|Enewsletter • February 9, 2011|
Notes from Vegan Outreach
Continuing our series of activist profiles, we turn today to Eleni Vlachos. Often leafleting alongside Rob, Eleni has handed VO booklets to well over 23,000 individuals. She has reached many, many more with 150 screenings of Seeing Through the Fence across the country!
Here’s an excerpt:
Who has been a major influence in your life and why?
As for activism, Jon Camp, hands down. I’ve been active since roughly ’02, but my activism did not get as focused until the time Jon toured through to leaflet our area in ’06. I remember mentioning that I’d written a song as part of activism to share the plight of animals, and I’d asked Jon if he uses his music skills this way. He kindly suggested that he chooses leafleting because he reaches way more people with a direct message, and this, in addition to the idea that you can make a difference in only an hour per week, made something click for me. I heard an actual click.
What was your most positive leafleting experience and why?
It seems like most every time we leaflet, someone inevitably approaches to say that they are going to either try veg again or go veg. Since many more people invariably decide this but do not report back, this is always a positive reminder to experience. One memorable occasion was with a student in Louisiana. She received a leaflet then subsequently went home and told her grandmother she couldn’t eat the pork. Her g-ma was worried she was joining a cult! Later that night she attended my screening and said the info in the brochure was “eye opening.” Evidently, this small act of passing along information had changed her life forever. I try to remember that each time I’m leafleting – this is powerful enough to change a person’s life.
Read the full interview.
Product / Recipe of the Week
Notes from All Over
Notes from Our Members
the University of Miami, I saw
evidence that VO’s regular visits are really
doing something here: the week prior, a petition
for vegan cafeteria options gathered over 1,000
Sean, Jeff, Yin and I reached over 1,000 people
at Phoenix’s First Friday Art Walk. Extremely
encouraging number of vegetarians, vegans, and
people telling us that our work is awesome –
I think we’re really starting to see an impact!
reached 350 people at the art
walk today. A couple girls stopped to say they
don’t think they can ever eat meat again. Another
girl took a leaflet and then went to her friends
and said she is going vegetarian, hopefully
going vegan will soon follow.
at Saint Augustine’s College and
Shaw University, two historically black institutions.
One student said she had been vegetarian until
she came to Saint Augustine’s but was interested
in going back, so she got a Guide.
After getting a booklet, a faculty member asked
about vegan sources of protein; she also got
a Guide. For the highlight of the day,
a student happily told me she was vegan and
received a Guide; as she was walking
away, I overheard her tell her friends, referring
to me: “Those are my kind of people.”
morning at SUNY Albany. Taking
the opportunity to leaflet today made my day.
My favorite parts of the day: five very polite
professors throughout the day expressing enthusiasm
(I had been avoiding profs from previous experience,
but I am thinking that was a mistake); a vegetarian
student trying to be vegan and standing up to
his teasing roommates; a vegetarian who enthusiastically
took a Guide plus other materials for
his administrative assistants, who are also
vegetarians; and many students who enthusiastically
took pamphlets. I also had the chance to patch
together students in search of a veg group that
hasn’t quite gotten off the ground yet.
the last two days, I reached over
4,800 students at the University of Texas, Austin.
The students were extraordinarily accepting.
Lots and lots and lots (and lots) of students
told me they were already vegan.
City College of New York, many
students quickly recognized the booklet. Lots
of students turned around as they were walking
away and said, “I’m vegetarian, keep up
the good work!” giving me thumbs-up signs.
Also met students who are interested in getting
involved. Even leafleted groups of high school
students. It was very positive.
from dozens of vegetarians and
five vegans at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
This is quite a climate change from the unreceptive
student body I encountered when I started leafleting
here ten years ago. Repeated appearances pay
Reached 1,000 students at
Northeastern University this morning. I had
a really good conversation with a professor
who came back after reading the pamphlet in
order to get more for the people on his staff.
He was very upset by what he read.
Good outreach at
the ACLU’s Daniel Ellsberg event, where I met
lots of folks who are veg. A number of people
were excited by my Vegan Outreach shirt!
Theo and I had a great day of
outreach at West Valley and Mission Colleges.
I had an especially nice chat with a guy who
had recently read some Michael Pollan and, although
concerned, he felt like he couldn’t make
much of a difference. I told him that in the
scope of human history we’ve abolished
slavery, child labor, and established women’s
voting rights in the developed world only within
the last 200 years. This really got the gears
turning in his head and it was amazing to see
him go from concerned but slightly apathetic
to totally empowered and hopeful. I sent him
off with a Guide and a few book recommendations.
Lots of good feedback at University of Wisconsin, La Crosse:
—Fred Tyler, 11/11/10
in Montgomery, Alabama is a civil
rights attorney and a great guy. Last night,
while we were walking around Montgomery, we
bumped into a friend of his, a CEO for a major, multimillion-dollar
civil rights nonprofit. The group has published some criticism about
animal rights activists, but this man asked me a bunch
of questions about animal issues and earnestly
listened to my responses. We covered lots of
stuff: why I didn’t think it seemed reasonable
that a merciful God would create animals as
mere resources while at the same time equipping
them with the capacity to suffer and a brain
that formed deep emotional bonds with others;
how MLK, while not ever being overtly pro-animal,
did have a vegetarian wife and a vegan son and
was a great adherent of Gandhi, who was very
pro-animal; and why it didn’t matter why we
have historically exploited animals – we’ve
done a lot of other things in the past that
were considered useful at the time and have
since been thrown overboard. What matters is
recognizing the world as it is now and figuring
out how we can make it a better place with less