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!
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.
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.
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.
[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...
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.)
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.