Since my initial interview with Anai Rhoads (now Anai Rhoads Ford) in 2003, much has been said and done with regards to animal rights and the politics thereof. So I decided to create a part 2 and interview her again. I asked many questions on the phone but narrowed it down to these. I'm not a great speller so ignore the mistakes!!!
Chow: Do you feel the Animal Rights community have made advances since 2003?
Rhoads Ford: There will always be victories and losses, much like anything else. As long as more join and those who are established in this activism remain, things are only bound to get better.
Chow: How do you feel about animal rights extremism? Do you support all or part of it?
Rhoads Ford: I don't support it at all. I think if you're going to call yourself a pacifist, you better know what it means. Using such extreme tactics against humans is defeating the purpose, humans are animals afterall.
Chow: The U.S. government considers these people terrorists, do you agree?
Rhoads Ford: Some may be considered "terrorists" for their actions. I don't necessarily agree with this government's definition however. If a teenager expresses his or her angst by breaking windows at some facility, they are arrested for assaulting property, but when an organization does it - they are considered terrorists. All charges relating to these crimes are set at a different standard when it comes to animal rights cases. That, I feel, is absurd.
Chow: Are you saying it's ok to do these things?
Rhoads Ford: Not at all. Again - pacifism. There are so many avenues one can take to expose animal cruelty that it can be done more civilly than that.
Chow: You are listed at the top of a page on the Animal Liberation Front (ALF)'s website. Doesn't this show some sort of support on your behalf?
Rhoads Ford: No. They use my articles for the sake of news. The notice on their website doesn't say that I agree with them, it is just a gateway to my animal rights news. I am on Conservative websites too, but it doesn't mean I am one.
Chow: The government is cracking down on organizations like ALF and ELF, do you think you will be targeted? And do you think you were ever monitored for what you write?
Rhoads Ford: I was monitored from 2002 up until the beginning of 2005. I had several incidents, such as fingerprinting and intimidation tactics by individuals and agencies that made it clear that I was of some interest to "someone". But none of it deterred or phased me. I still believe I didn't and still don't do anything that is worrysome or interesting enough to monitor.
Chow: A lot has changed since 2003, you got married! What does your husband do and does he support or agree with what you do?
Rhoads Ford: Yes, thus my new name. We married in 2004 when he was still working for the People For Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). He supports anything and everything I do, he is really great.
Chow: What are your feelings on PETA?
Rhoads Ford: I was once a supporter, but I no longer support them for a host of reasons. None of which have to do with my husband's employment there.
Chow: Do you think PETA is sincere?
Rhoads Ford: Far from it. They do "some" good, but their corporate style and internal undemocratic environment is disheartening. I saw people hired and fired over nothing, but more notably for not being compatible with Ingrid NewKirk's tightfisted rules. My husband left to pursue a job with the ACLU, but says he enjoyed working there while he was there however.
Chow: Do you think organizations like PETA are ok?
Rhoads Ford: I think grassroots organizations serve the public and animals far better than ones like PETA.
Chow: On your online bio's, it says you have a child now. Did you maintain a Vegan lifestyle throughout the pregnancy?
Rhoads Ford: I had food adversions that limited my protein intake severely, so I was forced to eat dairy to compensate for it. The dairy caused severe anemia which led to a life or death situation as I was approaching my third trimester. I opted for the organic dairy products, but I knew the dairy itself was going to be a problem. For those who think dairy is healthy, they should really reconsider eating it - especially during their pregnancies. Dairy causes your hemoglobin to drop, thus causing anemia. Bruce Friedrich had written an article that connected anemia with dairy intake, which I highly recommend.
Chow: Are you Vegan again now?
Rhoads Ford: Yes. I know too much about the topic to not be Vegan.
Chow: Is your baby Vegan?
Rhoads Ford: At the moment she is vegetarian due to the formula she is required to drink. She did not fair well with Soy formula. When she turns 1 in July, she will be Vegan when she no longer needs the formula. She loves fruits and vegetables, grains, and legumes, so she will do great as a Vegan.
Chow: What would you tell parents who want to introduce Vegan foods to their baby's diet?
Rhoads Ford: If you're not Vegan, I wouldn't suggest it. If you already are a Vegan, and understand nutrition, then go for it. For those who are serious about it and aren't already Vegan, I would suggest making meals that are balanced with protein - note a baby cannot tolerate more than 3 grams of protein a day until they are 1 years old - and of course veggies, fruits, etc. They should ask a Vegan friendly nutritionst before they proceed.
Chow: I notice you are anti-vaccine. Is it because vaccines are not Vegan?
Rhoads Ford: I am not totally against vaccines. Polio and other serious diseases require vaccines on a global level. I do not agree with vaccinating infants and toddlers unless there is some ultimate threat. At the moment, it is clear that the cons outweigh the pros. Vaccines have preservatives that are dangerous, and when given to a child that is susceptable to Autism and have other serious reactions, the result can be devastating. Many children die from vaccines. Make it a point to research everything before deciding.
Chow: Do you plan to vaccinate your child later?
Rhoads Ford: That is a good question, but one I cannot answer right now. If vaccine makers made it a point to protect children from these preservatives and artificial ingredients, and decided to make them safer overall, I may consider it. I really don't see that happening however. It's a dangerous business, and a very profitable one.
Chow: I read your article on vaccine waivers. Why shouldn't parents just sign the waiver?
Rhoads Ford: By not signing it you are empowering your rights as a parent for starters. Secondly, by signing it, you are acknowledging that you are responsible in the event that your child become ill. Yet, your doctor won't sign anything that acknowledges the risks of vaccines and compensation for the end result. What does that tell you?
Chow: What would you suggest parents do if they are confronted with a doctor that demands the waiver or the vaccinations?
Rhoads Ford: Fire the doctor. Find one that will listen and accept your beliefs. It is not illegal to not vaccinate your child, and you don't have to sign anything you don't agree with - ever. Try a naturpathic, or call ahead to a prediatrician and ask their policy before bringing your child in. We interview our babysitters, but rarely do we interview a doctor. That's insane to me.
Chow: Finally, what are your thoughts on Iraq.
Rhoads Ford: A mess. What can I say? Women and children are in constant fear of rape, domestic abuse is on the rise, men can't go to work without fear of not making it there or back. U.S. soldiers are dying, many have limited access to mental health and medicine. They lack proper equippment for their vehicles. Most mothers and fathers here are tormented on daily basis, not knowing if their child will come home alive.
Chow: Do you think Bush's support for the war is on the decline?
Rhoads Ford: There is a minority of people left who support the President. I believe they either profiting from the war, ignorant, racist, or just too stubborn to admit they were wrong to support Bush in the first place. I have to hand it some Conservatives though, they are backing away from him now.
Chow: Do you predict Iraq will be stable soon?
Rhoads Ford: I predict it will take another 20 years or more for Iraq to finally stabilize. The Iraqis were under a terrible regime for over two decades, they suffered a great deal under the U.S. sanctions where nearly a million children under the age of 5 died, and to finally have this war, I mean, hell it's going to take a long while for them to get where they once were, if at all.
Chow: I noticed some organizations stopped supporting the peace effort. Have you?
Rhoads Ford: Organizations such as Education for Peace in Iraq Center (EPIC) have turned their back on the anti-war movement, but have set goals for the military to remain in Iraq to assist the civilians, and for the sake of the stability of their country. I understand Eric Gustafson is losing ground in the anti-war community for insisting that the U.S. military stay longer in Iraq. In a way, I can agree with him, in the sense that Iraqis are in need of support, but in other another way I tend to disagree. The U.S. military in Iraq isn't always helpful, some are killing for sport or targeting women and children for the sake of rape and other abuse. Many soldiers don't support this war, and there are too many with post-traumatic stress disorder who need help too. An occupying power is never without blame.
Chow: Finally, how can others reach you for interviews or quotes for their articles?
Rhoads Ford: I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
PS Please let me know if you need some of these quotes or contact her to ask permission.