Bob Linden at ARZone Live Chat, on Saturday, October 23, 2010. There were about thirty people in the chatbox, participating in the interview.
Erin: ARZone exists to promote rational discussion about our relations with other animals and about issues within the animal advocacy movement. Please continue the debate after a chat by starting a forum discussion or by making a point under a transcript.
Roger: Don’t forget to check out the new ARZone Q&A site, Words to Inspire: http://animalrightszone.blogspot.com/
Kate: Hello Bob. Welcome to ARZone. Hello everyone. Thanks for being here for what promises to be a very exciting chat with Bob Linden. It is due to start very soon.
Carolyn: ARZone would like to welcome Bob Linden as today’s chat guest. Bob Linden, host of GO VEGAN Radio, is a New York City native and graduate of Queens College of the City University of New York. Bob is a professional broadcaster and animal advocate. Bob’s radio career is extensive, and includes such achievements as the highest ratings ever at 98.1 KIFM in San Diego. During his extensive career at various broadcast radio networks, Bob geared stations toward participation in community service, particularly with regard to advancing animal and environmental causes. Despite his undeniable success in creating economically and commercially successful radio programming, Bob became increasingly conflicted about his role in contributing to industries that profit from the sale of animal products. These conflicts ultimately resulted in Bob's creation of his own talk radio show. GO VEGAN Radio is a one-hour talk radio programme. GO VEGAN Radio airs in the US on terrestrial radio via Clear Channel networks on Green 960 AM in San Francisco and K-TALK 1150 AM in Los Angeles, every Sunday between 5pm to 6pm ET. The show is also accessible via download, live-stream and free podcast. GO VEGAN Radio has been the subject of a full-page article written by Pulitzer-Prize winning LA Times media critic Howard Rosenberg as well as has been featured as Radio Show of the Week in the LA Daily News. Bob is also a successful events organiser and professional promoter. Bob played a major role in developing and promoting Vegan Earth Day Events, San Diego Fall-Fest and Worldfest-LA, for which he also emceed. He has served as Media Coordinator for F.A.R.M. (the Farm Animal Rights Movement) and the Great American Meatout. Bob has been a self-professed vegan for more than 25 years. Would you please join with me in welcoming Bob to ARZone today. Welcome, Bob!
(Many people type out their hellos and greetings to Bob, welcoming him to the ARZone site)
Bob: Thank you all. Great to be here with you.
Carolyn: Before we begin, I’d like to encourage participation in Bob’s chat from all members. If you wish to follow-up on one of Bob’s responses, please PM me so we may involve all members in a way that also allows Bob time to respond without interruption. Alternatively, feel free to wait until the open session when all members will be invited to engage Bob. I’d now like to ask Ben Hornby to ask Bob his first question for today.ahead, Ben.
Ben: Could you please explain what the early days of your radio programme were like for you, Bob? What was your inspiration to start a “Go Vegan” radio show and what difficulties did you face in those early days?
Bob: Hi, Ben. For many years, I was a professional broadcaster and animal rights activist, often resulting in conflict (as in what happens when a radio station where I work accepts fur advertising). After the consolidation of the radio industry in the US, there were fewer creative job options for me as a Program Director. So, animal rights took over my life, including organizing vegan festivals. When I was starting WorldFest in Los Angeles in 2000, I promoted the event on various stations in Southern California, including KRLA, where a producer there, Suzanne Lishon, suggested to me that with my background in animal rights and broadcasting, I should marry the two in a weekly broadcast and I should pursue some of the time available on that station. The station allowed me a couple of weeks to pursue advertising to cover the cost of the airtime, and I was successful in securing it. I had always imagined that I would create some kind of TV infomercial – “This is cows’ milk. Don’t drink it. This is soymilk. Drink it.” Instead, I would now translate my vegan and animal rights advocacy to radio, a medium with which I was very familiar. I also realized there had never been a vegan animal rights program on the air. What would it sound like? Anyhow, as I gathered advertising, I thought it would last a week, but it actually lasted ten years.
Roger: Hi, Bob. Some people may be surprised by your liberal attitude to the use of “mock meats” and non-dairy cheeses, etc., especially those who worry about “junk food veganism.” I’m with you on this, although I do not use meat analogues much. But what do people say against the use of these products?
Bob: Hi, Roger. To me, “meat” is the mockery of all things good, healthy, sustainable, and moral. Even the word itself is too innocent, too accepted as “food”. Since the real food in this world--fruits, vegetables, nuts, grains, seeds and legumes--can be prepared in textures and flavorings imitated by (non)”foods” derived from body parts and body secretions, “meat” is the mock “food”. A non-GMO soy hot dog or a nut burger has got to be infinitely better than corpse dogs and cadaver burgers, and the same would go for vegan cheese. It doesn’t get more deadly than animal protein, and the dairy protein is the carcinogen t6o, which Americans are most exposed. Insulin Growth Factor in dairy grows human breast and prostate tumors big and fast. And, dairy is tainted with growth hormones and antibiotics. Could any vegan cheese be any worse?
Tim: As a follow-up to the last question, considering that many of the vegan products on the market are produced by the same agribusinesses that profit from the sale of animal products, it would seem that those companies have an interest in keeping the price of vegan products high. These companies know that many vegans (at least those in the US & other wealthy Western countries) will pay dearly for vegan food, while they also know that the high prices of vegan food will dissuade the vast majority of people from ever buying them. If this is correct, are vegans making a mistake by buying vegan food from companies whose main business isn't vegan at all, when, in fact, vegan support of high-priced vegan food may increase the sales of lower-priced non-vegan alternatives?
Bob: Hi, Tim. It has always been distressing to me when a vegan company is bought by one engaged in animal exploitation. I no longer buy products from Lightlife since its purchase by ConAgra. I avoid Silk, not only because of its use of (primate-habitat–destroying) palm oil, but because it is owned by Dean “foods”, the largest dairy. What’s strange about it though (palm oil aside), is that because it is the largest dairy, Silk is on the shelf of every little drug store in Anytown, USA, introducing people to soymilk. What an imperfect world! Then, I keep thinking, what if these evil companies’ vegan food lines grow so much that they would have to shift production and discontinue their animal products.
Roger: The next question is from Jasonwho cannot make it for the chat. So, Carolyn Bailey will ask his question.
Carolyn: Hey, Bob. I’ve noticed a pattern of people displaying a lack of understanding of the importance in vegan advocacy of vegan foods and vegan cooking. I understand your radio show includes vegan cooking and recipes. Do you feel this is an important avenue in vegan advocacy? If so, why?
Bob: Hi, Jason. My life’s mission is to convince as many people as possible to GO VEGAN as soon as possible, by presenting the most compelling information regarding the alleviation of the suffering and murder of innocent animals, improving human health and social conditions, achieving environmental sustainability, etc. as well as by creating spaghetti with marinara sauce, hummus, soups, salads, smoothies, and international cuisine from around the world that is vegan, delicious, and nutritious. In many parts of the world, pre-vegans are visiting vegan restaurants and saying, “I can eat like this”. And isn’t it the obligation of every parent to explore vegan cuisine as the alternative to condemning his or her child to heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes, obesity, osteoporosis, and premature death?
Carolyn: Thanks again, Bob. Tammy McLeod has a question for you next, which I'll ask on her behalf. Bob, you've been vegan for 25 years. How challenging was it being vegan back then?
Bob: After handling and cooking a chicken’s body one night while attending Queens College in New York forever ago, I decided I couldn’t eat animals anymore, and have them tortured and killed for my consumption. I was the first “vegetarian” I knew, and had to think and learn my way through the process of eliminating sea creatures after first rationalizing that maybe the oceans are here to feed us and then picturing a fish gasping and suffocating; then there was realizing how harmful “harmless” cows’ milk, cheese, and eggs are. So, for me, in the beginning, it was a lot of rice and beans as well as vegetables, which wasn’t so bad. My discovery of tofu was like a hallelujah celebration. I liked early finds like Ice Bean as an ice cream substitute. I didn’t really like Soymage as a cheese substitute, but I got some about every six months, hoping for an improvement. It was nothing like the foods available today. Today, it’s learning about going vegan, and go vegan today!
Barbara: What form of activism have you found to be most effective and how to you weight that effectiveness? Do you?
Bob: I believe our time is best spent promoting veganism, and exposing the horrors of animal abuse from farms to laboratories to circuses – to whatever. I want to reach the most people possible, and as quickly as possible, so animal liberation media infiltration is what I think is best. Everybody start a radio show, a TV show, a cartoon, a movie, or take your megaphone to the streets.
Carolyn: Hi, Bob. Could you tell me how your radio programme is funded, please?
Bob: I have to purchase airtime every week. It’s not like when I was a Program Director and I would run a show like mine as a public service. So, I fund my show through a combination of sponsorships and advertising for vegan and cruelty-free products as well as through tax-deductible donations at www.GoVeganRadio.org.combination of sponsorships and advertising for vegan and cruelty-free products, and through tax-deductible donations at www.GoVeganRadio.org.
Roger: I was shocked listening to your Sept 5th, 2009 show -http://www.goveganradio.com:8484/shows/
Bob: I feel that there has been great deception, and that animal rights activists have unwittingly been turned into egg salesmen and pawns of animal exploitation. It is an educational process for all of us. I once collected signatures against steel leg-hold traps, later learning that the alternatives are worse. I thought we were all on the same side. But would the animals accept "humane" slaughter and veal-selleras a hero?
Bob: I don't accept the word "welfare". Nobody does "well". Everyone says "farewell", prematurely after a torturous life. I was shocked by the deception myself. It would take me too long to go into why I think HSUS is the animal exploitation industry.
Roger: Thanks for that Bob. I think it is good that more and more of us are questioning this notion of being on the “same side.” The truth is, some of “us” do not stand for the same things and do not want the same things. I’m so glad that you see that.
Bob: Dr Michael Greger argued with me last week how much better cage-free chicken liver pate is than foie gras. Who's on the side of the chicken? The vegans. HSUS said not to mention the VEGAN word when collecting Prop 2 signatures. On whose side is H$U$?
Tim: When some activists take part in protests, demonstrations and other direct action, their efforts are often looked down upon by many in the "movement" as being counter-productive because of the negative image of vegans and animal activists they help to create in the mind of the general public. Listening to the podcast of your show of 7/4/2010, one can hear you use quite a bit of "over the top" rhetoric. Do you consider these kinds of performances as necessary to break through the noise of mass media in order to bring attention to the cause?
Bob: Hi, Tim. What was that rhetoric? When am I not over the top?
Tim: Haha! I was thinking about your references to the Supreme Court.
Bob: The animals need all the help they can get. Who am I to judge what's effective? Theirs are the voices never heard. So, maybe we have to speak louder. I get arrested for using a megaphone all the time. The Supreme Court says it is free speech. And doesn't the Supreme Court need some help, thinking corporations are people? Monsanto recently hired Blackwater to infiltrate AR groups (HSUS). We have such a repressive society that the truth seems over the top.
Carolyn: You’ve interviewed over 500 people on your radio show. Are there any people or groups who stand out more than others? Any you find more interesting and independent?
Bob: Since veganism is about everything, it's been quite a parade. I have always found Ingrid Newkirk to be an inspirational speaker, but also people like, (vegan from getting grossed out by my show), Ramsey Clark, Supreme Master Ching Hai, and various celebs. was interesting because he wasn't vegan, but is a social activist against capital punishment. I pointed out how all animals are innocent but born into a death sentence. His eyes lit up. The next day, his office called me for vegan restaurant locations. There are always so many interesting guests, such as , Rod Coronado, etc. And, it's the subject matter they bring. For example, violence rate goes down 90% at prisons with a vegan program. Hard to single out!
Tim: Bob, as Carolyn mentioned, you have had a wide variety of guests on your program, covering many aspects and sides of the debates about animal rights versus animal welfare, Direct Action, Single-Issue campaigns, the health & environmental effects of veganism, and many others. Do you think that by hosting such a diversity of guests that you might be confusing your audience as to what you yourself stand for, or that you might be seen as endorsing all the views of those who you give a platform to?
Bob: That's an interesting question, Tim. I often look at this as my vegan, animal rights education. I was very pro-HSUS before Gary Francione was a guest. My priority is to do what's best for the animals. I hope that my position is clear that I don't think they should be used and exploited for anything. People will have to consider for themselves what they think is right. But a wide perspective can only be helpful.
Tim: May I ask a follow-up, Bob?
Bob: Of course.
Tim: Thanks. You mentioned Ingrid Newkirk. Do you see PeTA as part of the problem in the same way as HSUS is?
Bob: PETA seems to have become quite controversial among animal advocates. It has positions on euthanasia and "welfare" issues that make many activists unhappy, and I am not in complete agreement with all of PETA's policies. However, I do believe the world is a better place for so much of PETA's pro-vegan animal advocacy and its positions against vivisection, circuses, and on and on. HSUS says it does not advocate veganism or animal rights. When PETA opposes glue traps, NASA vivisection, animal sales in pet stores, action alerts to stop poisoning animals, etc., it is on the right side. But even the name “Humane Society” is deceptive; and it rakes in millions from people, thinking it takes care of puppies and kittens.
Sara: What PETA policies are you in agreement with?
Will: Hi, Bob. You always say that you need to purchase airtime and appeal for tax-deductible donations on every show. Is airtime really expensive? You are also sponsored by loads of organisations, including the megarich careerist animal welfarists of PeTA. Do you take a wage from all these donations?
Bob: Airtime is expensive. When I was on Air America, it was $3000 weekly. Now, I am self-syndicated.in Los Angeles costs $1000 weekly. GREEN 960 in SF is $400. We will be on in Portland, and are looking at New York and elsewhere. I have a tendency to leave sponsors' names on my website, long after receiving any money toward advertising. PETA, for example, advertised a year ago, as did IDA. So, it's not loads coming in. I have raised enough to rent air time over the years, but not enough to finance more than a financially challenged animal activist lifestyle. I receive no salary, but gas money, sometimes. The money has gone to keeping the show on the air. Whatever mega-welfare organizations you may see listed, THE PROGRAM IS ABOLITIONIST.
Brooke: Hey, Bob. Your usual introduction to Go Vegan With Bob Linden is an absolute scream. For those ARZone members unfortunate enough to not have heard it, can you give us a text rendition right now? Thanks.
Bob: Greetings welcome bienvenidos, hola, aloha, ne how (china), Namaste, konnichiwa, bon jour, buon giorno, Sawadee krup, guten tag, chào wivi vacat bang (vietnamese)/ Hafa Adai (guam) / salam/ shalom Peace. Now. Go Vegan. Peace. How? Go Vegan! From left coast, the genetically mutated-mcnugget pharmaceutiakill vivisection prison killatiary industrial corpornation in the cheese covered post-constitutional bankrupt bribocratic coropprtocarcy mocracry crimincrocracy of the United Steaks of listeria home of uncle salmonella where they sure eat a lot of murdered animals, this is GO VEGAN with Bob Linden.
Brooke: Thanks, Bob! Wow, great Intro!
Carolyn: Roger Yates has one more question for you, Bob, before we move into a brief open session, where we'll ask all members to engage Bob. Go ahead, Rog.
Roger: I was struck by the recent episode of the 33 Chilean miners that it seems odd that so much effort, time, and money can RIGHTLY go into the rescue of these men and yet society seems happy to buy feed for nonhuman animals rather than food for the starving who are dying at the rate of some 30,000 every DAY (incl. 9/11, 2001). I notice that you were similarly critical of the Chilean case in relation to other issues at the start of your last Go Vegan show. What are your thoughts on this?
Bob: I'm just amazed by our priorities. We spend a trillion dollars to fight twelve guys we call Al Qaeda, who will never hurt any of us. And we totally ignore meat and dairy that have already killed our family members as well as kills more Americans every year than all wars combined. Our brains can't function on a meat and dairy diet or we'd figure out some of this stuff.
Carolyn: At this stage, I’d like to sincerely thank Bob Linden for giving his time to ARZone today and responding to some great questions.