ingredients.  There are a lot of farmers in New Zealand, especially dairy farmers, and farming is seens as a large part of New Zealand culture. This can make talking to others about veganism a challenge, because almost everyone is related to smoeone who makes a living off animal exploitation.  However, veganism is certainlhy growing and our vegan society has just reopened, which is awesome.

What are your hopes for the future for animals? For yourself?
I hope that animal exploitation and their status as property will be made illegal.  Obviously, that is a long way from where we are now, but I think it is definitely a possible goal to aim toward. In the more immediate future, we need as many ethical vegans as possible.  The more vegans we have, the less animals are exploited. For myself, I hope to become a more effective advocate and convince as many people to go vegan as possible.  Before vegans have any political power, we need to increase our numbers.

What would  you recommend to anyone wanting to make a difference in the lives of animals?
First, go vegan. The only way to stop animal exploitation is to stop contributing to it. If you are already vegan, then help others go and stay vegan through nonviolent, creative vegan advocacy. Whether that is a podcast, an information stall, a blog, a website, leafleting, street art, food giveaways, or anything else, the most important thing is that you are promoting veganism and the abolition of animal exploitation.

Be sure to check out Food for Thought, Sam’s radio show. Personally, I can hardly wait to see what Sam is doing at twenty-five!