|Enewsletter • February 13, 2013|
Notes from Vegan Outreach
Activist Profile: Steve Erlsten
Continuing our series of activist profiles, we chat with SoCal-based Steve Erlsten, who is currently on tour, leafleting throughout the Northwest!!
What made you decide to start leafleting?
Animal Rights Foundation of Florida organizers Bryan and Carla Wilson introduced me to leafleting, and I was blown away by how easy and effective it could be! Some of my favorite events were the huge Independence Day celebrations in Orlando. We went to concerts, art festivals, and busy downtown corners. In a matter of hours, I could hand out hundreds of leaflets, inspiring compassion in others! Every meal is important, but I realized that I could have a far greater impact in a couple of hours than I will with every meal I eat for the rest of my life! The power of influencing others is tremendous! Simply put, leafleting is the most effective way most individuals can reduce animal suffering.
What would you say to individuals hesitant about leafleting?
It took me a couple of hours to get comfortable approaching strangers, and now it’s second nature. I forced myself to get over my own discomfort, because I knew it was nothing compared to the discomfort of the animals who still need me to plead their case. I was surprised how quickly my worries faded away. I quit worrying about answering difficult questions, because it never hurts to admit I don’t have all the answers. I quit worrying about being rejected, because it’s not a sign of failure – there is always someone else coming down the sidewalk! I quit worrying about security, because it’s easy to find a public sidewalk where we are allowed to leaflet. I quit worrying and started making a difference for the animals. A big difference! I’m proud of my small share of responsibility for Americans’ declining meat consumption. I hope everyone who cares about animals will put aside their worries and help us make that decline even steeper!
Reddit, not Ribbit
Attention Reddit users! Jon Camp, VO’s Director of Outreach, will be answering questions about his eight years on the road for VO on Reddit’s IAmA, next Tuesday, February 19th. VO will post the link via Twitter and Facebook on the 19th.
From “Your Daily Dose of Vegan Outreach!” & Jack Norris RD Blogs
Product of the Week
Steve: “Daiya cheddar, which I’ve seen at Kroger, Ralphs, Vons, and health food stores around the country! And although it’s been mentioned just recently, Beyond Meat’s chicken is pretty phenomenal, too.”
Notes from Our Members
Reached 2,000 students
at the University of Louisiana, Lafayette. The highlight
of the day was when a young woman came up to
say that she does outreach for gay rights issues,
that it can sometimes be discouraging, and asked
if I ever felt the same way. I told her I don’t
get discouraged, because I see this as a numbers
game; part of the scenario is that we’re going
to have to deal with some antagonism to reach
those willing to hear us out. But there are
always those willing to hear us out, and reaching
those people is an exciting thing. And for any
movement that seeks change, there will always
be resistance, but it’s a lot more rewarding
to be a part of this change, to know we’re playing
our role in something great, than to give up.
I stressed the work she was doing was important,
and she said the same to me. The conversation
seemed to leave both of us happy and inspired.
Four more students
at the University of Connecticut wanted to join
Veg Huskies, and three want to leaflet! Angie
even took booklets to get started, and Amy stopped
by to help. A young woman came over and proudly
stated, “I turned vegan because of you!” She remembered me from Eastern Connecticut
State last semester, and said that the Even
If You Like Meat I gave her made her change.
Five skateboard and one bike handoff
at the University of New Mexico, and big numbers
quickly. Heard a number of students look at
the Compassionate Choices and say,
“Awww!” or “That chick (piggy)
is soooo cute!” One guy, looking down at
his booklet, said out loud, “Even If You
Like Meat? Well, I DO like meat!” Just
for you, dude!
Awesome day at Florida
International University. The vegetarians and
vegans I met were very happy to see me handing
out info. Their excitement kept me positive
Good conversations at
Triton College. One student wanted more booklets
to hand out during a presentation. I also ran
into a professor who is vegan. She was very
glad to see me and thanked me for being out
there. She also wanted a few leaflets for her
students. Also heard from a proud vegetarian
who agreed with what I was doing. It was a great
Great day of outreach!
Kitty joined me at Merritt and Chabot College.
Leslie then joined me in leafleting the Pachamama
Alliance event – big thanks to Ari Nessel for
the recommendation! The crowd was hugely on
board with the message!
Students at College of the
Desert were fabulous! I saw a
number of students reading the booklets, heard
alot of “OMG!”s and “THIS IS
HORRIBLE!”s. Others stopped to ask questions
about moving in the direction of eating more
Outreach was bananas at
Rowan University, where Tara, Ayeisha, and I
reached 1,800 students. In addition, one student
asked for 200 to distribute to the students
in her dorm; later, someone came up to say they
had gotten one from her already. Other good
conversations, including another student who
wants to leaflet.
At San Diego Mesa College,
I heard from a security guard, “The only
meat I eat these days is broccoli.” Me
too me too! Also heard from numerous veggies
and vegans. One kat stated he got a booklet
from me last year and has significantly altered
his life and eating choices. Me too me too!
Thankful Eric made the long drive
to leaflet Kennesaw State – we
reached almost 1,500 students, despite the wind
and cold. One student said that she was just
thinking about being vegetarian so it was perfect
timing. Another student exclaimed, “I love animals!”
several times amongst a large group of people – so awesome!
Tamara organized an
amazing crew for the University
of New Mexico. We all had great encounters!
Early in the morning I met a former 4-year vegan
that said he used to be a militant vegan, but
now sees a lot of problems with that mentality.
I spoke a bit harshly of the militant approach,
which I think pleasantly surprised him; then
talked to him about how that approach is becoming
a relic of the past, and gave him a Guide. I
also gave him a copy of AML
to show the direction the movement is heading,
compared to his days of speaking down to all
who haven’t yet been enlightened with the knowledge
of farmed animal suffering.