Cough Drops Are Vegan and Why It Matters

By Alex Bury

  Alex Bury

I just finished my last thank-you call for Vegan Outreach’s end-of-year fundraiser. Yes, I agree—it’s a little late. But we had 1,200 donors to thank! Is it my fault so many people decided to share their money to help animals?

I’ve spent so much time talking on the phone recently that I’ve had to take breaks to drink tea and suck on cough drops until I could speak again. If you received a voicemail from me and it sounded like I smoke a pack a day, I don’t—I swear! Just some overused vocal cords.

I’ve been fundraising a long time. I’ve had my share of thank-you-call marathons. But this year was different. I’ve never been heavily involved with VO thank-you calls before and I was caught off guard to keep hearing the same phrase over and over again, “You changed my life!”

I was calling donors to thank them for their support but they would often interrupt to thank me.

All of them had the same story: They received a VO booklet once and their lives changed forever in that moment. For some it was last year. For others it was 10, 13, or 15 years ago. Some of them had been thinking about going veg. Some had never once considered it. But all of them are now vegan.

They were 24, 48, and 75 years old. They were retired, they were doctors, teachers, stay-at-home parents, and business owners. All of them are now donating to create other vegans. They’re also raising vegan kids, creating vegan food policies at their offices, and much more!

Coincidentally, VO had our first staff meeting of 2017 last week and Lana Smithson, who helps compile our Guide to Cruelty-Free Eating requests, casually mentioned that she always knows where the leafleters are because Guide requests will start flowing in from those areas.

VO is striving for a vegan society. The work will be slow until we reach a tipping point in the number of vegans. And we can’t reach that tipping point without work like VO’s leafleting.

We’ve always believed that creating more vegans is a necessary part of driving public-policy changes. Some of the movement is moving away from individual dietary intervention and cutting back on college leafleting, so VO is ramping up our spring leafleting by hiring a number of temporary leafleters to leave no area untouched.

VO is one of several groups working toward a vegan world. Some protest, others work on welfare reforms, and everything in between. All of this work is valuable. It takes a diversity of tactics to address as big an issue as animal agriculture.

The role VO plays—thanks to our donors—is to lay the groundwork for a fundamental shift in how society views animals. We hope you’ll watch VO closely in the coming months to see your money at work!

Eddie, Gracie, and Amanda
Above are three students whose lives were changed a year ago last fall. Eddie from Nova Southeastern University went vegetarian. Gracie Chan went vegan, and on her first day attending Cal Poly Pomona this past fall, she spent the morning leafleting and helped set a new campus record! Amanda from the University of Florida went vegetarian and was transitioning to vegan last semester; she said it was the most positive and impactful choice she’d ever made and thanked us for encouraging her. “Keep up what you’re doing,” she said, “this form of awareness-raising works!”


Humane Education in Windham, ME

By Lana Smithson, VO New England Outreach Coordinator

On December 14, I did our new Humane Ed: Food or Friends? presentation at a meeting of the civil rights team at Windham Middle School. About 20 students attended (some who attended were not on the team, because my talk was advertised to the whole school during the day’s announcements). Some had to leave a little early so they didn’t get a chance to grab a Guide to Cruelty-Free Eating, but I left some extras with the teacher.

The teacher let me know beforehand that she didn’t want the presentation to have any disturbing photos of animals, because she was concerned about parents getting upset, so I removed those photos but still talked about the poor treatment of animals. The teacher was amazed at how interested all the students were. She said to me afterward, “They are never as quiet as they were listening to you. You had their full attention.” They were wonderful and asked lots of very good, thoughtful questions at the end. The teacher told me these students are very interested in justice issues and “they want to change the world.”

Below is a photo of me with one of the students. I was very pleased with how things went and I think the teacher was, too. She thanked me several times and mentioned she’s talking with the school cook about adding more veg options in the cafeteria.

Lana Smithson and student at Windham Middle School


New Compassionate Choices Booklet

  Compassionate Choices

We’re happy to announce that we’ve combined our Your Choice and Compassionate Choices booklets to create one very powerful new booklet that can do the job of both.

The newly designed cover shows farmed animals and companion animals side-by-side and reads, “If you care about animals, please consider not eating them.” Inside, you’ll find the same persuasive case for leaving animals off our plates, accurate nutrition info, product suggestions, meal ideas, and more. We’ve also added a section detailing how the dairy industry harms animals.

You can order this new booklet, along with other VO booklets, from our order form.


  Ginny Messina
  © Deja View Photography

Betraying the Science on Vegan Nutrition

Ginny Messina, MPH, RD, gives a devastating review of the anti-vegan book Vegan Betrayal.


Holiday Leafleting

Let’s hear from Vegan Outreach volunteer Jennifer Mennuti as she tells us about her balmy leafleting experience of spreading good cheer!

Jennifer Mennuti, Elyssa Diehl, and Ela Fridman


Compassionate Holiday Meal in Alamogordo, NM

With the help of VO volunteers Karla Reyes and Victor Flores, VO’s Community Engagement Initiative hosted another successful outreach event—complete with green chili mac and cheese and mashed potatoes and gravy! Read more.

Compassionate Holiday Meal in Alamogordo, NM


January Giveaway: WarblerGarb T-Shirt

There’s still time to enter our first January giveaway! We’ve partnered with WarblerGarb, a brand-new vegan apparel store, to give you a shot at winning this awesome Herbivore Dino T-shirt! Enter to win here.

WarblerGarb Herbivore Dino T-shirt


Eggnog French Toast with Vegan Scrambled Eggs

Although the holidays are over, it’s never too late to eat festively! Recipe here.

Eggnog French Toast with Vegan Scrambled Eggs


Recent Feedback

From a former mentee and current mentor in our Vegan Mentor Program:

I have been vegan for almost three years now and am so passionate about it! The more I learn—about the horrors for animals raised for food, the devastating impact of animal agriculture on the environment, and the benefits of a plant-based diet for health—the more passionate and committed I become. I have always been a huge animal lover, and their welfare is first and foremost the driving force between my going and staying vegan. It is now the core of my identity, the central focus of my life, and I feel my purpose is to do as much as I can to help animals. It’s not always easy being vegan in a non-vegan world, and it was invaluable for me to get support as I was transitioning to veganism and as a new vegan. Now that I’m over the hump, I want to give back and help others who are trying to go vegan or are already vegan and struggling with it.

—EA, Santa Cruz, CA, 12/30/16

Lisa and Lisa at Santa Rosa Plaza
VO volunteers Lisa and Lisa did some holiday leafleting at Santa Rosa Plaza (above).


Upcoming Events

Vegan Cooking Class at Banana Leaf Restaurant • January 15 • Columbus, OH
Learn how to cook some simple, healthy, delicious Indian food! Appetizers will be served during the class, and a completely vegan buffet dinner will follow; 40% of the proceeds will be donated to Vegan Outreach. More info.

The Veggie Connection: College Edition • January 23 • Carson, CA
More info.

SacTown VegFest • January 28 • Sacramento, CA
More info.

More upcoming events.


If you care about animals, please consider not eating them.


Vegan Outreach is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization working to expose and end cruelty to animals through the widespread distribution of our booklets promoting plant-based eating and compassion for animals.

All donations are fully tax-deductible.

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