This summer, Jackson Long, a passionate outdoor adventurer and world traveler, embarked on an epic cycling adventure across Europe to raise money for Mercy For Animals and raise awareness about the benefits of a vegan diet.
Jackson has raced bikes at the elite level for the past 10 years, competing in countries including Ireland, Germany, Italy, and Belgium.
He’s also co-host of the podcast Thought For Food, which aims to help people adopt a healthy and adventurous plant-based lifestyle.
We chatted with Jackson before he left about everything from his adventure to his passion for farmed animals.
What part of MFA’s work is closest to your heart?
Educating the masses about the realities of factory farming and the use of animals for various industries—I'm a firm believer in using education to persuade behavioral change. That’s how I came to adopt a plant-based lifestyle and grow more aware and passionate about these issues. I think MFA does an incredible job at sharing information with a wide audience and leveraging social media to catalyze positive change. Saving animals requires many forms of activism, and I'm excited about the way MFA approaches education.
What inspired you to support MFA in this way?
I tend to focus on the nutrition and health aspect of a vegan diet. With my background in science and athletics, it's what I'm most comfortable talking about to inspire others. I wanted to support an organization that directly fights for animal rights and welfare by raising awareness of the fact that you can have the best of both worlds: be a strong, healthy athlete while living in a way that aligns your morals and values with action.
What changes for farmed animals do you most want to see?
I want animals, from pigs to chickens to fish, to be viewed as individuals with desires and unique character traits and behaviors. We live in such a disconnected world, and I deeply desire a society more educated on the ethology of farmed animals and beyond so that we can gain a higher level of compassion and respect for all beings. Combining this with an awareness of how unnecessary it is to eat animals, I believe this could make an enormous difference.
Which one of MFA’s successes do you feel happiest about?
MFA's undercover investigations into Perdue found illegal activity and absolutely horrifying treatment of animals. Widespread outrage stimulated Perdue to significantly improve the welfare standards at its facilities. This seismic shift is becoming more and more common, and while not a perfect end to factory farming, it's a step in the right direction for reducing suffering for millions of animals. I think this is a clear sign of what's to come—changes in society's awareness about the realities of factory farming and realizing there is an alternative to this madness.
What part of your biking adventure are you most looking forward to?
I'm incredibly excited to push my body to its limits up some of the biggest, most historical mountains in Europe while sharing how I'm fueling as a plant-based athlete. I'm probably most excited to ride one of the toughest stages of the Tour de France the day before the pros race—from Nantua to Chambery. At 111 miles with over 15,000 feet of elevation gain, it's going to be an epic day that will certainly test our strength. But overall, I'm just grateful for the opportunity to travel in such a beautiful part of the world, share my experiences through video and social media, and raise awareness for vegan athletics by showing how easy it is to fuel yourself without contributing to animal suffering.
Want to learn more about Jackson's adventure? Subscribe to his podcast and YouTube channel. Also, watch this video he made after completing the nearly 900-mile journey.