Many people claim to be animal lovers, but Jessica Carlson walks the talk. “We humans love our dogs and cats, yet we eat pigs and cows. One should not be treated any different from the other,” says Carlson, director of a northwest Pennsylvania early-childhood education center.
Passionate about animal-rights issues since she was a child, Jessica became a vegetarian at the age of 16 and went totally vegan seven years ago at the age of 30. She doesn’t wear animal products, such as wool and leather, nor does she buy items that contain animal ingredients or are tested on animals.
“My overarching philosophy of the relationship of humans to animals is that both can reside peacefully and happily beside each other,” says Jessica. “There’s no reason to cause pain and suffering to animals, when there are alternatives that serve the same purpose.”
Jessica involves herself with the Humane Society of the United States, Farm Sanctuary, PCRM (Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine), and many other organizations. In 2013, Jessica organized the Erie Vegan Meetup Group, which currently has 89 members. Often coordinating dinner Meetups with local eating establishments, Jessica says it helps build a relationship with them. “The goal is to educate them more about eating vegan, so down the road, they might start adding vegan options to their menu.”
As a daycare director, the health of Jessica’s students is important to her, so she introduced Meatless Mondays to her facility. “We help educate our families about the benefits of a plant-based diet to address health concerns and the environment,” she says.
Future goals for Jessica include starting a blog as an outlet to discuss vegan and animal-rights topics. She’d also like to work with northwest Pennsylvania communities to adopt Meatless Mondays.
In addition to advocating for all animals, Jessica and her husband, Matt, share their home with four cats, three dogs, two guinea pigs, and a chinchilla.