|Enewsletter • November 1, 2002|
Three issues ago, we presented a model regarding the effect of your donations to Vegan Outreach. Last edition, we launched a fundraising campaign to be able to print the new Why Vegan? You can see updates here.
There is still time to have your contribution doubled!
"While many 15-year-old boys occupy their spare time with sports or playing video games, Nathan Runkle was busy organizing an animal rights activist group.
"Runkle was 11 when he picked up literature about animal abuse and vegetarianism at a booth set up for Earth Day in a Dayton shopping mall. He read the pamphlet, detailed with the grotesque and inhumane treatment of animals on factory farms and made the decision to become a vegetarian. Two years later he became a vegan, eliminating all animal products from his diet."
New York Times Book Review of Dominion
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"Have you ever met a cat that was weaned too early and so developed the disturbing habit of nuzzling and kneading compulsively in your hair, your sweaters, your blankets, the crook of your elbow? Well, pigs prematurely taken from their mothers also root incessantly for something to chew or suck on; and if they are pigs spending their abbreviated lives in a factory farm, where maybe 500 animals are crowded into a space no bigger than a living room, the thing they try to chew on is the tail of the hog in front of them. This is not a happy habit for the industrial farmer: chewed tails can result in infections, and pigs that die, in Matthew Scully's pitch-perfect phrase, 'an unauthorized death.'
"The factory farmer's solution? When the piglets are weaned, a good 12 to 16 weeks before nature had planned, their tails are docked, the lower part amputated with a pliers-like instrument. That small operation leaves the pigs with hypersensitive tails, which means the animals will not get complaisant and will struggle ever after to keep their clipped, throbbing appendages out of the mouths of their penmates."
Filmmaker Hugo Latulippe documented the battle in Quebec
"He stressed he did not want to label Mr. Paquette or other hog-farm operators as evil, describing Mr. Paquette as a 'very, very sympathetic guy' caught in a system driven by money.
"'That's the source of the problem,' Mr. Latulippe said. 'Bacon. Always more bacon.'"
What do you feel are the most successful forms of activism and spreading the message to people about veganism?
Anything that gets thorough information to people in such a way that they can "digest" it at their own pace and on their own terms. We don't want to "Win an argument with a meat-eater." As Dale Carnegie says in his book How to Win Friends and Influence People, "The only way to win an argument is to avoid it."
The information must be compelling to the extent that it can overcome habit, peer-pressure, convenience, etc. Additionally, the information must be delivered in a way that will not make people skeptical. In other words: If a person can dismiss even one sentence as "propaganda," they can use it as a psychological wedge to ignore the entire message.
Finally: our goal isn't to have people simply stop eating animals for only a brief period. We need people to stay vegetarian. From honest nutritional information to addressing issues of convenience, stemming the tide of failed vegetarians is vital.
Do you feel the vegetarian/animal rights movement is moving in a positive or negative direction?
This is a complicated question that can't really be addressed in this space without resorting to simplifications and stereotypes.
To some extent, I think one could distinguish between the "vegetarian" and the "animal rights" movements. About six years ago, I was interviewed regarding the former, and I said that I didn't think there was a vegetarian movement – just a lot of standing around. I think there is some movement now, but, unfortunately, this has brought along with it people trying to "out-pure" one another. Often, vegetarian gatherings and conferences are reduced to the raw foodists and the ingredientists (those seeking ever more connections to animal products in apparently vegan foods and products) trying to outdo each other. And then there are the vegans who consider non-vegan vegetarians 'the enemy.'
I think the more interesting developments have been on the animal rights / liberation side of things. Of course, I may be wrong, but it seems to me that the animal advocacy movement has started to realize that 99% of the animals killed in the U.S. die to be eaten. The annual increase in the number of land animals factory farmed each year has been greater than the total number of animals killed in laboratories, for fur, and in shelters – combined.
Although the numbers are numbing, and advocacy on the issue more complicated, more and more activists are realizing that the suffering of these farmed animals – especially birds and pigs – rivals that of any other animal. I think it is possible that 2001-2002 will be recognized as when the U.S. animal rights movement shifted its focus to farmed animals. Professor Singer's keynote at AR2002 is a good example.
Do you feel vegetarianism is gaining more popularity?
In one respect, sure. I think more young people are vegetarian than ever. But I fear that the number of older people staying veg is not changing. Despite the much greater visibility and convenience of vegetarianism and veganism, it would almost appear that it is difficult (but not impossible) to be a mainstream middle-aged vegetarian. One either reverts to a more standard diet, or one tends to marginalize themselves. Luckily, Vegan Outreach has a great core of members of all ages who are dedicated to alleviating and reducing suffering through positive, constructive outreach.
What does the future hold?
I'm afraid that the near-term holds more of the same, with moralizing vegans defending their religion / superiority against the impure – the impure being anyone not as "vegan" as they. For example, I got the following message recently: "I consider you a traitor to our cause. Your theories and rationalizations are ridiculous. You claim to be a proponent of veganism, but you never fail to criticize veganism. You attack those elements of the Animal Rights movement who actually have courage, something you lack completely. One day, we will all account for our lives. I pity you on that day."
On the other hand, I am encouraged by all the selfless, dedicated people who are working to make the animals' case. More people are realizing that we aren't going to chant and scream animal liberation into existence.
Do you believe that one day we will all be vegans?
Humanity will one day view killing animals as we currently view human slavery. A mixture of ethics, economics, and technology will bring this about. When this will happen – I wouldn't even hazard a guess. Looking at the failures of many who have tried to predict the future is very humbling.
What are some of the most recent achievements of Vegan Outreach?
I believe that our new Vegan Starter Pack makes an excellent case for practicing the type of "veganism" that will succeed in spreading a vegan ethic to more than a handful of people.
The next version of Why Vegan? will be, I'm sure, a more effective advocacy tool. Many vegans may not like it because we cut a number of sections from it. But from a marketing / psychological perspective, throwing everything pro-veg into a booklet is a recipe for confusion and unreadability.
What types of arguments or points do you suggest bringing up when talking to a person about veganism for the first time?
Don't argue. Offer information, and be honest and humble. Read How to Win Friends and Influence People (or at least the excerpts weve included in Vegan Spam over the last few months).
What types of things do you suggest NOT be done when reaching out to people or doing activism?
Don't be self-righteous. No one is perfect, no one has all the answers.
Is there any reason whatsoever to eat meat?
Meat isn't the issue. It isn't "evil" or "wrong" or "poison."
Similarly, veganism is not nirvana. It is not "good" – it is only a tool, one tool among many, by which to reduce suffering.
The suffering of animals that become meat is the bottom line.
Any final comments or suggestions for those helping to spread the word about veganism?
Be joyous and have humility. Be an example of a life that others would admire and be interested in understanding.
Not all those
interested in veganism are interesting in Christianity. I have
personally been "turned off" by the religious references
in your newsletters and pamplets. You would have had my support
had you concentrated on the issue and not included these religious
references. I call your attention to this fact to simply to let
you know my opinion on this matter is not isolated. You might gain
broader support for your cause if you did not include such religious
references in the future.
First and foremost:
I can't say how much I appreciate all the efforts you put forth
for the purpose of compassion.
About five years ago, I bought an album
that changed my life; a band I liked was on it. After reading the
Why Vegan that accompanied it, I was sold. I went totally
vegan 1 1/2 years ago, and I love it! Since then, my best friend
and about 20 of my other friends have gone veg; three other friends
went vegan. I've given away 300 copies of Why Vegan already,
and I need more.
I don't normally get shocked at looking
at animal cruelty pictures. But the pictures you had were so upsetting
I can't even put it into words...but I got really sad. I am going
to stay vegan for the rest of my life. You guys are doing an awesome
The student group Student Coalition for
Animal Liberation had a great tabling here at Temple University
last night and completely tapped them out of Why Vegan?.
We used Meet
Your Meat for the first time and found it to be especially
Your Why Vegan and Por Que Vegano
booklets have made a huge difference in Portland, OR. No one else
is showing pictoral documentation of cruelty!
The Why Vegan? booklets are really
awesome. I distributed a number of them for World Farm Animals
Day, October 2. People were amazed, to say the least.
I received one of your pamplets at a local
concert and became a vegatarian. Then a year later, I read it again
and became vegan. I've started a campaign at my high school promoting
animal rights. Thanks!
Because of your Vegan Starter Pack, I have
gone back to being vegan. The nutritional information is very informative.
Thanks for your help!
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