Activist Profile: John Bowers
September 29, 2010
Where are you from and where do you live now?
I’m a Canadian who was born and raised in Southern Ontario. After completing my university degree in mathematics and accounting, I moved to Victoria, British Columbia, where I have lived for the past 17 years.
What are your favorite things to do outside of leafleting?
When I’m not running my small accounting business or leafleting, I most enjoy exploring the great outdoors by kayak, bike and on foot. I am grateful to have an amazing outdoor playground within easy reach of my home.
How long have you been involved in animal rights and how did you get interested?
In university, I met a vegetarian who was opposed to unnecessary killing. For the first 20 years of my life, I implicitly accepted that eating animals was normal and fine. Taste, price and to a lesser extent, healthfulness, were the only factors that I considered when selecting food. I think this is the “place” where the majority of people are. Once my eyes were opened to the hidden cruelties involved in fashion, entertainment, consumer products, animal research and food production, I had a strong desire to fight against these various forms of exploitation. I have participated in a wide variety of demonstrations, protests, civil disobedience and a myriad of campaigns in the struggle for justice for animals, humans and the environment.
Why do you hand out booklets for Vegan Outreach?
Getting involved with the Toronto Animal Rights Society and their Outdoor Video Education Displays was my introduction to focused and regular leafleting. TARS was influenced by Vegan Outreach, whose booklets were used.
With sadness, I accept that capitalism combined with human ignorance and greed results in unfathomable cruelty today. As a result, I have committed myself to speaking up against this cruelty with what amounts to a relatively small portion of my time and money. Matt Ball’s A Meaningful Life sums up my thoughts very well. If you, the reader, haven’t read Matt’s articulate analysis and simple philosophy, I highly encourage you to do so.
A personal challenge is finding a decent balance between devoting time to personal pursuits versus time (or money) engaging in animal advocacy. At my current point in life, I strive to devote about two weeks each year toward leafleting. If in the future I leaflet less, I intend to make up for that by donating somewhere around 10% of my annual earnings to be used by the Adopt a College program.
What was your most positive leafleting experience?
Quite literally every leafleting experience is extremely positive in that I know that I am reaching hundreds of people who are in the very same place I was at their age. I help people find truth. By that, I mean that many people don’t come to really know their innermost values and the related implications of their lifestyle on the world until confronted by information that raises questions not generally asked elsewhere in society. A number of times I have received a hug or handshake from someone with a tear in their eye, thanking me for doing this work. Those moments of intense emotional connection are among my most personally positive experiences.
What would you say to individuals hesitant about leafleting?
This question has been answered really well by others profiled by Vegan Outreach. Humans are amazing in our ability to justify our actions or inactions, including coming up with reasons not to leaflet. Perhaps the biggest struggle is to set these reasons aside and start by spending one hour of one day to hand out some booklets. By actually getting out there, a person can see just how easy and rewarding this work can be. I should also mention that Vegan Outreach and their team of volunteers provide wonderful support.