THE BELIEVER: I’d like to ask you a little about your history and about how your ideas developed. You were one of the early members of PETA. You worked with Ingrid Newkirk and were very close friends with her. How did you become involved with that group?
GARY FRANCIONE: In 1982, I was clerking on the Supreme Court for Justice Sandra Day O’Connor in Washington. I was a vegetarian, and had never even heard the word vegan, and I was unaware (literally) that there were people who did not eat dairy products or wear wool, etc. In any event, I used to pick up stray dogs on Capitol Hill and bring them into the Court. I would call the Washington Humane Society to come get them, and one day they sent Ingrid Newkirk over. She suggested that I consider becoming a vegetarian. I told her that I had been one since 1978, and she told me that she and her friend Alex Pacheco had started a new group called People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. She wanted to introduce me to Alex. We had dinner at our apartment the following Friday night.
Shortly after arriving, Ingrid, not a shy person, got up and opened the refrigerator and yelled, “What is this cow pus doing in here?” It took me a second to realize that she was talking about the milk. I responded that I did not see what was wrong about drinking milk, as the cows were not killed in the process. Before you gasp, remember that we are talking about it being 1982. The level of knowledge was worse then than it is now. Ingrid replied, “What do you think happens to them? Do you think they die of old age? How can someone obviously so smart be so stupid?” She then proceeded to pour my milk down the sink and dump all my ice cream in the garbage. That’s how we became friends. It was a rather interesting way to start a relationship.