Journalist and TV host Jane Velez-Mitchell is a feisty, feminist, lesbian, vegan eco-warrior who's determined to change the world. Her new book iWant is about overcoming our addictions and over-consumption. She spoke with Katrina Fox.
At the beginning of 2009, you got your own show Issues with Jane Velez-Mitchell on CNN's sister network HLN. Is this your dream gig?
Absolutely it is my dream job. One of the reasons it is my dream job is that now and then I get to insert something about compassion for animals and it dovetails with human health and the environment. I talked to Ingrid Newkirk about factory farming and the conditions of pigs in gestation crates and there are a number of scientists who believe that these horribly cruel conditions create an environment in factory farming that is so horrific for these animals that their immune systems get weakened and they are prone to disease.
People used to say to me: 'You care about animals, why don't you care about people?' And I'm like, 'It's not about man versus nature anymore. What's good for animals is good for people and what's bad for animals is bad for people.'
How did you begin your journey of social activism?
I talk about this in my new book iWant. I went through this journey when I got sober first. That was the key because without sobriety you don't do anything to change the world and make it a better place, so as a recovering alcoholic with 14 years of sobriety now, I can look back and see various parts of this journey that continue. It's not like I solved all my problems but once I got sober I had to confront the world around me and be more honest
That's one of the reasons I admitted to myself and eventually came out as a gay American and I wouldn't have done that if I hadn't got sober - I didn't have a bottle of Chardonnay to hide behind.
I also had to get honest about the world around me. I'd always had compassion for animals but never really followed through. I was this sort of vegetarian that ate shellfish. Then I met Howard Lyman, the author of Mad Cowboy who was on Oprah. I did an interview with him and he asked if I ate dairy and I said yes and he called it 'liquid meat'. From then on I went vegan in that moment and have never looked back. It radically transformed my health - the colds I had every year went and my energy levels went up.