Activist Profile: Nick Cooney
Where are you from and where do you live now?
Born and raised in Philadelphia, and living there now.
What do you do for relaxation / entertainment?
Hang out with my girlfriend, and try to spend as much time as possible outdoors – at least when the weather’s nice!
What was the last good book you read?
Right now I’m reading Get Out of Your Own Way: the 5 Keys to Surpassing Everyone’s Expectations by Robert Cooper. It’s a business motivation book, but I’m finding it pretty interesting in terms of trying to shape how you think so that you can be more positive, creative, and effective with the work you’re doing (like helping animals).
Who has been / is a major influence in your life and why?
As far as animal rights activism goes, I think that the crew at Vegan Outreach, Paul Shapiro and Josh Balk of the Humane Society, and Peta2’s youth outreach teams are probably doing more good for animals than anyone else in this country right now. That encourages me to base some of my work, campaigns, and ways of approaching animal rights on what they do.
How long have you been involved in animal rights and how did you get interested?
Eight years ago, at my college orientation, someone told me about a paper she had done on animal experimentation and about how she was against it. After my orientation, I went to the library and got all three books on animal rights they had there – after reading about vivisection, factory farming, and other cruelties towards animals, I went veg and soon got involved with my campus animal rights organization.
What made you decide to start leafleting?
I was leafleting occasionally from the time I got involved with that campus A.R. group (shout out to Hofstra University’s SOAR!), but I didn’t always put too much emphasis on it. I actually remember Jon Camp standing up at a lecture at Rutgers University and telling the audience that the best way to create change was by distributing Vegan Outreach pamphlets. This was close to four years ago, and at the time I thought the idea was silly. But over the years I’ve realized more and more that veg outreach is one of the most effective ways – and sometimes the most effective way – of helping as many animals as possible. So I’ve devoted more and more time to it. I really enjoy leafleting – it leads to a lot of fun social interactions.
What was your most positive leafleting experience this year and why?
Earlier this year a couple attended a foie gras protest we were having in Philly. It was the first protest the two had ever attended. The guy stated that he had gone veg about 6 months ago after getting a leaflet at West Chester University, where he went to school. Turns out I was the one who had given it to him! Also, this past spring a family approached one of our leafleters here in Philly and said that after receiving a pamphlet a few months ago, their entire family had gone vegetarian. Pretty awesome!
What would you say to individuals hesitant about leafleting?
Jump in the water! Once you’re in, you won’t want to get out because a) you’ll realize how effective it is and b) you’ll probably have some fun doing it. Once you flip into highly social mode, you won’t care so much about what people think of you, or about the occasional negative comments. Get out there and do it! It really is one of the most effective things you can do to help animals.