Friday, November 30, 2012

From the Northwest

Now wants to go veg after being given a leaflet at Central Oregon Community College.
One day in Boise, by John Oberg:

Boise State turned out to be one of the most receptive, interested, and polite crowds I've experienced on the tour. Right as I got there, between 7:40 am and 8:00 am, I literally had three different people say encouraging things like, "It's great that you're doing this," "Thanks for handing those out. That's really cool," and "Glad you're doing this -- awesome!" Throughout the day I heard more, including "Keep fighting the good fight," and "Keep doing what you're doing, man!" Met a large handful of vegans and even more vegetarians.

A few interactions stand out in my mind. A male student walked by and told me, "Yeah, I got one. I'm probably gonna stop eating meat now." I stopped him from walking away and just gave him a Guide to Cruelty-Free Eating real quickly. He was thankful and walked on. Another female student said, "Yeahhh, you gave me one earlier. It made me so sad. It might've worked." I handed her a GCFE and her friend walking beside her seemed very intrigued. Another female student said that she previously liked to call herself an "accidental vegetarian" but after reading the booklet I had handed her, she might have to start calling herself a "purposeful" one. Also, Guided a group of four students and one (who'd been leafleted earlier), pointed to the booklet in his friend's hands and said "Check out those chickens, man! That's inhumane!"

Stand out interaction: I handed Kristen (above) a booklet earlier in the day and at around 2:30 she came up to me and said "I think I'm going to become a vegetarian now. I feel so bad for the pig [and she pointed to the sow on the front cover of the EI]" I gave her a GCFE and some words of encouragement and she went on her way!

Tommasina Miller at Portland Community College
Susan Collart at the University of Victoria.
Biker stopped in tracks to read booklet.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Sunny Nevada

Brian Grupe leaves the Bay Area:

Absolutely massive day at the University of Nevada, Reno, thanks to all the great volunteers that came to help out! Susan (above, with a sun-kissed handoff), Aquila, Lari, Anita, and I reached 2,240 students, breaking the old record of 1,950. Susan is my gracious host and awesome Vegan Outreach supporter. She made her leafleting debut today, and I was really impressed with how quickly she took to it. Anita helped out last semester, and she and I have been in touch since then, as she is largely in charge of the local vegan group and has used our literature at events. She coordinated today’s leafleting and created an event for it that brought in Lari and Aquila, awesome!

Aquila is very familiar with promotion and working with the public and was great to have on board. Lari moved around to some of the smaller spots that weren’t being hit. I stuck around for two extra class changes, but the place was pretty much saturated at that point -- always a great problem to have :-)

Brian, Susan, and Aquila enjoying the record day!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Decline in the Consumption of and Demand for Animal Flesh

Our good friend Harish continues to do yeoman's work over at the Counting Animals blog (remember this?). His latest shows just how dramatic the change has been since 2006. (Note: as it takes over 200 chickens to provide the same number of meals as one cow, decline in chicken is key.)

Congrats to all the donors and leafleters who have helped bring this about.

Remember, today, your gift to the animals counts twice! It is quick and easy to help bend those curves even more!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

If You Note Just One Thing This Giving Season

Click for larger
Ever wonder if your contributions make a difference? They do for Vegan Outreach! This graph -- with the green being donations during the fiscal year, and the blue bars the distribution of booklets for the year -- shows that whatever money comes in goes right back out in booklets!

In other words: however much money is contributed determines how many new people learn the truth.

Today, you can have your donation doubled, dollar for dollar! Please consider making a special, tax-deductible donation. Every dollar makes a difference.

Thanks so much!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Calcium and Protein

Want to keep up on the latest honest nutrition news? Here are Ginny and Jack's latest:

Calcium in Selected Plant Foods

Meeting Protein Needs on a Vegan Diet: The Calorie Connection

Along the lines of the latter, I'd like to paraphrase a point Jack has made many times:

Vegans like to argue about how easy it is to meet minimum protein needs. But if we want to make a difference for the animals, we don't need to know minimum requirements. We have to convince meat-eaters to stop eating animals. 

In this case, it isn't a question of what is the minimum amount of protein with which people can get by. Rather, the point is that people want to eat what they like and what is familiar to them.

For whatever reason, concentrated "meaty" protein is craved by and satisfying to a huge percentage of the population. It is worse than irrelevant to tell a meat-eater that broccoli has a high-enough percentage of calories from protein to meet their nutritional needs.

If we want to help animals, we can't simply state the facts as we see them. We can't simply praise veganism in all areas. We can't expect meat-eaters to go right from where they are to where we want them to be. We can't denigrate certain vegan foods as "transition" or "special occasion" foods.

If we want to help animals, we have to give people what they want


Saturday, November 24, 2012

Did You Miss The Newsletter?

If you didn't get a copy of the print newsletter, you can see a pdf of it online, or contact us for your own copy!

Bonus! Daniela Artiga at Bergen Community College.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Different Weather

Kassy Ortega watched this student sit down and read the booklet cover-to-cover at Cal State San Bernadino.

Noel Gibson (above) and Vic Sjodin (below) braved flurries at the New Jersey Institute of Technology.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

John's Thanksgiving Talk

At the Boulder, CO Meetup's Thanksgiving Potluck, organized by Lisa Shapiro.

He also comments on the above photo: Viktorya and Andriy, a Ukranian couple that were handed a Compassionate Choices at Oregon State in Corvallis in 2007. Andriy brought it back home, they read through it and went vegan within a week. Total coincidence that I stumbled across them!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Animated Version of Card We Received

Thanks, Arlene -- LOL!

Holiday Reading

Today's Enewsletter contains more stories than any previous Enewsletter.

If you'd like a boost, check out just a few of the stories of how VO activists are changing lives every day!

Story of this pic here.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Is Being a Vegetarian Important? Pt. 2

Continued from yesterday.

But who we are extends far beyond the plate.

The average American consumes about thirty  land animals every year. By choosing to be a vegetarian, you will accomplish a great deal over the course of your life – you will spare many hundreds of animals from the malicious maws of modern agribusiness.

But get this: In just one hour, you could accomplish much, much more!

This may sound like an informercial scam, but it’s true – for every person you convince to go vegetarian, you double the impact of your life’s choices. It’s simple math!

Close your eyes and think about everything you will do, every day, every year for the rest of your life, so to make sure you don’t support factory farms. Every label you’ll read, every special shopping trip you’ll take, every dish you’ll bring to a gathering – everything you’ll do to avoid causing animals to suffer.

Now, if you hand out 60 booklets to new people, and just one decides to go vegetarian, you will have saved, in only one hour, just as many animals as you will save with every single choice you make over the rest of your life.

In other words – and this is the most important point – if we agree that being a vegetarian is important, then we must also recognize that being an effective advocate for the animals is many times more important. Effective, efficient outreach has truly enormous potential, and can change the world far, far more than our personal food choices.

In his book, Meat Market, Erik Marcus writes:

When I was a teenager, my greatest ambition was to one day be a millionaire. [Later] I adapted the millionaire concept for purposes of activism.… I wanted to [keep] a million animals out of slaughterhouses.... But is it realistic to think that a typical person could keep a million animals from slaughter? Absolutely! At two thousand [land] animals saved per new vegetarian, this means that during your life, if you convince five hundred young people to become vegetarian, a million animals will be saved.

With a reasonable level of investment, each one of us can do this. You don’t need to start a group. You don’t need to pass a law. You just need to make the choice to join with the all the others who are dedicated to making a real difference. We can provide you with lessons from decades of experience and all the tools you need. Vegan Outreach exists to help everyone and anyone, in every situation, be the most effective advocate possible – for a world not just a bit less bad, but for a fundamentally better world.

Ahhh – but leaflets don’t print themselves. Vegan Outreach is dependent upon the financial support of those who recognize the central importance of effective advocacy. There are many demands on our limited time and money, and we must choose to invest our scarce resources to do the most good. Working to expose and end the hidden horrors of factory farms is the best possible investment. Every new vegetarian pays huge dividends every year, in terms of their food choices and the example they set.

This isn’t just a pitch. For all the activists involved, distribution of booklets is directly tied to donations. As donations go up or down, so do the number of new people we reach. This means that every donation you make really does make a real difference, and writing a simple check or making an online donation can multiply your life’s impact many times over! A donation today leads to more booklets to more people tomorrow, which leads to more new vegetarians and more animals spared this year – and every year!

In the end, in our hearts, we know that, regardless of what we think of ourselves, our actions reveal the kind of person we really are. We each determine our life’s narrative. We can, like most, mindlessly accept the current default, follow the crowd, and take whatever we can.
Or we can determine for ourselves what is important. We can live with a larger purpose, dedicated to a better world for all. We can join with all the great people who have bent the arc of history toward justice.

This is our choice today. I hope you join us!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Is Being a Vegetarian Important? Pt. 1

Saturday, Nov. 10, Anne and I spoke at the Vegetarian Society of El Paso's Compassionate Thanksgiving dinner. This time of year -- especially next week -- can  be hard for some of us. In part, our presentation consisted of an edited version of this essay, to try to keep in mind the big picture.

Have you ever been in so much pain that you thought you were going to die?

Have you ever suffered so much that you actually wanted to die?

Every year, hundreds of millions of individuals in the U.S. suffer to death.

Egg-laying hens packed in tiny wire cages, unable to move because of how crowded they are, can have their wings or necks stuck in the wires, keeping them from getting to food or water.

Pigs, transported in open trucks for hundreds and hundreds of miles in all weather without food or water – can freeze to death.

Chickens raised for meat, bred to grow so large so fast that their legs break under their own weight, leaving them incapacitated and unable to get food.

Words simply cannot convey the horrifying conditions that bring about these slow, agonizing deaths – how the animals are bred, how they “live” (so to speak) on factory farms, and, for those who survive this inherently brutal system, how they are butchered in industrial slaughterhouses. No verbal or even video description can begin to capture it; even visiting these confinement warehouses and slaughterhouses can’t begin to convey what it is like to live one’s entire life there, and then to be callously slaughtered.

It is enough to know that modern agribusiness is so inherently brutal that it will kill off, even before the slaughterhouse, hundreds of millions of animals through slow, agonizing means, simply as a cost of doing business. This is a system of cruelty so vast, so intense, that it really is beyond comprehension. As Michael Pollan wrote in the New York Times:

More than any other institution, the American industrial animal farm offers a nightmarish glimpse of what capitalism can look like in the absence of moral or regulatory constraint. Here in these places, life itself is redefined – as protein production – and with it suffering. That venerable word becomes “stress,” an economic problem in search of a cost-effective solution, like tail-docking or beak-clipping.… Our own worst nightmare such a place may well be; it is also real life for the billions of animals unlucky enough to have been born beneath these grim steel roofs, into the brief, pitiless life of a “production unit.…”

This is the system we support and endorse every time we purchase its products. Consuming flesh foods from modern agribusiness not only pays others to exploit and butcher our fellow feeling beings; it not only affirms the view that animals are simply cogs in the machine of profit; but our purchases are what give agribusiness the resources needed to breed and brutalize more of our fellows.

This is enough to compel me to be a vegetarian, to make a daily, public statement against the breathtaking viciousness behind meat, eggs, and dairy.

For me, being a vegetarian is not the conclusion of an impartial set of utilitarian calculations, nor the endorsement of a certain formal philosophy like “animal rights.” Rather, being a vegetarian is an irresistible statement about the person I choose to be. I simply could not live with myself if I were to be a part of such unwatchable cruelty to animals. The phrase is: How could I look at myself in the mirror? And that is literally how it happened for me – looking in the mirror and realizing I couldn’t consider myself a “good person” if I continued to pay others to brutalize animals so I could eat them.

In the end, it really is simple: what kind of person will we choose to be? Do we make our own decisions or do we rationalize what we’re used to doing? Do we oppose cruelty or do we support slaughter?

I believe there are much more important things in life than accepting the status quo, following the norms of society, and taking the easiest path.

Furthermore, choosing the road less traveled does not mean denial and deprivation. We can make our lives a part of something larger –a part of bending the arc of history toward justice. Being a part of something larger than ourselves frees us from the constraints of the “norm,” expands our life’s narrative, enriches our existence, and allows for real meaning and lasting happiness. Choosing to be a vegetarian makes a public, powerful, ethical statement – a statement about more than the animals’ suffering, but about who we really are. (I discuss this in more detail in A Meaningful Life.)

Sunday, November 18, 2012

John at Colorado State

Jennie Maydew, head of CSU's student group, ROAR.
Dave Bell
What a day! Dave (above) and I left the house at 7:15 am and enjoyed some nice 14 degree weather to start the day out strong (below). Our fingers may have been numb, but we busted out a few booklets into the hands of many a student [Over 2,700].

Dave is great, a natural leafleter. While I had to warm up my hands inside a couple times after the first couple class changes, he toughed it out like the beast that he is. This student body definitely had the attitude of an often-leafleted bunch, with the automatic wall going up, but many took a booklet anxiously when they heard the words "help animals." One female student told me the booklet made her cry.

Right as Dave and I were gathering our things to go, two female ag students engaged in conversation with us. They had the typical ag comments and we had a good, if somewhat hostile, conversation. It was nice when a Pakistani philosophy student named Danny (above) jumped in and threw out his thoughts, agreeing with me for the most part. The conversation splintered off and Dave took over with the aggies while Danny and I had a great conversation. He told me how he went over some of this stuff in his philosophy class a few semesters ago but didn't think he'd be thinking about this today. He was very keen on the idea of going vegan over time, happy to have a few simple questions answered, and looking forward to going vegetarian shortly and thanked me a couple times for the Guide to Cruelty-free Eating. I think we really inspired him!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Pics from Kassy

After handing Fransisco a booklet he comes back to me and says: "I'm going stop eating meat now!" 

I met Dak in my home-state of PA when I was leafletting Harrisburg Area Community College. He was so appreciative of the work our organization is doing for humans and animals alike.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Math and Millions

Anne calculates that the 19,000,000 booklets Vegan Outreach has distributed would, if laid end-to-end, stretch from New York to California!

Don't try this at home, though -- better to hand them to new people!

News from Team Green-Ball

Ellen (below on the left, as Alan Turing) reports that Pomona College's Frank Dining Hall served Tofurky roasts and vegan gravy for dinner last night. "Manna from heaven" was her review.

The times, they are a' changin'!

And below are pictures of me and Anne leafleting at New Mexico State (where the Student Union had a vending machine entirely filled with vegan snacks!) and the University of New Mexico.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Jon at Atlanta VegFest

Jeff Boghosian, Scout Kilbourne and I tabled at the first ever Atlanta VegFest. It was well-attended, and we engaged lots of pretty peeps in discussion.

The highlight of the day was meeting Holly (above). She went vegan four years ago after getting leafleted at the Atlanta Warped Tour. Kudos to Eric Griffith, Wendy Moore, and JC Corcoran who were leafleting that day, and made this change possible!

We also signed up a number of folks for our e-newsletter. It was a ton of fun hanging out with Jeff, Scout, and the rest of the GA crew!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

19 Million ... and Counting!!

Yes, that's right!

We recently distributed our 19,000,000th booklet!

In all weather! Tommasina Miller spreads
sunshine and justice!
Now here's the important point:

This didn't happen because of the government.
This didn't happen because of a corporation.
This didn't happen because of a million-dollar celebrity grant.

This happened because of YOU!

No company handed out these booklets.


No foundation paid to have the booklets printed and shipped.


The countless lives changed forever
The countless animals spared a life of torture and slaughter

All because of YOU!

We simply can't say it enough – you are the key. And you – yes, YOU! – should take pride in every single booklet that opens another heart, another mind – the real results every single day!

Please remember: How soon we, together, reach the next million, five million, nineteen million – this depends on you! 


Monday, November 12, 2012

Feedback, Payoff, Opportunity

Thank you -- and thanks for The Animal Activist's Handbook! It's a great inspiration. Your ideas about maximizing activist efforts, and your suggestions for how to be a more graceful and effective advocate, are the main reason I'm ready to go out leafleting.
     I really appreciate all the work of everyone at Vegan Outreach (including the kind notes that Anne always sends for donations -- you really know how to treat donors and volunteers!).

After getting a booklet from John at Utah State,
Luribel now wants to make a difference!

You, too, can make a difference today -- and reach twice as many new people by having your donation doubled!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Thanksgiving & Tofurky

More signs of progress! New York Times article on vegetarian Thanksgiving meals. But let's be honest -- having cauliflower as your centerpiece isn't the way to win over meat-eaters.

Interesting story -- many, many years ago, we served several non-vegetarian families both a Tofurky Roast as well as homemade seitan with gravy. Everyone preferred the seitan. But last year, we did the same, and people loved the Tofurky! It has clearly improved a lot over the years -- if you haven't had one in a while, give it a try! (Picture and recipe (scroll down) here.)

But I have always been a huge fan of the Tofurky Deli slices! After I had my first taste, I emailed a friend and said, "Stop whatever you're doing and go to the co-op and get these new Tofurky slices! Right now!" He wrote back in less than an hour, "How do they do that??"

Friday, November 9, 2012

We Get Letters

Learning the truth at Utah State.

Dear Vegan Outreach Team,
     THANK YOU for being the way you are. I am new to the vegan lifestyle. Initially I had started looking into vegetarianism but my research made me realize that if you go vegetarian for ethical (and other) reasons, going vegan is the logical choice. I have equipped myself with facts and found encouragement and so far it has not really been as hard as I had expected.
     I have had a look at a variety of websites advocating veganism but they often came across as somewhat self-righteous and pushy. Thank you for being different. Your factual approach, leaving each and everybody to make their own decision in the end, and your openness to welcome a variety of opinions on how to lead a cruelty-reduced (I wish I could say free) life without evading the truth that with respect to some areas there just is not room for compromise, has encouraged me endlessly.
     Other vegan sites I have studied are quick at finger-pointing, while what I got from your site was also a display of the ability to question your OWN behavior as vegans in an animal-exploiting world. In the end, the complete lack of self-righteousness, the ability to develop new ideas within the framework of ethical behavior and the great and clear collection of facts is why Vegan Outreach has helped me become vegan more than any other resource I turned to. After all ... veganism, to me, is a kind way of living, but sadly, many organizations seem to forget that kindness to those curious in veganism will probably win more people over than harsh judgement and a Holier Than Thou attitude.
     Thank you so much for everything.

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