By Published On: 28 June 20132674 words13.5 min read

This post is part of our series, Unsung Vegan Heroes- stories about vegan activists, real people doing really amazing work.  People who work hard to bring positive change in our world.  People who make a substantial, yet unrecognized, contribution to the vegan movement- people whose actions are unknown or unacknowledged.  People just like you.

Meet Erin Red: Activist, educator, podcaster, writer, and vegan hero who works tirelessly on behalf of the animals.

Erin Red

You may not know Erin Red’s face, but it’s quite possible you know her voice. As the host of the podcast Red Radio – bringing vegan banter with a bite to your earholes since November 2011 – Erin Red has been an enthusiastic voice for the animals for 64 episodes and counting! An ethical vegan, Erin Red is passionate about animal activism and covers a range of topics in her work – which includes interviews with featured guests that are notable within the movement as well as with “fresh veggies” (new vegans) who are just joining the community.

Erin Red co-founded New York City’s successful The Seed: A Vegan Experience in 2012. The two-day festival featured all things vegan – speakers, vendors, films, live demos and more. Her vision for this event – as well as for the vegan movement – is one that she does not take lightly. I recently spent an afternoon with her in New York City, shooting the vegan shiitake over lunch and people (and animal) watching in Union Square Park. It was refreshing to talk with someone who I share a lot of the same thoughts and opinions with – and to reiterate that the animal rights movement needs all kinds of voices to strike a chord with people.

We got to ask Erin Red a few questions and, as you’re about to read, her answers were thoughtful and fascinating!

What does a day in your life as a vegan activist look like?

I’m a big fan of routines and rituals, so I wish I could tell you there’s such a thing as a ‘typical’ day… but that’s simply not the nature of the beast, so to speak! My days range from ‘non-stop crazy hustle’ to ‘pajamas and my laptop’ and every imaginable variable in between, and let’s not forget the perpetually necessary ‘day job’… but for the sake of the topic at hand, I’ll describe a very typical work day.

I’m up at 6am and off to the gym. Fitness and well-being are of utmost importance to me; I ask extraordinary things of my body and mind (on the animals’ behalf as well as my own), therefore I need to honor both extraordinarily. Physical activity and good, clean, organic food are a big part of my every day, and I consider both to be forms of activism. Aside from practicing muay Thai and running regularly, I also practice Bikram Yoga and do my best to gift myself one full day of rest every week.

After the sweat-fest, it’s time to get to work. I find I focus better outside of my home, so I pick one of my favorite vegan spots in the city (supporting vegan businesses – more activism!) – Jivamuktea Cafe in Union Square, Sun in Bloom in Brooklyn, Peacefood Cafe Downtown – set up the laptop, and get online. Aside from reading and responding to an obscene amount of email on the daily, social media is a big part of my reality; I’m on Twitter 24/7 via my mobile phone, and update my Facebook and Tumblr accounts at least once a day. Then it’s writing time. It could be anything – content, reviews, interviews, news stories and more for the latest episode of Red Radio, a blog post for my website or someone else’s, an article for a newsletter, a speech for an upcoming event, project proposals, letters to the editor, website copy… writing takes up the majority of my day, without question. Assuming I have no other commitments for that particular day, I may spend 8 to 10 consecutive hours in front of my trusty MacBook. We’re BFFs.

Maniacal vegan rescue S

Basil: maniacal vegan rescue schnauzer

When I can’t stare at the screen any longer, I return home to my partner, Nick, and our three roommates – Lucy and Banapple Gas, our two gorgeous rescued felines, and Basil, our maniacal vegan rescued schnauzer – and make sure all their bellies are happy. The rest of my evening usually involves one last email check, cleaning and organizing, a hot shower, a huge salad, prepping for the next day, Law & Order: SVU and a lot of snuggling. Glamorous!

Add to that a few vegan/AR related events, rallies, meetings and festivals per week, and an activist’s work is never done. My to-do list is three pages of a legal pad long, and growing. And that’s just the way I like it.

You are already a successful podcaster and certified lifestyle coach. Tell us a little bit about your future plans.

Top priority right now is writing and updating all the content on ErinRed.com. I have a ton of content to upload, and a ton of writing to do. It’s been #1 on my to-do list forever, and I’m finally getting it done. Once the site is where I want it to be, I’ll be much more active there. Blogging regularly about a myriad of topics, supporting my favorite vegan and animal rights organizations, and hopefully including some video content, too. I’d like to be much more connected and interactive with my audience and the community; a fully functional website is step one.

After that, I plan to focus more on speaking and appearances over the next year or so; I really enjoy this aspect of my work, and I’m good at it. It also allows me to connect with people face-to-face, which is a real luxury when you’re used to barking at folks through the internet! Also, funny you mention my certification through MSVA – though I have been making very good use of the myriad of skills I honed there, and continue to support and advise many friends on their individual journeys, I have YET to take on an ‘official’ client. So I’m slowly putting my program together and will soon take on regular clients, which is really exciting to me. That will all be appearing on ErinRed.com, as well.

With the success of The Seed in 2012, and of course the subsequent separation from that organization, I’m also eager to put together another vegan event of that caliber. I’m chock-full of ideas for a reincarnation of my original concept; all that needs to manifest is the space and the money. In the meantime, I continue to help other organizations and individuals produce their vegan-centric events, big and small, all over the country and beyond. It’s kind of like throwing a big party, and it’s truly wonderful to see everyone come together in the name of veganism and animal rights. And the grub ain’t so bad either.

And of course, I’d be remiss if I neglected to mention the book deal that’s on it’s way to me. Right, Universe?

After the inaugural “The Seed: A Vegan Experience,” which was a huge success, you were unexpectedly dismissed from the organization less than a week later. 82 Mercer has moved on with your concept and contacts, and held their second event this year, calling it “The Seed: Positively Plant-Based.” How do you handle the continued use of your idea and the fact that other vegans continue to work with 82 Mercer?

Speak of the devil, right? Ha! But seriously, folks…

While I’m obviously not condoning my co-founder Harvey Fung’s behavior or the actions of 82 Mercer or HSR Corp in any way… to be frank? Bygones. The experience I gained putting a show like that together is completely invaluable – not only did I get to flex my creative muscles and turn the visions in my monkey-mind into glorious reality, but I had the opportunity to connect with so many incredible people in the community and far beyond. I learned the ins and outs of putting together a massive event with world-class speakers and vendors. I made friends I’ll have for life. I will always be proud of The Seed’s debut.

Erin Red at The Seed

The continued use of my ideas, my concepts and my connections is, if nothing else, a testament to the quality and success of said ideas, concepts, and connections. That said, after my dismissal, the powers that be took the reigns and re-invented my original concept as a health-based initiative, replacing “A Vegan Experience” with “Positively Plant Based”, reflecting on their desire to… well, make more money, in my opinion. Like it or not, the ‘V Word’ still scares a lot of people. Taking the focus off of the animal, ethical and environmental issues and placing it on aesthetics and ‘wellness’ means more attendees, more vendors, and wealthier sponsors. It makes the event more glossy, more happy, more simple and profitable. And that’s lovely. But the problem is that veganism isn’t just about upscale juice bars and gourmet raw fine dining and the latest cruelty-free handbag and the glamorous lives of elite plant-based athletes. For me, it’s about the animals first and foremost. I’m pretty sure that terrified some of the team there. This was never about money for me, and in the end, that was likely my undoing.

As far as vendors and speakers and acquaintances in the community choosing to continue to work with The Seed, I’m rather indifferent on the matter. I was contacted by many, from very close friends to up-and-coming vendors and everything in between, who were essentially asking permission to do the show in 2013. I’ll tell you the very same thing I told them: The Seed was created out of the desire to educate the world about the endless benefits and true joys of living a vegan lifestyle, for us and for the rest of the planet. It was a huge success. I have no desire to prevent anyone from spreading the vegan message, and therefore I have no desire to sabotage anyone who wants to participate in any way. While I strongly oppose the ethics and practices of the people producing the show, if it will ultimately help the animals, the planet, and the population… if it will benefit someone’s wonderful work and promote veganism in a way that makes them feel proud… I would never, ever hold it against them.

Simply put, this isn’t about me. It’s about veganism, it’s about the animals.

The Seed’s debut was proof that folks are ready for an event that shamelessly calls itself VEGAN. That doesn’t avoid the big issues, the real issues, the important issues. That celebrates veganism in a completely mainstream way; a way that makes vegan accessible and even (gasp!) NORMAL. And that concept will be realized again, mark my words. Onward and upward.

How do you avoid the burnout that can sometimes happen to a vegan activist?

I may be reiterating a little bit here, but I find that the most exhilarating and motivating thing I can possibly do is remind myself – often – that this is about the animals. It sounds like a total cliche, but on the days when I feel trampled on, or overwhelmed, or that one redheaded Canadian in Brooklyn can’t save the world… all I have to do is see a clip of an animal being rescued or liberated, or hear about an organization making massive changes in the way we treat animals, or read an email from a Red Radio listener telling me they’ve gone vegan, or even just catch a glimpse of my little rescued pup or one of my darling rescued kitties gazing at me with that singular kind of love in their eyes. Knowing that I am a part of this movement, knowing that I have made and will continue to make a difference in the lives of animals, even just one at a time… that is enough to fill me with the energy of a thousand passionate activists!

We have to deal with a lot of darkness in this community. And all that means is that we have to let the light out from within. Don’t just see the joy; BE the joy.

What is your greatest success as an activist? What is the moment you are most proud of?

I have to say, this has been the hardest question for me to answer. First of all, when you become an activist and this work becomes a part of your life, the sense of community is truly astounding. Every glorious accomplishment, no matter how big or how small, is a group effort. A coming together of some of the world’s most selfless and compassionate hearts and minds. I am humbled every day by the dedication, hard work, support and camaraderie of the vegan community, and honored to be a card-carrying member!

Secondly, I’m just getting started. I don’t feel that I have accomplished much of anything just yet. There are small moments of celebration – when someone tells me they’ve decided to go vegan with thanks to my work, wrapping up a truly fulfilling interview with someone I admire, speaking to a huge crowd about animals and watching their eyes light up with connection and compassion – but it’s all part of a much grander, more elevated goal. I admit that I have a hard time seeing the trees for the forest, but when you’re working so hard towards something as significant (and as necessary) as animal abolition, it’s hard to focus on anything else but the big picture. I’ve always been accused of having lofty ambitions, so keep an eye on me!

What do you feel is the greatest challenge facing the activist community today, and how can we overcome that challenge?

From where I stand, our biggest challenge is twofold. The first aspect seems to be keeping our eyes on the prize. What I mean to say is that these highly-publicized ‘steps in the right direction’ can often result in even more horror on the animals’ behalf. The elimination of gestation crates, ‘cage free’ and backyard eggs, ‘grass-fed’, ‘humanely raised’, ‘free-range’ cow flesh, ‘antibiotic free’, ‘organic’ dairy, eating ‘locally’, ‘Vegan Before 6’, ‘part-time vegan’ (whatever that means)… these are all just things that make folks feel better about the exploitation and consumption of animals and their secretions. I feel that celebrating and congratulating these ‘small victories’ for the animals is doing nothing but giving the general population permission to continue this behavior, and the animals then continue to suffer and die for our appetites and habits. Veganism IS realistic, and we shouldn’t settle for anything less. Indeed, for the animals’ sake, we can’t.

Secondly, and perhaps most importantly, we cannot hide the truth, or tell half-truths, or sugar-coat the truth for the sake of propriety. To be sure: there IS a distinctive difference between ‘plant based’ and ‘vegan’. Vegan MEANS something. We cannot shy away from the word any more than we can shy away from the message: Animals are here WITH us, not FOR us. We’re not talking about propaganda or hidden agendas or the crazed ravings of a lunatic; the fact that the truth is horrific and brutal and shamefully unnecessary DOES NOT STOP IT from being the truth. And the truth is not a sound bite, or a bumper sticker, or a button on a backpack. The truth in this instance is heavy, to say the least, with far-reaching consequences. So never apologize for it. Nothing breeds fairness faster than visibility, and we could use a big dose of fairness on this planet!

As you can see, Erin Red is quite the busy gal!  Red Radio returns to its original, weekly format on July 1 – Canada Day, appropriately enough for this vegan from the Great White North. Call the Red Radio Hotline: (510) 500-KALE with questions or just to leave a message, and tune in via iTunes or whatever podcatcher you use.

Find out more at:

ErinRed.com
facebook.com/ErinRed
Twitter: @erinred

By Published On: 28 June 20132674 words13.5 min read

This post is part of our series, Unsung Vegan Heroes- stories about vegan activists, real people doing really amazing work.  People who work hard to bring positive change in our world.  People who make a substantial, yet unrecognized, contribution to the vegan movement- people whose actions are unknown or unacknowledged.  People just like you.

Meet Erin Red: Activist, educator, podcaster, writer, and vegan hero who works tirelessly on behalf of the animals.

Erin Red

You may not know Erin Red’s face, but it’s quite possible you know her voice. As the host of the podcast Red Radio – bringing vegan banter with a bite to your earholes since November 2011 – Erin Red has been an enthusiastic voice for the animals for 64 episodes and counting! An ethical vegan, Erin Red is passionate about animal activism and covers a range of topics in her work – which includes interviews with featured guests that are notable within the movement as well as with “fresh veggies” (new vegans) who are just joining the community.

Erin Red co-founded New York City’s successful The Seed: A Vegan Experience in 2012. The two-day festival featured all things vegan – speakers, vendors, films, live demos and more. Her vision for this event – as well as for the vegan movement – is one that she does not take lightly. I recently spent an afternoon with her in New York City, shooting the vegan shiitake over lunch and people (and animal) watching in Union Square Park. It was refreshing to talk with someone who I share a lot of the same thoughts and opinions with – and to reiterate that the animal rights movement needs all kinds of voices to strike a chord with people.

We got to ask Erin Red a few questions and, as you’re about to read, her answers were thoughtful and fascinating!

What does a day in your life as a vegan activist look like?

I’m a big fan of routines and rituals, so I wish I could tell you there’s such a thing as a ‘typical’ day… but that’s simply not the nature of the beast, so to speak! My days range from ‘non-stop crazy hustle’ to ‘pajamas and my laptop’ and every imaginable variable in between, and let’s not forget the perpetually necessary ‘day job’… but for the sake of the topic at hand, I’ll describe a very typical work day.

I’m up at 6am and off to the gym. Fitness and well-being are of utmost importance to me; I ask extraordinary things of my body and mind (on the animals’ behalf as well as my own), therefore I need to honor both extraordinarily. Physical activity and good, clean, organic food are a big part of my every day, and I consider both to be forms of activism. Aside from practicing muay Thai and running regularly, I also practice Bikram Yoga and do my best to gift myself one full day of rest every week.

After the sweat-fest, it’s time to get to work. I find I focus better outside of my home, so I pick one of my favorite vegan spots in the city (supporting vegan businesses – more activism!) – Jivamuktea Cafe in Union Square, Sun in Bloom in Brooklyn, Peacefood Cafe Downtown – set up the laptop, and get online. Aside from reading and responding to an obscene amount of email on the daily, social media is a big part of my reality; I’m on Twitter 24/7 via my mobile phone, and update my Facebook and Tumblr accounts at least once a day. Then it’s writing time. It could be anything – content, reviews, interviews, news stories and more for the latest episode of Red Radio, a blog post for my website or someone else’s, an article for a newsletter, a speech for an upcoming event, project proposals, letters to the editor, website copy… writing takes up the majority of my day, without question. Assuming I have no other commitments for that particular day, I may spend 8 to 10 consecutive hours in front of my trusty MacBook. We’re BFFs.

Maniacal vegan rescue S

Basil: maniacal vegan rescue schnauzer

When I can’t stare at the screen any longer, I return home to my partner, Nick, and our three roommates – Lucy and Banapple Gas, our two gorgeous rescued felines, and Basil, our maniacal vegan rescued schnauzer – and make sure all their bellies are happy. The rest of my evening usually involves one last email check, cleaning and organizing, a hot shower, a huge salad, prepping for the next day, Law & Order: SVU and a lot of snuggling. Glamorous!

Add to that a few vegan/AR related events, rallies, meetings and festivals per week, and an activist’s work is never done. My to-do list is three pages of a legal pad long, and growing. And that’s just the way I like it.

You are already a successful podcaster and certified lifestyle coach. Tell us a little bit about your future plans.

Top priority right now is writing and updating all the content on ErinRed.com. I have a ton of content to upload, and a ton of writing to do. It’s been #1 on my to-do list forever, and I’m finally getting it done. Once the site is where I want it to be, I’ll be much more active there. Blogging regularly about a myriad of topics, supporting my favorite vegan and animal rights organizations, and hopefully including some video content, too. I’d like to be much more connected and interactive with my audience and the community; a fully functional website is step one.

After that, I plan to focus more on speaking and appearances over the next year or so; I really enjoy this aspect of my work, and I’m good at it. It also allows me to connect with people face-to-face, which is a real luxury when you’re used to barking at folks through the internet! Also, funny you mention my certification through MSVA – though I have been making very good use of the myriad of skills I honed there, and continue to support and advise many friends on their individual journeys, I have YET to take on an ‘official’ client. So I’m slowly putting my program together and will soon take on regular clients, which is really exciting to me. That will all be appearing on ErinRed.com, as well.

With the success of The Seed in 2012, and of course the subsequent separation from that organization, I’m also eager to put together another vegan event of that caliber. I’m chock-full of ideas for a reincarnation of my original concept; all that needs to manifest is the space and the money. In the meantime, I continue to help other organizations and individuals produce their vegan-centric events, big and small, all over the country and beyond. It’s kind of like throwing a big party, and it’s truly wonderful to see everyone come together in the name of veganism and animal rights. And the grub ain’t so bad either.

And of course, I’d be remiss if I neglected to mention the book deal that’s on it’s way to me. Right, Universe?

After the inaugural “The Seed: A Vegan Experience,” which was a huge success, you were unexpectedly dismissed from the organization less than a week later. 82 Mercer has moved on with your concept and contacts, and held their second event this year, calling it “The Seed: Positively Plant-Based.” How do you handle the continued use of your idea and the fact that other vegans continue to work with 82 Mercer?

Speak of the devil, right? Ha! But seriously, folks…

While I’m obviously not condoning my co-founder Harvey Fung’s behavior or the actions of 82 Mercer or HSR Corp in any way… to be frank? Bygones. The experience I gained putting a show like that together is completely invaluable – not only did I get to flex my creative muscles and turn the visions in my monkey-mind into glorious reality, but I had the opportunity to connect with so many incredible people in the community and far beyond. I learned the ins and outs of putting together a massive event with world-class speakers and vendors. I made friends I’ll have for life. I will always be proud of The Seed’s debut.

Erin Red at The Seed

The continued use of my ideas, my concepts and my connections is, if nothing else, a testament to the quality and success of said ideas, concepts, and connections. That said, after my dismissal, the powers that be took the reigns and re-invented my original concept as a health-based initiative, replacing “A Vegan Experience” with “Positively Plant Based”, reflecting on their desire to… well, make more money, in my opinion. Like it or not, the ‘V Word’ still scares a lot of people. Taking the focus off of the animal, ethical and environmental issues and placing it on aesthetics and ‘wellness’ means more attendees, more vendors, and wealthier sponsors. It makes the event more glossy, more happy, more simple and profitable. And that’s lovely. But the problem is that veganism isn’t just about upscale juice bars and gourmet raw fine dining and the latest cruelty-free handbag and the glamorous lives of elite plant-based athletes. For me, it’s about the animals first and foremost. I’m pretty sure that terrified some of the team there. This was never about money for me, and in the end, that was likely my undoing.

As far as vendors and speakers and acquaintances in the community choosing to continue to work with The Seed, I’m rather indifferent on the matter. I was contacted by many, from very close friends to up-and-coming vendors and everything in between, who were essentially asking permission to do the show in 2013. I’ll tell you the very same thing I told them: The Seed was created out of the desire to educate the world about the endless benefits and true joys of living a vegan lifestyle, for us and for the rest of the planet. It was a huge success. I have no desire to prevent anyone from spreading the vegan message, and therefore I have no desire to sabotage anyone who wants to participate in any way. While I strongly oppose the ethics and practices of the people producing the show, if it will ultimately help the animals, the planet, and the population… if it will benefit someone’s wonderful work and promote veganism in a way that makes them feel proud… I would never, ever hold it against them.

Simply put, this isn’t about me. It’s about veganism, it’s about the animals.

The Seed’s debut was proof that folks are ready for an event that shamelessly calls itself VEGAN. That doesn’t avoid the big issues, the real issues, the important issues. That celebrates veganism in a completely mainstream way; a way that makes vegan accessible and even (gasp!) NORMAL. And that concept will be realized again, mark my words. Onward and upward.

How do you avoid the burnout that can sometimes happen to a vegan activist?

I may be reiterating a little bit here, but I find that the most exhilarating and motivating thing I can possibly do is remind myself – often – that this is about the animals. It sounds like a total cliche, but on the days when I feel trampled on, or overwhelmed, or that one redheaded Canadian in Brooklyn can’t save the world… all I have to do is see a clip of an animal being rescued or liberated, or hear about an organization making massive changes in the way we treat animals, or read an email from a Red Radio listener telling me they’ve gone vegan, or even just catch a glimpse of my little rescued pup or one of my darling rescued kitties gazing at me with that singular kind of love in their eyes. Knowing that I am a part of this movement, knowing that I have made and will continue to make a difference in the lives of animals, even just one at a time… that is enough to fill me with the energy of a thousand passionate activists!

We have to deal with a lot of darkness in this community. And all that means is that we have to let the light out from within. Don’t just see the joy; BE the joy.

What is your greatest success as an activist? What is the moment you are most proud of?

I have to say, this has been the hardest question for me to answer. First of all, when you become an activist and this work becomes a part of your life, the sense of community is truly astounding. Every glorious accomplishment, no matter how big or how small, is a group effort. A coming together of some of the world’s most selfless and compassionate hearts and minds. I am humbled every day by the dedication, hard work, support and camaraderie of the vegan community, and honored to be a card-carrying member!

Secondly, I’m just getting started. I don’t feel that I have accomplished much of anything just yet. There are small moments of celebration – when someone tells me they’ve decided to go vegan with thanks to my work, wrapping up a truly fulfilling interview with someone I admire, speaking to a huge crowd about animals and watching their eyes light up with connection and compassion – but it’s all part of a much grander, more elevated goal. I admit that I have a hard time seeing the trees for the forest, but when you’re working so hard towards something as significant (and as necessary) as animal abolition, it’s hard to focus on anything else but the big picture. I’ve always been accused of having lofty ambitions, so keep an eye on me!

What do you feel is the greatest challenge facing the activist community today, and how can we overcome that challenge?

From where I stand, our biggest challenge is twofold. The first aspect seems to be keeping our eyes on the prize. What I mean to say is that these highly-publicized ‘steps in the right direction’ can often result in even more horror on the animals’ behalf. The elimination of gestation crates, ‘cage free’ and backyard eggs, ‘grass-fed’, ‘humanely raised’, ‘free-range’ cow flesh, ‘antibiotic free’, ‘organic’ dairy, eating ‘locally’, ‘Vegan Before 6’, ‘part-time vegan’ (whatever that means)… these are all just things that make folks feel better about the exploitation and consumption of animals and their secretions. I feel that celebrating and congratulating these ‘small victories’ for the animals is doing nothing but giving the general population permission to continue this behavior, and the animals then continue to suffer and die for our appetites and habits. Veganism IS realistic, and we shouldn’t settle for anything less. Indeed, for the animals’ sake, we can’t.

Secondly, and perhaps most importantly, we cannot hide the truth, or tell half-truths, or sugar-coat the truth for the sake of propriety. To be sure: there IS a distinctive difference between ‘plant based’ and ‘vegan’. Vegan MEANS something. We cannot shy away from the word any more than we can shy away from the message: Animals are here WITH us, not FOR us. We’re not talking about propaganda or hidden agendas or the crazed ravings of a lunatic; the fact that the truth is horrific and brutal and shamefully unnecessary DOES NOT STOP IT from being the truth. And the truth is not a sound bite, or a bumper sticker, or a button on a backpack. The truth in this instance is heavy, to say the least, with far-reaching consequences. So never apologize for it. Nothing breeds fairness faster than visibility, and we could use a big dose of fairness on this planet!

As you can see, Erin Red is quite the busy gal!  Red Radio returns to its original, weekly format on July 1 – Canada Day, appropriately enough for this vegan from the Great White North. Call the Red Radio Hotline: (510) 500-KALE with questions or just to leave a message, and tune in via iTunes or whatever podcatcher you use.

Find out more at:

ErinRed.com
facebook.com/ErinRed
Twitter: @erinred

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  1. […] as animal abolition, it’s hard to focus on anything else but the big picture. – Erin Red, Your Daily Vegan, June 28, […]