In each issue Vegetarians in Paradise presents the 24 Carrot Award to an outstanding person or organization that endeavors to practice or promote education, natural health, wholesome nutrition, and ecology techniques for the mutual benefit of humans, animals, and the earth.
Vegetarians in Paradise takes great pride in presenting its first 24 Carrot Award of 2000 to Marr Nealon for her work on the local and national level in promoting vegetarian and humanitarian causes.
For those active in the local vegetarian community, Marr is a familiar presence. Anyone who has not yet met her will quickly discover that she is the powerhouse that drives Voice for a Viable Future, the non-profit organization that strives to bring the hard facts of our unhealthy meat and dairy food diet to an unaware public.
Marr's home state is Pennsylvania where she began her career as a television actress and singer. She traveled and sang all over the U.S.with show bands while continuing her television acting career. A California resident for the past 16 1/2 years, she continued to focus on TV roles, commercials, corporate training videos, voiceovers, and narrating for live conferences.
In 1990 she became interested in ecological issues and became involved with EarthSave L.A. Because the local chapter was in need of leadership, she quickly assumed the position of chairperson, producing and promoting monthly and annual events through 1994.
During those years Marr acquired an abundance of information from hearing the doctors and speakers who were featured at the monthly events she produced and promoted. These experts became her mentors in health, environmental and ethical issues relating to diet.
She met Howard Lyman, the ex-cattle rancher turned vegan, in 1991 when he came to Los Angeles to speak as part of the Beyond Beef Campaign. "He shocked me when he first spoke on Mad Cow Disease," she says. She was so impressed that she began to book lectures for him whenever he spoke in Southern California.
It became apparent to Marr that Howard's message was so vital to the earth's future that in 1995 she began focusing all her energy volunteering with Howard's nonprofit organization Voice for a Viable Future, whose mission is to educate the public on the health, environmental and ethical benefits of an organic plant-based diet. In 1996 she became president of the organization. In that role she booked him on the Oprah Winfrey Show and introduced him to Glen Merzer who co-authored Mad Cowboy. Since the publication of Howard's book, in 1998, Marr has been occupied booking and publicizing his lectures nationally and internationally.
Between Howard's lecture bookings and the two linked web sites, Marr works full time in her home office dedicating many hours to the phone, email, and FAX machine. Mad Cowboy is the web site that focuses mainly on promoting Howard's book while Voice for a Viable Future provides biographical information about him, lists his speaking engagements, details the Oprah Winfrey broadcast and subsequent trial, and provides information about mad cow disease
Marr says, "Vegans feel they don't need to read the book, but those that do have said that they learned so much. It's taken them to the next level. It's a great tool for people who want a passionate account of our food supply."
With her committed schedule she was unable to spare the time to travel until this year. She attended the Boulder, Colorado Vegan Fest sponsored by the American Vegan Society, the Summerfest sponsored by the North American Vegetarian Society, and the Living Foods conference, sponsored by the Institute for Vibrant Living. She plans to attend the International Congress in Toronto next July.
This petite dynamo has been vegetarian for 14 years and vegan for 11. She now considers the vegan diet not the final stage, but a helpful stepping stone to her new regimen. This past year, she has enjoyed the benefits of a raw food diet and is a big advocate of juice fasting. "I always felt it was where I wanted to be. It's not easy, and it takes a deep commitment. I appreciate the simple beauty of foods as nature created them," she says.
Marr says she doesn't have much free time, but having a home office allows her the flexibility to squeeze in some of life's pleasures like reading, yoga, movies, and gardening. She's a true green thumb who enjoys growing succulents, cacti, and flowers. When we spoke to her, she talked about putting in a fall fruit and vegetable garden.
Her favorite leisure time is spent hiking with Boo, her 10 pound poodle/laso mutt, who's also vegan. "He's the cutest dog on the planet and eats raw food with me. He's been a great companion and sometimes travels with me," she expressed affectionately. Further, she says, "Animals are our greatest teachers. They have unconditional love down pat." She says about little Boo, "I'm privileged to have him share life with me."
Marr feels deeply indebted to her dog, Spunky, who inspired her to go vegetarian. Spunky died at 17 1/2, but when he was 9 years old she became aware of vegetarianism. One day she expressed, "I love you so very deeply that I am no longer going to eat any of your animal relatives." That day she became vegetarian and so did Spunky. Four years later they became vegan.
Marr's focus for the future is to produce a documentary on Howard Lyman's life to take his message to a wider audience. She says, "We need to move faster or this earth is going to crumble." She would like to see more people paying attention to their diets and to see vegans loving themselves enough to put living foods into their bodies. Her desire is to see the media being brave enough to face the truths about health, diet, and our food supply and to carry the issues to the public. She envisions TV shows with panels of experts advocating a plant-based diet, gentleness to the planet, simplicity of life, whole foods, and organic farming.
When we asked what Marr was short for, she coyly replied, "Marrvelous." She is indeed a marvelous individual with sincere and noble goals!