First Run of Vegan Outreach Ad; E Magazine Articles on Vegetarianism
Take a look at the Jan./Feb. issue of E Magazine (cover story
On p. 19, you will see Vegan Outreach's ad.
In an article
accompanying the cover story, the author concludes:
Both the environmental and animal rights communities make convincing
arguments about the best way to proceed toward a bright future,
but they have vastly different ways of looking at the world. And
rather than a unifying force, vegetarianism has become something
of a litmus test that some animal activists use to exclude would-be
. Davy Davidson, the San Francisco-based owner of Vegtime
would be happy if every environmentalist became a vegan,
but she realizes that isnt likely to happen soon. Environmental
people will go to such lengths to try and prove, for example, that
beef can be raised in a sustainable way. I think, unfortunately,
that theyre as loathe to give up their meat-eating habits
as the average American.
Here is a letter sent to E's editors (you can submit
It is easy for us to criticize the prejudices of our grandfathers,
from which our fathers freed themselves. It is more difficult to
distance ourselves from our own views, so that we can dispassionately
search for prejudices among the beliefs and values we hold.
Professor Peter Singer, Practical Ethics, 1993
To the Editor:
Unlike any other issue, the arguments surrounding vegetarianism
bring into focus the basic motivation for an environmentalist.
Is our primary drive enlightened self-interest, wanting clean air
and water for ourselves and kin? Are we innervated by a certain
set of desires, for natural spaces and charismatic macrofauna?
Or are we environmentalists for reasons larger than our personal
well-being and desires? Can we think beyond ourselves and the norms
of society? Do we recognize and oppose the suffering of others,
regardless of race, class, or species?
The best an environmentalist can do is to help lead forward the
evolution of our ethics. As pointed out by The
Economist (8/19/95), Historically, man has expanded
the reach of his ethical calculations, as ignorance and want have
receded, first beyond family and tribe, later beyond religion,
race, and nation. To bring other species more fully into the range
of these decisions may seem unthinkable to moderate opinion now.
One day, decades or centuries hence, it may seem no more than civilized
Matt Ball, Vegan Outreach
No Good "Cheeses"?
In a recent
issue of Spam, Matt wrote: "there are no good vegan 'cheeses'
out there." Several members contacted him about this, saying
that the Tofutti
slices are very good. Another member says Soya
Kaas Vegan cheese is very good and melts.
From Time Magazine:
Chicken With Our Antibiotics: Overtreatment is creating dangerously
From the Sacramento Bee:
Out: For vegetarians, food can represent one of travel's biggest
A number of Vegan Outreach members have written lately, stating
that one of their New Year's resolutions is to increase their efforts
for the animals. At the end of last year, we ran excerpts from "Tips
for Spreading Veganism", from the Vegan
Advocacy Booklet. Here, we excerpt from another advocacy essay,
and Veganism Reconsidered: Personal Thoughts at the New Millennium"
(Formerly: Veganism: The Path to Animal Liberation).
The Vegan Outreach Approach to a Better World
In the U.S., given the quantity of non-human animals suffering, the
extent to which they are suffering, and the reason they are intentionally
made to suffer, I believe that animal liberation is the moral imperative
of our time. Our entire focus should be on ending the suffering as
efficiently and quickly as possible. What is the best way to go about
During the time the AR movement has been visible in the U.S. (since
~1980), AR activists have stopped some abuses, received media attention,
and become a fixture of pop culture. Yet after two decades, with
hundreds of millions of dollars spent and possibly a similar number
of hours of work devoted, almost twice as many animals will be killed
in the U.S. this year as were killed in 1980. This is mostly due
to an increase in meat consumption.
Over 99% of the animals killed in the U.S. each year die to be eaten:
- Animals killed for fur - approximately equal to the population
- Animals killed for experimentation - approximately equal to the
population of Texas
- Mammals and birds killed for food - approximately equal to one
and two-thirds the entire population of the Earth.
Because most people eat animals, society as a whole believes that
animals are tools and commodities. There are a million symptoms of
this view, and visible abuses constantly demand our attention. These
include canned hunts, circuses, cockfighting, fur, horse-racing,
etc. This cycle will continue until there is a fundamental change
in society. The only way to make this happen is by convincing people
to stop eating animals. In fact, we dont need a majority in
order to make a huge reduction in animal suffering by spreading veganism:
if 5% of Americans were to stop eating animals, more suffering would
be prevented than if we completely abolished every other form of
animal exploitation in the U.S.
In my years of activism, I have come to believe it is not possible
to make a blanket statement that a specific tactic is unquestionably
positive or always harmful, given the wide range of animal abuses
and the various situations in which activists find themselves. Just
as we must decide where to focus our limited resources, we must choose
tactics in the larger context of our goals. Why are we doing this
(e.g., is it because of anger and guilt, or because it is a strategic
step that serves our larger goal)? What is the most probable outcome?
What effect will it have on the public? On other activists? What
other activities could we do with the same time and resources, and
would one of those options have a greater effect overall? I believe
that we have an obligation to ask these questions.
For all these reasons and more, Vegan Outreach focuses on promoting
veganism. Spreading information about how veganism prevents animal
suffering helps to move individuals (and thus society) away from
relying on animal exploitation for a fundamental, daily activityeating.
Once individuals have broken their attachment to a daily reliance
on animal exploitation, it is much easier for them to reject all
animal exploitation, rather than just the high-profile abuses committed
by others. As more people understand and act by the tenets of veganism,
it will be significantly easier for others to join them. This will
bring pressure to bear on other animal issues, and achievement of
our goals will be accelerated.
Promoting veganism brings about the fundamental change that is needed.
Done at a reasonable pace, it can sustain activists who would otherwise
burn out in the face of endless battles."
How to go about promoting veganism is a subject of much debate. Many
activists believe the health argument to be the most effective for
promoting vegetarianism because it is the least threatening and appeals
to peoples self-interest. We question whether this is really
the best tactic for the following reasons:
- Even if ethics is not as effective as the health argument at
initially persuading some people, those who are motivated to change
based on ethics will be better spokespersons for veganism. In the
promotion of animal liberation, each individuals example
and actions as a spokesperson are at least as important as the
economic impact their individual choices have. Promoting a plant-based
diet for health reasons reinforces the idea that animal suffering
is not worthy of concern. It delays the time when we, as a society,
will come to terms with our treatment of animals.
- Diets based on health claims are subject to further change based
on new, low-fat animal products and fad diets (The Zone, Eat Right
for Your Type, etc.). People who follow a vegetarian or vegan diet
to feel healthier will resume consuming animal products if they
feel no improvement. Because they do not necessarily have their
hearts into being vegetarian or vegan, they often will not experiment
with it long enough to find a way of eating that makes them feel
healthy. This can have far-reaching, negative effects as they go
on to tell others how unhealthy they felt when they were veg.
- In the past twenty years, the number of animals killed has skyrocketed
because of the move toward eating more chickens and fish, brought
about in part because of people trying to eat less red meat for
- Health claims regarding the benefits of vegetarianism can often
be exaggerated and/or incomplete. Because so many people have health
questions regarding a vegetarian diet, all activists should honestly
educate themselves with current and complete nutritional information.
When people ask about health, we can confidently state that a vegan
diet can be healthy and explain which nutrients might be of concern.
(See this page
for the information Vegan Outreach considers the most up-to-date,
scientifically-thorough, and trustworthy).
In addition to being honest about why we choose veganism, we must
pay close attention to the example we set. It is unlikely that people
will even listen to our messagelet alone think about changingif
they perceive vegans as joyless misanthropes obsessed with minutia.
There often appears to be a contest among vegans for discovering
new connections to animal exploitation (of course, links can be found
everywhere if one looks hard enough). This attitude makes us appear
fanatical and gives many people an excuse to ignore our message.
The vast majority of people in our society have no problem gnawing
on an actual chicken leg. Yet we make an issue of honey, despite
the fact that insects and other animals are killed in the process
of planting, raising, harvesting, and transporting our vegan food.
It is no wonder that many people dismiss us as unreasonable and irrational
when they are told (or when it is implied by our actions) that they
must not eat veggie burgers cooked on the same grill with meat,
drink wine, take photographs, use medications, etc.
It is imperative for us to realize that if our veganism is
a statement for animal liberation, veganism cannot be an exclusive,
ego-boosting club. Rather, we must become the mainstream. Fostering
the impression that its so hard to be vegananimal
products are in everything, and emphasizing animal products
where the connection to animal suffering is tenuous, works against
this by allowing most to ignore us and causing others to give up
the whole process out of frustration.
The attractive idea behind being a vegan is reducing ones contribution
to animal exploitation. Buying meat, eggs, and/or dairy creates animal
sufferinganimals will be raised and slaughtered specifically
for these products. But if the by-products are not sold, they will
be thrown out or given away. As more people stop eating animals,
the by-products will naturally fade, so there is no real reason to
force other people to worry about them in order to call themselves
No matter how many chants we shout, no matter how many sound bites
we gain or enemies we defeat, animal liberation will
not occur until we join with everyone in a vegan world. If there
is to be a fundamental change in the manner in which other animals
are viewedif there is to be animal liberationthere can
be no us and them.
There is hope for animal liberation if and only if we learn how to
help people get past their wall of denial and manifest their latent
compassion. To succeed, our interactions with others must be rooted
in empathy and understandingworking with and from a persons
motivations, fears, desires, and shortcomings. Instead of approaching
with a fighting mindset, which necessarily makes people
defensive and closed to new ideas, we should provide people with
information that they can digest on their own time and act upon at
a sustainable pace. Only then will real progress be made.
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.
POB 30865, Tucson, AZ 85751-0865