Tuesday, August 31, 2010


In this podcast, Steve McAllister talks with me about Vegan Outreach, The Animal Activist's Handbook, and other topics.

Hope you find the podcast interesting.


Monday, August 30, 2010

The First Step or the Last?

Re-reading an old article over the weekend, I reflected that opportunities for constructive interactions with meat-eaters can be relatively rare. When we have these chances, do we focus on our diet / our desires ("Go Vegan!"), or do we try to get non-vegans to open their hearts and minds to the animals' plight?

Do we invite people to consider the first step, or demand the last step?

This came back to me when I saw this anecdotal post to the AAC, from Bryan Peas of Animal Protection and Rescue League:

We ran a small focus group (8 random [meat-eaters]) and Even If You Like Meat won hands down for content as well as cover (even though [basically the] same content as Why Vegan). Some liked Compassionate Choices as well. Nobody picked Why Vegan."


Saturday, August 28, 2010

AAC Videos

Jack has added two videos from VO's YouTube channel to the front page of the Adopt a College site. Be sure to check them out!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Friday Night Lites

Friday video: Longtime animal activist Chrissie Hynde singing "Back on the Chain Gang."

And in other audio news, Erik flags this vegan mention on NPR.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Recipe of the Week

Vegan Tacos / Chili.

Note that you can pretty much make this with anything -- broken up Boca burgers, reconstituted TVP, crumbled tofu (extra firm would be best), etc. Don't need the taco seasoning -- can add cumin and chili pepper to taste. Heck, you can just add a bunch of salsa.

I never make this the same way twice. This Tuesday I started with the Gimme Lean, adding a little garlic and half a leftover red onion. After mostly cooked up, I added some finely chopped red cabbage (about a cup). Later, the envelope of taco seasoning, turmeric (very high in anti-oxidants, according to Dr. Greger), a can of chopped tomatoes with green chilies, a can of V8, and ~4T of chia seeds. Let this simmer down, have with burrito or shells and dip (or Tofutti sour cream). The next day, we had leftovers with rice and corn chips. Delicious!


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Bucks and Bugs

Erik points out that agribusiness will happily poison you to save a few pennies.

Anne received this email from CC, after leafleting a Warped Tour stop:

I believe I am probably the oldest leafleter there is!! But truly, I do enjoy the people, and have met people I never would have met otherwise. I had a very tall young man lift up his shirt to show me the biggest tattoo of the word "vegan." Being a second grade teacher, I never would have seen that anywhere else!!

And please look for today's Enewsletter in your inbox; if you don't get it, please check to see if your ISP filtered it. Thanks so much, and thanks to everyone who sent feedback on yesterday's post.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Myth or Reality?

When I went vegan 20+ years ago, a common theme was to "win an argument with a meat eater." Every topic was fair game, and every question or theory -- no matter how tangential or absurd -- was argued fanatically.

I fell into this trap, too, parroting the most outrageous claims about impotence, water usage, etc. It took me a long time to realize the point isn't to show how much propaganda I had memorized, or to glorify my veganism, or to "defeat" a meat eater.

Rather, the bottom line is to help animals by helping more people make informed, compassionate choices.

At the time, though, I failed to recognize that every claim and argument I offered not only didn't advance the animals' cause, but actually diluted and distracted from the indisputable ethical case for veganism.

Many of these dubious claims continue to float around today, undermining effective advocacy for the animals.

For example, some vegans feel the need to claim that veganism is "natural" (whatever that might mean). To this end, the vegan diet (as though there is a single vegan diet) has to be perfect in and of itself, no supplements.

This leads to what is perhaps vegans' most harmful fantasy: that we don't need to worry about B12.

Jack has worked against this for as long as Vegan Outreach has existed. But there are people still more committed to myth than reality, as evidenced by the need for Jack to address the latest incarnation of this insidious fallacy.

If you aren't familiar with Jack's research on B12, please be sure to check out his post, and the links therein.

Of course, I understand the desire to believe that veganism is our natural diet (and would cure baldness, bring world peace, etc.).

But our goal isn't to show how awesome veganism is; what is important is saving animals. To do this requires an honest evaluation of reality, from the nutritional aspects of veganism to the possibilities and psychology of how people can and do change.

Please consider promoting this post. Thanks! -Matt

Monday, August 23, 2010

More Meatless Mondays & Marriage Milestone Mission

DawnWatch summarizes recent MM coverage in Time.

Caitlin passes along this story:

My husband and I leafleted the local Lilith Fair stop. Overall, the crowd was very receptive and sometimes very sweet.

Here are some of our favorite quotes or scenarios:  

"I already went vegetarian because of that [pointing to leaflet]."

"God bless you for doing this work."  

"My grandmother and I raised chickens growing up.  I would name them and think of them as pets but my grandmother told me to stop because their names were Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, etc.  I can't eat meat with bones to this day because it's too real."  [This led to a nice conversation about cultural and family expectations.  We shared experiences about being mocked by others for caring about animals.  Hopefully, the leaflet sparked some of his retired love for animals.]  

"I've been vegetarian for 30 years!"  

At one point, a tiny girl pushed through the crowd yelling, "I want it!  I want to help animals!"  She grabbed a brochure from myself, and then hit up Anthony [at right] for one too.  

One couple took a few leaflets from us to bring inside to give to the food vendors since they found no veg friendly food inside and were forced to get rid of the food they tried to bring into the concert.  

A girl took a leaflet from me and said, "Don't worry.  I'll go over this with my friends. [Turns to friends...] C'mon you carnivores!"  

One of the parking attendants took a long time reading the brochure.  She was disturbed by what she saw, and talked with Anthony for a long time about how to make a change that her family wouldn't oppose.  

We are beyond happy that we did it, and I just ordered a bunch more literature because we have our sights on some more events to leaflet.  It was also a special day because it marked the one year anniversary of our marriage, and we spent it leafletting followed by a dinner at the same vegan restaurant our reception was held.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Sunday Funnies & Surveys, Aug 22

Erik points out that Dan Piraro has a blog -- every day is Funnies day!

Also: have you voted for Vegan Outreach today? And if you can't get enough surveys, Manuel is working on his MA in Sociology, and has a survey for vegetarians.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Saturday Values

A reader points out the strange logic of some non-vegans:

So to summarize the argument: 
1. Humans are superior to [other] animals. 
2. Veganism isn't easy, so forget it. 

That's the way to be a superior being -- only do what is easy!

In other news, another egg recall is underway -- now more than half a billion eggs recalled! Here is Dr. Greger discussing battery cages on CNN. Note how, if the egg industry says the science isn't clear (when it actually is), the news anchor just says, "there's controversy." No wonder the industry lies so much -- they can!


Friday, August 20, 2010

Friday Interview and Video

We'll post this again, but wanted to let you see this interview with Jack ASAP.

On and On, by Erykah Badu.

After leafleting her concert in Baltimore, Vlad and BARN reported: "People were quite receptive. Some of the knew that Erykah was vegan and some were intrigued by the fact!"

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Blast from the Past! Dr. Greger on Animals as the Bottom Line

Here is a great article from 2005 from Dr. Greger on the pitfalls of being obsessed with words and definitions.

It is, of course, comforting to have a black-and-white list. But if we want to have the greatest impact in the world, we need to go beyond the simple, and understand the mechanisms of change.

Thanks, as always, to Dr. Greger for his clear, insightful analysis. You can vote for Dr. Greger (and Vegan Outreach!) in this month's VegNews poll.

Please consider promoting this post. Thanks!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Jon in the South, Links, and Anniversary

Jon Camp is heading to the South -- details, and other great links -- here!

PS -- After a recent chat with Phil Murray (at Pangea), we realized that earlier this year was our 20th anniversary of going vegan.

PPS -- Please be sure to vote for Vegan Outreach in the VegNews Poll -- thanks!


Monday, August 16, 2010

Great Story from St. Louis

I received a Compassionate Choices pamphlet from a well-mannered, friendly gentleman [Rick Hershey] before the Adam Lambert concert. It was a very hot evening, and that did not help the disposition of a couple of security guards who were intent on intimidating him into stopping what he was doing. He appeared unaffected by their tactics and never backed down.

It was interesting also how the people responded to his methods. One woman called out that her friend owned a chicken farm and he pleasantly replied that he bet her friend didn’t own a factory farm. She asked if that was different and he said that it was the other end of the continuum, so she took a pamphlet from him. People began to get out of line to approach him for the literature. Gradually the security guards began to warm up to him and before long they too asked him for pamphlets. The longer he was there, the more the guards seemed to like him. Eventually they told him about another line that he did not know of and, after thanking them, he literally ran away to catch that line before the doors opened.

Later in the evening, we ran into my friend (who had been standing in a another line) and noticed that she had the pamphlet. She commented on how she rarely takes things that people are handing out, but let him know that she helps animals. He politely used it as an opportunity to encourage her to take the pamphlet and to consider another way to help the animals.

Although I am a recent vegan, I have never had much influence on the eating habits of others.  My friend considers herself an animal lover yet never gave much thought about the contradiction that she lives by eating meat. Anyway, I wanted to share with you my observations and as a result of her interactions with this man and from reading your literature, my friend decided to stop eating meat!


Saturday, August 14, 2010

Advice Saturday -- Gassy Vegan

A relatively common question VO receives:

I love vegan food, but it does not agree with me. Too much plant based food make me very gassy. I know that I am not alone on this one and even though I have seen all kinds of specialists in all kinds of fields related to this I am at a loss. I can not eat beans at all. Any suggestions?

One reply:

No simple answer to your query, unfortunately. A few thoughts:

Many vegans find that, over time, their body's (intestinal bacteria) adjust to the new diet, leading to an improvement in their body's reaction to plant-based foods.  Others find that certain foods are worse than others for them (e.g., Gimme Lean is worse than a Boca Burger; broccoli worse than romaine lettuce, etc.).

Recently, some people have said that eating chia seeds has cut down on their intestinal gas. We put them in our taco meat, chili, bread, etc.  One person told me that these digestive aids totally changed his life.

Do you have advice? Please post it at the VO Facebook page. Thanks!


Friday, August 13, 2010

Green Day Friday

Caitlin tells this story of leafleting a Green Day concert:

A young teenage girl had passed me with her group of friends but didn't take a brochure because her friends made fun of it. But then she changed her mind after being a 1/2 mile away from me.  She proceeded to sprint back to me and breathlessly asked for a brochure.  I  wanted to give her a giant hug!

Friday video: Know Your Enemy, headed up by vegetarians Mike and Billie Joe.

Above, Stewart Solomon bends the arc by pushing a load of booklets to another Warped Tour leafleting opportunity.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Short Exchange on Global Warming

Q: Do you factor global warming into your philosophy and goals? For example, in your blog you caution that if a person gives up cow meat, they may be more likely to eat more chickens, which will cause a greater number of animals to suffer and die*. However, raising and slaughtering cows causes a lot more greenhouse gases than raising and slaughtering chickens.

*It takes more than 200 intensively raised birds -- not counting those that suffer to death before slaughter -- to provide the same number of meals as one steer.

A: The global warming consequences of a single person eating a small portion of a steer is indistinguishable from zero. But eating chickens causes a very significant amount of real suffering to many, many individuals.


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Meatless, Phil, EN, Vote!

Want to see what progress looks like? Nation's Restaurant News has a great article about the growing demand for meatless meals (large jpg).

Avowed steak-lover (and soon-to-be #1 golfer in the world) Phil Mickelson now a vegetarian!

Today's Enewsletter is being sent right now -- please be sure to look for your copy. If your ISP filters it, please mark it as "not spm" so you and others receive it in the future.

And, as always, please be sure to vote for VO in the VegNews poll.

Thanks so much!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Tuesday's Great Reads

Jack on Grains vs Meat.
(Just another example of how the easiest way to fame and fortune is to tell people they just have to eat meat.)
Be sure to read through to Jack's last paragraph.

Ginny on Helping New Vegans.
Not the same as getting meat-eaters to consider changing their diet, but generally sound advice for many situations.


Please consider promoting this post. Thanks!

Monday, August 9, 2010

"Why Don't You Promote My Diet?"

Vegan Outreach often receives criticism that the meal examples / food items we mention don't measure up. We should promote only whole foods, or raw foods, or cheap foods, or organic / veganic foods, or local foods, or foods sold at vegan-only stores, etc.

As you know, validating or promoting a specific diet isn't Vegan Outreach's purpose. Rather, we seek to reduce as much suffering as possible. People who currently eat animals are the only ones in a position to make changes that help reduce suffering.

Therefore, the information in our booklets and on our main website is primarily aimed at meat-eaters who might be willing and able to consider making changes. There is no point in showing people the revolting hidden horrors of modern agribusiness if the alternative seems unappealing and/or so strange as to be beyond consideration. (Jack offers detailed and honest nutritional information as well.)

As mentioned before, we are asking people to take the first step, rather than promoting the last step. To this end, the information we present seeks to be useful, rather than thorough.


Please consider promoting this post. Thanks!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Sunday Funnies, 8/8

Bonus links:
John Yunker has a new pro-vegan novel.

You did see this Erik Marcus post, Vegan vs Animal Advocate, right?

Please be sure to vote for Vegan Outreach today (and everyday until Aug 31)!


Saturday, August 7, 2010

Feedback Saturday

#3 all-time volunteer leafleter Stewart is at his son Zach's (very old picture at right) team's cross-country (XC) running camp, and sends this report of the power of the veg example:

Another XC dad recently complained to Margie [Zach's Mom] that his son was trying to eat less and less meat, but he told his son that if he's going to run, he's got to eat tons of meat. That dad is also up here chaperoning at camp here in Mammoth, where I've been providing the veg meals. Now, after Zach has been kicking ass all week, this dad went to the store, bought some veggie meat, and insisted on making the veggie tacos tonight!

Bruce passes along this new feedback for The Animal Activist's Handbook:

I have my Animal Activist's Handbook right next to my bedside. It is so inspiring, I've re-read it countless times! It has helped my "manners" and whole outlook immensely. I can honestly say that I'm a better person because of it! Even my closest friends are blown away by how... I can handle myself around others when the rights of non-human beings come up! I can get even the nastiest to actually listen up!! Thank you. The world is better because of you.

Joe had this posted on his wall:

It was Vegan Outreach leaflets at Loving Cafe in Fort Wayne, Indiana that did it for me! Thank you for changing my life!

 Finally, have you voted for Vegan Outreach today in the VegNews poll?

Please promote this post -- thanks!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Friday Night Lites, August 6

Video: Watch Jack Norris bring da noise and da funk!

Have you voted today in the VegNews poll?

And finally, feedback we received overnight:

I just wanted to express how much I appreciate this site.... While I appreciate [another group's] goals, their all-or-nothing tone always left me feeling guilty and discouraged. 

Vegan Outreach is the first vegan advocacy and information site that I've seen that makes me feel good about my recent decision to drop meat and fowl and explore new foods and cooking methods. Kudos for making a convincing case for veganism without making people feel selfish and evil if they don't get to 100% immediately!

Have a great weekend!

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Thursday, August 5, 2010

Thursday Action Items!

Want to give VO's work more exposure? Please vote for Vegan Outreach as Favorite Nonprofit Vegetarian Organization in the current VegNews poll.

You (and your friends, and family, etc.) can vote from now until August 31. Thanks!

Also, this new Huffington Post could use some positive comments, if you have some extra time. (But if you value your sanity, don't read the other comments! I am totally serious.)

My comment:
Thanks so much for this thoughtful, powerful article, Bruce.
We can each reduce the amount of suffering in the world with our daily food choices.
The arc of history is long, but bends towards justice. We can each be a part!!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Just Tons of Great Stuff!

It has been a while since we've had a "normal" Enewsletter, so today's issue has many weeks' worth of great links!


Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Dialog of the Day

John: How do you deal with omnivores' "extreme PETA" label that is so often applied to vegan advocates?

Matt: We aren’t PETA. There isn’t anything else we can do / say;  there is no "magic answer" that will get everyone to consider the animals' plight.
Keep in mind that at this time, most people will make some excuse / rationalization to avoid facing / dealing with the cruelty behind their choices. If it wasn't their stereotype of PETA, it would be something else.  We know and accept that we can’t “answer” everything / everyone. We have limited time and resources, and need to reach those who are at least somewhat open minded.

J: I love that response. I'm not saying I'm against PETA, but being written off because of a person's perception of a SEPARATE organization is sometimes frustrating. I had never thought about the fact that they're simply trying to find a rationalization behind eating meat and not face the consequences of their eating habits.

PS -- We have a backlog of great stuff for tomorrow's Enewsletter (like this, and this).
Please be sure to look for it.


Monday, August 2, 2010

Amazing AAC!

As the new school year rapidly approaches (far too rapidly for some), we wanted to make sure you knew about the amazing accomplishments of our Adopt a College activists during the Spring semester!

Vic Sjodin and Brian Grupe both handed Vegan Outreach booklets directly to over 50,000 students, with Nikki Benoit and Jon Camp not far behind! Brian went to an incredible 128 different schools in just one semester, and Jon to 123, all across the continent!

Full-time social worker Joe Espinosa nearly hit 30,000, with Phil Letten, Leah Wagner, Leslie Patterson, and Casey Constable rounding out the top five volunteers.

Overall, 546,501 students at a record 821 schools received the detailed, documented case for compassion! See the huge list of everyone who made the term such an amazing one for the animals!

Thanks to all the hard work of Team Vegan and your incredibly generous support, Fall term should be just as successful!!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Sunday Funnies

Via Erik, Colbert's most recent   Thought for Food.

Bonus funny, from a Jon Camp post on the AAC list:

What kudzu is to the south, Vegan Outreach is to North America -- pervasive, quickly spreading, and impossible to control.  But unlike kudzu, we are welcomed by residents with open arms, and not sprayed at with herbicides.  Vegan Outreach: The invasive species that you'll learn to love.