Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Be Relentless for the Animals!

November 1 begins our End of Year Matching Challenge, which will determine how much we'll accomplish together in the first half of 2013.

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.

Jeni met this gentleman at Utah Valley U;
he went veg after getting a booklet from her
exactly one year before.
You know that every day, agribusiness is ruthlessly pursuing profit via their factory farms and slaughterhouses.

But you also know that Vegan Outreach strives 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 is necessary, 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!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Brian and the New Veggies

No, not his rock band -- pics of people who are no longer eating animals because they were handed a Vegan Outreach booklet!

"You just changed me" - committed to going veg after getting booklet at Bakersfield College.

Vegan since 2003 after getting booklet at UC Berkeley.

Vegan (with supportive friend) since Aug from booklet given to her by Jonathan Hussain at Fresno City College.

Monday, October 29, 2012

John O in Portlandia

Today at Portland State was one of my absolute favorite days of outreach on my tour this semester. I literally met over 60 different people that told me they were vegetarian/vegan. Over 1,600 minds that are likely already progressive were given the opportunity to open up their hearts to the suffering of farmed animals.

A few interactions stand out: One male student told me, "It freaked me the f*** out. Really woke me up." I had a nice, quick convo with him, encouraging him that he can make a difference. Another told me, "Those are some scary pictures, man. That's really messed up." One more told me, "I fully endorse your efforts," and many said things like, "That stuff's terrible," or "Thank you for being out here."

I handed Abdul (above) a booklet, then continued leafleting. 20-30 minutes later, he started walking towards me, fairly slowly, and uttered the words, "I cannot believe this is happening" in a serious tone, almost as if he was in shock. He said how it's so unfair how we treat these animals and seemed so sincere that I thought he might be teary-eyed. I had ran out of Guides so was bummed I couldn't give him one. Fortunately I had to run back to my car, so I grabbed some more, hoping to see him again. Almost at the moment I was wrapping up, I saw Abdul walk out of the building and start walking the other direction. I got his attention and handed him a Guide to Cruelty-Free Eating. I snapped a pic of him with it and he told me that the Guide will be "very useful" and was so thankful to get it. Glad to have been able to make this impact!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Interview, Imperfect

John with Sigrid and Sheila at Vancouver Island U.
Animal Voices' interview with John Oberg (from 12:55 to 23:19).

And an old article that has come up in some recent discussions about how pure a product or company has to be: Advocacy in an Imperfect World. Excerpt:

Given the reality of our world – the widespread injustices and the tremendous demands on our very limited time and resources – nearly every choice we face offers us imperfect options....

As much as we’d like to believe that everyone should pay any price and go to any length to be vegetarian, we realize that cost and convenience are determining factors for many, if not most people. As more people become vegetarian, more large corporations will market meat-free products – it is the nature of a capitalist economy. This doesn’t mean that current vegans need to change where they shop, what they buy or the other campaigns they support, but we do need to recognize that, in this imperfect world, it is, overall, a good thing for the animals that big corporations embrace and expand the burgeoning vegetarian market....

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Quote from New Book

[Cognitive psychologist Dr. Diana] Reiss points out that the threshold for showing cognitive abilities in animals is much higher than it is in humans, even obviously damaged humans with severe mental dysfunction ... we still believe he or she has essential human qualities, including a cognitive life that is soul-like. Animals, on the other hand, have to perform at nearly superhuman levels to be even considered as having something we might call "mind," whatever that is.
          In fact, this is precisely one of the big problems for Reiss. What we call mind tends to be circularly defined as something that humans have. But this kind of definition, even if only implicit, is useless. It creates ignorance in precisely the wrong way -- by appearing to mean something, when it in fact means nothing. This has the effect of stalling inquiry rather than propelling it. As Reiss asks, "Why do we think animals don't think? We begin with a negative starting assumption and then must prove that they do."
          Even worse perhaps is that there is an implicit double standard in the thresholds for what is considered proof and how the data are to be obtained. This is what the late Donald Griffin, a Harvard researcher in animal behavior who discovered the sonar abilities of bats, called "paralytic perfectionism" -- setting the standards so high that progress is virtually impossible.
Ignorance: How It Drives Science
Stuart Firestein
p. 92-93

Friday, October 26, 2012

Quick Feedback

At the British Columbia Institute of Technology
Brian sends along these comments from the recent batch of online requests for the Guide:

Booklet was passed to me @ First Friday in Phoenix, AZ! I've been trying to eat less meat, and this is def helping to push me along.
-VD, 10/6

I heard about it awhile back especially at the Vans Warped Tour '12 Pomona stop, when I got a small booklet of it I read it and was like Wow, I wanna be a vegetarian or even if possibly a vegan I dislike the cruelty of animals and everything.
-CE, 9/29

I got one of your booklets when I was on vacation at an ice cream stand, it's a real eye opener.
-TM, 10/2

After Warped Tour I was handed a Cruelty Sucks packet and I just sat down and read it. It truly opened my eyes to animal cruelty so I thank you.
-MD, 10/7

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Report on JohnO

The Liberation BC folks have a great post up about John's visit!

Thanks to all the donors who pay for John's amazing work -- and all the hundreds of other leafleters who have been providing the animals a voice this semester!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Feedback, Pictures

Not enough stories in today's Enewsletter? Here's some feedback we got from a new member after she received her order for booklets to distribute:

Thank you so much for providing such excellent materials. Being made aware of your organization helped me to finally make the push beyond feeling directionless anguish and frustration at the abuses of animal agriculture to implementing positive action towards alleviating that suffering.

Below, Jennifer, Yuri, and Boyd joined Linda and Nick at Florida International University to make the animals' case:

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Vegan Outreach, Global Warming, and Efficacy

As we've pointed out many times (for example, "Beyond 'We Want' to a Real Earth Day Ethic"), a rational concern for "the environment" is based on the consequences of environmental change -- not the change itself.

However, even if concerned about emissions of greenhouse gases in and of themselves, this analysis shows supporting Vegan Outreach is one of the most effective ways of reducing these emissions. Thanks to our great friend (and Jon-saving) Charlie for sending along the link!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Leafleting, Happiness, Fruits, and Vegetables

If you’re happy, and you know it…you probably eat lots of vegetables

Note: some vegans tend to see studies like this as being pro-vegan. But in reality, studies about fruit and vegetable consumption say nothing about the vegan diet. The vast majority of people could eat a lot more fruits and vegetables, eat more more animals than they do now (replacing big animals with chickens and fish), and be much healthier than they are now (including more exercise) -- and there would be much more suffering in the world. (And we've met plenty of vegans who eat very few fruits and vegetables on a daily basis.)

As we've long argued, real, lasting happiness can come from having a meaningful purpose in your life -- e.g., being a part of expanding the circle of justice, changing lives every day.

Real happiness for Kim, Rachel, Sarah, and Kim at Salem State.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Liberating British Columbia

John reports from the Great Grey North:

What a mega day of outreach here in Vancouver! After the talk on Wednesday night about the importance of leafleting, several offered to join me for today's outreach! To say this was a big day would be an understatement -- with the help of three of the five board members of Liberation BC, as well as Rebecca (the two-week vegan that I had leafleted on Tuesday and offered to help), and Aaron (a member of the student animal rights group), we distributed over 4,200 Even If You Like Meat booklets to students, as well as 56 Guides to current or soon-to-be vegheads. This is the new all-time record for most amount of booklets given out at a college campus in Canada.

Aside from the tons of great reception we got from the UBC students, the highlight of the day was a conversation I had with an animal-loving woman walking her dog. She told me how she's weened her husband and kids onto eating "nothing that suckles" so I explained to her how if we care about animal suffering, we're unfortunately eating many more animals by switching to chicken and fish. I also briefly described fish farming and she seemed to be very moved by the short bits of info I discussed with her. I could tell she had a very gentle heart and I think she really took what I said seriously and I'm glad she's now armed with this knowledge.

Rebecca Smith enlightens more students.
The leafleting gods shone their light on us today -- the forecast called for rain (not surprising as it is basically always rains here at this time of the year) and it never rained! Quite an amazing feat. If you were here the last two weeks you'd understand what I mean. So, so happy the rain didn't pour down as that would've been a real bummer.

Aside from the large numbers, the great response, and the activity of new volunteers, the real victory was the fact that many of the members of Liberation BC seems to be quite excited about the prospects of engaging in this kind of outreach on a regular basis -- the talk seemed to rally them and the good day of leafleting really seemed to reinforce this. I'm really excited to follow the work that this active, intelligent group will be doing in the future!

Sophia Middleton makes the animals' case while Roger Clark looks for the next student.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

A Few Recent Pictures

Committed to going veg after getting a booklet from Brian at Reedley College.

Reading at Fresno State; two of them told Brian they want to move towards more veg now.

Deeply engrossed after getting a booklet from Nikki at Taft College.

Jack at Cosumnes River College.

Friday, October 19, 2012

The Middleton Show

Our pal Mark -- who did this insightful and important analysis of the number of deaths for different types of food -- has a new project up at AnimalVisuals: The Virtual Gestation Crate.

And Kristie -- who, as you know, is leading the charge to rid the country of gestation crates -- has a great article out:

Meat-Free Product Sales Are Rising as Meat Consumption Falls

Thanks to both of them for their amazing work!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Quote and Pics!

From Wednesday's Enewsletter, but worth a repeat:

Since becoming vegan in 1995, I have distributed tens of thousands of Vegan Outreach leaflets in a dozen states (and counting). Although I started using VO literature early on in my activism, I still felt that leafleting by itself wasn't as effective as protesting every weekend. I couldn't have been more wrong, especially when I looked at the amount of time I spent organizing protests, calling activists to attend the protests, making signs, etc. Maybe I felt that since I had invested so much time and effort, protesting had to be more effective than simply handing out leaflets for an hour or two. Thank goodness that Vegan Outreach continues to steer activists in the right direction!

The sun shines on Krista at Miracosta College --
another new veg thanks to Nikki!

Andy Bruland makes the animals' case.

John Oberg reports from  Trinity Western University: I handed a booklet to an Ethiopian woman (above) who sat down on a park bench near me while I leafleted my second class change. Early on, while looking at pictures of broiler chickens, she said, "This is real?" After about 15 minutes of reading it, she told me "This is great." I gave her a Guide to Cruelty-free Eating and she seemed very happy that this resource existed.

Engrossed at Kwantlen Polytechic (Surrey, BC)

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Egg-Free Egg and Leafleting Pics

PopSci article on the work of Josh T and our great pal Josh B!

Also, some recent leafleting pics:
Natasha Kotey at U of Oklahoma.

Jane Schneider at Simon Frazer U (Burnaby, BC).

James DeAlto at North Carolina State.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Animals, First and Foremost

A new member recently ordered a batch of booklets to distribute in her area. We asked if she had read this article by Nick Cooney about booklet titles and effective outreach. She changed her order and sent these comments:

I owe you many thanks for linking me to Nick Cooney's article on your website. The points he makes are compelling, and, ironically, they hit on something that's been troubling me more and more lately in my animal advocacy efforts--namely, the obvious aversion that so many people have to becoming more fully informed about the facts of farmed-animal suffering and how they can help stop it. Quite a few of the folks I approach when I'm out leafleting seem to have a vague notion that farmed-animal suffering exists, but they blind themselves to its details and images, for exactly the reasons Nick Cooney describes.

I feel strongly that people who care about animals should be vegan, and I have--at least until now--felt that the Why Vegan booklet promotes a vegan (as opposed to just vegetarian) message effectively. That said, Nick Cooney's article makes great sense to me, and also brings clarity to my increasing worries, of late, about people turning away from this cause in spite of sensing its importance. Thank you for guiding me to it. I'll look forward to more leafleting this fall and winter. I'll keep reading the VO website, too--both for instruction and inspiration!


Thanks again to Nick for his research and article.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Please Don't Hurt Chickens

This post from Ginny is so important that we asked to be allowed to reproduce it in full.

Bad news for red meat is bad news for chickens

Red meat has a bad PR problem. Two recent meta-analyses—one published in 2009 and one in 2011—linked red meat consumption to increased colon cancer risk. In May, the American Institute for Cancer Research and the World Cancer Research Fund reaffirmed conclusions from an earlier comprehensive report, saying that the evidence for a relationship between red meat and colon cancer is “convincing.”

And it’s not just cancer; a study published just last week found that adults who consume 4 ounces of red meat per day have a 20 percent increased risk for developing diabetes.

The evidence strongly suggests that it’s a good idea for everyone to reduce their intake of red and processed meats. But from the animals’ perspective, this is not necessarily great news. That’s because many of these studies find that other animal foods—which can easily replace red meat in the diet—don’t carry the same risks. There is no compelling body of evidence to suggest that eating white meat raises cancer risk and, some research suggests that replacing red meat with white meat lowers risk. (This is not to say that white meat is itself protective or has any particular health benefits. It’s probably neutral and therefore lowers risk when it replaces harmful red meat.)

People are likely to react to news about the dangers of red and processed meats by replacing these foods with other meats—from fish and chickens—and in the process cause suffering to many, many more animals.

Assuming that one steer provides around 450 pounds of meat, a person eating a pound of beef per week would be responsible for the death of one steer every 8 ½ years or so. Replace that pound of beef a week with a pound of chicken (assuming that the average chicken yields 2 pounds of meat) and the number of animals killed would be about 220 chickens over the same time period. In fact, even if the health-conscious, meat-shunning consumer chose to reduce her meat intake by 75 percent—eating just 4 ounces of meat per week and getting all of it as chicken flesh—she would still be responsible for the death of more than 50 birds over that 8 ½ year period.

And not only do more animals die when people replace red meat with chicken in their diet, but chickens and other birds live and die under conditions that are horrible even by the usual horrible standards of modern farming.

Red and processed meat consumption is a serious public health concern, and people need to know about the importance of reducing these foods in their diets. But publicizing every new study about the hazards of red meat doesn’t promote veganism; it promotes animal suffering. A message about a vegan ethic, on the other hand, is a double win. It helps reduce animal suffering while also encouraging people to eliminate hazardous foods from their diets.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Animals and the Election

Great post by our good friend Harish:

Electoral politics and the meat industry

Would put up an excerpt, but the whole thing is worth a read.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

A Taste of Vitality

Longtime VO member Mark Foy has two "shareware" cookbooks available via his Vitalita website. (Shareware = if you try them and like them, he asks you to make a $10 donation to Vegan Outreach -- always a good idea! :-)

These aren't all the simplest or quickest recipes (although many are). But if you want to learn a lot about vegan cooking and explore new ingredients at no risk, you can check them out!

Here is another reason to explore vegan cooking (old link, but still relevant).

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The Importance of the Vegan Example

An oldie but goodie:

In response to the Health and Public Perception post, ├╝ber-leafleter Stewart points out the importance of the public meeting actual examples of positive, healthy vegans:

This is simply to counter the other side of that coin -- that we need animal protein to be healthy, that we got to have calcium from milk, etc.  Many people, when confronted with the case for animal cruelty, fall back on the false premise that,  "Well I gotta have meat to live."  I see it all of the time when leafleting, when at school, from kids and especially their parents.   

Rebecca spreads sunshine and compassion as Stewart looks on.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Joe Espinosa – 400,000 Reached, and Counting

Joe (left) has earned his hugs!

Few people feel the animals' plight more acutely than Joe Espinosa, and even fewer are as dedicated to being optimally effective at helping them.

Congratulations to Joe who, as a full-time social worker, has now reached over 400,000 individuals with the message of compassion!

Animal Visuals and Optimal Advocacy

In case you've never explored our good friend Mark's site, please be sure to do so!

If you care about optimal advocacy and look at only one post, please be sure to check out "Number of Animals Killed to Produce One Million Calories in Eight Food Categories." Note that this is only numbers killed, with no attempt to measure actual suffering -- that would make chicken and eggs much worse.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Milena, Kristie, and Alex: Delicious Outreach

Just came across this tasty leafleting / soy ice cream event in Oakland.

Kristie Middleton, Alex Bury, and Milena Esherick.
Milena provides the animals a voice

Plant-made muscles!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Sunday Funny

From Iain:


I was handed an Even If You Like Meat booklet at my school today, and I immediately checked into the website!  I had been a vegetarian before, but began to eat meat again while studying abroad in Germany for a year. However, after receiving the booklet today, I realized that I felt that being vegetarian was something I needed to do. I know that I am just one person and cannot make as large a change just by boycotting farms and slaughterhouses alone, so I would be very interested in receiving pamphlets and handing them out to increase other people's awareness of the animal cruelty going on right under our very noses.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Made Just Right Interview

Made Just Right has an interview. (Prefer not to read? Here's a podcast interview.)

Short excerpt:

MJR: What are some positive changes you’ve noticed, in your health or otherwise, that occurred since you started your diet?

Matt: My entire life has changed since I went vegan. My career has obviously changed as well, and I’ve met and had the opportunity to work with some of the most amazing and dedicated people in the world....

MJR: What’s the most awkward food encounter you’ve had in relation to your diet?

 When I went vegetarian, and then vegan, my family didn’t react with, shall we say, the greatest enthusiasm. This was in part my fault. For one, I didn’t know nearly enough about nutrition to convince them that I could cut animal products out of my diet and remain healthy (I’m famous for not liking vegetables). Second, I initially had the fire of the converted, and was rather angry (and preachy) when others didn’t react to the truth of factory farms as I did. 

It took me quite a while to learn how to deal constructively with situations like that. I talk about it a lot in the The Animal Activist’s Handbook.

MJR: What’s the one food product you can’t live without?

Matt: You know, there really is no single food that I couldn’t do without. There are so many great things out there that if one product was discontinued (or got too expensive), I’d replace it with another. And it might lead me to explore something new – that’s happened in the past.

MJR: ....So, is there any type of situation (e.g. social, survival) that would cause you to cheat on your diet? When?

 I’d like to think that over time, my survival is a net good for the animals, so I think I would “cheat” on my diet to survive. But it also depends on what you mean by “cheat.” 

I’ll take medicines that have been tested on animals, I’ll drink tap water filtered with bone char, I’ll eat a veggie burger cooked in a non-vegan restaurant, etc. – all things that some vegans consider to be “non-vegan.”
But to me, “vegan” isn’t a diet or a set of rules or exclusions. Rather, my veganism is about trying to reduce as much suffering in the world as possible. To do so requires more than just making the right purchases, but also being an example that leads to more people changing their habits and diets.

You can read the entire thing here.


Tuesday, October 2, 2012

“Compassionate people are EVERYWHERE”

Below is another amazing story from John Oberg’s current cross-country tour, from his outreach on 9/11 at North Dakota State in Fargo, North Dakota. Yes, Fargo:

“An ag school in an ag state surrounded by agriculture. Great place for outreach!

“I must say, for the interactions alone, today is one of my all-time favorite days of outreach.

“I had the single most meaningful conversation I’ve ever had doing outreach today. At the tail end of a class change, a student named Joel struck up a conversation with me. Turns out he is a cattle farmer, with about 3,000 head of cattle. With a little bit of help from Jon [Camp] yesterday (in regards to how to deal with talking to factory farmers), I was able to turn what could have been a debate into a conversation. My goal was not to debate the farmer, but to win him over.

“I made it very clear to him that we aren't out to demonize him, and we know that these practices aren't cruel for the sake of being cruel -- they're cruel as a result of being concerned only with dollar signs and efficiency, without a care for an animal’s sentience. Throughout the dialogue, he actually began agreeing that some of these standard practices are wrong. By the end of the conversation he extended his hand to shake mine, and thanked me for taking the time to discuss this issue with him. He told me ‘you're not like one of those whackjob hippies.’ He asked how being vegan was for me and I said it was the best change of my life -- I feel better physically, but more importantly I feel better mentally knowing I’m not paying someone to do something to an animal that I wouldn’t do myself. I handed him a Guide to Cruelty-free Eating and told him he’d be surprised how good some of the plant-based meats are. I’m so happy with how this played out!

“As I was reloading with more booklets, a guy on a 4x4 changing out the trash cans started talking to me. I thought he might tell me to stop leafleting, but it turns out Charlie is a total animal lover, with many dogs from the shelter. I gave him a booklet and told him he might be surprised how they treat pigs. Not only was he absolutely supportive, but he referred to himself as an animal rights activist and as he rode away yelled out, ‘Somebody’s gotta be a voice for the animals, man!’ (in Fargo, North Dakota. This place is awesome.)

“The last beautiful moment of the day was when Jamie [above] walked up to me and said, ‘I never want to eat meat again!’ I asked if that was because of the booklet and she replied, ‘Yes, I read that story about the pig freeing the other pigs and I couldn’t read any more.’ She was nearly in tears so I handed her a Guide to Cruelty-free Eating and she said, ‘Great, because now I need to know what to eat.’ As we parted, she told me, ‘You definitely made an impact.’

“Compassionate people are EVERYWHERE. Even in North Dakota, amidst animal agriculture at its most intense.”

Monday, October 1, 2012

Nikki and Kassy

Phenomenal” intern Kassy reaches out at UC Irvine.
Nikki reports from Riverside Community College:
“Heard from tons of sympathetic peeps, including a girl on the verge of tears. She's diving into vegan -- no stops.

“Kassy rocked the Free Speech area like a champ, even when In-N-Out Burger parked next to her to give away free food (do we detect some desperation amongst the fast foodies? Apparently :)). She found they made leafleting easier cuz they slowed foot traffic.

“She held down the fort while I motored to the Moreno Valley campus for one class change. In that short time, three separate young ladies heart-brokenly vowed to adjust their choices cuz of the maximum suckiness that is concentration camp animal ag.

“On and up!”