Going the Distance for Animals: Tom’s 50-Mile Race for Compassion

Written by Jaya Bhumitra

Blog

On September 21, Tom Logan, a former COK intern, will run the Kodiak 50-miler in Big Bear, California! His goal isn’t just to cross the finish line — he’s taking on this endurance challenge to raise a total of $5,000 for Compassion Over Killing’s life-saving campaigns for farmed animals. What’s more is that thanks to a generous matching offer, your donation will be doubled dollar-for-dollar up to $2,500 — meaning your gift will go twice as far.

In between running and studying for law school, Tom found a few minutes to talk with us to share his story about how he became interested in helping animals, running extreme distances, and eating vegan — as well as his response to the inescapable question, “Where do you get your protein?”

Q: Tell us about your path to vegan eating.

A: I grew up on the central coast of California in the small town of Carmel. It’s a beautiful place; the rugged Coast Range drops into the Pacific Ocean and provides infinite opportunities for outdoor adventure — a theme in my childhood. I routinely went bird watching with my mother, a member of the local Audubon Society. At a young age, I developed a keen interest in and appreciation for other living creatures.

That’s why I struggled with the idea of eating meat throughout much of my life. Watching the Humane Society of the United States’ investigation inside the Hallmark dairy cow slaughter plant in 2008, I was sickened by the images of animals being rammed with forklifts and dragged by chains. They were in pain, frightened, and being tortured before being killed. I became a vegetarian.

Later, films like Death on a Factory Farm and Earthlings, and books like Eating Animals and Dominion made it clear to me that non-human animals are just as emotional and sensitive as humans. No matter where or how they’re raised, animals used for food get frightened and experience unfathomable pain. I know what it’s like to be in pain and to be scared. I don’t like either of those things. Animals don’t either. So, the only logical decision for me was to eliminate any personal responsibility for animal suffering. Thus, I became, and am, vegan.

Q: How did you become an ultra-runner?

A: I started running in high school. Adolescence can be a difficult time, and I used running as an outlet, a kind of coping mechanism. It was useful and healthy, but no one warned me that it was also addictive! In 2006 I ran my first marathon. And my second. In 2007 I ran my first ultramarathon—a 50-kilometer trail run. Over time, I incrementally increased the distance of my long runs, peaking in the summer of 2010 when I ran a 100-mile trail race in Lake Tahoe. But then I began law school and started living like a sloth. Rather than logging miles, I have been logging pages and hours studying.

Tom with PigQ: Why are you running a Race for Compassion for COK?

A: I was incredibly fortunate to intern for COK’s legal advocacy department after my first year of law school. The people at COK are some of the most passionate advocates I’ve ever met, and my time there was thick with inspiration. Working with COK gave me the sense that I was part of something meaningful.

Through litigation, investigations, and outreach, COK accomplishes so much good. But those methods aren’t cheap, and COK needs financial support to continue forward. As a student, I don’t have very deep pockets for donations. I do, however, have perfectly good legs, running shoes, and drive.

Q: We’ve heard many vegan athletes say that plant foods improve athletic performance. Do you agree?

A: Definitely. As a vegan athlete, I hear the same thing over and over: “Are you getting enough protein?” It’s maddening! There’s protein in almost everything — kale, spinach, mushrooms, bell peppers, beans, seeds, and the list goes on. I can’t remember the last time I actually thought about “getting enough protein.” And here are the facts: I eat a plant-based diet, I can run for hours on end, squat, deadlift, and bench more than my own bodyweight, and do burpees by the mile. So I must be getting enough protein, and it sure isn’t coming from animals!

Q: After tackling this goal, what’s next?

A: I’m now in my final year of law school. When I first applied, I was set on pursuing a career in criminal defense. But that’s all changed. Instead of defending criminals, I’ll focus on those who commit crimes against animals, and achieve justice through civil or criminal measures. Sometimes when I talk about animal rights, people’s eyes glaze over. But, when I talk about the environment, people become interested and even evangelical. As it turns out, animal agriculture has a profound negative impact on the environment. So, my specific goal is to use environmental law to combat large-scale animal agriculture, be it through the Clean Air Act against factory farming or through statutes like the National Environmental Policy Act or Endangered Species Act against open range cattle grazing.

Help Tom reach his goal of raising $5,000 for Compassion Over Killing — make a donation today to support his Race for Compassion! And remember, your donation will be doubled, going twice as far for animals!