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Vegan Outreach is a 501(c)(3)
nonprofit organization dedicated to
reducing the suffering of farmed animals
by promoting informed, ethical eating.

Donations to VO are fully tax-deductible.
VO’s tax identification no. is 86-0736818.

Vegan Outreach
POB 1916, Davis, CA 95617-1916

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Enewsletter

Vegan Outreach Enewsletter  •  July 8, 2001

 

"Only the choicest vegetable discards"

Contents

This issue of Vegan Spam is sponsored by Kirk's Castile, makers of all-natural soaps and skin-care products. The oldest soap in America, Kirk's is an all-vegetarian company that does not believe in or endorse animal testing.

Animal Rights 2001

Apologies to all those who wanted to meet with Vegan Outreach at the conference. Over the next few issues, we will have different people passing along their thoughts from the conference.

A quick thought:
It seems as though the animals would be much better off if all those concerned about suffering would realize that over 99% of all animals killed in the U.S. die for people to eat.

More detailed, personal thoughts: Activism and Veganism Reconsidered: Personal Thoughts at the New Millennium

 

Feedback

While my ethics and religion students hated reading Why Vegan, and being subjected to my constant questioning of our flesh-eating, nipple-suckling ways, by the end of the term at least a dozen students mentioned that they had made drastic changes in food choices–three went vegan–and there is a newly formed animal advocacy group on campus. Keep up the good work! I will be counting on a fresh batch of WhyVegans to enliven my next batch of unsuspecting philosophy students. (I wish textbooks were as relevant and provocative!)
LK, Hoquiam, WA, 7/3/01

Thank you so much for the Vegan Starter Pack. If only everyone had access and could be exposed to the truth behind animal agriculture! Starting now, I will make my mark on the world by showing compassion for life with my cruelty-free diet and manner of living.
AC, Essex Junction, VT, 6/28/01

I would like to write to all of you who have contributed in such a great job to make people see the suffering in animals. My fiancé and I were walking in Santa Monica when we stopped to see a film projector showing the horrors of factory farms. My heart felt pain and I wanted to cry. I got a booklet from the people showing the film. What I saw changed my life! Although I loved meat, since then I've been a vegetarian!
     I don't know how to thank you for opening my eyes. I know I can't change the entire world, but I know that by just not eating meat, I'm helping a little part.
MH, Los Angeles, CA, 6/27/01

 

News

PETA called off its "Murder King" campaign after Burger King agreed to toughen its animal welfare guidelines to meet or exceed those of McDonald's. Now that both McDonald's and Burger King have pushed new standards on their meat suppliers, Wendy's and Denny's will face great pressure to take similar action.

Excerpts from How Are We To Live? by Peter Singer

One of the main questions that vex many activists is: How can we convince people to care about the suffering of others? Obviously, it is possible for people to live without caring about a consistent set of ethics (e.g., eating some animals while loving others).

To explore this question, in this and the next issue of VS, we'll be sharing excerpts from Peter Singer's book How Are We To Live (excerpts also found in his book Writings on an Ethical Life):

 

Living Ethically / The Good Life

We must, of course, be thankful for the fact that today we can help strangers without dreading the knock of the Gestapo on our door. We should not imagine, however, that the era of heroism is over.

Reason's capacity to take us where we did not expect to go could also lead to a curious diversion from what one might expect to be the straight line of evolution. We have evolved a capacity to reason because it helps us to survive and reproduce. But if reason is an escalator, then although the first part of the journey may help us to survive and reproduce, we may go further than we needed to go for this purpose alone. We may even end up somewhere that creates tension with other aspects of our nature. In this respect, there may after all be some validity in Kant's picture of tension between our capacity to reason, and what it may lead us to see as the right thing to do, and our more basic desires. We can live with the contradictions only up to a point.

Here is an example, from Gunnar Myrdal's "An American Dilemma":

The individual ... does not act in moral isolation. He is not left alone to manage his rationalizations as he pleases, without interference from outside. His valuations will, instead, be questioned and disputed.... The feeling of need for logical consistency within the hierarchy of moral valuations – and the embarrassed and sometimes distressed feeling that the moral order is shaky –- is, in its modern intensity, a rather new phenomenon.

Our ability to reason can be a factor in leading us away from both arbitrary subjectivism and an uncritical acceptance of the values of our community. Reason makes it possible to see ourselves in this way because, by thinking about my place in the world, I am able to see that I am just one being among others, with interests and desires like others. I have a personal perspective on the world, from which my interests are at the front and center of the stage, the interests of my family and friends are close behind, and the interests of strangers are pushed to the back and sides. But reason enables me to see that others have similarly subjective perspectives, and that from "the point of view of the universe" my perspective is no more privileged than theirs. Thus my ability to reason shows me the possibility of detaching myself from my own perspective and shows me what the universe might look like if I had no personal perspective.

Consistent with the idea of taking the point of view of the universe, the major ethical traditions all accept, in some form or other, a version of the golden rule that encourages equal consideration of interests. "Love your neighbor as yourself," said Jesus. "What is hateful to you do not do to your neighbor," says Rabbi Hillel. Confucious summed up his teaching in very similar terms: "What you do not want done to yourself, do not do to others." The "Mahabharata," the great Indian epic, says: "Let no man do to another that which would be repugnant to himself." The parallels are striking.

The perspective on ourselves that we get when we take the point of view of the universe yields as much objectivity as we need if we are to find a cause that is worthwhile in a way that is independent of our own desires. The most obvious such cause is the reduction of pain and suffering, wherever it is to be found. This may not be the only rationally grounded value, but it is the most immediate, pressing, and universally agreed upon one. We know from our experience that when pain and suffering are acute, all other values recede into the background. If we take the point of view of the universe, we can recognize the urgency of doing something about the pain and suffering of others, before we even consider promoting (for their own sake rather than as a means to reducing pain and suffering) other possible values like beauty, knowledge, autonomy, or happiness.

The possibility of taking the point of view of the universe overcomes the problem of finding meaning in our lives, despite the ephemeral nature of human existence when measured against all the eons of eternity. Suppose that we become involved in a project to help a small community in a developing country to become free of debt and self-sufficient in food. The project is an outstanding success.... Now someone might say: "What good have you done? In a thousand years these people will all be dead, and their children and grandchildren as well, and nothing that you have done will make any difference." That may be true, or it might be false. The changes we make today could snowball and, over a long period of time, lead to much more far-reaching changes. Or they could come to nothing. We simply cannot tell.

We should not, however, think of our efforts as wasted unless they endure forever, or even for a very long time. We can make the world a better place by causing there to be less pointless suffering in one particular place, at one particular time, than there would otherwise have been. As long as we do not thereby increase suffering at some other place or time, or cause any other comparable loss of value, we will have had a positive effect on the universe.

Part 2

 

Every Donation Prevents Suffering

Vegan Outreach is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to reducing the suffering of farmed animals by promoting informed, ethical eating.

All donations are tax-deductible.

Vegan Outreach

POB 30865, Tucson, AZ 85751-0865