We had the good fortune of connecting with Judie Mancuso and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Judie, what’s one piece of conventional advice that you disagree with?
When I was a kid, the conventional advice was you must eat from the four food groups to be healthy, that milk was essential for your bones and teeth, and you had to have meat for protein. Little did I know how much propaganda was literally being fed to us. Eating animal products was hammered into my head. Then, as a young adult, I was introduced to some new and revolutionary ideas at the time, that you could be healthier if you avoided meat and dairy. Not only are there great health benefits, but avoiding these foods also have enormous positive impacts to our environment and for the poor suffering animals being raised, exploited, fished, and slaughtered for these foods. To this day, many people are still buying into the big lie from the meat, dairy, and fishing industries. I read three books during that time, which sent me on my way to now being a vegan for 28 years. ‘Diet for a New America’ and “May All be Fed” by John Robbins and ‘Vegan Nutrition: Pure and Simple’ by Dr. Michael Klaper. These books introduced me to the science behind our diets and gave me the freedom to let go of my ingrained attachments to the four food groups; that in fact, there was a better alternative path to health, one that is led with facts, compassion, and environmentalism.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I think what sets Social Compassion in Legislation apart from other advocacy groups is that we merge our unwavering dedication and energy to protecting and saving animals from abuse and needless death with a deep understanding of the political machinery at hand. We believe that there is room and need for all forms of advocacy, but we feel that in order to change the paradigm, creating or changing laws must be at the core. Starting Social Compassion in Legislation came about organically through a series of events and decisions in my personal life. Along the way, I had to overcome a lot of challenges, while making sure to learn and adjust accordingly to achieve our goals. It hasn’t been easy, but nothing in life that is worth fighting for usually is. Knowing we have saved animals from torture and death by changing laws makes the struggle worthwhile, but with all the abuse there never seems to be a finish line. So every year marks the beginning of a new fight for the animals.
I believe I’ve gotten to where I am professionally, and have been able to bring Social Compassion in Legislation to where it is today, by always being willing to speak up for the animals, even when it is uncomfortable. I’ve always found compassionate solutions to problems, been able to figure out what is politically viable, and applied all necessary resources to make it happen. I’ve learned how difficult it is for people to hear and recognize that society is complicit in the terrible suffering of living beings on a massive scale. It’s not popular to stand up and say this is not the moral way to treat animals and the easy path is to turn a blind eye to the suffering. I believe my willingness to continually take that stand over and over again, regardless of how unpopular it is to hear, is what has gotten me and my group to where we are today.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Take a drive down Sunset Blvd and continue on PCH through Malibu and back, stopping off for dinner at Nic’s on Beverly. Drive up Mulholland to the famous lookout point and take in the big view and have dinner at Crossroads Kitchen.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Others that deserve credit and who are integral to my story and success are: Keely Shaye Smith (Brosnan) who was my neighbor and friend in Hollywood in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Keely was interviewing John Robbins and Dr. Michael Klaper for an ABC show she was on at the time. Robbins, Klaper, and others may not have been put on my radar if Keely did not make the intro to them, along with other important animal rights issues she was covering, from the plight of marine mammals to dogs and cats being put down in animal shelters. Also, my ex-husband for supporting me in the early years and encouraging me to take the risk in leaving my full-time job to be a full-time volunteer for the animals.
Huge credit goes to all our board members, donors and supporters to my nonprofit groups, most of which have turned into lifelong friends and all are the pillars to our success. Donations support our team of lobbyists and other professional resources needed to go up against the largest corporations and industries year after year.
Credit also goes to the big animal and environmental groups that have helped with some of the largest bills we have taken on: PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), PCRM (Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine), CBD (Center for Biological Diversity), and ethical corporations LUSH, and JPMS (John Paul Mitchell Systems) by providing testimony, evidence, science, and other support needed to get to the finish line — and win! The California state bills they helped with include: eliminating wild animals in circuses, banning the sale of some exotic skins, ending all fur trapping, requiring vegan meal options in hospitals and prisons, and prohibiting the sale of cosmetics and personal hygiene products tested on animals sold in California.
And last, but absolutely not least, credit goes to the brave elected officials, willing to author our sponsored bills and take on the fight with us for the greater good. We cannot do it without them.