NORTH HAWAII — Evan LeFevre, best known as VeganEvan, has been speaking up for animal rights since he was 5.
Around the same age, he voluntarily removed all meat, fish and dairy products from his diet after learning that animals are slaughtered and then fed to humans.
“My mom told me those animals wanted to live,” Evan said.
Now 8, he was a guest speaker earlier this month at the third annual VegFest, a free community festival on Oahu that promotes the benefits of embracing plant-based, sustainable living.
“I talked about veganism,” Evan said. “That’s people who don’t eat animals or any of their byproducts; fish, land animals, honey or dairy. It’s so gross to think that milk is a cow’s breast milk and honey is bee vomit.”
Yuki Takahashi, a Waimea resident, met Evan several years ago and and started a last-minute fundraiser on Facebook to bring him to the Big Island while he was in Hawaii. Donations poured in to cover interisland flights for Evan and his mother, Shannon Blair, to Hawaii Island so the young animal activist could speak publicly about his passions.
“I really wanted more people to be able to meet Evan,” Takahashi said. “I think he is going to be a key player in a most positive social movement.”
On Oct. 16 and 17, the 8-year-old Melbourne, Florida resident made five different stops around the island to share his thoughts on veganism, animal rights and environmentalism. Locals showed up to hear him speak at Conscious Culture Café in Hilo, Sweet Potato Kitchen and Bakery in Hawi, Sea Dandelion in Honokaa, Under the Bodhi Tree in Mauna Lani and Herbivores in Kona.
“The main reason why I became vegan was because I didn’t want animals to be hurt and also for the planet and my health,” he said at Under the Bodhi Tree.
Evan explained that his purpose speaking publicly in Hawaii was to “plant some seeds” in other people’s minds.
“Evan is non-stop. He got four kids to promise they’d do the Let’s Try Vegan national 22-Day Challenge just while we were at lunch,” Stephen Rouelle said, after dining with him at Sea Dandelion in Honokaa.
Evan has also been a guest speaker at major activism events in Florida and California.
“He’s spoken at Central Florida Earth Day multiple times, and most recently at the Animal Liberation Conference this past May in Berkeley, California,” Shannon said, “He was the only kid invited to speak on a panel at the What the Health & Cowspiracy Conference in San Francisco the same month and then the National Animal Rights Conference in L.A. in June.”
Among his favorite foods sampled during the Hawaii visit were falafels at VegFest and What it Dough, also on Oahu.
“They set up a food truck to serve Honolulu’s first artisan vegan pizza,” Shannon said.
At home, Evan and his mother regularly make cashew cheese quesadillas. Another meatless food staple he likes is Tofurky, made from tofu and vital wheat gluten, that can be found at most grocery stores or in Target’s food section.
“It tastes a little better than real turkey,” Evan said. “You can eat it with vegan mayo and lettuce, tomatoes and onions on bread to make a great sandwich. The same brand also makes vegan pepperoni.”
Homeschooled, Evan is co-president and spokesperson for Animal Hero Kids, an all-volunteer, nonprofit organization based in Stuart, Florida. He’s also active in a local chapter of Anonymous for the Voiceless, a worldwide animal rights organization launched in 2016 that specializes in street activism.
“We reach over 30,000 kids every year to spread the word of kindness,” he said during a talk at Sweet Potato Kitchen. “I’m vegan, my mom’s vegan, my grandmother’s vegan and my grandfather is almost vegan.”
Videos of VeganEvan have gone viral. His first was posted on YouTube several years ago.
“I did that first video when I was 22 weeks vegan,” Evan said.
“He wanted to make a video asking people to do a 6-week challenge,” his mom chimed in. “We now realize 22 days is a more realistic timeframe to give eating vegan a try. There’s an awesome site we direct people to called challenge22.com that provides free resources, recipes and a mentor for those 22 days.”
Currently, Evan and Shannon are fostering a baby pig they named, L.P., short for Little Piggy, which they hope to adopt one day soon.
In 2016, Evan was crowned PETA’s “Cutest Vegan Kid.”
“Evan has brought smiles to faces across the nation thanks to his energy, creativity and compassion toward animals. He beat out dozens of contestants 12 and under and earned a trophy, an animal-friendly prize pack and a year’s worth of bragging rights,” it stated in a PETA release.
He also likes spreading his message through rap songs he writes. One line he rapped for a full house at Sweet Potato Kitchen stated, “I don’t eat meat, I don’t eat eggs, I don’t eat anything with legs.” Verses in a second rap said, “Hey my friends, I’ve got something to tell. I’ve got tips that will help you stay well.”
“I like (raps) as another way to connect with people. It’s a way to teach them through song,” Evan said. “I really like being vegan because I’m saving the world. I don’t want to kill stuff that we don’t need to survive. Other food tastes just as good.”
Info: To see one of Evan’s YouTube videos go to https://youtu.be/S4COUWhG6Ww
Organizations he supports can be found at animalherokids.org and www.anonymousforthevoiceless.org