Vegan Outreach was recently
contacted by a leafleter who complained
that VO's advocacy booklets don't
focus on the wrongness of killing
as a violation of animals' rights.
They sometimes hear from people
who say that halal or kosher meat
is fine, because the animal is (supposedly)
killed quickly. This was our reply.
Thanks so much for sharing your
concerns. I thought it would be
best to take a few minutes to lay
out Vegan Outreach’s goals and approach.
As we discussed in AML,
our goal is not to justify or celebrate
veganism, but rather to reduce as
much suffering as possible. Of course,
veganism is the best way for a person
to prevent as much suffering as
possible. However, the question
for advocates is: given the society
as it is and the opportunities we
face, how do we best reduce suffering?
Our experience over the past decades
– and those of other activists –
indicate that very, very few current
meat eaters are going to get a booklet,
give up speciesism, be convinced
of an animal’s absolute right to
life, and thus immediately go vegan.
Similarly, the vast majority of
meat-eaters aren’t going to come
down on the animals’ side if presented
with a binary choice of the status
quo and veganism.
If meat eaters aren’t going to
accept the concept of animal rights
and will be put off by veganism,
how do we best create as much change
as possible, given our limited resources
and time? How can we reach meat
eaters – the only ones who can make
changes to save animals – where
The vast majority of people oppose
cruelty to animals. Therefore, this
is the hook we must take, to reach
as many people as possible – letting
them know that modern agribusiness
inherently and systematically treats
animals in ways they find repulsive.
Unfortunately, at this time,
this message isn’t going to cause
a majority of people to change.
Eating animals is too ingrained,
and being vegan – being different
– is just too hard for most people.
While many people will just ignore
the animals’ plight, others will
make up excuses, such as claiming
their halal or kosher meat is fine,
etc. But because people make excuses
doesn’t mean that the cruelty argument
is failing – it just means that,
again, at this time, no argument
is going to change everyone’s behavior.
Activists face two choices. Our
advocacy can be about us – “staying
true to our principles,” promoting
only what we view as the ultimate,
perfect answer. Or we can recognize
how society is today and learn from
the many advocates who have come
before us. It is, of course, very
attractive (and easier) to pursue
the former course, while the latter
requires hard choices and can be
exceedingly frustrating at times.
But we are in it for the animals,
and recognize that creating a vegan
world will be a long, hard, often
I apologize if this is more information
than you wanted – perhaps you just
wanted to know how to answer people
who bring up halal/kosher. When
someone makes that argument to me,
I ask them if they’ve ever been
to the warehouses where the animals
are raised, and if they’ve ever
been to the actual slaughterhouse.
If the discussion continues, I ask
them if they’ve heard about the
scandals at AgriProcessors,
the world’s largest kosher slaughterhouse.
Finally, and as I always try to
do in any conversation, I ask them
if they think not eating animals
would cause less suffering in the
Ultimately, I know that, at this
time, most people simply won’t change
their habits, and will offer up
any range of excuses / rationalizations.
Over the years, I’ve learned not
to let this bother me. I no longer
spend my limited time and energy
worrying about them – we simply
have too many other people to reach
– people who don’t know the hidden
horrors of modern agribusiness and
who might change if they did know.
Thanks again for all your excellent
For the animals,
-Matt Ball, Vegan Outreach