An Interview With “Papa” Brian, Vegan Advocate

Via email I had the good forture to interview Brian Grupe, the Northern California Outreach Coordinator for Vegan Outreach. As of this writing, Brian has handed out over 270,000 educational leaflets about veganism since the Fall of 2007. Take a look at what he’s got to say…

Brian Grupe self portrait

Vegan Soapbox: First, how do you pronounce your last name?

Brian: Grew-pay

VS: How/ why did you go vegan?

Brian: “In February of 2007 I found an Even if you like meat… brochure (produced by Vegan Outreach) at Sacramento State in the lounge of the music department. I still distinctly remember the moment when I saw it out of the corner of my eye. I sat down and read it and decided to give up meat on the spot. I did not know a single vegetarian or vegan at the time. A few months later, on my sister’s birthday (Aug 6th), I went fully vegan.”

“It was Jack Norris, president and co-founder of Vegan Outreach who was out leafleting that day so credit should be given to him for changing my life.”

“As for the why: I had never thought about what I ate or that animals were even involved. To me food was simply food. In a container, on a plate, from the store, in a restaurant. For whatever reason I was just ready for the message at that moment in time. I liked cats but was by no means gaga over animals.  However, I saw what modern animal ag does to animals and realized I could do something about it by changing my diet.  I felt empowered, just, and right.  2007 will forever remain one of the most important years of my life.”

 VS: What’s your favorite vegan food for lunch or dinner? What’s your favorite restaurant?

Brian: “I love breakfast for dinner.  Pancakes, tofu scramble with veggies and Daiya vegan cheese.  I love burritos.  I seem to grow more fond of chocolate every year.”
Gracias Madre is my go to place in San Francisco for amazing vegan Mexican.  Wayward Café in Seattle is amazing comfort food (kind of like Denny’s).  Fellini in Berkeley has vegan eggs benedict to die for.  And Cinnaholic in Berkeley has amazing rolls.  Can’t forget Souley Vegan in Oakland for some serious comfort food.”

VS: How did you get involved with Vegan Outreach?

Brian: “In the summer of 2007 I decided to email Vegan Outreach to tell them how they had so greatly impacted my life.  Jack Norris, who was living in Sacramento at the time as well, invited me to leaflet the Warped Tour in Marysville.  It was an awesome experience and I started volunteering locally during the Fall semester.  In October, Vegan Outreach hired me to leaflet locally until I could move to Boston in April of 2008 to be the New England Outreach Coordinator.  I held this position for 7 months and until I was offered the position of Northern California Outreach Coordinator which I have had since late 2008.” 

VS: What do you like best about working with/for VO?

Brian: “I love connecting with young people.  I feel as though I’ve put in the time and effort and know how to respond to any question/situation at any given time.  I also love working with our dedicated volunteers and showing new people the ropes of leafleting.  I have ‘trained’ many a successful leafleter and it’s always a lot of fun to watch others succeed.” 

VS: What do you do to relax and prevent burn out?

Brian: “I play bass and synthesizer in a local rock band called Tremor Low (  I like to ride my bike and cook for friends as well.  I love feeding activists so much that a friend of mine nicknamed me ‘Papa Brian’.” 
“I make sure to give myself the time that I need to relax; every second of every day cannot be devoted to helping animals.  As activists, we need to accept this and be present in every moment, whether we’re working for animals or doing something fun for ourselves.  It is truly the way to living a fulfilled life.”

VS: Any final words of wisdom?

Brian: “Actions speak louder than words!  Get out there and make a difference for farmed animals as best you can. Please please please read the essays here:  

“Matt Ball and Jack Norris have been at this for well over 20 years and have immense insight and wisdom.”

Thanks go out to Brian for his excellent interview!

2 Responses to An Interview With “Papa” Brian, Vegan Advocate

  1. Our veg group on the central coast of California ( has enjoyed Brian’s company more than once, and he “trained” our Vegan Outreach coordinator in March 2010. She has handed out thousands of leaflets since and brought many others into the fold. We found Brian to be friendly, open, welcoming, and committed. A great representative.

  2. Awesome interview! I think it’s cool to hear stories about how effective leafletting can be. Sometimes having to listen to the “I used to be vegetarian, but…” BS stories can be a downer, but then you hear about how someone found a leaflet sitting on a table and never consumed another animal. You never know what moment will change someone’s life forever.


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