He is educating the general public about the fact that relief agencies and homeless workers frequently lack meat and dairy-free options.
Contesting the common argument that homeless people should be grateful for whatever food they receive, Gillingham says that this is not the case. He suggests to the Huntsville Forester that homeless vegans and vegetarians should be given the best “fuel” to enable them to improve their situations.
“They want these people to get up and get a job and get homes and carry on with their lives but it’s like pouring diesel fuel into an unleaded engine and expecting it to work and work hard,” he explained.
Adding to this, he confirmed that the purpose of his venture is about raising awareness of the issue “and say look we love and appreciate everything you do for us but you have to understand you’re giving us the wrong fuel.”
But he is not demanding an overhaul of what relief agencies currently supply. Instead, Gillingham stresses that “I’m not looking for any special treatment or to change the menu around.” He proposes that relief agencies and homeless workers should simply “leave the meat off the plate and maybe give me a couple extra potatoes or a spoonful of vegetables or rice. It doesn’t take a lot to really help out a vegan or vegetarian.”
Gillingham is already receiving much support from the local community. One anonymous donor sponsored him for $300, enabling him to purchase a bike trailer.
Not only will the journey raise awareness of homeless people’s limited dietary choices, Gillingham expects it to be a personal feat. He told the Huntsville Forester in June, “I need to accomplish this for my own personal satisfaction… Just because I don’t have a job it doesn’t mean I’m not working toward something better all the time.”
As of Monday this week, Gillingham was residing at a campsite in Arrowhead National Park, preparing for his journey.
Image credit: Huntsville Forester