“The Ocean Needs Sharks More Than I Need Soup”

Judy Ki hugs a whale shark at Shark Days in Sacramento, part of the campaign to safeguard real-life sharks being killed for shark fin soup.

Judy Ki Has Retired to a Career of Advocating For Sharks, Chickens, Pigs, and Politically Courageous Candidates

The family meals of Judy Ki’s Hong Kong childhood paved the way for her current whole foods, plant-based diet. She grew up in the Chinese tradition of eating fresh veggie dishes with only small amounts of meat and fish. Judy’s mom taught her to respect animals, including the lizards whose role was to keep down the insect population in the family garden.

Judy, a humane advocate, political activist, and retired middle school science teacher, is a San Diego neighbor. I admired Judy’s work, meeting her at community events and through Facebook, where Judy describes herself as “proud bunny-hugging, bleeding-heart, do-gooder.” She took the time to share her path to activism with me recently over a bountiful salad and baked potato lunch.

At age 20, Judy moved to the US for educational opportunities. She chose California because she disliked cold weather.

An environmental caucus of the Democratic Party in San Diego in 2007 was a turning point for Judy. “A beautiful young blonde lady gave me a Vegan Outreach pamphlet. The year before I had read the book Fast Food Nation and was shocked at the treatment of animals raised for food. After reading the pamphlet on the realities of factory farming, I knew I had to take action,” Judy recalls. She had just retired from a 27 year career with the San Diego Unified School District, and finally had time to devote to activism.

She started by going to Washington DC for the Taking Action for Animals conference sponsored by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). Meanwhile Judy was slowly transitioning her diet. She had stopped eating factory farmed animals right after getting the Vegan Outreach pamphlet. She still consumed some sea animals, but tapered off these choices. Soon she was happily sticking to a 100% plant-based diet.

The HSUS conference got Judy involved as a major signature gatherer for Proposition 2. This 2008 California ballot initiative provided some basic protection for male calves raised for veal, chickens on egg-laying factory farms, and pigs confined to cruel gestation crates. Judy gathered 1,373 signatures to get Prop 2 on the ballot, and was also instrumental in getting the California Democratic Party to endorse the Proposition.

While working for Prop 2, Judy was surprised and happy to meet the young lady who gave her the Vegan Outreach pamphlet. It turned out to be Kath Rogers, whose leadership role with the San Diego nonprofit Animal Protection and Rescue League (APRL) was also

Judy with Assemblymember Paul Fong, author of shark-protecting AB 376

instrumental in guiding Prop 2 to a resounding victory.

The success of Prop 2 encouraged Judy to find ever more ways to work for animal and social causes. She has backed “politically courageous candidates who speak out for what is true, whether it is popular or not.” She has identified, raised money, and worked for such candidates at each election cycle, and lobbied legislators and raised awareness between elections.

In 2011, Judy was a key figure in the passage of AB 376, which banned the sale, trade, possession, and distribution of shark fins in California. Many species of sharks are close to extinction because of the merciless practice of cutting off their fins, then throwing them back in the ocean for an agonizing death from bleeding or drowning. Every year, 73 million sharks are slaughtered for their fins.

Judy served as chair of the Asian Pacific American Ocean Harmony Alliance (APAOHA), which was instrumental in enacting AB 376. The well-funded fin traders in San Francisco and some legislators called a ban

Sharks, essential for healthy ocean ecology, are being driven to extinction by shark finners

on shark fins an attack on Asian culture, because shark fin soup is traditionally served at wealthy and privileged Asian weddings. Judy and her fellow Asian activists showed this argument was bogus, that shark fin soup was a tradition that had run its course and was being disavowed by people of every ethnic background.

Judy is now a Commissioner of the California Commission on Asian and Pacific Islander American Affairs, continuing her regular trips to Sacramento to influence public policy and legislation. This group’s mission is to “elevate the political, economic, and social issues of Asians and Pacific Islanders by contributing to and strengthening how state government addresses the needs, issues, and concerns of the diverse and complex Asian and Pacific Islander American communities.”

Judy is an accomplished gardener and thrives on her whole foods, plant-based diet. She enjoys cooking animal-free. “I love broccolini the way some people love donuts. Cooking with meat is unimaginative and boring. Cooking vegan is creative,” she laughs. On a serious note, she observes parents need to be educated on what to feed their children. “Kids naturally like salad and

Judy loves the creativity of cooking on a whole foods, plant-based diet. Meat is so boring, she observes.

vegetables. Parents teach bad eating habits by taking them to fast food restaurants. But people can recondition their tastes to love healthy foods again.”

I admire Judy’s many accomplishments, and can’t wait to see what her next move is to help people and animals live in harmony with each other and the planet. I hope you are as inspired as I am by Judy’s work. You can make a difference, we all do.

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Blog posting by Janice Stanger, Ph.D. Janice authored The Perfect Formula Diet: How to Lose Weight and Get Healthy Now With Six Kinds of Whole Foods. This easy-to-follow eating plan is built on a whole foods, plant-based diet that can prevent, and even reverse, most chronic disease. Janice is proud to be part of the San Diego community with Judy.









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One Response to ““The Ocean Needs Sharks More Than I Need Soup””

  1. stacy neary says:

    It is good to know that there are individuals who still thinks about these animals, indeed they are dangerous and can kill a person easily, but these are their instincts, they doesn’t deserve to be killed slowly by decapitating their fins.