Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Is It Easy to Go Vegan?

Thought-provoking post by Ginny, and some diverse and interesting comments.

Speaking from experience, I know it is often really hard for some long-time vegans to avoid the curse of knowledge, but incredibly important if we are to be optimal advocates.

And please look for today's Enewsletter. Thanks!


Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Protein & Reaching Those Who Can Save Animals

Friday, we linked to Jack's great post about protein.

"Where do you get your protein?" is probably the most common question vegans get. It is so frequent that it is easy to take it personally and/or reply with exasperation.

Another way to react, however, is to see the question as a constructive opening to demystify and promote veganism to a new person. Most meat-eaters imagining veganism just picture their current diet without meat, eggs, and dairy. Not an appetizing image!

Erik "" Marcus put it bluntly:

When I met my first vegetarian, he told me he had not eaten meat for fourteen years. I looked at him as if he had managed to hold his breath that entire time.

Erik is obviously a thoughtful, open-minded person. We need to give others with a similar reaction the benefit of the doubt.

When we are next asked the question: "Where do you get your protein?", we can answer in a way that makes sense and sounds doable to someone who has eaten meat their entire life, who doesn't have a vegan support group, who isn't about to soak beans or make their own tempeh.

We always try to keep in mind that only meat-eaters are in a position to save more animals -- but we have to make changing their diet seem possible ... and desirable.

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Monday, June 28, 2010


Today at the University of Minnesota - Duluth was a great way to end a month on the road. The first vegan I met was so excited to get a Guide, she later returned with another vegan friend who also wanted one. One woman had just stopped eating meat a week ago after watching The Cove. After reading Even If You Like Meat, she had a lot of questions about what it meant to be vegan and how to do it. One of the building maintenance guys  came over to see what I was handing out. When I told him it was a brochure about factory farming he said, "Oh yeah, that stuff is horrible." He said he had watched Food Inc. and King Corn recently. He said "I'll definitely look through this and take it into consideration."

I then spoke with a former vegetarian. She said after reading Even If, she thought she would have to get back on track and stop eating meat again. One guy said after watching Food Inc., he couldn't finish the bag of Tyson chicken wings in his freezer. I explained that Tyson was not alone in the way it raised chickens. He said he would look through the information.

Finally, a number of people referenced this story, which was above-the-fold front-page news: nearly 10% of the student population had already signed a petition for more vegan-friendly cafeteria!

Fred Tyler

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Mariann & Nettie

Erik flags this great NYT letter by Mariann Sullivan, one of VO's very first members.

Nettie reports:

I leafleted at Corvallis Pride today -- good reception. Had a very long conversation with an ex-vegan. I hope that I gave her some food for thought. Even though she was vegan at one time and even leafleted for PETA, she was surprisingly ignorant and misinformed. Which just goes to show how little most people -- even the vegetarians and vegans -- know about this subject.

This is, of course, why Vegan Outreach publishes such a detailed Guide, along with thorough and detailed health information.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Team Vegan Saturday

Over at the Team Vegan blog, we're publishing updates from some of the members, including:

Team Vegan leader Darina reports on her recent efforts with Jon:

We spent two full days tabling and vegucating thousands during 22 hours at the Custer Fair in Evanston, IL. It was insanely good and productive outreach.

A heart-warming story was late Sunday when a shy teenage girl came up with her father, and the father said the girl had just been given a Compassionate Choices booklet, and she wanted to know how she could help stop this cruelty. It was nice to see parental support.

Above, Ontario's Compassion For Animals reaches two more.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Friday Night Lites, June 25

Jack has an informative post up about protein; we'll have more on this next week.

Friday night video: Moby's hysterical revenge video. Note: insightful and cartoonish violence; definitely not in the "How to Win Friends and Influence People" mode. More info.

At right: not even statues can resist Eleni's leafleting!

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Happiness, Hot Dogs, & Vegan Perfection

Didn't get enough links with yesterday's Enewsletter? Here are some more!

In case you missed this: Vegetarians are happier than meat-eaters (see also Ginny's post).

Via COK: July 2010 is National Veggie Hot Dog Month.

And to further refute all the cretinous idiots who lie about vegan diets, one of the lifelong vegans just scored a perfect 800 on the SAT Math 2 subject test.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Enewsletter & Links

Today's Enewsletter is on its way. As always, please look for it; if you didn't receive it, please check to see if you internet service provider is blocking it or has filtered it to your bulk / spm folder. Thanks!

Interesting post about agricultural subsidies; the key point:

[S]ubsidies have stabilized in the past few years around $100 billion a year -- a huge number, given that agriculture (not including things like cotton and tobacco) only accounted for $136 billion of GDP in 2009...

Finally, Jon passes along this article: What's the godly way to treat animals?


Tuesday, June 22, 2010

From Further North

Our friends at Karmavore in British Columbia pass along their tabling report from Sapperton Day:

The event was fabulous! There were so many visitors to the street festival.

We handed out almost all of  the Why Vegan and Even If You Like Meat booklets you sent. We also had draws for several goodie baskets filled with vegan goodies, and we made entrants fill out a quiz with a couple simple questions that could be answered in the Why Vegan booklet, making sure that people had to read it to find the answers! Only one person said they did not want to enter because they didn't want to look at the pictures. 

We had great conversations with many, many people about veganism and making compassionate choices. There was a group of teenage girls that I spoke to for some time. One of them was vegetarian, and her friends suddenly seemed to understand. One was almost in tears after looking through the Why Vegan booklet, but in a good way, as if she was enlightened and knew it was her calling to make a change in her lifestyle.

Several people said they would read the info that we gave them in more detail, and that they would come back to the shop for more help with transitioning to veganism, with cooking ideas, nutrition, etc.

The funniest was this older man who kept cracking all these meat jokes (not vegan friendly) to a staff person at the shop, and I am approached him and said "hello", and he said, "You're vegan?" You look healthy!", as if to say all the vegans he has ever met before have been malnourished. He kept making fun of us being vegan, and so we went into details of factory farming, and in the end he ended up asking if he could read Why Vegan!

 It was a great day!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Respect and Honesty

Regarding Saturday's post, Jeff points out most of comments were positive, which is true (Saturday's post has been edited to clarify). The problem is that there aren't always kind, thoughtful vegans around to counter the stereotype.

As for veganism's "magical" properties, some of you might know that in the mid 1990s, Jack Norris traveled around the country, leafleting colleges for two years. As discussed here, he heard "I was vegetarian / vegan for a while, but I felt unhealthy..." so often that Jack became a registered dietitian so he could evaluate nutrition research firsthand and provide sound recommendations.

Jack makes this point in his introduction to "Staying Healthy on Plant-Based Diets":

While many people thrive on a vegan diet, others have a hard time. When someone is committed to reducing animal suffering, there are often solutions to these dilemmas, and finding answers has been a major focus of my nutrition writing. I feel that it is important to bring attention to these issues. While doing so might not initially attract as many people as claiming that a vegan diet is a health panacea, getting people to stay vegan is the more important task....  

Nutritional myths have a way of going from one extreme to the other - either something is such an issue that people should not be vegan, or it is not important at all. The truth is often in the middle. Protein, calcium, and vitamin D are examples.  

People once believed that in order to rely on plant proteins, you had to combine particular foods at every meal. We now know this is not true, but in countering the myth, claims have gone from "You don't need to combine proteins," to "It's easy to get enough protein on a vegan diet," to the harmful "It's impossible not to get enough protein!" On average, vegans get enough protein, but vegans who avoid legumes and soyfoods might not be getting enough and could feel unhealthy....  

I would like to see vegan advocates promote the diet in such a way that we minimize the chances of someone having a bad experience. In so doing, future, long-term studies on vegans could show us to have better health than our meat-eating counterparts. 

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Sunday, June 20, 2010

Last Day for Team Vegan Shirt – You Can Help!

All Team Vegan members who raise at least $500 for Vegan Outreach by midnight are eligible for a Team Vegan shirt.

If you'd like to help – and have your donation doubled, dollar-for-dollar – members of the Team who are close to $500 include:

Dan Holbert
Ann Parkin
Katie Gray
The Animal Awareness Project

Thanks so much, and happy last day of spring!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Positive or Picky?

Another reporter is trying to go vegan for two weeks, and is documenting her experience (day 1, 2, 4).

Unfortunately, if you read the comments, you'll see a few vegans attacking her commitment, or even that she calls herself a vegan.

These are great examples of the insular and self-centered attitude some folks have – anyone who doesn't live up to a certain standard is not only not "vegan," but is an enemy to be ridiculed or even attacked.

In other words, they want their exclusive vegan club more than a vegan world.

Other commenters have taken the approach of, "When I went vegan, I felt so great! I had tons more energy and lost a zillion pounds and could run a marathon," etc.

This may seem like a good sales tactic, but it really sets absurd expectations for new people exploring veganism. Most new vegans – especially those going from the standard American diet straight to veganism  struggle with cravings, uncertainty, social pressure, awkward situations, etc. (including the judgment of other, "purer" vegans).

It is easy for new folks to think, "Well, those people all felt great as soon as they went vegan. I guess I'm just not cut out to be vegan."

Some people define themselves by how knowledgeable and committed vegans they are. Their self-worth is determined by how much better they are than others. There are plenty of places on the internet for people like this.

But Vegan Outreach exists to reduce as much suffering as possible. To this end, non-vegans – far from being the enemy – are actually the key to changing the world. Positive, constructive outreach to them – via our example, our encouragement, our honesty, our choice of advocacy message – is the only way forward.

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Friday, June 18, 2010

Friday Miscellany

* More Mark Bittman on Scott Jurek's 24-hour US record.

* In all weather! At right, Twila Hoyle carries boxes of Vegan Outreach booklets through street flooding in New Orleans.

Recent feedback:

I probably subscribe to hundreds of newsletters from nonprofits (mostly animal-related), but I keep looking forward to reading yours! I've already read many of the articles you link to, but I love reading your articles about why you do what you do and your vision for the future. I look at the world in a similarly calm, pragmatic way and that is why this is my favorite organization. I've decided that I'm going to get over my meaningless fear of leafleting and start doing it regularly next semester.

I also wanted to let you know that I use your principles (coming off as happy and kind, and not talking about purity) in my everyday life, and both of my parents have cut down significantly on their animal product intake for health reasons, and my younger sister is vegetarian and only drinks soymilk. My boyfriend hates factory farming and wants to go vegetarian eventually.

* If you can, please support Team Vegan!

* Friday night video: Ring of Fire by Joaquin Phoenix.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Support Our Man Up North!

How would you like to be in Nebraska in November? Or Minnesota in March?

How 'bout leafleting the schools in those states, and the Dakotas, and Iowa, and Wisconsin, etc., in freezing winds, under sleety skies?

That's what Fred Tyler does.

Fred has reached nearly 86,000 individuals with VO's detailed booklets. We have a new profile of him up, in which he explains how he went veg and why he leaflets:

I got a Why Vegan pamphlet in the summer of 1996. At that point, I had never heard about factory farming, or thought about where my food was coming from. After reading the Why Vegan, I knew I had to change. I didn't want to support such an abusive industry. Over the course of the next month, I kept eliminating animal products from my diet until I was confident in calling myself vegan.

I knew first-hand that the leaflets were effective, and I wanted other people to learn the truth. When VO started the Adopt-A-College program, I joined in as my schedule allowed. I saw that it was a great demographic and people were generally receptive. When I was presented with an opportunity to do more of this important work, I jumped on it.

Fred has just joined Team Vegan, so you can show your support by contributing to VO via his page!

And, as we mentioned yesterday, you can receive one of Dr. Greger's new videos if you contribute $75 or more to the expanded matching challenge!

Double your dollars and show your support of Fred's incredible dedication! Thanks!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Cutting-Edge Opportunity!

Dr. Michael Greger (yes, that Dr. Greger!) is offering Vol. 4 of his amazing nutrition DVDs to supporters of Team Vegan.

This DVD isn't even shipping to the public yet! Details in today's Enewsletter.

Given that several donors have pooled their money to extend the Team Vegan matching challenge, this is an amazing opportunity to learn the latest nutrition information, double your dollars, and change the world!

Learn more in today's Enewsletter.
(And, as always, please make sure you your ISP doesn't filter the mailing.)

Thanks so much!

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Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Bittman on Food, Attitude, and Advocacy

I started a longer writeup on this, but I think Mark Bittman's post stands on its own:

Bitty’s Book Review: Is Meat for Pussies?

One thing it took me years to understand is that I – and other vegans – aren't our target audience. People who currently eat animals are the only ones in a position to help animals with their food choices. So VO doesn't advocate what sounds good or makes sense to us, or celebrates / justifies our personal choices, or receives praise from our fellow vegans. It absolutely doesn't matter how awesome, powerful, or irrefutable an argument is to us.

Rather, we write what decades of experience, psychological research, and marketing show us is most likely to get the most people to question the status quo and start making real, lasting change that eliminates as much suffering as possible.

So please be sure to read Mark's review for an insightful take on the potential pitfalls of advocacy.


PS – great two-pronged opportunity to be announced in tomorrow's Enewsletter. As always, please look for it.

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Monday, June 14, 2010

From Scranton, PA

Jon Camp:
Great day leafleting at the University of Scranton (PA). The students at this Jesuit school were very, very friendly. One student told me about a relatively new vegan eatery, Eden, just a few blocks down from campus. I went there, saw it clearly listed as a vegan restaurant and got a good meal. Two racks of literature were in the eatery – one for Why Vegan, one for the Guide to Cruelty-Free Eating. Also many stickers on the wall, including a Vegan Outreach one. It's great to see more and more vegan eateries opening across the US – a sign of the times that we are helping to bring about.

PS  – Thanks to everyone who contacted us about this weekend's blog posts!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Link of the Day: Real Vegan Children

One of our great leafleters is expecting, and met another pregnant woman whose doctor insisted vegans had low-birthweight babies. This is in keeping with the relatively regular lies put out by anti-vegetarian folks who try to rationalize eating animals and/or seek to preserve the status quo for agribusiness.

Of course, this woman mindlessly accepted her doctor's contention, refusing to look at actual examples of lifelong vegan children. Can't let facts get in the way of a comforting fantasy!

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Saturday, June 12, 2010

Words vs. Results

Link of the day: Defining "Vegan."

Friday video (obviously delayed): VO member John Darnielle / The Mountain Goats This Year.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Seeing the Change ... and the Opportunity

As a follow-up to yesterday's post about making a difference, super-leafleter Stewart passes along this observation:

Zach [his son] said that on his running Facebook group, someone posted something anti-vegetarian – and 100 people jumped all over him, sending streams of pro-veg posts.  Margie [his wife] says more and more of her meat-eating friends are choosing veggie burgers at Burger King, Gardein at Chipotle, etc.  And she said that Skinny Bitch was still on display at the airport book store.  Then there's the coverage of the investigations, and the fake chicken article.  Encouraging! Although at times it seems like we're not getting anywhere, if you look around, you can see progress!

Anyone who has been vegetarian for five years (let alone 20) can see not only how much more widespread meat-free eating is, but also how much more awareness there is about factory farms, etc.

This change – from a society where meat-eating was unquestioned by everyone except for a handful of isolated vegetarians, to where we are today – didn't just happen. As Jack points out, veganism doesn't spread itself! This is because of the example and efforts of each of us.

And where we are in five more years also depends on each of us. We should revel in the opportunity we have to change the world!

All the best!

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Thursday, June 10, 2010

Do Your Choices Make a Difference?

Occasionally, Vegan Outreach hears from someone asking if they are really making a difference by not eating animals.

It can easily feel overwhelming to be just one person amongst hundreds of millions, but in a market economy where supply is driven by demand, our choices do create a signal (not just against animal products, but for cruelty-free options). This article discusses the question in more detail.

Our choices, of course, don't exist in isolation. Our example to others can be far more powerful than our signal to the market. Almost no one chose to be vegetarian in isolation for abstract reasons – everyone who is making compassionate choices is doing so because of the example and/or advocacy of someone else.

It is vitally important that we make sure we aren't just one person amongst millions – that we our doing our utmost to set the best, most attractive example possible, and providing the animals the most effective advocacy we can. As written here:

If we believe that being vegan is important, being the most effective advocate for the animals must be seen as even more important! The impact of our individual veganism – several hundred animals over the course of a lifetime – pales in comparison to what we have the potential to accomplish with our example. For every person inspired to change their habits, the impact we have on the world multiplies!  

Conversely, for every person we convince that veganism is overly demanding by obsessing with an ever-increasing list of ingredients, we do worse than nothing: we turn someone away who could have made a real difference for animals if they hadn’t met us! Currently the vast majority of people in our society have no problem eating the actual leg of a chicken. It is not surprising that many people dismiss vegans as unreasonable and irrational when our example includes interrogating waiters, not eating veggie burgers cooked on the same grill with meat, not taking photographs or using medicines, etc.  

Instead of spending our limited time and resources worrying about the margins ... our focus should be on increasing our impact every day. Helping just one person change leads to hundreds fewer animals suffering in factory farms. By choosing to promote compassionate eating, every person we meet is a potential major victory.
(Please also see the "Countering the Stereotype" section of AML.)

In the end, our lives can have the biggest impact and make the most difference if we focus our limited time and resources less on our personal purity and the minutia of every choice we make, and more on how our example and advocacy can have the most positive influence on others.

And as you can see, it is possible to make a huge difference every day!

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Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Working for the Great Leap Forwards

If you've read through all the great links in today's Enewsletter, feel free to contact us with your feedback, or come over to our Facebook page!

And if you're all done, here's a Billy Bragg song, "Waiting for the Great Leap Forwards," the title of which could be slightly modified to correspond with VO's work towards the tipping point for the animals.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Tomorrow's Tons Today!

Tomorrow's Vegan Outreach Enewsletter may just have the most links to fascinating stories and information ever. We always try to filter the torrent of news to the best, most informative items, but this week ... just tons and tons of great stuff!

Oh yeah – and a new Adopt a College record!!

Since there is just so much useful material, I thought I'd give you an early shot at it.

And, as always, please look for it in email tomorrow. If your ISP filters it, please be sure to track it down and mark it as legitimate mail. (There is always a secure unsubscribe link in every issue.)

Please consider promoting the VO Enewsletter. Thanks! –Matt.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Great News! Real Progress in the Real World

Some people think that the only thing worth promoting is their particular diet – e.g., all organic, or unprocessed, or raw, etc.

But Vegan Outreach exists to reduce the suffering in the world as much as we can. Therefore, we are dedicated to creating as much real change as possible.

As we've pointed out before, only meat eaters are in a position to save more animals from the horrors of modern agribusiness. Therefore, we absolutely must reach out to them where they are. Or, as VO's President Jack Norris put it (quoted here), we want a vegan world, not a vegan club.

This new world won't come about via a fundamental change in human nature, but by creating a world where making ethical choices is as easy as the current status quo.

And we are making progress! Phil, of, passed along this recent story, Tastes Like Chicken: The Quest for Fake Meat.

As discussed in the links above, this is a necessary step to change the world for the better!

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Sunday, June 6, 2010

Vegan Diets in the News

New Scientist looks at the latest science regarding the possibility of life extension via dietary modification. Some evidence indicates the variable isn't (only) calories, but IGF-1, as triggered by protein:

The protein theory is bad news for people on low-carbohydrate weight-loss plans like the Atkins diet. "I'd be wary of diets that put a heavy emphasis on protein," says Piper. "It's hard to see how that could be healthy." 

Fontana goes one step further, saying that high-protein diets could risk accelerated ageing and cancer.  It's good news, however, for people already on low-protein diets, like vegans, who avoid eating meat, eggs and dairy products. In 2007, Fontana showed that vegans have lower levels of IGF-1 than meat-eaters.  

There may be another reason for vegans to celebrate. Studies on flies and rodents suggest that cutting intake of one particular amino acid, called methionine, lengthens life to a similar degree as calorie restriction. Proteins in meat and other animal products have high levels of methionine, so a vegan diet would score well by that measure, too.

Obviously, this is not an argument for veganism per se; one can have follow a high-protein vegan diet (Tofurky Beer Brat, anyone?, and one can follow a lower-protein omnivorous diet. But it is an interesting counter to those who think protein is the main concern.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Standing Up for the Animals

Every day, Vegan Outreach activists take the animals' plight directly to many new people. Nearly every time, their outreach goes smoothly, with people thankful to learn what agribusiness has hidden from them. But every once in a while, an advocate has to go the extra mile.

The most recent example of this is Team Vegan member Phil Letten, who stood up to protect his right to give the animals a voice (the complaint against him was dismissed).

Kudos to Phil!

Today's Friday Night Video is from vegetarians Morrissey and Marr: "The Headmaster Ritual" (and Radiohead's cover is great, too).

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Thursday, June 3, 2010


Yesterday's post was about our ability to make a difference.

And that's what the members of Vegan Outreach do – make a difference!

Check out the Team Vegan page, after only 34 days: over $81k!

We know there is a lot of hard work still to be done, and some folks have some new ideas for the rest of Team Vegan this summer.

But right now, let's just cut to the chase:

You totally rock!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Can You Make A Difference?

Asking for donations at the start of the latest This American Life podcast, host Ira Glass tells listeners they can ignore his request and the show will still be there for them in the future.

This isn't the case with Vegan Outreach's work for the animals.

As we saw in the December 16 Enewsletter (booklet distribution chart at right), the number of new people reached by activists – and thus the number of new vegetarians providing the animals a voice – depends on your contributions.

There is simply no way to get to the goal we all share – a compassionate world where animals are respected as individuals – except to convince more and more people to change their diets.

And this can't happen by dictate or law – it has to happen from the ground up, person-by-person.

Vegan Outreach is committed to bringing about this change as quickly as possible. Activists across the continent are out there, every day, working to inform as many new people as possible about the hidden barbarism of modern agribusiness and the meaningful steps everyone can take to help end this cruelty.

As we point out in today's Enewsletter, today is the last day of the Team Vegan Double-Doubling opportunity.

If you've contributed already – thanks so much! We'll continue to do our best to make your contribution have the greatest impact possible.

If you've not had a chance, please consider making a contribution to a member of the team (details here).

And please keep Vegan Outreach in mind for the future. Creating fundamental change in society is a long-term project, and we all need to work together. Your support – now and in the future – will determine how many people learn of the animals' plight and discover what they can do to bring about a better world for all.

Thanks so much!

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Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Dwindling Double-Doubling Days!

Our Double-Doubling opportunity ends tomorrow, Wednesday, May 2 at midnight (West Coast time).

Again, thanks so much to everyone who has already contributed to members of Team Vegan!

Want to know what your support means? Check out this profile of leafleter extraordinaire Phil Letten.

You can help Phil help the animals by making a secure contribution via his Team Vegan page.

Your double-doubled dollars will put more booklets into the hands of more people, leading to more stories like these.


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