Leah Garcés is the president of Mercy For Animals. She has partnered with some of the world’s largest food companies on her mission to end factory farming. Leah has nearly 20 years of leadership experience in the animal protection movement.
She oversaw international campaigns at the World Society for the Protection of Animals and launched Compassion in World Farming in the United States. The New York Times, the Washington Post, Buzzfeed, Vice magazine, the Chicago Tribune, and other national and international media outlets have featured her work. She is a contributing writer for Food Safety News and serves on the advisory boards of Encompass and Seattle Food Tech.
Leah is also the author of GRILLED: Turning Adversaries into Allies to Change the Chicken Industry, published by Bloomsbury in September 2019. Part memoir, part activist tell-all, Grilled illustrates how her fight to end factory farming and construct a compassionate food system led Leah to collaborate with unlikely allies in the food industry. It’s a must-read for new and veteran animal advocates, as well as those looking to learn more about the food industry—and how to change it.
We sat down with Leah to learn more about her vision for the organization. Be sure to follow her on Twitter.
Tell us a little about yourself.
Leah Garcés: I am half Colombian and half American and have lived in Spain, the United States, and the U.K. For eight years I served as the executive director of Compassion in World Farming USA, focusing primarily on reducing the suffering of chickens raised for meat. Before that, I spent seven years at the World Society for the Protection of Animals. I oversaw a $17 million budget and a campaigns and programs team of 80 staff members in 14 countries. My husband and I are vegan, and we are raising our three kids to be vegan. I went vegetarian when I was 15 and have been vegan for almost a decade.
What’s your vision for Mercy For Animals?
Leah Garcés: I envision this organization becoming even stronger and more effective, a model for the whole movement—not just in terms of our strategic accomplishments but in terms of the way we cherish and support our staff, the brilliant activists who dedicate their lives to this cause. My mission is to see Mercy For Animals reach its full potential.
What do you hope to accomplish in the next year?
Leah Garcés: In late 2018 I worked diligently with staff to lay out an ambitious three-year strategy with clear and measurable global objectives. This is our blueprint. It’s a public document—visible to all of you. It’s our promise to you and the animals. Now that we have the blueprint in place, we will continue to do what we have always done: make strides toward ending factory farming. We’ll report back on each exciting step of progress we make: each corporate policy secured, each investigation exposing cruelty, each institutional commitment to reducing animal products, and each effective way we reach millions of people with our message.
What excites you most about Mercy For Animals?
Leah Garcés: One of the most exciting areas to me is the international work. Factory farming is growing rapidly around the world, and I’m glad to see Mercy For Animals at the forefront of stopping the growth of this cruel and unsustainable system. I’m also excited about the investigative work. It’s critical that we continue to bring the truth of how animals are treated in our food system to the public eye.
What’s your family’s favorite meal?
Leah Garcés: Butternut Squash Mac ’n’ Cheeze from Oh She Glows. It’s rich and delicious, and my kids love it!
Do you live with any companion animals?
Leah Garcés: I have two cats, Honey and Sumo. They sleep with the kids every night.
Is there anything else you’d like Mercy For Animals supporters to know?
Leah Garcés: I’m excited to get to know you and thank you for all you do to make the world a better place.