Alex Hershaft
Key Player

Founded the Farm Animal Reform Movement to promote a strict vegan diet; Advisory Board Member, Sea Shepherd Conservation Society“Effective presentations are crucial to the success of our effort to modify the behavior of the American people,” says Alex Hershaft, who has spent a quarter-century in the animal-rights movement. He joined the World Vegetarian Congress in 1975 and founded the Vegetarian Information Service in 1976.

In 1981, Hershaft founded the Farm Animal Reform Movement to promote a strict vegan diet. Hershaft acknowledges that meeting his goal of a meatless society would result in mass unemployment, but he brushes off the idea, claiming that “every social progress puts people out of work.” In fact, he once told a meat industry trade magazine that his organization wants the federal government “to enact a ‘sin tax’ on meat with money going toward retraining industry employees into socially useful jobs” — such as “growing and producing vegetables.”

In addition to his work in the animal-rights movement, Alex Hershaft is also a vocal advocate for the bizarre community that has sprung up around deviant sexual fetishes. In the spring of 2000, Hershaft delivered two presentations to an “alternative lifestyles” convention called the Leather Leadership Conference, which was held at the Washington (D.C.) Plaza Hotel. The event’s brochure announced “workshops to improve the management skills of leaders and activists in the S&M (sadism & masochism)/Leather/Fetish community.” Hershaft’s contribution consisted of delivering lectures entitled “Winning Public Minds and Libidos” and “The Making of a BDSM Activist.” Shortly after the event, the Leather Leadership Conference quietly removed Hershaft’s name from the on-line conference program; the Internet, though, has a long memory: Google’s Internet archive still points to previous (complete) versions of the event’s schedule.

All of this, of course, raises one question: does Hershaft play his games with real leather? Somehow, we doubt it.