Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Magic of Compounding Change

“Imagine that there are just 50,000 vegetarians right now (there are actually millions) and that each of these 50,000 convince just one person to stop eating meat over the next five years. Imagine that those 100,000 convince just one person in the five years after that, and that those 200,000, etc. In fewer than seventy years, we have a vegetarian America, even accounting for population growth. Most of us will do better than influence one person every five years- some of us will be able to open the hearts and minds of hundreds of people every year. The harder we work, the faster we achieve that vegetarian America we're striving toward.”

~The Animal Activist's Handbook by Matt Ball and Bruce Friedrich

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Understanding VO: Switch

One of the ways Vegan Outreach makes sure you get the biggest bang for the buck is by studying widely -- marketing, psychology, sociology, etc.

A useful book for people seeking to improve their activism is Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard, by Chip and Dan Heath. We have a summary of this book, covering how it applies to our work together for the animals.

If you want to understand Vegan Outreach better, please give the overview a read today!


Friday, September 28, 2012

Feedback from Recent Guide Requests (h/t Brian)

A girl at the farmers' market makes these fabulous vegan cookies, and had rows of Vegan Outreach booklets lined up next to her cookies. I had noticed I was subconsciously eating less meat then usual when I came across these booklets, and knew it was a good choice for me. Being a foodie already familiar with the pleasures of fruits and veggies, I am excited by the challenge of excluding animal products from my diet. Thank you for making the beautifully-designed message that changed my life. It feels good knowing I am a part of a movement bigger than just considering where our food comes from.
-KG, 9/6/12

A girl was passing out booklets at the Made in America Jay Z festival in Philly two weeks ago. I appreciated her efforts to spread awareness. I've been a vegetarian for 6 months, and it's a struggle sometimes, so I found your booklet motivating.
-JJ, 9/11

A young man outside North Dakota State University was handing out booklets, so I had to check it out and immediately supported what I read.
-BH, 9/11

At the Black Hills State University Campus, there was a guy handing out booklets, I took one read it. It broke my heart and was the final straw -- I've always questioned the ways we gather our food and I just can't ignore it any more! Sooo THANK YOU!!!!
-NS, 9/14

Brian G also sends this picture of Brian Heithaus at San Francisco State:

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Cosumnes River College

Brian reports:
"Busted the old record of 1,200 -- over 1,500 today! Thanks to The Boss (no, not Springstein!) Jack Norris [above] for his great work today. Things went off without a hitch; great acceptance, great weather, great students!

"Met a good number of veg and veg curious folk. One woman in passing told me she had read the booklet and was giving up meat!"

Brian (left) wisely refrained from handing out over 2x  more than Jack.
But he could have!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Is 12 Minutes Too Long? 60 Seconds of Truth

Is Farm to Fridge too long for some people?

Is the pigs-and-birds 4-minute excerpt from Meet Your Meat too much to ask?

PETA now has the advocacy booklet for the Twitter generation: Factory Farming in 60 Seconds.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Jon's Team Vegan Message

Jon recently sent this message to all his Team Vegan donors. We thought it was worth sharing with the broader VO audience:

Dear Friends,

I just wanted to give you a quick update on my Team Vegan pledge. While I was originally scheduled to do the Tough Mudder race, I had to cancel that due to a speaking obligation. But I did run a half marathon the following day, September 9th, and ran it in 1:53:58, about two minutes quicker than my time from last year.

The run was especially meaningful for me, since, earlier in the summer, I was hospitalized with a serious bout of Lyme Disease. I was in ICU for nine days, connected to an IV line and a temporary pacemaker, due to having Lyme-induced total heart block. Yikes! So I was pretty thrilled to cross the finish line of a half-marathon after just getting out of the hospital fewer than eleven weeks prior.

Of course, one of the things that pushed me to do this -- to get back to training after getting out of the hospital -- was that you had invested in my work, and I wanted to exhibit the same devotion to getting well as you do to Vegan Outreach. So thank you for providing an impetus to make this happen.

Our Adopt a College season is off to a roaring start this fall semester! We've got leafleters leafleting up a storm all over North America. Even before the first day of fall, we've given a booklet to over a quarter million students. And we're always hearing from those who have changedtheir diets as a result of this work. On Sunday, I get on the road for 49 days to do this work myself, throughout the south; I'm excited to use your donations to reach thousands of young minds.

Again, thank you for supporting me as a friend, and thanks for continually supporting the work of Vegan Outreach. It means so much to all of us, and none of us ever take your kindness and dedication to animals for granted.


Sunday, September 23, 2012

Please! Stop with the Pictures!

Jon: "At the DC VegFest today, I met Amanda. She got an old-school black and white Why Vegan? at her high school in FL eleven years ago and went vegan as a result. Her mom and brother followed suit. She stopped by the Vegan Outreach table to remind me that our work is having an impact. Go, Amanda, and go, us!"

John, concluding his report from Montata State University, Billings: "Finally, in this whirwind of great conversations, I met Justin, who walked up to me and stated "I got the result I think you wanted me to get. I think I'm gonna give the vegetarian thing a try." He told me how saddening it was to read about how animals are treated so I gave him a Guide and snapped a pic of him with it. The most productive 15 minutes I've had in a while."

And David sent us this message: "Attached is a pic of a guy from Singapore who has been vegan for 3 weeks and—get this—GOT A CC IN SINGAPORE!"

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Pics from the Past Four Hours

Yes, I've done a terrible job of keeping up with the pictures you've sent me. For example, these four just came in the past four hours!
Please click on all for larger.

Here is a student from Southern Maine Community College who went vegan when I gave him a leaflet two years ago. His girlfriend has also gone vegan. He said to me, "You changed my life."

Lisa Hines found a bunch of posts with the Warped Tour booklet like this one on Instagram:

After finding out about Mikael's big legal victory over Malcolm X College, we get this picture from there:

And finally, Elaine sends this picture from the SLO Farmers' market:

Friday, September 21, 2012

Bonus: Most Commented FB Post

Why are we out there every day, providing the animals a voice? Picture (click for larger) and comment from Jon: A short and wretched existence, soon to be over. Chicken factory farms dot the Delaware rural landscape, and trucks full of chickens bound for slaughter are a common sight on the roadways.

State Readers

From John, Minnesota State:

From Brian, San Francisco State:

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Another Bonus: Mikael and Malcolm

Posted here:

Mikael Roldsgaard Nielsen
A nice little victory for free speech on the campus of Malcolm X College this morning. It was two weeks ago that I was escorted off this campus in the back of a police car. We were simply leafleting in a peaceful manner, not blocking foot traffic or any doors. Several discussions with security and staff about us just exercising our First Amendment right fell on deaf ears. I stood my ground, but things turned nasty when one of the staff members stole my leaflets and a key chain and then called the cops, who said I was trespassing and away I went in the back of their squad car. Big thanks to Joseph T. Espinosa, Jack Norris, the VeganOutreach legal team, and Vandhana Bala, MFA's General Counsel, for helping me figure out the next steps. After many emails back and forth with administration and a pleasant conversation with their head of security, I went back on campus this morning. Mind boggling as it was, they initially said I was not allowed to leaflet (the message from the top security guy must not have filtered down), but I said that I was going to leaflet 15 feet from the door, per my agreement with the head of security, and that is just what I did. I got out almost 400 leaflets in about two hours and security didn't bother me once. Seems the First Amendment is back in business on this campus.

Hope at Canada College

Brian reports: Sarah Hope (stripes) and Jenna Lange (both 11, both vegetarians, and best friends to boot!) at Canada College on 8/29/12. Sarah is the daughter of leafleter Jessica Hope, who has done 4k with me over the last year. This was their leafin' debut. They loved it!

Here with Stephanie Johnson:

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Bonus: Nikki's Triumphant Return!

Posted here:

Nikki Benoit
True story: returned to a campus today that arrested me last year for refusing to stay in a free speech zone. Turns out the most aggressive officer quit eating animals (except fish) since then because of how horribly abused the animals are. Thanked me profusely for doing outreach and gleefully accepted a veg eating Guide. :)

Picture Worth a Thousand+ ... Animals

From Brian, a young lady who has been veg for a year after being handed a VO booklet at Las Positas College in Livermore, CA (where this photo was taken on 8/27/12).

From John Oberg at the University of North Dakota: Highlight of the day was handing a pamphlet to a punked out dude with gauges, saying "nice gauges, dude," then having him come back about an hour later and offering to help. His name's Garrett and he stood out there for two class changes with me and handed out well over 100 pamphlets.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

One Day, Many Results

From Mt. San Antonio College, Kassy, Nikki's amazing intern, reports:

Here is a picture of Cesar Sanchez leafletting like such a champ!! He started leafletting with me after he got a booklet. We then were approached by 3 freshman girls asking if there was an animal welfare club on campus -- the 3rd time today we were asked that! Cesar told the girls he would help them start one!!

Nikki adds:

Today was one of those days. Everything we touched turned into tofu. Morale booster is an understatement. After handing a booklet to a guy at the University of La Verne, a guy behind me called out: "Hey what about me? I wanna help animals." HA! LOVE THE LOVE TODAY!

We were in place by 7:30 and the Earth shifted - not by her plates ... by the consciousness of her most virulent species. Almost immediately a woman stopped to chat when I offered her a booklet. She was asking me what to do to help w/o going veg. While discussing the issue with her, THREE other people came up to listen / discuss this issue too. Kassy held the fort while I took on these eager young folks. In the end, all except one requested a Guide, and one is returning to veg. Hip hip!

Katherine (above) stopped after Kassy handed her a booklet, chatting about how much she loves animals and was excited to hear the veg options and advice from K. Long story short she dropped her bag and grabbed booklets to help for 30 min before her next class. IS A NATURAL TOO!! 

Amazing day!

Monday, September 17, 2012


Ellen's best friend from high school goes to MIT, and recently told her:

So, there's this one spot at MIT that basically every undergraduate crosses multiple times a day to get from dorm to class and there's almost always people handing out things. I took one yesterday, and it was a Vegan Outreach booklet!

The same day, Rachel sent this picture, with the caption:

A guy who went vegetarian after reading the leaflet the last time we handed him one on MIT's campus!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Do You Want to Be Happier and Healthier?

Ginny has a great list for you -- please be sure to check it out!

Here's the great thing about Ginny -- she doesn't spend her time trying to spin / glorify her personal diet. She doesn't attack or denigrate others who might eat or think differently. She wants to do her best to help animals -- and helping us be happy and healthy is the way to do that!

Thanks, Ginny!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Jon's Report: Facebook Ads

Thanks so much to Jon for the many, many hours he's put into this; thanks also to everyone who has helped him out!

Thanks to the generous support of a donor and website assistance from the Humane League, Vegan Outreach has launched our first Facebook online ads campaign! We set up ads featuring prominent animal-friendly musicians and actors who are popular amongst today's youth; these ads show up on the sidebar of teenage and early-20-somethings Facebook page. The ads encourage individuals to watch this video created by Mercy For Animals, which exposes the wretched conditions that farmed animals endure day in and day out on modern factory farms and in slaughterhouses.

Since starting the ads in early July, over 3,000 individuals have clicked to watch the video. And because of the comments section on the video page, everyone who comments automatically sends the video link to their Facebook friends' news feed, leading to 30% more individuals watching it. This means that roughly 4,000 individuals have already watched this video, thanks to our ads.

By visiting our video page, you'll see that this method of advocacy generates a lot of positive feedback! By coupling online ads with our provenly-effective leafleting efforts, we'll be winning thousands of hearts and minds this coming fall! 

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Picture Catch-Up

Can't keep up on all the great pictures coming in from Nikki, John, Brian....

Brian reports from the College of Marin: "This student's mom went veg nearly 4 years ago after getting booklet. This gal has given up beef and reduced meat."

John met new vegetarian Stephanie at Hennepin Technical College.

Nikki and Kassy report Alondra going veg after reading the booklet at Riverside Community College! Also met another girl now going vegan!

Bonus pics:

Nikki sends from University of Antelope Valley

From Nikki at Riverside College, Moreno Valley campus

Brian took this pic at the College of Marin

John sends from North Hennepin Community College

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Two Takes on Vegetarians...

Psychology Today: Empathy is What Really Sets Vegetarians Apart (at least Neurologically Speaking)

NPR: Do Vegetarians And Vegans Think They Are Better Than Everyone Else?
(Warning: graphic picture)

Two quick points about the latter story:

By living ethically, those who don't eat animals represent an uncomfortable truth to people who still eat animals. One common defense mechanism is to change the subject. When dealing with a vegetarian, it makes sense for the non-veg person to make the vegetarian the issue and to ignore the plight of the animals. It is hard not to take attacks like this personally, and thus conversations can quickly degrade into insults.

However, we all know angry, arrogant vegans [cough YoungMatt cough]. (If you don't know any angry vegans – and don't want to – avoid the comment sections on any and all pages that deal with animal issues or veganism!)

As we make clear in the prior two links, being angry is entirely justified. But as should also be clear, the furious, judgmental vegan makes it easy for non-veg people to ignore the animals' plight and continue to eat them. Thus, anger (and arrogance, and self-righteousness) hurts animals.

If we care more about the animals than our personal veganism or righteous anger, our singular purpose must be to help others open their hearts and minds to the animals' plight. From the "Countering the Stereotype" portion of A Meaningful Life:

It is not enough to be a vegan, or even a dedicated vegan advocate. We must remember the bottom line – reducing suffering – and actively be the opposite of the vegan stereotype. Just as we need everyone to look beyond the short-term satisfaction of following habits and traditions, we need to move past our sorrow and anger to optimal advocacy. We must learn “how to win friends and influence people,” so that we leave everyone we meet with the impression of a joyful individual leading a fulfilling and meaningful life.


Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Eleven Years Ago: The Arc Doesn't Bend on Its Own

Enewsletter post: Week of 9/11/2001

I know that factory farms have not been emptied. I know that slaughterhouses have not been shut down. I even know that greater human tragedies have occurred, and that tremendous human suffering continues around the world.

I can logically understand all these things, and yet, I have to admit that, having been involved in animal advocacy for a decade now, the events of Tuesday affected me unlike anything else ever had.

"What are you going to do?" my brother asks over email. What can I do? Can I do anything to lessen, let alone remove the hatred in the world? Can I address other's despair when that is what I feel? Can I end poverty, deprivation, fanaticism? Starvation, sickness, violence? This week, I have felt a pointlessness of trying to say or do anything, the naiveté of calling for a vegan utopia in the face of fiery fury, murderous malice.

Is it futile? Can one really expect a better world when people will immolate themselves with the only purpose to horrifically slaughter as many fellow human beings in a certain country as possible?

One answer might be: "What choice do we have?" Is the horror in the world really such that we are unable to accomplish anything? I think that, when taken as a whole, history indicates that progress has been made towards a more just world. Those trying to extend the circle of ethics have met with halting yet relatively steady success. As pointed out in The Economist (8/19/95): "Historically, man has expanded the reach of his ethical calculations, as ignorance and want have receded, first beyond family and tribe, later beyond religion, race, and nation." Or, as Martin Luther King, Jr. said, "The arc of history is long, but bends toward justice."

The arc doesn't bend on its own, however. Rather, it has been bent by dedicated efforts of those who refuse to be cowed by the oft-seeming hopelessness of humanity. The hard, sometimes unbelievable progress has been made by those who look beyond the travesties of their time, to force – through shear force of will and that magical, impossible blend of pragmatic idealism – the next turn in the arc of history.

Obviously, the arc of history is jagged. Yet because of those before us who dedicated their lives to justice and compassion rather than anger and hatred, we also face unprecedented opportunity. Instead of having to struggle for basic liberties for ourselves or other people around us, we are able to seek to address the suffering of unseen individuals of other species.

This week, it may seem an absurd goal. Yet despite all the horror and continued suffering, we, like the selfless visionaries before, should take the broader view. As The Economist concluded, "To bring other species more fully into the range of these decisions may seem unthinkable to moderate opinion now. One day, decades or centuries hence, it may seem no more than ‘civilized’ behavior requires.” It is up to us to make this happen, but to do this, we must not allow ourselves to be defeated not only the pettiness and banalities of our time, but also the evils.

To paraphrase Camus: "Perhaps we cannot prevent this world from being a world in which there is suffering. But we can lessen the number of those suffering. And if you do not help us do this, who will?" I believe that we must continue to do what we can to make a better world, to alleviate the suffering, to lessen the violence, to counter the hatred, to expand the circle, to bend the arc. I believe that this is our ethical duty, our human duty. Not just so violence doesn't triumph. Not just because it is the most purposeful thing we can do with our lives. Not even just for those who are suffering. We must continue, if only to honor those who have worked so hard and sacrificed so much for us.

-Matt Ball

Monday, September 10, 2012

Awesome "Mexican" Recipe

Here's the thing about cooking here at the Vegan Outreach office -- we rarely make a recipe the exact same way twice. (Anne says: I rarely make anything. Matt does nearly all the cooking!) I'll vary it by what we have on hand, what was on sale, etc. Especially with a recipe like the below, nothing will go wrong (e.g., it isn't a soufflé that will fall if everything isn't exactly right). It is in keeping with our protein / veggies / carb / sauce approach to meals -- nothing magic, exotic, or difficult.

So here's the general recipe, and then notes / variations.

1 medium onion (generally red)
2 peppers (generally a red and a yellow)
Package of Trader Joe's Chicken-less Strips (or...see below*)
1 apple (optional)
Bottle of Trader Joe's Enchilada Sauce (or your favorite enchilada sauce / salsa)
Oil as needed

Tortilla shells (or taco shells, or just chips)

I cut up about 1/3 of the onion into thick strips and saute them on medium heat  for a few minutes. I stir in the chicken-less strips for a few minutes, then about 2/3 of a pepper, cut into thick strips (about the same length as the chicken-less strips, but a bit wider).

After 3-5 minutes, I add in another 1/3 of the onion, in thinner strips. After another 3-5 minutes, I add about 2/3 or a full pepper, also cut into thinner strips. After 1-2 minutes, I put in pieces of the apple and pour in the enchilada sauce; reduce heat to simmer. After a few minutes of simmering, it is good to go!

I serve on tortillas with Daiya or a homemade "cheeze," along withTofutti Sour Supreme, a homemade dip, or Annie's Goddess dressing. (I add habanero sauce for mine.)

We'll have any leftovers with rice and chips the next day.

*You don't need TJ's chicken-less strips. I sometimes cut Boca or Gardein burgers into strips; you can also use anything else that strikes your fancy.

Update, April 2013: The Whole Foods by us here in Tucson now has Beyond Meat, which we used last time we made this dish. Yikes, it is scary-realistic!

By adding in the onion and pepper at different times, some will be well-cooked, and some will still be crunchy. (I generally save some onion and pepper for a future dish; e.g., Tofurky Italian Sausage w/ sauce, or for taco meat.) I also add in other vegetables, based on what we have on hand -- last time, I put in green beans -- the right size, and crunchy too! Putting the apple in at the last moment leaves those pieces crunchy as well.


Sunday, September 9, 2012

St Cloud

John sends this picture of Jasmine, veg going vegan after getting a booklet from Michael Willemsen (below) last semester.

Also, Autumn and Mike Chutich:

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Friday, September 7, 2012

The MN Crew!

Great job this past weekend! And thanks to John O for sending.

Unny Nambudiripad, Garrett, John Oberg, Jeff Johnson, Jake Nath, Fred Tyler, Amber Bee,
Liz Sias (bottom left), Grace

Thursday, September 6, 2012

All-Time Record Day

John O reports: "Epic day of outreach! At the University of Minnesota, alongside leafleting badasses Fred Tyler, Jeff Johnson, Jenna Cameron, Derek Ritchison, Brandon Collins & Ben B., we set an all-time record for amount of leaflets given out at a college campus, anywhere in the country. Collectively, we distributed 7,600 Vegan Outreach booklets and heard many students say how impacted they were, including Dan (pictured) that was handed a pamphlet last semester and has since reduced the amount of meat he eats for the very reasons listed in the booklet. Great day!"

Note that John personally set an all-time record for the most booklets ever given out by one person in a day: 5,188 Even If You Like Meats and 41 Guides! Wow!

PS -- DCH makes a tribute to JohnO's record:

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Veganism vs. the Animals

In a recent blog post, Jack notes this important distinction:

"[Neither] Matt nor I care about veganism as anything more than a tool for protecting animals and the environment."

It is true: I only care about what will help the most animals / prevent the most suffering. Period. Vegans can debate among themselves what they find to be the optimal diet for them, but this is, at best, irrelevant for the animals.

That is -- the vast, vast, vast majority of people don't make their food choices based on what is nutritionally optimal for them. They eat what they like, what is familiar and convenient, and what their social circle eats. And this won't change -- it is ingrained human nature. Instead of complaining about human nature, I focus on helping animals in whatever way has the greatest impact -- appealing to another aspect of human nature: revulsion at cruelty to animals.

If we understand human nature, insisting that raw, or low-fat whole foods, etc. is "the healthiest" or the "ideal" is actively harmful to the animals -- it cuts off the majority of people from ever considering taking steps that will help animals (as well as reinforcing the idea that we should only do what we think is in our best interest).

I can understand wanting to optimize our own personal diet. I also understand wanting to believe and trumpet anything and everything that seems to make our veganism sound good.

But if we want to do our best to help animals, then we must understand and reach out to people where they are, rather than scream at them from where we want them to be.


Tuesday, September 4, 2012

New Sticker Now Available

Based on Nick's research, you can order the new sticker from our catalog (please be sure to specify which sticker -- thanks!)

Monday, September 3, 2012

Sunday, September 2, 2012

How to Get More Meat-Eaters to Help Animals

Give them what they want!

Beyond meat: The most real faux chicken ever

The first time a vegetarian tastes Beyond Meat’s ersatz animal flesh, he’ll feel delighted and queasy at the same time. There’s something about the way these fake chicken strips break on your teeth, the way they initially resist and then yield to your chew, the faint fatty residue they leave on your palate and your tongue — something about the whole experience that feels a little too real.

“My first reaction was, if I was given this in a restaurant, I’d get the waiter to come over and ask if he’d accidentally given us real chicken,” said Biz Stone, one of the founders of Twitter, who has been vegan for more than a decade....

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Vegan Chik'n

Someone recently wrote claiming we endorsed a non-vegan product ('Ellen: “My best friend stopped eating animals for Lent, and was blown away by Boca’s Chik’n Nuggets!”'), but he was looking at a different Boca product.

More info:
Q: Which BOCA foods are vegan, or free of animal-derived ingredients?

A: These products from our traditional line are vegan (meaning they have no animal-derived ingredients): Vegan Burger, Chik'n Nuggets, Chik'n Patties, Spicy Chik'n Patties, and Ground Crumbles. You can generally tell something is vegan by checking the ingredients to make sure that egg, milk and dairy ingredients aren't listed (something we recommend doing every time you shop).