Tell us a little about yourself.
Izzy Jacobus was born in New Jersey and has lived in Williamsburg, Brooklyn for the past 14 years. He is 46 years old and after a career in music as a vocalist and composer, has been the Retail and Operations Manager for Brave GentleMan – the first cruelty-free and sustainable luxury menswear line in the world – and the Nutrition and Wellness Counselor at Brooklyn NP – the first vegan medical office in the world – and is one of the original founders of Vegans of New York. He is an animal rights activist, social justice advocate, community leader, speaker/educator, manager, and entrepreneur. Izzy’s current projects include the Animals First on the Second global vegan advocacy campaign and the forthcoming resources THEVEGANISTGuide.com and BeThyMedicine.com to be released in 2018/2019.
You can find Izzy here online:
IG – @izzyjacobus, @fastagainstslaughter, @THEVEGANISTGuide
Facebook groups and pages include THE VEGANIST, Animals First on the Second, THE VEGANIST Guide, Brotherhood of Vegan Men, Animals First
Web – fastagainstslaughter.org
What lead you to veganism?
For a few years, up until about five years ago, I was essentially disabled. After a succession of injuries and minor surgeries, I let my health deteriorate to a point where I was mostly bedridden, taking eight prescription medications daily, obese and continuing to decline. I began to search for documentaries and books on health and found things like Forks Over Knives and other plant-based nutrition films which led me to films about vegan ethics and began my journey overnight.
Tell us about our journey to activism?
After only a few months of being vegan, I co-founded Vegans of New York and soon took a job managing Brave GentleMan, the first vegan and sustainable luxury menswear line in the world and, later, also became the plant-based nutrition counselor at a vegan medical clinic, Brooklyn Nurse Practitioners. I ran VoNY for a couple of years and then left to pursue other projects and recently left Brave GentleMan as well. I also began circus protests, vegan outreach and various forms of activism within the first few months of my vegan life.
Why are you an activist?
I believe the purpose of life is to leave the world a better place than you found it.
What type of activism are you involved in?
I have participated in most types of activism but I am most interested in things related to vegan education/outreach.
What were your thoughts and feelings before your first activism event?
I was nervous about how to represent myself and the cause and unsure about how I would react to people’s negativity.
How did you feel once the event was over?
I was encouraged to do more and exhilarated at the idea of awakening minds.
How do you feel you are most effective as an activist?
I feel that I am most useful as an organizer, educator, motivator, and creator.
What’s been your most memorable moment as an activist? Toughest moment?
My most memorable moments were doing vegan outreach with VoNY in concert with the Be Fair Be Vegan billboard in Times Square and doing an open rescue during Kaporos in Brooklyn. I think
Kaporos is the toughest. It is a horrible spectacle and the participants in Kaporos are quite difficult to deal with.
What is your favorite type of activism?
I think the Cube of Truth and AFOTS are the most effective forms of advocacy.
Please recommend your favorite activism video/s, book/s or website/s to share?
Who are your activism role models? Why?
Gary Yourofsky. I appreciate his style, technique and talking points.
When you first went vegan how did you phase out your non-vegan food, clothing and other items?
I went from eating 6 egg whites for breakfast and chicken breasts between meals for “extra protein” to eating 100% plant-based in one day. From working in fashion, I had a large shoe collection which sat in my closet for nearly a year but I could never get myself to wear any of again. I wore the same canvas shoes every day for many months, including wearing them at a snowy winter circus protest.
Do you believe we should show children the process of how animals are turned into products?
I do believe children should learn those truths. (Age Dependent)
1. Utilizing things like Ruby Roths books.
2. Conversations during non-graphic video and trips to sanctuaries.
3. All of the same ways that I would teach an adult, especially using the known documentaries.
What does being vegan mean to you?
Veganism is one of my main guiding precepts. I don’t believe that focusing on details and grey areas is helpful. While the loudest and most passionate/engaged vegans have similar limits and boundaries, the rest of the vegan population has a wide range of grey areas and differences. Policing the details of someone else’s veganism is a waste of time and detrimental to the movement, especially telling someone that they “are not vegan” for engaging in a particular action (unless they are literally chewing on someone’s leg or trying on their brand new animal skin coat).
Is it every vegan’s duty to become an activist? What form of activism do you take part in?
I do not believe it is everyone’s duty and I think it may be detrimental to push that idea. Many pre-vegans may balk at engaging if you express that they must adhere to incurably rigid ideals and that they must become active.
Are you the activist you want to see in the world? Why?
I believe I am. I am well-informed. I have educated myself. I choose activism that I believe is the most functional. I try to meet people “where they are.” I represent myself and the movement in a healthy, strong and inviting way.
What is the activism scene like in your city?
I live in NYC, in Williamsburg, Brooklyn which I call Little Veganville and might be the most vegan neighborhood on the planet. The scene here is quite active, diverse and well-known.
What personal recommendations can you make for people to get involved in activism?
I suggest trying out various forms of activism and finding where your strengths can be applied.
What do you feel is your biggest area of opportunity for growth in your activism?
I hope to grow into more speaking roles at larger events.
How do you balance your well being and activism?
I do not force myself to be in the streets too often. I use exercise and artistic expression, reading, and creative writing and other leisure activities to keep myself balanced.