Monday, October 7, 2013

Jack's Most Important Insight?

Many of you know Vegan Outreach's President Jack Norris (right) as Mr. "Take Your B12!" He also captured VO's purpose with the phrase "We want a vegan world, not a vegan club." 

But Jack's most important insight might have come about 20 years ago, when we were really pushing to get Vegan Outreach off the ground. As anyone who has read Jack's History knows, we had worked for years with various activists against fur, product testing, etc.

But after years of futilely trying to convince our fellow activists to join us in our work for the 99% of animals -- those killed to be eaten -- Jack made this proclamation: "We aren't going to try to convince any activist to adopt our approach. We're going to do our work, meet new people, and people will see our results."

I was reminded of this during this recent email exchange:

"Do you take a stand on whether we should seek ultimately to abolish all eating of animals or simply improve their living conditions. You seem to speak only of diminishing the suffering, which would be compatible with simply trying to improve animals' living conditions. If they don't suffer, then we can still raise and kill them for food?" 

Kaitlyn, now vegetarian interested in going vegan
after getting a booklet from Vic Sjodin.
Hi -- thanks for writing.
Although perhaps interesting for a late night dorm room BS session, these types of questions are irrelevant to the real world. Vegan Outreach works to maximize our impact on the real world. That is, we focus on results, not words. E.g.

"One's ultimate goals are important to keep in mind. If abolition is your goal, then you don't want to ease peoples' consciences about eating meat by endorsing welfarist half-measures.

"Whether your organization is abolitionist or welfarist matters both to whether you receive funding from people like me and to whether you participate in the easing of peoples' consciences about eating animal products. Both of these are certainly relevant to the real world when it comes to the animals.

"So where does your organization fall? Abolitionist or Welfarist? Or do you simply not take a stand?" 

If you judge groups based on words / labels, rather than results, then Vegan Outreach is definitely not the group for you.

Lauren Walker met this student at Northern AZ U,
who has been vegan since getting a VO booklet last year.

If you want our view, it is here:
(Specifically: "I used to be driven by words and dogma; I used to think we couldn't give people an 'out' or an 'excuse' to eat animals by talking about anything other than absolute veganism. Really, though, my prior attitude is nearly laughable. People don't need an 'out' to eat animals -- they already eat animals.)

If you want my personal view:

Marissa, going back to veg after getting a booklet
from Chris Guinn at SUNY Buffalo.
But if you want actual real-world results:

Regardless, good luck with all your efforts!

-Matt Ball