“If you love animals, don’t eat them and don’t wear them.” This may sound like a severe statement to some, but not to one passionate woman who believes that peace begins on your plate. Prominent journalist and author Jane Velez-Mitchell suggests you can go through life without hurting a single creature, a principle to which she ardently ascribes.
Unlike some hardcore environmentalists and animal activists, Jane doesn’t fit the stereotypical mold, at times considered inflexible or unreasonable. Sharp and quick-witted, she captivates listeners with an astounding ability to argue a case with grace and empathy. Her big brown eyes engage in immovable eye contact, demonstrating a unique ability to connect with an audience, which is how she has managed to rise to the top of a vastly competitive media industry. Whether face-to-face or as she addresses a television audience, Jane commands attention in a convincing “I’ve got something significant to say” posture.
Although her list of professional accomplishments is long, Jane considers herself first and foremost an animal activist.
“All the work I do on camera is to keep my face out there so I have credibility and name recognition in order to help animals,” she said. Her television credits include more than 10 years of anchoring for KCAL-TV in Los Angeles, where her newscasts won four Southern California Golden Mike awards and an Emmy. She was a reporter for WCBS-TV in New York City for eight years, where she shared an Emmy for her work. She is often seen on CNN, FOX News, MSNBC and other national cable shows commenting on various high-profile cases. Jane provided daily commentary on the Michael Jackson molestation trial for “Nancy Grace” on CNN Headline News and hosted the show for Nancy while she was on maternity leave. She is a correspondent on Showbiz Tonight and has appeared on Larry King Live and Celebrity Justice.
After covering the Michael Jackson trial, Jane evolved as a first rate crime reporter. She has authored a compelling book about some of the most notable cases in contemporary culture, which she likes to call an “anti-crime” book. A fascinating read, “Secrets Can Be Murder” (Simon & Schuster), is a revealing peek into the lives of the most prominent criminals.
“The hook of the book is that the secrets that criminals kill over are some of the same ones you and I keep,” Jane said. She tells how there are just a handful of fundamental issues where people keep secrets, sex being the first. “Infidelity, illegitimacy and sexual orientation are secrets that can fester, so people create lies to protect that secret,” she said. “Those lies will be exposed if you don’t cover them with other lies, so ultimately people can become so perverse about protecting their secret that they will even kill another human being in order to do so.”
Throughout the book she draws attention to personal honesty. “Life is a journey about self-discovery, so whatever your secret is, it’s important that you come to terms with it,” Jane said. “We need to determine who we really are as opposed to who we think we should be and then remain true to ourselves.”
In addition to being a successful reporter and author, Jane is also a tireless activist. She’s currently hard at work on getting the California Healthy Pets Act (AB1634) passed in her home state. “This bill essentially says ‘spay or neuter your pet or get a permit,'” she said. “Because if you don’t there’ll be an exponential explosion and in a couple of years that dog becomes a thousand dogs.” Jane’s objective is to save the half a million dogs and cats that are killed each year just in California.
She’s also working on a new initiative called The Prevention of Farm Animal Cruelty Act, which will be on the ballot in California this November.
“This bill simply says farm animals must have room to turn around and extend their limbs,” Jane said. “Because right now farm animals do not even have the right to turn around while kept in their cage.” She explained that pigs and chickens are kept in gestation crates the size of their bodies and they are not able to freely turn. “Cruelty is rampant and it’s barbaric and horrific, and currently there are hardly any laws to protect farm animals.” Her primary focus, using her investigative skills as a journalist, is to inform Americans about what’s really going on inside factory farms.
It’s no surprise that Jane is a devoted vegan, given her penchant for honoring personal convictions. She refuses to use her body as a graveyard for animals. “I don’t want the chemicals, additives and adrenaline that come from the fear of slaughter in my system.” She credits her high energy to her restricted diet: “Cut out the junk, the fast food, meat and dairy, and eat fruit, vegetables, nuts and grains, and you too will be sharper and have more energy.” Even her pooches, three adorable dogs she rescued, are 99 percent vegetarian. They eat vegan canned wet food, lots of tofu, noodles, potatoes, brown rice and veggie faux cheese. (An occasional treat may contain fish, but Jane hopes to wean the dogs from those soon.)
In addition, Jane has a cruelty-free bathroom; she doesn’t use major brands because most of them use animals for experimentation. She buys from and supports places that don’t harm animals or the environment, like her local co-op and organic food markets.
“Reevaluate your notion of what it means to be clean,” she said. “If you’re using products that harm the environment, then you’re cleaning your house but dirtying the planet.”
Although she admits that you probably can’t go through life never using a plastic bag or bottle.
“Just because you can’t do it 100 percent of the time doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try.” And as a steadfast environmentalist, Jane uses a metal container for water while on set so she doesn’t have to ask for a plastic water bottle.
To adhere to such a strict routine, one might say that Jane is a woman of tremendous self-discipline, but she credits other influences, those that have taught her to champion over her weaknesses. A recovering alcoholic with more than 13 years of sobriety, Jane has learned that self-control has little to do with discipline.
“I went to therapists for many years trying to quit drinking and had absolutely no success,” she said. “The obsession was almost instantly lifted from me when I attended my first Alcoholics Anonymous meeting, it had nothing to do with my will power.” When Jane became sober, she felt all the shame and judgment melt away. “I’ve had many challenges in the course of my sobriety, but it has not ever occurred to me to have a drink.”
Jane doesn’t consider self-denial a form of deprivation, but chooses to replace detrimental practices with actions that produce good. This is even reflected in how she chooses to celebrate holidays and special occasions. This past year Jane declined to receive Christmas gifts and she refused to give them. She used the money she would have spent on holiday gifts to donate to the Smile Train, an organization that provides surgery to underprivileged kids born with a cleft palate.
“Just the wrapping paper alone is hurting our environment,” she said, “Holidays should not be about an orgy of consumption, it should be about giving and being of service.” Jane will not accept gifts for birthdays, or other occasions, and instead wants people to honor her by giving donations to the Smile Train or the Humane Society of America.
Although her award-winning professional accomplishments are impressive, Jane is humble and remarkably “others-oriented.” An inspiring woman on many levels, Jane’s joie de vivre is impressive and infectious. Her profound enthusiasm is balanced by a practical sense of reality. “We can’t go through life without using ANY resources, but we try to do the least amount of damage that we can. That’s my motto.”