Monday, October 31, 2011

Relentless for the Animals

November 1 begins our End of Year Matching Challenge, which will determine how Vegan Outreach goes into 2012. In the next two months, we'll cover some of the highlights of the past year, and continue to feature feedback from people whose lives have been changed because of our work together.

We know that every day, agribusiness is ruthlessly pursuing profit via their factory farms and slaughterhouses.

Jeni met this gentleman at Utah Valley U;
he went veg after getting a booklet from her
exactly one year before.
At Vegan Outreach, we strive to be as relentless for the animals as big ag is ruthless to the animals.

Every single day, we focus single-mindedly on having the greatest impact possible.

Our work together may not be the most exciting—but it is efficient and effective, making a real difference every single day! And starting Nov. 1, your secure, tax-deductible contribution will have twice as big an impact!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

A Repeat from 2006

Congratulations (again) to longtime vegetarian and animal advocate Tony LaRussa, for winning the World Series!

PS, from Brian Grupe:

At Sacramento State, I had one of the most positive, intense conversations of the semester with a young lady who I saw reading the brochure not once, but three different times. I finally stopped her to ask her what she thought and we spent the next 15 minutes talking about everything. She’s ready to start making changes in her life.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

My Pomona

Ted is a new student at Pomona College. He wrote about his first leafleting:
It was difficult to jump in at the beginning. But after a few minutes, it wasn't hard at all! My best moment was when I met a vegan couple and they gave me a "Rock on!" =)
The dining halls here are way more veggie-friendly than the one at West Georgia. There are quite a few vegetarians on campus. But we would still like to improve our stance, so my friend and I are planning to found a vegetarian club. Once we're a registered student club, we can receive funding from the school to leaflet, and lots more! So I'll keep you posted with our progress.
Ellen might be able to join him next year!

Kalie Miller also rocks on at Sonoma State.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

What a Week! DawnWatch Edition

Following up everything else posted this week, Karen has what is one of her best posts ever — not only the links, but the insightful commentary as well:

O Magazine on Factory Farming, Nov 2011, plus Atlantic piece against meat eating.

Great stuff, Karen — thanks!!

Mara Collopy opens another set of eyes
at Rochester Institute of Technology. 

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Interview of the Year!

Gary Smith, who previously talked with Nikki Benoit, interviewed Vegan for Live co-author Ginny Messina. The entire article is worth reading; one excerpt:

Though you are a registered dietician, you have written in the past that the best argument for veganism is the ethical/animal argument. Why don’t you believe that the health argument should be the driver?

I think it’s great if people want to talk about the health benefits of eating more plant foods and fewer animal foods. Unfortunately, though, we have no data to show that you need to go 100 percent animal-free in order to be healthy. So there really isn’t a “health argument” for vegan diet, let alone vegan lifestyle.

This means that if we want to promote veganism for personal gain or health benefits, we need to overstate the findings and tweak the science. And what does it say about our movement if we’re advocating for animals by using a not-quite-honest or not-quite-scientifically-supportable message?

Some might say that we should appeal to every possible motivation in getting people to stop eating animals, and that’s a tempting argument. I’d probably buy it if I thought it would work. But I don’t see that advocacy built on a shaky factual foundation or on precepts that are ever-changing can prevail in the long run.

No one knows what the exact “ideal” diet for humans is, or if there is any single diet that fits that definition. I talk with my colleagues frequently about new research and whether we need to reassess some of our recommendations or advice based on the latest findings – because ideas about the best way to eat are forever changing. Who knows what the research will be showing 40 years from now? But an ethic of justice doesn’t change. The argument in favor of animal rights today will be the same in 40 years. So why not stick with the argument that is 100 percent unassailable, the one that we never have to scramble to defend in light of new findings?

In addition, I think there is a real problem in shifting the focus of veganism away from an ethic of justice for animals toward more anthropocentric concerns. It actually reinforces the idea that our food and lifestyle choices should be all about us – a belief that lies at the center of animal exploitation.

Full interview here.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Focus on the Real World

Speaking to the Australian Activists Forum on Friday, I was asked how I deal with all the criticism VO gets.

Paulette sends this picture of Laquivia
from Occupy Charleston.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Friday, October 21, 2011

OT: Friday Video

Totally off topic, but we've been enjoying Wilco's new album. Here is the title track (live at least as of 12:30 Friday in Tucson):

Jon might like the last minute of this one. (Either of these might be taken down by the time you see this.)

And (this one should stay up) here is their mini acoustic concert in the NPR offices.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

More and More Good News!

Paul passes along this report:

U.S. broiler production is expected to decline at the end of the third quarter in 2011 and moving into the fourth quarter

Why would this be?
Veg for a year since getting a booklet
from Nikki at El Camino College.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Additional Links

As today's Enewsletter speeds through the inter-tubes, here are a couple more links:

Heather notes that "Give vegan cooking a chance" was featured on the front page of

And in reply to a writer who is interested in veganism but scared by anti-vegan propaganda, Jack offered this overview by Ginny Messina.

Jeni Haines encourages others to give compassion
a chance at Denver's Auroria campus.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Labels for Action

In the Facebook discussion of the Vegan Club vs Vegan World post, the following comments were worth passing along:

Bonnie Shulman: I want to repeat this most excellent phrase: I want a vegan world, not a vegan club. Facebook has turned into a vegan club. Same people, same words/pictures. That's why I believe that Vegan Outreach is more important for animals than FB or Twitter, and why I donate whenever possible.

Josh James (pictured): I self identify as an animal advocate, not a vegan advocate. Vegan is just a word. Suffering is real, and suffering matters.

Colleen Eren: Josh--I like your distinction. Veganism has the danger of becoming cultish, with exclusivity and parsing of distinctions amongst "better" vegans. But if we say we're animal advocates it takes the attention away from US and to those beings that are suffering.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Supplement Saturday

The Dynamic Duo are at it again: both Jack and Ginny have posts up about the latest review of supplements!

PS -- here is the direct link to Brian's video, mentioned yesterday. That's twice I've forgotten the link -- need more B12!

Christina Cruz talks with a student
at South Texas College.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Vegan Club vs Vegan World

Lindsay S. Nixon, the Happy Herbivore, recently put up an insightful post, along the lines of Jack's longtime motto: "We want a vegan world, not a vegan club." (Thanks to Lana for bringing it to our attention.) Here are some excerpts, reproduced with permission.

I'm Not 'Vegan' Anymore

I feel compelled to finally say it: you win, I'm out.

For the past five years that I've been "vegan" I've been told, repeatedly, I'm not vegan enough.

No matter how hard I tried, no matter how perfectly I thought I was living, something I did was always wrong. The vegan police were always ready to jump in and take away my vegan card.

For example, I once tweeted I'd eaten cotton candy at a baseball game. Big mistake. I received a wave of angry texts and tweets about how I wasn't vegan if I ate cotton candy, and how unresponsible it was of me not to source the sugar in the cotton candy first.

What I don't understand is why are these vegans taking the time to run around and tell people trying to be vegan they're not vegan enough, instead of using that time and energy helping someone who isn't vegan at all?

Is veganism some cool club that I'm not worthy to get into? Do we really want to make it about exclusivity rather than inclusivity?

Someone said to me once, and I think this is painfully true, for cruelty-free dieters, vegans sure are cannibalistic!

To the vegan police: Know that if you continue down this road, you are only hurting your cause, not helping it. Had I been newly vegan, or more unsure, the events of yesterday would have made me run for the hills screaming "vegans are crazy extremists!" and then you've accomplished the exact opposite of your goal: you'd have made me eat more animal products, not less...

I don't know how much luck these others have had 'converting' people with their methods and attitudes but from where I'm standing they've just lost me, so that's a -1. Over a dozen people left comments like this one yesterday, and I think it speaks volumes to how harmful - not helpful - drawing lines in the sand within our community can be:

"The comments here have made me re-think the way I describe myself. Even though I am a "vegan" by the strictest definition this is not a group I want to be a part of. I no longer consider myself a vegan."

As plant-based eaters, we need to spend our time helping others eat more plants and less animals, not deciding or judging who is or who is not vegan enough for their standards.

I have always tried to make Happy Herbivore a safe space where anyone can feel welcome and not judged. I've learned that if you want people to make a change you must show them kindness and compassion. You must build them up rather than tear them down.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Follow-up to Animals Not Arguments

Thanks so much to everyone who sent feedback on the latest version of Animals Not Arguments. It is also going out in today's Enewseltter.

We did receive feedback indicating this line is unclear:

At this time, there simply is no magic argument that will convince everyone – or even a majority – to go vegan.

So I've added this postscript:

To be clear: the point is not that we must use multiple arguments to reach different people. Rather, for the majority of people today, there is no argument at all that will convince them to go vegan.

For the reasons discussed [in the main article – e.g., the chain example], trying to use multiple arguments (even if they were valid) makes us less effective advocates with the people who actually are open to making changes for the animals. Furthermore, as disussed in some of the links [in the main article] (and here and here), many of these arguments can do active harm to the animals, when their overall net impact is assessed. Again, these arguments often reinforce the idea that everyone should be motivated only by self interest, and lead enough people to change from eating large animals to smaller animals to more than offset the good of those who do change for non-cruelty-related reasons.

Therefore, we must always assess the total impact of our advocacy on all animals – not just whether an argument sounds good to us or a few individuals we happen to know. Regardless of how a story, study, or claim sounds to us, if there is any chance it could lead non-vegetarians to eat more chickens and/or fish, we should not promote it.


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Monday, October 10, 2011

Updated: Animals, Not Arguments


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....

The facts are simple, stark, and indisputable:

1. At this time, there simply is no magic argument that will convince everyone – or even a majority – to go vegan.

2. The health argument, as it is actually interpreted and acted on in the real world by non-vegetarians, has killed many many more animals than it spared.

3. Every additional argument we present to meat-eaters gives them more distance between themselves and their real and immediate connection to the brutality on factory farms.

The question we must each ask is: Will we work for the animals in the world as it is, or live in the feel-good vegan echo chamber? Each of us can make a real, significant difference. But we can’t afford to make my past mistakes or try to win an argument. Rather, we must focus on the animals.

Full article here.
Thanks to everyone who provided feedback on previous versions.

-Matt Ball

Sunday, October 9, 2011

John O and Feedback

Sent to John Oberg (below):
After getting a booklet from you at the Arizona State downtown campus, I came back to ask you questions about veganism and expressed my concern over the affordability. You gave me some really good personal insight along with your suggestions. I want to thank you for the info you shared it was really helpful.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Thursday Miscellany

Encourage Subway to add Tofurky! (corrected link)

Feedback from Sally:
Your booklet has CHANGED MY LIFE. Out of the blue, a sweetheart passed me Compassionate Choices...which I nearly declined, but changed my mind & am so thankful I did....I had NO IDEA how appalling the situation still is....I am a converted vegan...funny how things turn out.

Feedback from Jessica to Brian, after leafleting De Anza College:
A fantastic day!! My favorite conversation was with the campus policeman who approached me and gestured at his copy (yes I had leafleted him) of Even If You Like Meat, and indicated that the public needs to know this information.
My second favorite conversation was with an older woman who asked for additional copies of EIYLM for her friends and told me "I love you guys!!"
Also, a veg professor and librarian stopped to offer us encouragement and rave about Vegan Outreach.
I can't count the number of students who thanked me for the leaflet - so polite and friendly!
Thank you, Brian, for making this happen.

Katie Pryor informs another student at CUNY Kingsborough Community College

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Bear's Swan Song

From Barbara Bear's last time leafleting
at the University of Colorado.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Monday News

The broiler industry in the U.S. is “suffering some of its worst losses in history,” amid weak demand.

Meatless Monday: Communist Plot? Or Terrorist Trick?

Quick-Fix Vegan now only $2.99 for Kindle.

Mass farmed animal deaths from hot weather.

Ignorance of production methods can cut both ways.

Bronte Cummings spreads sunshine and compassion
at Cal State, East Bay.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Messaging for the Animals

Lisa sends along this interesting read: Readability & Rights.

A good reminder that we aren't out to show how smart or dedicated we are, but to reach new people in such a way as to get them to take the first step toward helping animals.