Any supermarket and natural foods store offers an array of bars: protein bars, fruit bars, granola bars, etc. With so many options and flavors, it can be hard to pick, but new Animal Rescue Bars may make that easier. Animal Rescue Bars are not only vegan, gluten-free, and organic; 50% of their sales are donated to animal-focused charities. They are the brainchild of South Florida activist, Andrew Kirschner, who took time to chat with Ecorazzi about how they came to be.
Ecorazzi: There’s been some buzz around social media about your new vegan nutrition bars, Animal Rescue Bars. How did they come to be?
Andrew Kirschner: We appreciate everyone’s support. Saving animals’ lives costs a lot of money – the medicine, food, housing, outreach efforts, cruelty investigations. Countless animals suffer and die because we don’t have the money we need to save them. The people who abuse, confine, exploit, and kill animals will spare no expense to suppress the voice of people advocating for a humane world. I wanted to come up with an idea to raise millions of dollars to support the organizations that save animals. I got this idea from my dog Pretzel. In his eyes, I have always seen the eyes of every animal. His life inspired me to think of a way to help give all animals a life as good as his life. [Additionally,] I volunteer at a local Boys and Girls Club where I see firsthand how unhealthy eating habits negatively affect children. As a consumer of nutrition bars, I see how many of these companies use misleading advertising to fool people into believing they’re eating something “healthy” and “natural” when in fact their bars contain a lot of very unhealthy and unnatural ingredients. Since bars are so popular, I figured it would provide the perfect avenue to provide people with a truly healthy, animal and eco-friendly bar that gives people a wonderful opportunity to save lives while they shop.
E: What was the process in formulating these bars? What did you want to definitely avoid and definitely include in them?
AK: The process included trying a lot of different combinations of whole foods until we came up with something delicious. We’re very proud of the final product – a truly healthy, non-GMO, gluten free, plant-based bar with organic ingredients made in the U.S.A. Our bar doesn’t contain any oils, refined sugars, syrups, acid, and other toxic fillers so commonly found in other bars, many of which make misleading claims about being “natural” and “healthy.” Our bar also doesn’t contain any animal byproducts such as whey which was highest on the priority list.
E: 50% of the profits from Animal Rescue Bars are being donated to several charities. Which charities did you select for this and why? Will new charities become recipients in the future, or will the recipients stay the same?
AK: I received hundreds of applications from these organizations, many of them run entirely by volunteers. I interviewed them, reviewed their financials, researched their history, and sought feedback from volunteers, other organizations, and the public. I’ve volunteered for many of them through the years and know them well. The first organizations selected as beneficiaries are South Florida Wildlife Center, Mercy for Animals, Compassion Over Killing, Primarily Primates, GREY2K USA, Triangle Chance for All, The Pig Preserve, and CJ Acres Animal Rescue Farm. These organizations rescue and advocate for a wide range of animals including dogs, cats, pelicans, horses, monkeys, pigs, rabbits, turtles, cows, turkeys, chickens, hawks, and many more. I selected these organizations because they demonstrate a sincere passion for helping animals and go to such admirable and heroic lengths to make a difference in their lives. As the success of Animal Rescue Bar grows, we will select additional organizations to support. We’re in the process of considering an organization that opposes puppy mills and another that saves marine life.
E: I see on your website that you currently offer one flavor, Peanut Crunch. What other flavors are in the works?
AK: Yes, we’re currently working on a second healthy and delicious bar that will likely include a variety of superfoods such as cacao, chia seeds, goji berries, and pea protein.We’re very excited to launch it soon!
E: How are you getting Animal Rescue Bars out there? What are your goals as far as their visibility and accessibility?
AK: We’re going to market them to grocery stores, gyms, drug stores, animal shelters, doctors’ offices, art galleries, gas stations, and everywhere else where nutrition bars are sold. It’s going to take time but we believe that once people are presented with the choice between buying a delicious, healthy bar that supports a good cause and those that are strictly for corporate profit and that contain many unhealthy ingredients, consumers will gravitate towards the Animal Rescue Bar.
E: Animal Rescue Bars are a recent undertaking for you, but you’re no stranger to activism. How else do you help animals?
AK: Thank you. For starters, I don’t eat them. The greatest epiphany I’ve made in my life is the realization that we don’t need to eat animals to survive. I used to eat chickens, cows, pigs, and turkeys until I realized that these animals love to be free, love their families, and love to live their natural lives just like my dog. I also organize and participate in a wide variety of events to benefit animals. I volunteer at my local Boys and Girls Club where I teach plant-based cooking classes and have guest speakers talk to the children about how to be kind to animals. I also give talks to inspire people to show compassion for all animals, volunteer at a shelter, and work on the legislative end to affect change. I feel a tremendous moral obligation and sense of urgency to do as much as I can to help animals.
E: Being a seasoned activist, what advice do you have for anyone wanting to get started in activism? What wisdom do you have for activists looking to do more and go further?
AK: We need all the help we can get. Animals can’t speak for themselves so they depend on us to protect them. Everything you do matters. Whether you decide to walk a dog in a shelter, attend a protest, call a legislator to express support for animal-friendly legislation, volunteer at a farm sanctuary, or buy an Animal Rescue Bar to support animal rescue organizations, you will make a big difference. If you want to get even more involved, I recommend contacting local or national organizations. There are so many ways to get involved and your help is so desperately needed and appreciated.
E: What’s next for you as far as both Animal Rescue Bars and activism and outreach?
AK: We just launched a few weeks ago so our plan now is to build our brand and get into as many stores a possible. Every sale provides much needed financial support to save animals’ lives and that’s what keeps us motivated every day. We have a food product request form on our website that our supporters can complete and submit to their local retail stores if they want them to carry Animal Rescue Bars. Time permitting, I would like to travel the country on a speaking tour to share the most important lessons I’ve learned from my advocacy for animals during the past 20 years. In the meantime, I have high hopes for Animal Rescue Bar to become the #1 selling nutrition bar in the country and to provide unprecedented financial support to animal rescue organizations in the process.
Andrew Kirschner is certainly an activist to watch. He is proof that anything is possible when you put your mind to it. Thank you for all you do, Andrew!
Photo credit: Andrew Kirschner