|Enewsletter • October 22, 2003|
At the forefront for the animals – every day.
Feature: How Vegan?
The Vegan Outreach office will close later today, and re-open on Halloween. Any urgent messages can be sent to Jack.
Animal Protection of New Mexico (scroll down) is hosting a vegan potluck and discussion with Matt Ball, Sunday, October 26.
Liberation Now!, the national student animal rights conference, will be in the nation’s capital from November 7 - 9. VO's Joe Espinosa and Matt Ball will be there.
Matt will also be speaking in San Diego, CA, December 28, and in Phoenix, AZ, January 3. More details in future issues.
Apologies for Printing (and Shipping) Problems
We have found that some copies of Try Vegetarian had serious printing problems. Also, some shipments of booklets from the printer were misplaced or delayed. We apologize for these problems.
"Whole Foods Market on Tuesday will announce plans to become the first major grocery chain to adopt humane animal treatment standards.
"The move follows nearly two years of intense pressure from two animal rights groups that have previously persuaded the fast-food giants — from McDonald's to Burger King — to improve standards.
"'It's a big deal for the animals,' says Lauren Ornelas, campaign director at VivaUSA, the domestic branch of the British-based animal rights group. 'Whole Foods customers don't like the idea of ducks whose bills are cut off.'"
From the introduction to the rap session by Matt Ball at AR2003 East in
Before we open it up for discussion, I want to make three quick points.
1. Our purpose as animal activists is to help people open their hearts and minds. If we are going to make progress in lessening and eventually ending cruelty to animals, it is going to be because more and more people are able to give up their preconceptions and consider new ideas.
The best way to achieve this is to be an example of an open mind, rather than being judgmental. As much as we would prefer it to be otherwise, the world isn’t black-and-white, with clear and easy answers to everything. When we act as if we knew everything and our audience are wrong about everything, we do very little to open their minds to new ideas.
2. To me, veganism has nothing to do with being pure or perfect. A vegan diet is merely a tool to reduce suffering. It is not the tool, but one of many different tools.
Given the immensity of the animal agriculture industry, government subsidies, and the tremendous waste in this country, the signal of one consumer is almost certainly drowned out. In other words, if I were to go out and buy a Big Mac right now, the probability that this choice would have a concrete impact on the amount of suffering in the world – another steer or dairy cow bred and slaughtered – is absolutely miniscule.
Although we like to say that we are “saving dozens of animals” every year by being vegan, this probably isn’t entirely accurate. Our personal veganism is more important as an example to others, a means of speaking for the animals hidden from the public’s view. Our personal veganism is most powerful as part of a growing boycott of the cruelty in factory farms and industrial slaughterhouses. In this respect, our example is again more important than the details of our choices.
3. Some advocates pick certain “marketing” strategies to apply to their activism. Often, though, activists forget the single underlying principle of all marketing (and psychology): People want to be happy.
This is perhaps the most significant problem for advocates. Many of us are, understandably, enraged and/or depressed about the atrocities in factory farms and industrial slaughterhouses. However justified our anger, the vast majority of people aren’t going to open their hearts and minds to a negative message, one that can be easily caricatured as deprivation and isolation to no concrete end.
So these are my premises: our goal is to open people’s hearts and minds; veganism matters as a tool to reduce suffering and is meaningful as part of a growing boycott of cruelty; and veganism is sometimes dismissed as contradictory to happiness. If you accept these, the “How vegan” question that needs to be answered isn’t, “How far should I take my personal veganism,” but “How can I be the best vegan example?”