Stories that change the way the world treats animals.
Chris Kerr: The Godfather of Vegan Venture Capital
“We spent 50 years fighting industry and I mean, fighting industry. And we were poking a bear and poking a bear and poking a bear. And then one day that bear came up and just nuzzled us under the neck and said, “okay, we're interested.” …It was industry, it was the big players that came in and said, “why are we fighting this? If consumers are asking for plant-based, we can sell plant-based.’” – Chris Kerr
Chris Kerr is on a mission to upend the entire food industry.
Chris is the Chief Investment Officer at Unovis/New Crop Capital, a venture capital fund that invests in entrepreneurs whose products or services replace foods derived from animal agriculture. He is also the co-founder and CEO of Gathered Foods, known for its Good Catch plant-based seafood products, the co-founder and Director of Wicked Foods, and the director of Cultivated Food Labs.
Chris is one of the first people that helped direct early-stage investments for plant-based food companies. He’s been focused on impact investing with a concentration on the plant-based food sector since 2007, when he worked with the Humane Society of the United States to manage their investments into the plant-based food industry and played a key role in helping Daiya cheese secure distribution in Whole Foods Market.
“You can't rescue your way out of the animal protection world, you just can’t. So, what can we do to actually do to change it at its base? If we can change people's opinion about eating plants, eating something other than animals, then maybe we wouldn't have to keep hitting them over the head with the ethical and moral baseball bat.” – Chris Kerr
Chris is helping some of the top plant-based companies through investment funding and mentorship, all with the goal of accelerating the plant-based food industry and moving the world away from eating animals.
I hope that you learn as much as I did from Chris and are as excited about what’s happening with the future of food. Please listen and share.
Leah Garcés and Michael Pellman Rowland: Transfarmation
“There's $5 billion of debt collectively from contract chicken farmers. It's enormous. You're just treading water. You're just paying the bills and it starts off great, in the sense that you think you're going to make enough money. But you end up just paying bills and never getting ahead. And that's very typical.” – Leah Garcés
Over the past few decades, people have become increasingly aware of the that factory farming is destroying the planet and most know that its abhorrently cruel and inhumane for animals. But most people still don’t realize that many farmers are also exploited, in massive debt and living far below the poverty line because of it.
The Transfarmation Project aims to change that by freeing farmers from the confines of factory farming and the cycle of debt by helping them transition to plant-based farming.
“The project is about creating constructive solutions, where we come in and work with communities, with farmers, finding alternatives. Especially alternative economies or alternative ways of farming that move farmers away from factory farming to something that's regenerative and sustainable and is creating a compassionate food system.” – Leah Garces
Leah Garcés, the President of Mercy for Animals and Michael Pellman Rowland, a financial advisor and a Mercy for Animals Board Member spoke with me about Transfarmation at a live event in December. Please listen and share - this project is going to change the world for millions of animals and for farmers across the planet.
Daniel Fox: Feel the Wild
“Scientists have made this study and experiment… people would actually feel bad for the butterfly because now it's ready to come out of its cocoon, so they would open the cocoon for it. They would slice it open to make it easier for the butterfly to come out. And it turns out that even doing that weakens the butterfly, because that effort of breaking the cocoon and spreading your wings is a necessity to become more resilient and stronger in life” – Daniel Fox
Daniel Fox is a photographer, solo wilderness explorer, author of FEEL THE WILD, founder of Feel the Wild VR, a LEXUS ambassador, SANDISK Extreme Team member, SENNHEISER Artist, publisher of the Proust Nature Questionnaire, and founder/mentor of WILD.ECO, a non-profit with a mission to foster resilient, empowered, adaptable, curious, and empathetic students of life, using Nature as a framework for personal transformation.
Daniel and I spoke early in the pandemic – mostly about nature: how it heals, how it teaches, and why we so desperately need it right now.
On this very last day of this very strange year, this episode serves as a reminder to connect. To connect with ourselves, with one another and with nature. Because in nature we can heal, start over, and remember who we are and why we’re here. In nature we can remember that we are all one.Happy New Year! Let’s hope for a better one.
Thomas King: Plant-based Wunderkind
“…From everything that I'd learned and from everything that I'd seen, I came to realize that our food and how we produce it, particularly products of industrial animal agriculture links to almost every issue I'd worked on from biodiversity loss to climate change to food insecurity.” – Thomas King
Thomas King is the founder and CEO of Food Frontier, a food innovation think tank dedicated to diversifying the world's food supply through the development of alternatives proteins.
For the last decade Thomas has driven food systems and environmental and poverty alleviation initiatives across five continents.
Thomas is 24 years old.
At 13, he launched an awareness campaign about deforestation caused by unsustainable palm oil production, which catapulted him right into the deep end of advocacy where he has lived ever since.
At 18, he was named Victoria's Young Australian of the year for his environmental and humanitarian work.
Aryenish Birdie: Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Animal Protection
“I think that when the animal protection movement really started gaining hold in the seventies... in the United States at least, I think there was a lot of harm done in the ways that we messaged the connections between humans in marginalized communities and animals. And I think that there's also a dynamic where… communities of color are often struggling for basic rights, basic needs to be met. And so, fighting for others is kind of a nice to have.” - Aryenish Birdie
Aryenish Birdie is founder and Executive Director of Encompass, an organization that is fighting to increase effectiveness in the animal protection movement by fostering greater racial diversity, equity, and inclusion while empowering advocates of color.
Before founding Encompass, Aryenish was a federal lobbyist at the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. She was part of a four-woman team instrumental in reforming the Toxic Substances Control Act to ensure that animal protection language was integrated into the law.
Damien Mander: The Anti-Poaching Crusader
“Even the first morning we saw a toughness, a certain toughness that I hadn't been experienced to. What we didn't realize with selection criteria that we're putting out there, is that we're actually getting the toughest in those communities. Not only in these communities, I mean, you're talking about one of our poorest places in one of the harshest areas on the planet, The Zambezi Valley and the life of a woman in rural Zimbabwe in the Zambezi Valley is it's not an easy one.
And so we thought, with all this military selection, we were going to put them through what we perceived to be torture - putting them through the, what we in the military term, the four pillars of misery: to be hungry, cold, tired, and wet for extended periods of time and physical and mental strain.
The thing is, the harder we pushed these women the more they smiled.” Damien Mander
Damien Mander is the founder and CEO of the International Anti-Poaching Foundation (IAPF).
He is a former Australian Royal Navy clearance diver and a special operations military sniper who became an anti-poaching crusader and an environmental and animal welfare activist.
In 2009, while traveling through Africa, he was inspired by the work of rangers and the plight of wildlife. He liquidated his life savings and established the International Anti-Poaching Foundation.
Over the past decade the IAPF has scaled to train and support rangers which now help protect over 20 million acres of African wilderness.
In 2017 Damien founded ‘Akashinga - Nature Protected by Women,’ an IAPF program that has already grown to over 240 employees with 7 nature reserves in the portfolio. They are the only group of nature reserves in the world to be protected by women. And, these women are changing the game in terms of what it means to fight poaching.
Damien was featured in the James Cameron documentary The Game Changers and has now released another documentary with James Cameron and National Geographic about his work with the women of Akashinga – “The Brave One’s.”
He is a resident on the National Geographic Speakers Bureau, has spoken at the United Nations, featured in June 2019’s National Geographic Magazine, and has been featured three times on 60 Minutes. And, if you haven’t seen it, watch his TEDx Talk at the Sidney Oprah House, it’s just awesome.
It was an honor to spend time with Damien. He is a warrior, a hero and a man who understands what it means to never stop evolving
Customer ReviewsSee All
If you're curious at all about the natural world, and how humans / animals relate to each other, I can't recommend this enough. It's eye opening conversation after eye opening conversation with top animal experts. So well done.
Spreading awareness for animals!
Listened to episode “Carl Safina” becoming wild. Love the intro music. So great that a podcast like this is speaking up for other species. I resonate with Carl’s fascination with animals. They’ve always seemed so interesting to me.
His story about raising pigeons is very telling. It makes sense that at an early age he became accustomed to taking care of many animals. Having had dogs and cats, I recall watching them think and feeling they were practically human. They definitely have awareness and their lives deserve our respect. I found it very interesting Carl’s talk of the “blind spots” in our morality. Oblivious to the pain we inflict and finding ways to rationalize it.
Such a great podcast! Thank you for publishing this positive content. Spreading the message that animals feel! Respecting all life is so important. This is a leap in the right direction for us as human beings. Recommend this to anyone who loves animals or seeks to learn about how they think.
Enjoy the podcast, guests, and topics! One of a kind!