Sunday, December 30, 2012

Before the Deadline, Please Invest for Maximum Results

Photo: MFA, Canada.
Vegan Outreach has always had a single focus:
Saving as many animals as possible from the horrors of modern agribusiness.

Meggie Townsend provides the animals a voice.
After 19 million booklets later, Vegan Outreach activists are still out there, every day, directly reaching more new people with detailed, documented booklets – booklets that have been shown, day after day, to be effective and efficient at creating real change.

Amy, another new vegetarian because of you!
You know Vegan Outreach is entirely focused on giving you the biggest bang for the buck.

You know -- from the feedback, surveys, and USDA counts -- what your donations have accomplished.

You know where your contributions will go, and as the graph below shows, you make a real, measurable difference.

Our work together is necessary for creating a fundamentally better world for all!

You can be a part of expanding this work – right now!

Today, please invest in creating maximum change and make a secure, fully tax-deductible contribution online at

PS: If you want to have the greatest possible impact, please click here to make a special donation today!

Together, we’ll continue to get real results, every day!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Email Received

With a donation to the Matching Opportunity:

Hard to believe that I made it to age 57 without ever actually thinking about not eating animals. Yes, I had heard the terms "Vegetarian" and "Vegan" but never really thought about not eating animals or their secretions. My wife was quickly as adamant as I am. Our children initially laughed, "My parents are vegans." They went from laughing to vigorously supporting.

While I now love reading news stories about [specific animals rescued], I have concluded that the strategy of Vegan Outreach is calculated to have the greatest impact in reducing the suffering of the largest number of animals. If we cannot end all of the suffering right now, what other goal makes sense?

Gary Auerbach leaflets at Rutgers:
photo by Jon Camp.
I graduated from Lehigh University in 1976 and Rutgers Law School in 1980. I truly believe now that if someone had handed me a booklet back then, while I was a student, with the information that Vegan Outreach is now putting out there, I would have stopped eating animals immediately and forever. We cannot turn back the clock, but can work for a better future!
-ML, 12/27/12

Be Relentless for the Animals

I support Vegan Outreach because of their single-minded focus on saving as many animals as possible from the horrors of modern agribusiness. Every day, Vegan Outreach strives to be more efficient and effective; every day, Vegan Outreach activists are out there, creating real, lasting change.
—Rory Freedman, coauthor of Skinny Bitch

The brutality of factory farms and industrial slaughterhouses is far from public view, hidden behind walls both physical and psychological.

The cruelty to chickens, turkeys, and pigs that occurs on factory farms is every bit as horrible as any act of barbarism inflicted on other animals.

Even worse, this brutality is on a scale that vastly exceeds all other acts of cruelty to animals.

Every day, agribusiness is ruthlessly pursuing profit through their factory farms and slaughterhouses.

That is why 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.

We are honored to work with you for the animals.

The deadline is fast approaching for the Matching Opportunity.

Please click here and help us put all the money to work -- relentlessly -- for the animals!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Record Report! Jon on John

On Dec. 3, John Oberg and crew reached 4,435 students at Arizona State.
Below, just a few reports on the people influenced by John.

In the annals of leafleting history, there now stands a feat so grand that we mere mortals are trying to wrap our brains around it. In just one semester, one single individual, John Oberg, handed a booklet to 113,839 students at 120 schools throughout North America. In Adopt a College's ten year history, this is the most students reached  by any single person in any single semester, even surpassing the previous jaw-droppingly-impressive record of 100,395, accomplished by the Mighty Vic Sjodin in the fall of 2008.

At Mesa Community College: "Had a great conversation with Anthony [left] and Torin. Torin had seen a documentary about how our industrialized food system works and was expressing how disturbed he was by it. I gave them both Guides, and they seemed keen on the idea of moving towards a veg diet, especially Torin who seemed to just need this reminder and a few answers to simple questions!

 John accomplished this new record in his first full semester as a traveling leafleter for VO. He spent the entire semester on the road, traveling throughout the Great Plains, the Pacific Northwest, the Southwest, and even into Canada, starting his days before sunrise and often ending them as the sun was setting.

"Meral [at University of Colorado, Colorado Springs] a former vegan with whom I had a great conversation.
She told me that she needed to be reminded of why she should go back to being vegan
and that this definitely made an impact on her."

John accomplished this not only because he has a desire to give his absolute all to whatever he sets his mind to, but because he knows what’s at stake – the potential to spare thousands and thousands of animals from a lifetime of suffering, the opportunity to inspire students to bring about a brighter future animals.

University of Texas, El Paso: "Melanie, came up to me and said, 'it got me.'
She explained how she read it in class and it made her decide to be vegetarian now."

Cheers to John for using his tireless work ethic, smarts, and legendary enthusiasm to bring about this accomplishment!

And thank you to all the donors who made this happen. We're only able to put leafleters in the field, supplied with thousands and thousands of booklets, because of  your commitment to Vegan Outreach and the animals.

-Jon Camp, Director of Outreach

First Friday in Phoenix: "As soon as I lugged the boxes from my car and sat them down, and with a handful of potato chips in my mouth, a guy named Joaquin walked up to me and said, 'Do you have any recipes?' Clearly he knew what I was doing on that infamous corner of 5th St. & Roosevelt. I swallowed my chips and said, 'Yeah, here you go.' He said, 'A whole year and still going strong!' and then informed me that he went vegetarian from getting leafleted by us at First Friday exactly a year ago! Awesome!"

"Dave Hernandez went vegetarian from getting a booklet in [December 2010] at First Friday [in Phoenix]
and leafleted with us at the November 2011 First Friday."

"Ran into Brinley, a student I had leafleted a week ago at Arizona State. When I said, 'Help animals' last week, she said, 'Yeah, definitely' and then we engaged in a 30-second conversation. I mentioned how farm animals comprise 99% of animals killed in the US. I gave her my card and within the hour she shot me an email and said how shocked she was about the statistic and that she is immediately going to make a change and encourage others to do the same. Turns out that change was her going VEGAN!!! She's been vegan for a week (straight from eating meat), gotten one vegetarian friend of her's to switch to being vegan, and is encouraging her family to look at their food choices. She even helped me leaflet and wants to start volunteering. Amazing!"

Thursday, December 27, 2012

No Letup!

The arc of the moral universe is long,but it bends toward justice.
-Martin Luther King, Jr.

We have documented, over and over and over, the amazing decline in the number of animals butchered for food in the United Sates.

In addition to the great analysis by Harish over at Counting Animals, our friends at the MFA blog ran the numbers from the USDA. From peak consumption in 2006-07 -- and even with population growth -- estimates for 2013 indicated 400,000 fewer cows butchered, 12,000,000 fewer pigs slaughtered, 22,000,000 fewer turkeys killed, and about 500,000,000 fewer chickens murdered.

Yes, you read that correctly: hundreds of millions of individuals spared the horrors of factory farms and industrial slaughterhouses.

There are two simple facts:

1. Our work together is literally bending the arc toward justice.

2. You determine how many new people learn the truth in 2013 -- and thus how many more animals are spared from modern agribusiness' brutality.

We know you share our dedication to saving as many animals as quickly as possible. And today, your donation will go twice as far -- reaching twice as many people, saving twice as many animals.

Together, we'll be sure there is no letup in our efforts -- and progress!

Please click here and donate however much you can -- and share these simple yet powerful facts with anyone who cares about the animals!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

How Many We Need to Reach

Check out this report:

Seventeen percent of Americans stated that they “don’t eat meat, fish, seafood, or poultry at many of my meals (but less than half the time)” and 16% don’t eat these foods at more than half of their meals (but not all the time). Thus, 1/3 (33%) of the country are eating vegetarian meals a significant amount of the time (in addition to vegetarians)!... 40% said when eating out they often order a dish without meat, fish or fowl. For those of you trying to get a handle on the population very interested in vegetarian foods, though not vegetarian, it appears to be 30% – 40% of the country.
Heidi Cohen-Wolff expands the
circle at Mesa College.

Reviewing the entire poll, they conclude:

48% Thus we estimate this is the audience for good tasting vegetarian foods that fit individual needs.

This matches almost exactly with the 49% estimated here.

We know what an opportunity this is, so every day, we are providing compelling, honest, and thorough information to thousands of interested individuals!

But obviously, there are many more we need to reach!

If you'd like to reach and motivate twice as many of these people, please give a special, tax-deductible donation to VO's matching challenge.

How many we reach in 2013 depends on you!

Semester Report: Jon Stalks 900k

The fall semester of leafleting was one of my biggest semesters thus far. Thanks to the generosity of Vegan Outreach donors, I had the opportunity to personally hand out 68,094 booklets at 64 schools in 11 states.

There were a number of standout moments, such as meeting Rebecca (left), a student at Vanderbilt, who got a booklet from us two years ago, was appalled by the cruelty she witnessed in the booklet, and has been vegetarian since. Another highlight was meeting Holly (below), a young woman attending the Atlanta VegFest. She got a booklet from us at the Warped Tour in 2008, and has been vegan since. Both stressed what a big impact the VO booklets had on their lives.

I also enjoyed the challenge of interacting with those who didn’t always share my views on animals, but who nonetheless came to see some merits in the content of the booklets and in the points made during our discussions. At Oklahoma State, a bastion of animal agriculture, two young men, students at OSU and involved in animal ag, engaged in a healthy back-and-forth discussion with me, which ended in us shaking hands and agreeing that both sides raised some good points. I also remember speaking with a woman at Austin Peay State University, whose family raised beef cattle. She heard me out, agreed that some of today’s farmed animals didn’t lead good lives, and divulged a most shocking admission: She had tried tofu in the past… and liked it!

All the good for animals that happened as a result of my leafleting this semester happened because of those of you who see the importance of targeted person-to-person outreach and who give so much of yourselves to make this happen. My semester is dedicated to you. Thank you so very much!

-Jon Camp

Note: Jon has handed a VO booklet to 876,740 people so far in his career! You can help him get to 900,000 and beyond by clicking here!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

For the Love of Love – Nikki Benoit

Fall 2012 - a time for change and mounting evidence of progress! Taking the truth to the streets can be a mixed bag, but I can say - without pause - that our society's shift toward justice is palpable. People are ripe for the truth! In my short 4 years of regular outreach (half of which as a full-time leafleter), this past 6 months proved how much awareness is growing among the masses. People care about animal suffering - and they no likey that it's happening. The chapter on insanity is coming to a close. B'bye, crazy days.

Southern California's outreach kicked-off this Fall with our first ever intern: Kassy Ortega. Kassy brought vibrant, new, enthusiastic energy to the turf. She's fearless and dedicated - taking all new challenges with doe-eyed optimism for the opportunities that lie ahead - like hopping out of my stopped car to leaflet other cars stuck in construction traffic (above) - that's how she rolls. We stormed our region, breaking records and making new friends at every campus in our path. Her positive outlook was never dampened, even with classic LA traffic (best button-pusher this side of the Mississippi). I can recall numerous instances where students received a booklet from her, felt compelled to act so they stopped to help!

Twenty-seven volunteers joined us (half were repeat helpers!) to promote compassion throughout this entire semester. All total, 96,458 southern Californians were directly infused with tools for transformation at 85 different colleges and high schools! Many of these helpers were on-the-spot converts, like Amir from Irvine Valley College. This kat (right) comes back to me with the booklet saying, "What do I do to help?" I say, "Help me leaflet." He says, "OK. What else?" I say, "Stop eating the animals and their parts." "Of course, that's done as of the second I glanced through that booklet. This is disgusting. And horrible." And he was a natural leafleter!

As the veil continues to lift, Kassy got a fist-bump and rabid "Thank You!!" at MiraCosta College from an older woman who needed this push-by-leaflet for her veg transition. Thanks to us being there, she got the motivation (and our Guide to Cruelty Free Eating) she needed!  THEN we met a woman - Krista (above) - who'd strayed from her former veg life but - because of seeing a booklet in the library - is back on track!

Fili, another of the many leafletees who joined
Nikki and Kassy to leaflet!
Working at the scale of the problem, and with the real-time urgency it needs, requires this on-the-ground outreach YOU support. Whether it's pounding out booklets, contributing to the creation and distribution of said booklets, providing support for those who tour the lands directly - EVERYTHING we do depends on you. By supporting our efforts, we can push forward and help ensure this chapter on insanity sees its final days. From now until December 31st, all donations - large and sub-large - will be doubled!

For the animals, for the planet, for limitless compassion - THANK YOU for choosing to live on purpose and for supporting our work.

For the love of love,
On and up!
Nikki Benoit 
Southern California Outreach Coordinator
Vegan Outreach

Video of Our Work Together

Our work together: Changing Lives!


If you can give a special, fully tax-deductible gift today, it will be doubled, dollar-for-dollar, and change twice as many lives!

Please click here and change lives!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Choosing for Maximum Impact

Second of two talks presented by Matt Ball at Their Lives, Our Voices Conference in 2008; first talk.

We’ve heard from many different advocates this weekend, and we’re all aware of the many, many different forms of animal exploitation that could use our limited time and money.

It is important to realize just how incredibly limited our resources really are. Vegan Outreach’s budget isn’t even a million dollars a year. It’s true that PETA’s is bigger, and HSUS’s is over a hundred million dollars. But compare this to the companies that exploit animals. In 2007, just two of these companies – Tyson and Cargill – had revenues of over 115 billion.

We must also recognize that our time is limited. I’ve heard many an activist say that they can’t turn their back on the circus coming to town, or skip a protest at a local lab, or stop volunteering at the animal shelter. Before founding Vegan Outreach, Jack Norris and I pursued many and various methods of advocacy – from letter writing campaigns to scores of protests, and everything in between, including civil disobedience. But every time we choose to do one thing, we are choosing not to do another. There is no way around it. We can’t do everything. We must – and do – choose.

Given all this, how can we make choices that maximize the amount of good we accomplish with our limited time and money?

The first and most important step is to set aside our personal biases and needs, and recognize what is fundamentally important – our first principle. Yesterday, I discussed at length how suffering is irreducibly bad, and eliminating suffering is fundamentally good. This is Vegan Outreach’s first principle, our bottom line and guide: eliminating as much suffering as possible. Vegan Outreach is dedicated to taking suffering seriously. Everything we do derives directly from that – we make our choices based on which option will lead to the least amount of suffering.

Why Vegan Outreach?

Based entirely on this first principle, we choose to focus on exposing the cruelties of factory farms and industrial slaughterhouses, while providing honest information about how to pursue a cruelty-free lifestyle. Let me repeat – our emphasis on ethical eating is derived from our first principle, not vice versa. No specific diet has any value in and of itself. Rather, the importance of promoting cruelty-free eating is that it allows us to have the maximum impact on the amount of suffering in the world. There are three reasons for this:

1. The Numbers The number of animals raised and killed for food each year in the United States alone vastly exceeds any other form of exploitation, involving numbers far greater than the total human population of the entire world. Ninety-nine out of every 100 animals killed in the United States each year are slaughtered to be eaten.

2. The Suffering Of course, if these billions of animals lived happy, healthy lives and had quick, painless deaths, then our concern for suffering would lead us elsewhere. But animals raised for food must endure unfathomable suffering.

Most advocacy tends to revolve around detailed stories of individuals, and the story of any individual chicken, pig, or veal calf clearly rivals any other case of cruelty. Indeed, perhaps the most difficult aspect of advocating on behalf of these animals is trying to describe the indescribable: the overcrowding and confinement, the stench, the racket, the extremes of heat and cold, the attacks and even cannibalism, the hunger and starvation, the illness, the broken bones, the failing organs…the near-constant horror of every day of their lives. Indeed, every year, hundreds of millions of farmed animals – many times more than the total number killed for fur, in shelters, and in laboratories combined – don’t even make it to slaughter. They actually suffer to death.

3. The Opportunity If there were nothing we could do about these animals’ suffering – if it all happened in a distant land beyond our influence – then, again, our focus would be different. But exposing factory farms and advocating ethical eating is the most readily accessible option we have for reducing suffering and making a better world! We don’t have to overthrow a government. We don’t have to forsake modern life. We don’t have to win an election or convince Congress of the validity of our argument.

Rather, every day, every single person makes decisions that affect the lives of these farmed animals. Inspiring someone to change leads to fewer animals suffering on factory farms. Convincing one person go to vegetarian spares thousands of animals from the vicious maws of modern agribusiness. Many major national campaigns spend huge amounts of time and money for less payoff. By choosing to promote cruelty-free living, every person we meet is a potential major victory.

What and Why?

For these reasons, Vegan Outreach works to change as many people’s diets as possible per dollar donated and hour worked. We believe the way to accomplish this is to present the optimal message to our target audience. This leads to two obvious questions: Who is our audience, and what is the message that will elicit the greatest change?

Of course, with infinite resources, we could reach out to everyone. Given our reality, though, the goal of maximum change leads Vegan Outreach to focus primarily on students (especially college-age) in North America, for three main reasons:

1. The Relative Willingness and Ability to Change Of course, not every student is willing to stop eating meat. But relative to the population as a whole, college students tend to be more open-minded – even rebellious against the status quo – and in a position where they aren’t as restricted by parents, tradition, habits, etc.

2. The Full Impact of Change Even if students and senior citizens were equally open to change, over the course of their lives, students can save more animals. Young people not only have more meals ahead of them, but also have more opportunities to influence others.

3. The Ability to Reach Large Numbers College students are typically easier to reach. For a relatively small investment of time, an activist can hand a copy of Even If You Like Meat or Compassionate Choices to hundreds of students who otherwise may have never viewed a full and compelling case for ethical eating.

Because we take suffering seriously, the message we choose to present to this audience is the cruelty to animals on factory farms and in industrial slaughterhouses. We have found this simple and straightforward message to have many benefits, including honesty and strength of motivation.

However, many new vegetarians think, “Even though I care about animals, other people won’t. People are selfish – I’ll appeal to their self-interest!” But look around – is the health argument working? For years we’ve known that being obese is an incredible threat to good health, yet every year, more and more people in the United States become more and more overweight! Is this really the message with the best chance to create real and lasting change for the animals?

Also, we don’t want to get people to just consider changing their diet. We want them to change, maintain that change, and advocate change. If someone gives up meat to improve their health, the next time they hear someone praise a different diet, that same person might switch and end up eating even more animals than before! So we should try to get people to choose compassion for reasons that are sustainable.

I’m not fooling myself – I know that exposing what goes on in factory farms and slaughterhouses isn’t going to reach everyone. But feel-good arguments that avoid the horrors of meat production are easily dismissed. They are simply not compelling enough. We don’t want people to nod in agreement and continue on as before. It is far better if 95% of people turn away revolted and 5% consider the animals’ plight, than if everyone smiles politely and continues on to McDonald’s for a “healthy” chicken sandwich or salad.

Let me repeat: Trying to appeal to everyone hasn’t worked, and it won’t work. It is well past time to give up the fantasy that there is some perfect self-centered argument that will magically compel everyone to change.

Conversely, showing people what is hidden behind the walls of factory farms and slaughterhouses does work! We have found cruelty to animals to be the most compelling reason for people to change their diet – and maintain and promote that change – in the face of peer pressure, tradition, the latest fad, etc. In the mid 1990s, Vegan Outreach’s President Jack Norris leafleted colleges around the country; he found a great willingness among students to take and consider information about the realities of modern animal agribusiness, and the compassionate alternative. Since then, hundreds of other activists have found the same. We constantly receive feedback like, “I had no idea what went on! Thank you so much for opening my eyes!”

And yet, there are many, many more people to reach. The simplest way to get booklets to interested people is to stock displays in your area: libraries, music and bookstores, co-ops and natural food stores, coffeehouses, and sympathetic restaurants are possible venues.

Young adults, though, is where the animals get the biggest bang for the buck. Vegan Outreach’s Adopt a College program, where activists leaflet at local campuses, concerts, and other venues, serves to reach out methodically to our prime audience. Activists go directly to individuals – people who may never otherwise learn the realities of modern agribusiness and the compassionate alternative – and provide them with illustrated, detailed, and documented information. This is the first systematic plan for bringing about animal liberation by going directly to our most receptive audience. We know this works, and you can join with the others who are taking part in this powerful, effective activism. You don’t need to start a group, or publish a website, or organize anything – you just need to take suffering seriously and choose to commit your time, and we’ll provide all the materials and guidance you need.

Potential Pitfalls

When striving to be the best possible advocate, there are a number of pitfalls we need to keep in mind. I touched on one yesterday – the vegan stereotype – and want to cover a few more here.

We must always remember that people are looking for a reason to ignore us – no one sits around thinking, “Wow, I want to give up my favorite foods and be different from my friends and family!” Anyone who has been vegetarian for more than a few minutes knows the many roadblocks – habit, tradition, convenience, taste, familiarity, peer pressure, etc. – that keep people from opening their hearts and minds to the animals’ plight. Knowing this, we can’t give anyone any reasons to ignore the terrible and unnecessary suffering on factory farms and in slaughterhouses.

Furthermore, we need to make sure that people who do change are able to maintain that change. While leafleting colleges across the country, activists are often told, “I was veg for a while, but I didn’t feel healthy.…” Jack heard this so frequently that it sometimes seemed that he met more failed vegetarians than current vegetarians! Failed vegetarians tell everyone how awful they felt without meat, and how much better they feel as a meat eater again. Just one failed vegetarian can counter the efforts of many sincere advocates.

To do our best to prevent suffering, we must learn and present a complete, unbiased summary of the nutritional aspects of a meatless diet, including uncertainties and potential concerns. Vegan Outreach does this in our Guide, with a thorough article written by Jack, who is now a registered dietician. Providing this information not only leads people to trust that we are not just partisan propagandists, but also creates healthy spokespeople for the animals!

If we want to be as effective as we possibly can be for the animals,  it is absolutely essential that we stay focused on the animals. Remember: Our message is simple. We shouldn’t try to answer every tangential argument. Whatever is said cannot counter the fact that eating animals causes unnecessary suffering.

We must always stay focused on the animals. We are not the issue. Veganism is not an end in itself – it is only a tool for reducing suffering. Our purpose isn’t to “win an argument with a meat eater.” Our goal is to get people to open their hearts and minds to the animals’ plight.

Buying meat, eggs, and dairy causes unnecessary suffering. We can each choose not to cause this suffering.

Reason for Optimism Redux

I understand that focusing on preventing animals from being bred for factory farms isn’t a particularly exciting or inspiring prescription, especially compared to the pull of concrete campaigns, the plight of individual animals, or the immediacy of the latest tragedy. But if we take suffering seriously, we need to maximize our impact, rather than pursue the immediate and high profile.

I also know that this work can seem overwhelming or too slow, which is why I concluded yesterday’s talk with some surprising facts about how much great progress we have already made for the animals. I want to leave you with a summary of one possible future:

Our grassroots advocacy efforts are creating more vegetarians every day, leading to more vegetarian products arriving on the market every month. Having convenient vegetarian options is vital, as it makes it easier for new people to try and stick with a compassionate diet. As more people buy faux meats and other vegetarian products, competition will continue to increase the supply and varieties, improving quality and driving down prices. This cycle of increasing numbers of vegetarians and the increasing convenience of vegetarian eating creates a feedback loop that accelerates progress.

If we choose to focus our scarce resources on expanding this advocacy, the growth of vegetarianism will accelerate to a tipping point, where vegetarianism and opposition to factory farms becomes the “norm” among influential groups. Legislation, as it usually does, will continue to follow evolving public opinion, and we’ll see more of animal agriculture’s worst practices outlawed and abolished. Corporate practices will also continue to adjust to the demands from an increasingly aware market.

At the same time, powerful economic forces will kick in, because meat is ultimately inefficient. It is more economical to eat plant foods directly, rather than feeding plants to animals and then eating some of the animals’ flesh. Of course, people aren't going to substitute tofu for meat, but that’s not the choice they'll be making. Food science has already advanced such that the best vegetarian meats are already able to satisfy even hard-core carnivores. Deli slices from Tofurky, sausages from Field Roast, burgers from Gardein, Gimme Lean sausage and ground beef, Beyond Meat, Boca Chik’n – all of these dismiss the notion that giving up meat is necessarily a deprivation.

The faster the growth in people choosing vegetarian, the faster vegetarian products will improve in taste, become cheaper, and be found in more places. Our challenge now is to expand the vegetarian market by explaining to more meat eaters the reasons for choosing meatless meals, while exposing them to new – though similar – products. The more rapidly we do this, the sooner cruelty-free eating will be widespread.

Despite all the current horror and suffering, if we take the long view – and are willing to commit to the work that needs to be done – we should be optimistic. If we take suffering seriously and are committed to optimal advocacy, we can each create real, fundamental change. This change will not come by revolution, but through person-by-person outreach progressing hand-in-hand with advances in technology, leading slowly but inexorably towards a new norm that, to most people, will hardly seem different. But an unfathomable amount of suffering will be prevented.

It is up to us to make this happen. I know that this can seem like unrewarding work, and the scale can appear intimidating. I know that the easiest thing would be to walk out that door and continue on as before.

But we can be the leaders who fundamentally change society. We can be extraordinary! The choice is ours!

Please be a part of this today with a simple click  –  thanks!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

History Report: Dawn Ratcliffe

Thanks to your support, I was able to reach over 16,000 students and dozens of staff and faculty members this past fall semester as a volunteer. I visited 31 college campuses in my home states of South Carolina and North Carolina, as well as Florida, where I currently reside.

I have been involved with Vegan Outreach since 1996, and remember handing out the first version of the Why Vegan booklet at festivals, tabling events, and stoplights. (Yes, stoplights.) In 1997, I took part in my first college veg leafleting experience...well, sort of. I stood next to a table I had set up at an Earth Day celebration at Davidson College, a prestigious liberal arts college in the Charlotte, NC area. I handed out Why Vegan booklets to students who were waiting in line for burgers and luckily, the stand included vegan burgers, too. Too bad it didn't dawn on me then that colleges were a better venue in which to reach people than stoplights. :-)

Since then, I have watched Vegan Outreach become one of the most effective organizations and am proud of my involvement with them.

As an increasing number of people eliminate or reduce their consumption of animal products, I have found it all the more important to hand out booklets and help people identify veganism with a friendly face who can answer their questions and offer advice. And it's because of your generosity that this is possible, and why 1996's thousands of booklets has burgeoned into batches of hundreds of thousands of booklets every semester. College cafeterias are more vegan-friendly than they were when I went vegan in 1995, and professors are increasingly assigning papers and projects on vegan eating and animal advocacy, no doubt in part because of Vegan Outreach's influence.

Over the last four months, I talked with dozens and dozens of students, faculty, and staff members who were interested in making dietary and lifestyle changes that will benefit animals. Just a few examples: An administrator with the University of North Florida thanked me for the information as she's transitioning from vegetarianism to veganism. At Valencia College’s West campus in Orlando, a student who had been vegetarian for 4 1/2 years lamented not being vegetarian anymore. In his own words, he said he went back for selfish reasons, but was now going to give it another try. I suggested that he start with a few days a week and increase it from there, and he gladly took a Guide to Cruelty-Free Eating. I met a student who was new to veganism at Valencia College East who missed cheese, so I told him to try Daiya and check out the vegan pizza and sandwiches at Mellow Mushroom (a restaurant which everyone in Florida and elsewhere in the south seems to like). As I now do with many interested individuals, I circled the products (Gardein Ultimate Burgers, Daiya, Vegenaise, etc.) in the Guide to Cruelty-Free Eating that may appeal most to him after learning a bit more about his food preferences.

At Polk State College in Winter Haven, FL, one student stopped to ask me what my motivation was to leaflet, and had some really good questions, as he's extremely interested in exploring vegetarianism. He thought it was cool that I had been vegan for so long, and after we talked for about five minutes, he said that he's going to try to get all of his family members to join him in making changes.

A student at Southeastern University in Lakeland, FL, who had happily taken a Compassionate Choices before lunch, came up to me almost an hour later and thanked me repeatedly for handing her a booklet. She and her friend read it from cover to cover while they were eating and were blown away by the information. She said she's definitely going vegetarian and will be frequenting the herbivore station in the dining hall from now on; her friend said she was now going to try to go vegetarian as well. (Multiple students raved about the recently-expanded herbivore station and the new vegan meats and overall quality of the food).

At Coastal Carolina University, located just outside of Myrtle Beach, SC (only minutes from where I lived from four to fifteen years of age), one particularly thoughtful woman told me that working for the Stouffer’s division of NestlĂ© in Gaffney, SC changed her life. Her job required that she frequently visit the slaughterhouse. Although she purposely avoided the killing floor, the horrid smell and knowing what went on there was enough to make her do research on her own and move toward a cruelty-free lifestyle. She will undoubtedly change many people with her story. In addition, an astounding number of students at both the East and West campuses of Valencia College, Southeastern University, Winthrop University (Rock Hill, SC), Central Piedmont Community College (Charlotte, NC), Winston Salem State University (NC), University of North Carolina Charlotte, North Carolina A and T University (Greensboro, NC), University of South Florida (Tampa), and Polk State College (Winter Haven, FL) were particularly affected by the booklets and vowed to make meaningful changes.

However, the most memorable conversation of the last four months was with a University of North Florida undergraduate. She was given two pet lambs when she was a kid and for two years, she spent hours upon hours with them every week. One day, they were nowhere to be found, and her parents informed her that her beloved friends were on her plate. She didn't eat meat after that; to this day, her parents criticize her for being a vegetarian. Despite this, she had been contemplating going vegan, and after leafing through the booklet and talking with me for a bit, she told me that she was committed to making the change. I had tears in my eyes as I listened to her and we both cried a bit together. And while I can’t help but tear up a bit again as I write this, I take solace in knowing that we - the donors, volunteer leafleters, and paid staff members - are making a tangible difference.

The impact we've made as a group is changing the way that people view animals and I thank you for supporting such a results-driven nonprofit.

-Dawn Ratcliffe

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Paleo, Polination, Soy, and Increasing Veg!

Jack: Paleoveganology: Food For Thought

And Soy Allergies

Could you use some help with your outreach efforts? Apply for a Pollination Grant!

And yet more results of our work together! MFA's blog has the round-up on the ever-increasing trend in vegetarian and vegan options!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Semester Report: Brian Grupe

This fall, volunteers and I leafleted all over Northern California, and also some of Oregon and Nevada. We got to 75 schools (mostly colleges and some high schools), and while I personally distributed over 43,000, the two dozen or so volunteers were the real backbone of the semester. Together as a team we reached a grand total of 91,669 students! Truly amazing!

Kitty Jones, Brian Grupe, and Ekaterina Moysov at UC Davis
It was a special semester for me, personally, marking 5 years with Vegan Outreach and 400,000 booklets lifetime total! Here’s a few quick snippets from my reports this semester:

From Los Medanos College in September: 
I remember doing this school in 2009 and meeting no vegetarians or vegans. We met close to 10 today, and many students mentioned the movie Food Inc, learning about in a class, being aware already, etc. Love to see measurable progress like this.

From Skyline College in October: 
New record by 100 leaflets, woo! Diane and I were able to really saturate this campus today. I met three separate students who said they would be altering their diet in some way after reading the booklet. So awesome! Also gave my card to a young lady interested in volunteering and she has already emailed me.

Note: The person interested in volunteering in this post ended up helping multiple times and gave out over 1,100 leaflets. So many great new volunteers this semester!

From Folsom Lake College later in October: 
Weather cleared up (yay!) so that made today all the better. A woman took a booklet, stopped and teared up, and gave me one of the biggest hugs I’ve ever received. “THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU! SOMEONE UNDERSTANDS!” It was still early and it totally startled me but in a good way. Very sweet. Another woman screamed out “God bless you!” a few minutes after this. Eventful 2 hours at FLC!

Thanks for your generous support of Vegan Outreach! We wouldn’t be able to do it without all the amazing volunteers and donors who believe in our work. Happy Holidays!

Brian Grupe 
Northern California Outreach Coordinator

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Semester Report: Vic Sjodin

What a great semester of outreach! Thank you so much for making it all possible and being a part of Vegan Outreach.

This fall, I toured through Michigan, parts of Ohio, upstate NY, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, going to 93 schools. As a part of the Vegan Outreach team, I feel really privileged to be on the pavement every day as a voice for the innocent animals trapped on factory farms. I work hard knowing that I am just one point man of a whole team of VO members who sacrifice to make this outreach possible.

The best part of the work is seeing and hearing from all the people who are affected by the booklets. There were highlights everyday, but one special day happened at Oakland University, north of Detroit. In two hours, four separate students came up to me and said they were never going to eat meat again. I spoke to each for a while, and each got the comprehensive Guide to Cruelty Free Eating (which really helps kickstart eating vegan if it is new). Another student at Oakland said they would go back to being veg, and others that they would reduce their meat consumption. Amazing! If you told me 5 years ago to go and make 10 people go veg by 3 PM, I would have been bewildered. Yet every single day, many are choosing to go veg from getting our booklets. It really is amazing!

Another great day was at William Paterson University, where Matthew Glover (above, right), a friend I had met during the summer, joined me for his first time leafletting. It was so cold we were only able to leaflet the class changes for a few hours. Still, two women said they were going to go veg, and three others asked questions and wanted to stop supporting factory farming. Two more students wanted to get involved leafletting -- both had been meat eaters before Vegan Outreach came to campus.

That was on a Monday. One of those students -- Daniela Artiga (above, left) -- helped me leaflet four days later, bringing her friend to help. Not only did we reach over 1,600 new students with lit, but Daniela is now a committed vegan and regular volunteer for animals, and her friend, Quindaya Williams (below, right), has now gone vegetarian.

I loved this day because it demonstrates the ripple effects of outreach. Every new person reached also becomes an advocate. I have heard this many times -- how one person went veg from a leaflet, then their mom, spouse, friends etc.

Our seeds are growing everyday. Thank you for not forgetting the plight of so many innocent animals, and making all these wonderful things happen each day. With your continued support, every day brings us closer to a compassionate world.

Thank you again and I hope you have a wonderful holiday season!

For the animals,

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Today's EN Highlights

Full Enewsletter now online.

Accompanying a donation to the Matching Opportunity:
You guys do such amazing work. When I’ve given money to [other groups], I’m not sure where it’s going, but with you I know it will be put to good use. Thank you so much!
—RH, 11/26/12

A group of young women interviewed me for their class project. One of them said, “I can tell that you love your job.” I do. Even though being on the road is no easy thing, and there are some sacrifices made for such, I’ve been so grateful to have been able to do this work for so long. At the end of each day of leafleting, I feel that it really counted, and that the world is a better place because of the leafleting. I hope that all of you who do this outreach feel the same way about your work. As always, thanks to the donors who provide us leafleters the opportunity to do this fun, effective, and fulfilling work!
—Jon Camp, 10/9/12

I have to give a sincere thank you to all of the activists that are a continuing inspiration, and to the donors that make this grassroots, straight-to-the-people form of activism possible. It is so rewarding to be able to witness firsthand not just the sadness that runs over people when they read about the treatment of today’s farmed animals, but their consideration that this is cruelty they don’t need to be supporting. Thank you for making this kind of outreach a reality.
—John Oberg, 10/12/12

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Why Maximum Impact (Graphic)

As you know, Vegan Outreach doesn't focus on individual animals or high-profile cases of cruelty. We strive to have the biggest possible impact for as many animals as possible, regardless of our personal affinity for any of them, or the visibility of their suffering.

It is human to be repulsed by specific cases of cruelty, but there is an important case to be made for striving to make sure our limited time and money are allocated such that they have the maximum possible impact.

If you, too, want to have the greatest impact, please see this post at Counting Animals, regarding the relative magnitude of suffering and death in various industries.

We know there are many heart-rending demands on our sympathy, our time, and our money. But please consider the bottom-line impact your donations will have for all animals -- both seen and unseen.

Right now, a group of your fellow donors -- dedicated to having the maximum impact possible -- have pooled their money to create a Matching Opportunity for you. Your donation today will be doubled, dollar-for-dollar.

Please consider giving today for maximum impact.


Monday, December 17, 2012

Does Compassion Spread Itself?

One of Jack's talks is, "Does Veganism Spread Itself?" He gives the details, but the shocking punchline is:
No, veganism doesn't spread itself.

In a previous postwe talked about the decline in consumption of and demand for animal flesh. Last year, we pointed out the huge growth in vegetarianism and veganism.

And although it's common sense, it is worth repeating: This fundamental change is both necessary for bringing about a better world, and it doesn't just happen on its own.

Real, lasting change comes about because of all the people who aren't satisfied with soundbites, who just don't want to fight specific cases of abuse.

Real, lasting change is driven by those who refuse to just hack at the branches of evil, and insist instead on striking at the root.

But even better: By focusing on bringing about fundamental change, we set the stage for faster change in the future and around the world -- as laid out here and here.

Thanks to everyone who has been a part of this amazingly successful work! And if you haven't had a chance to take advantage of the Matching Opportunity, please take a minute to be a part of this effective and necessary work!

From Brian: Another Pledge to be Veg, at CSU Stanislaus.