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message 1: by Erik (new)

Erik Marcus (erikmarcus) | 58 comments Mod
This thread is for discussing the main approach explained in Part II of Meat Market: the building of a dismantlement movement. Post your questions about dismantlement here, as well as any ideas you have for dismantlement-related projects, or any work you're currently doing to further the dismantlement of animal agribusiness.

message 2: by David (new)

David | 9 comments Hi Erik,

In some ways Canada and the US are pretty similar, but in other ways, we're very different. For example, we don't have a national school lunch program in Canada and the Department of Agriculture is not in charge of nutrition policy. Instead, Health Canada looks after nutrition and as a result, Canada's Food Guide is becoming more veg-positive in its latest edition - We do have farm subsidies, although I'm not sure how to find information about these. Do you have tips for applying dismantlement principles in a Canadian context? What do you suggest should be the priorities for Canadian's who are interested in dismantlement?


message 3: by Erik (new)

Erik Marcus (erikmarcus) | 58 comments Mod
Hi David,

Wow, tough question to start things off.

The twin criteria for choosing a dismantlement project are that you're looking to:

1) Identify an asset of animal agriculture that's enormously important to industry.
2) Have this be an asset that an informed public would never tolerate.

It's obvious that the best dismantlement projects will vary by country, and it seems like animal agribusiness in the USA likely has far more things that satisfy the above two criteria than do other countries, thanks to the incredibly cozy relationship between agribusiness and the USDA.

I have never looked studied Canadian agriculture in depth, but it appears to me that factory farming is as much entrenched there as in the USA, yet at the same time most Canadians likely believe that the country's farming practices are higher welfare than what's in America.

If this is the case, then what the USA and Canada have in common is that both are largely unregulated when it comes to animal welfare. And it seems to me that one of the most important assets a country's animal agribusiness industry can have is to be allowed to exist without welfare regulations.

Having said all this, perhaps the most valuable dismantlement effort that could be brought to Canada would be for a Canadian group to embark on a campaign of Mercy For Animals-style undercover investigations. The group would need the media savvy to get these investigations covered by the CBC, Globe and Mail, and so forth.

A second big asset of Canadian agribusiness is that, like in the USA, most people are able to graduate from college without ever being exposed to the realities of factory farming. It seems to me that adopting an "Even if You Like Meat" style booklet to the Canadian market, and swapping in Canadian references, could be a great way to reach Canada's college students.

And finally, just as there are well-established anti-battery egg campaigns targeting colleges in the USA and Germany, I'd love to see a Canadian group pushing this project at Canadian schools.

Anyway, those are three dismantlement ideas that I think would be especially well-suited for Canada. Would love to hear others' responses to this important question.

message 4: by David (new)

David | 9 comments Thanks Erik and sorry to start things off with a toughie. You handled it well. :)

My assumption is that the Canadian industry is pretty similar to that of the US and maybe worse than some of the states that have recently passed welfare legislation.

One of our national newscasters recently broadcast a documentary called No Country for Animals, which addresses some of these issues (i.e., that animals are legally recognized as property, that our animal welfare laws are more than 100 years old, that transport regulations badly lag European laws, gestation crates abound, etc.). If anyone is interested in learning more of the Canadian context, here's a link about the doc: & the it is viewable here:

I agree with your point on undercover investigations. The Canadian Coalition for Farm Animals has done a little bit of this kind of work for their anti-battery cage campaign.

Regarding college campuses, I think the information is getting out there, despite a frustrating lack of Canadian stats. I learned about animal issues at a Peaceable Kingdom Screening while I was finishing my undergrad.

It seems to me that one of our challenges in Canada is that we don't have the kinds of super-sized national organizations that exist in the US (HSUS, PETA, Farm Sanctuary... not sure how big MFA is).

Thanks again for the response - lots of ideas to ponder.

message 5: by Adam (new)

Adam | 5 comments I think one could do quite a bit of good by staying on top of the animal-related news and making sure that the important information (undercover investigations, etc.) finds its way into the relevant Wikipedia pages. Of course, this should be done in a way that complies with Wikipedia policies.

message 6: by Erik (new)

Erik Marcus (erikmarcus) | 58 comments Mod
David: look at the impact that Mercy For Animals is having with its undercover investigations. The organization has a miniscule budget when compared to HSUS, PETA, or the ASPCA, and yet it's totally dominating our sector when it comes to producing top-quality, well-publicized undercover factory farm investigations. I'm sure there are plenty of groups in Canada with the resources to do what MFA is doing; what's needed isn't money but focus.

Adam: you're entirely right I think that there is great potential for dismantlement activists to make powerful contributions to a variety of Wikipedia pages. Everything from the "beef" page to the "KFC" page ought to have at least one well-informed editor, with expertise not just on the topic but also in the mechanics of publishing within Wikipedia. These people have the potential to make an extraordinarily valuable contribution.

Janet: you've asked the $64,000 question and unfortunately I feel completely unequipped to give a satisfying answer. If America went vegan tomorrow and China adopted 1990s American eating habits, farmed animal slaughter and suffering would go through the roof. I'd be really eager to see somebody tackle this question in a book or an article; I can't imagine anything more important.

message 7: by Stephen (new)

Stephen | 10 comments @Janet, I think it's already too late. It's instructive to see how Smithfield started exporting its evils into what were previously Eastern Bloc countries in 2003. The film Pig Business documents this (click the youtube link at Efforts were made to block Smithfield at the time, but of course there was no contending with local political and business interests who wanted their cut. It's the self-interest and greed that needs dismantling, perhaps before anything else, and so I'm not optimistic about stemming the growing nightmare. At the very least, we can do the best we can to convince others to join us in not being a part of it.

message 8: by Peacegal (new)

Peacegal | 17 comments I was under the impression that it is illegal for Canadian AR groups to criticize animal industry, if they wish to keep their nonprofit status. Is this true?

message 9: by Bea (new)

Bea Elliott (beaelliott) | 8 comments @Janet - You have good cause for your woe! It seems the more "civilized" we become the more markets that open in countries yet to examine cruelty to "pets" let alone to a meal. :(

I also see the influx of immigrants from other countries who are (in my neighborhood) growing goats for their ritual religious sacrifices and who patronize the local animal seller to procure their "poultry" from... They like them "fresh" if you know what I mean...

Maybe that's why our activism eventually has to penetrate ethnic cultures here in the US? Where we actually have to go into neighborhoods, communities and schools that have a large immigrant population to encourage a more "western" view of nonhumans?

Short of that... The only thing I wish would never have happened is NAFTA. Bad news for the animals. It is as I see it, the new "slave route" from Canada to Mexico. :(

message 10: by David (new)

David | 9 comments @Peacegal Canadian charities law puts limits on the amount of "advocacy" an organization can do while benefiting from charitable status. The majority of a charity's activities musy fulfill the org's "charitable purpose" which could be education on food issues, providing shelter to animals, or many other things. Groups like these are free to criticize animal ag, but if this (or any other kind of advocacy) became their focus, they would probably have their charitable status revoked, which would make them a nonprofit without the benefit of charitable status (like the ability to issue charitable receipts for donations).

message 11: by Peacegal (new)

Peacegal | 17 comments Ah, I see. Still, having charitable status revoked would be a major blow to an organization, especially a small one. I've read Internet posts in which Canadian activists were complaining that many Canadian groups have "clammed up" about meat and fur issues, etc.

message 12: by Erik (new)

Erik Marcus (erikmarcus) | 58 comments Mod
So, @David, do you think that the act of doing undercover videos would in itself endanger the charitable status of a Canadian animal protection group?

message 13: by Joe (new)

Joe Espinosa | 22 comments While moving pictures are a great tool in moving people towards more compassionate eating, one limit of undercover footage is that meat eaters have a tendency to want to believe that the case uncovered is a matter of one bad producer. The industry plays on this by denying that the filmed behavior is anything close to the standards of the industry. There is no lack of solid sources for the standard suffering of modern farmed animals. What is lacking is distribution of this information to the people with the power to spare animals from it; current meat eaters.

message 14: by Erik (new)

Erik Marcus (erikmarcus) | 58 comments Mod
Joe wrote:

>What is lacking is distribution of this information to
>the people with the power to spare animals from it;
>current meat eaters.

I completely agree. In fact, in the activism chapters of my latest book (The Ultimate Vegan Guide), I talk about the tremendous value of "sharers", and how it's generally more valuable to spend your time sharing something excellent than creating something new. Sharing takes many forms, whether it's passing out literature at a college, or posting a new undercover video to your Facebook wall.

I think one of the main ways to quickly grow the numbers of vegans is for people to recognize the value of all forms of sharing. Too often, activists think they ought to be creating something brand new, when the reality is that there are usually a ton of things that already exist that are worth sharing and publicizing.

There are only a few people at Vegan Outreach who are responsible for writing and designing the group's leaflets. Joe has never spent even two minutes doing all of this; instead he leverages the creative work done by others by spending all his time sharing it. By making use of existing materials and not wasting time reinventing the wheel, Joe has been able to hand out booklets to 292,000 people and counting.

message 15: by David (new)

David | 9 comments @Erik, I very much doubt that a charity would lose their status because they created undercover footage.

Would they lose it if they broke the law? Possibly. Could they lose it if the bulk of their activity shifted from their stated charitable purpose? Yes.

But hypothetically, you could make a case to count investigations into animal cruelty as charitable activity if your purpose is animal protection / education. If you then used those investigations to advocate for better laws, that's where you have to limit your activity to something like 10 or 15% of your total activity.

But enough of me nerding-out on charities law, how would one launch an under-cover investigation?

message 16: by [deleted user] (new)

@Erik -- I like your idea of sharing. I feel like there are 20 new vegan blogs popping up every day, yet there are only 5-10 that really do it well (and already have an established and growing audience).

I know blogs are also used for creative outlet... But if people put more energy into reaching people en masse as opposed to starting blogs that cover the same topics as already well-established blogs, more people would be reached on the conditions of factory farms.

message 17: by Erik (new)

Erik Marcus (erikmarcus) | 58 comments Mod
@Kenny, I definitely agree that there are far too many vegan blogs out there.

Generally speaking, if you want to be creative you should learn to draw or play the guitar. With rare exceptions, most of the stuff created in the vegan movement amounts to a needless duplication of work by people who are making inferior versions of things that already exist.

Either create something that's so unique and outstanding that everyone who sees it will want to share it, or, --- far easier and far more important --- just find outstanding stuff and spend your time finding ways to expose it to new audiences.

All of this gets back to why I think Facebook is a game-changer for nonprofessional vegan advocates. I doubt that one in twenty vegans has caught on to just how powerful Facebook can be, in terms of using it to share 3-5 vegan/animal oriented items a week. I believe that if most vegans were using Facebook to its potential, we'd witness an incredible growth of the vegan population.

Even more effective than Facebook is to do the sort of Adopt A College work that Joe's doing, when you systematically pass out hundreds or even thousands of booklets a semester at your local college. While college leafletting is easy to do, I'm sure Joe will agree that it takes a lot more commitment than simply sharing stuff through Facebook.

message 18: by Andy (new)

Andy D | 8 comments Without wanting to distract from the call to leafleting and Facebook-posting, I think it's worthwhile to continue brainstorming here about other possible approaches.

I believe someone in this discussion group mentioned the idea of paying people to watch videos on animal issues. Might work! But it would cost money. I'd like to explore a different way of paying for exposure.

You could call what I have in mind 'reciprocal evangelism'. A local vegetarian society contacts some other kind of outreach group--let's say it's a church with an interest in proselytizing. Each group commits a posse of 50 people from its ranks to a meetup, where both an animal-issues movie and a religious movie are played, followed by discussions. (With sufficient good faith on both sides, this could potentially be split into two separate meetups.)

Is this a weird idea? Sure. Would some people balk at participating? Yes, on both sides.

Could it still happen and be worthwhile? I think it's worth a try. Not if the two groups approached each other with total cynicism, though--the guiding spirit would have to be that understanding the perspectives of other social movements is a good, even if one doesn't personally adopt all of their views. (Maybe religious proselytizing tests our comfort too much. But the other party could be an antiwar group instead, say.)

message 19: by Erik (new)

Erik Marcus (erikmarcus) | 58 comments Mod
Andy, I totally believe that America's Christian community is under-reached by advocates. You might be interested in the Christian Vegetarian Associations work.

I would love to see a greater effort to expose congregations to the realities of factory farming. This is already starting to happen at Unitarian churches, but I'd love to see greater efforts to target large mainstream Christian congregations. This is definitely a huge and easily reached audience, if the right efforts are made.

message 20: by Andy (new)

Andy D | 8 comments Erik--thanks; I agree, and wanted to follow up on my last post by saying that more conventional outreach approaches within church groups are also worth discussing here.

Like Facebook, it's another case of building on existing social networks--but in this case, social networks in which moral discourse is already encouraged and taken seriously, and in which we can hope to reach and recruit people in strong leadership positions.

message 21: by Zsuzsanna (new)

Zsuzsanna | 10 comments Erik wrote: "just find outstanding stuff and spend your time finding ways to expose it to new audiences."

So, there are two criteria according to the dismantlement approach:
1) Find something to share.
2) Share the information in an important place, reaching as many new audiences as possible.

My questions are:

1) Is there a succinct list of shareable information, one that is updated regularly and is ready to be tapped into by advocates at a moment's notice? Such as
MFA undercover videos,
Vegan Outreach booklets, etc.

2) What are the places or ways to share? Thus far there has been mention of
Vegan Outreach,
Christian community,
family and friends,

Are there other ways or places that could be outreach worthy?

Also, from your perspective, do you see the dismantlement movement actually happening? If not, is there a way to get the proverbial ball rolling? Although I've seen more and more positive things happening regarding dismantlement, I'm not sure I see it as strong a force as it should be. I know that short of the accomplished goal, for you it will never be enough (and I strongly agree), but where should the movement be by now?

message 22: by Veganbonnie (new)

Veganbonnie Bonnie Shulman (bonnieshulman) | 12 comments Andy I wish you good luck in reaching out to faith groups. I tried to do that where I live; I reached out to Jewish, Protestant and Catholic leaders - rabbis and priests - and was completely dismissed even though all I was asking was to begin a conversation. I've since become very cynical about religion and I think that if an idea doesn't bring money into the congregation it just won't fly. Also, religious leaders know best - their superiority complex is a roadblock to any kind of dialogue. I've got friends in the Christian Vegetarian Network who have had no success at all with the churches they're attending. Some have made the decision to leave their church to find one more accommodating to animal issues - and they are still searching.

So if you can make inroads, it would be an amazing achievement and I wish you lots of luck.

message 23: by Peacegal (new)

Peacegal | 17 comments Zsuzsanna wrote: Are there other ways or places that could be outreach worthy?

Libraries! Most public libraries allow nonprofit groups to hold public meetings in their designated rooms.

message 24: by David (new)

David | 9 comments On the topic of where to outreach, I might be drifting away from dismantlement and towards mainstreaming here, but holding instructive demos at libraries, Whole Foods, food banks and other food advocacy groups is a great way to show people what healthy, delicious, animal-free meals look like.

I also think that we can use veg restaurants better - not everyone who eats at veggie restos is a vegetarian or vegan, and if they're not, they would seem to be low-hanging fruit for advocacy.

With the Toronto Vegetarian Association, we outreach at lots of community festivals, health & enviro trade shows and any school functions we can get invited to. Plus we have a great big vegetarian food fair where we can set the tone and program as we like.

But back to dismantlement, there are more political opportunities out there if you know where to look. I'm not sure how well this works in an American context, but here in Canada we have a left wing national political party called the NDP.

Not too long ago, when I was a young NDPer, I had the chance to attend a regional youth convention where policy proposals could be proposed and voted upon. I drafted a policy statement that was critical of factory farms and called for an end to subsidies to big animal agriculture. The resolution passed and became part of the youth NDP policy handbook, and while it did not go on to become party policy, I consider my little exercise a win. It gave me an opportunity to promote dismantlement and add its critique to the political conversation of those who attended - some of whom will go on to hold elected office or find work in the political arena one day in the not-to-distant future.

Again, I'm not sure whether this would work with the American political system, but if you're involved in a political party (even a fringe one) I'd be tempted to give it a shot. The worst that can happen is you start a serious discussion with other activists.

message 25: by Lisa (last edited Dec 08, 2010 10:31AM) (new)

Lisa Vegan (lisavegan) I think it's useful when book writers get interviewed by the media. Television, and also radio, newspapers and periodicals, and in person lectures and discussions too. To work with people heavily involved in the movement and then to work with local or national media to permit them to express their views can reach a large number of people. Also, when people see something in the media, they often take points of view more seriously. And if details of what goes on with the atrocities committed, that does influence some people's future behavior, and encourages some to keep learning.

message 26: by Andy (new)

Andy D | 8 comments Veganbonnie wrote: "Andy I wish you good luck in reaching out to faith groups. I tried to do that where I live; I reached out to Jewish, Protestant and Catholic leaders - rabbis and priests - and was completely dismissed..."

Thanks, Bonnie. I went to Unitarian services as a kid, so I'm proud to hear they're leading the way, but my churchgoin' days are long behind me. It's much easier to dismiss an outsider, and effective advocacy would probably require someone versed and invested in a particular religious tradition.

message 27: by Erik (new)

Erik Marcus (erikmarcus) | 58 comments Mod
Zsuzsanna wrote:

Is there a succinct list of shareable information, one that is updated regularly and is ready to be tapped into by advocates at a moment's notice?

I try to offer this sort of thing on the front page of as well as at I'm always looking for input about links to add to these pages. I want to keep the offerings limited to the very best material on the subject.

What are the places or ways to share?

In addition to those listed, I think having a good email signature linking to a relevant website makes sense, as does ONE well-chosen bumper sticker. I don't know how much good these things do, but they'll be seen by a lot of people so I can't imagine a serious activist leaving not taking advantage of these opportunities.

You can also fund TV commercials (Compassion Over Killing has some great spots), billboards, and bus banners (Mercy for animals has done a number of billboards and bus banners.)

Everything I've mentioned here is taken from the activist chapters of my Ultimate Vegan Guide.

Also, from your perspective, do you see the dismantlement movement actually happening? If not, is there a way to get the proverbial ball rolling?

I'm satisfied that there are a number of serious activists working on tasks that qualify as dismantlement-oriented. I think comparatively few activists have read Meat Market or know about dismantlement. But as long as the goal is to strip away a key asset of animal agribusiness, I don't care what people call their brand of activism.

I came up with the term dismantlement primarily because I find it a really helpful word for explaining an approach to activism that can be extraordinarily productive. My big interest is that the term "dismantlement" helps activists refine their thinking about activism in ways that lead them to become better activists. In X decades, when activists are bringing animal agribusiness to its knees, I don't know if the movement responsible will be called "dismantlement" or if it will be named something entirely different. I'd be willing to bet that whatever its name, the movement that puts and end to animal agribusiness will share most of the major characteristics of the dismantlement movement as I defined it in Meat Market.

message 28: by Zsuzsanna (new)

Zsuzsanna | 10 comments Libraries, veg food promotions, politics - all great ideas.

I am teaching classes on becoming a vegetarian at our North IL homeschool convention in the spring and I hope to use that to springboard into teaching classes at Whole Foods. I am of the mindset that the food can speak volumes to the skeptical.
In fact, I just held a teen dance at my house this past Friday, with 25 teens attending, and a buffet of food that was completely vegan: buffalo seitan strips, chick'n salad, spring rolls, artichoke dip, cookies and yule log cake. It was very well received and even the parents of the teens enjoyed it.

I also have the CAFO coffee table book hanging around in obvious places.

My one bumper sticker is "Be Kind to Animals - Don't Eat Them" (if anyone has a better one...) and my signature leads to my blog, but will now be leading to another site as well. I will also link to your articles page (assuming this is ok with you) on my blog and begin making a resource page.

I guess these actions do some good, but is it making a big enough impact on a big enough audience?

Erik, I am aware that you don't care what the movement is called - animal rights, animal welfare, vegetarian or dismantlement. The word you are using is direct and to the point and I am looking to find the best way to get the job done; I am just not sure that teaching a few classes will bring agribusiness down. While the little things count for something, sharing via Facebook, Twitter and Vegan Outreach, as well as funding COK and MFA ads seem to return the biggest bang for our vegan buck.

message 29: by Veganbonnie (new)

Veganbonnie Bonnie Shulman (bonnieshulman) | 12 comments Andy wrote:
It's much easier to dismiss an outsider, and effective advocacy would probably require someone versed and invested in a particular religious tradition.

Andy, while I am indeed an outsider to the churches, it was my own synagogue that I approached, and I provided quotes from the Chief Rabbi of Great Britain, who is pro-animal, and other Jewish thought leaders in the veg community. So that made the dismissal very personal and quite hurtful. I got a letter from a Reform rabbi in a synagogue that I do not attend; I wish I'd kept it to quote here. He said that he didn't personally eat meat, only some fish, and said the matter of animals wasn't one that would be pursued. He didn't elaborate, the letter was a paragraph long, enough to send the message to quit bugging him!

message 30: by Joe (new)

Joe Espinosa | 22 comments I have significant doubts that people with serious supernatural beliefs are a good audience for the painful reality of animals that we are trying to redress. Most are likely not willing to think too much outside of the already established code of their religion, and guidance of their leaders. It is doubtful that religious leaders would risk alienating their financially supporting congregations with an honest look at the ethics of our treatment of animals. I think we are better off targeting young, thinking people. Large numbers of these young thinking people are assembled conveniently for us at colleges and high schools.

message 31: by Stephen (new)

Stephen | 10 comments Totally agree, Joe, success will be very limited. I've put it to Christians that the deity they believe created the Universe first assigned humans to a vegetarian paradise. In other words, their god's first choice--the highest ideal--was a vegetarian diet for humans! Even this does not sway them. They can of course cherry pick other passages in the Bible to justify anything.

message 32: by Leslie (new)

Leslie Goldberg | 18 comments Here's something small but easy. I use the word "vegan" in all sorts of conversation. I'm buying a purse. I tell the clerk I don't want leather because I'm vegan. I look over a menu and say to anyone within earshot that I'm looking for something vegan. If the conversation goes to turkey dinners or steakhouses, I say well, I'm not into that because I'm vegan. As much as I can I try to make vegan something more common..... My bumper sticker says "Kindness to animals builds a better world for us all." I've got a VO one that I haven't used which says "Choose compassion." I don't like it because I think it implies only vegans are compassionate, which is a very divisive and useless tactic, I think.

message 33: by Joe (new)

Joe Espinosa | 22 comments My bumper sticker says, "I'd rather be leafleting."

message 34: by Leslie (new)

Leslie (lesliejeanie) | 6 comments Erik wrote: "Joe wrote:

>What is lacking is distribution of this information to
>the people with the power to spare animals from it;
>current meat eaters.

I completely agree. In fact, in the activism chapters..."

I really appreciate the concept of sharing. Our time is so limited so if someone else has created something that we can use why not use it.

Over the past few years I was involved with organizing a couple different Animal Rights Meetup groups here in Chicago. We actually decided to merge the first one into a larger group, then merge that group into a larger group, for efficiency's sake (What happened with the final meetup group is another story, basically they decided they did not support advocacy and booted us). But we decided rather than organize groups we would put our energies into doing leafleting outreach with Mercy For Animals/Vegan Outreach. So basically we are making use of existing organizations that support outreach. We put "events" on the calendar, so people who want to try leafleting can join in. Through our outreach we recruit new vegans/activists and direct them to MFA & VO if they want to get involved. Our outreach includes street, festival and college leafleting and feed ins, and we have been posting these events on the calendars of the various groups for over three years now. Something I hope we can do more of is showing video in public spaces, either via projection or body screens, accompanied by leafleting.

I really think it is important for our movement to have a regular presence out in the public, and not just online, as I think a lot of people are just not that present in the online world. It's really easy to get just get a bunch of leaflets and hit the streets or a campus. It does not have to be an event or in a group, most of my leafleting is solo, and not on any calendar. But almost every time I leaflet I encounter someone who has been thinking about the issue and expresses interest in changing.

message 35: by [deleted user] (new)

Leslie -- I wholeheartedly agree about just getting out more.

I tend to think that most of the people that are reading the number of veg articles we all post are already veg to some degree. Now, that's not to say that we should stop doing it... I know people that have gone vegan by seeing Facebook links and such. But we should have more balanced activism... Posting links on Facebook takes a few minutes a day... Which gives us a lot of time (if we can spare any) to become active in a number of ways -- leafleting, feed-in's, setting up library displays, putting literature in places of businesses, etc...

It is really important to be out in the public, talking with the people that still eat meat.

message 36: by Leslie (new)

Leslie Goldberg | 18 comments I heard someone describe their activism as simply planting seeds. My tendency is to want to wrestle someone to the ground: "CAN'T YOU SEE WHAT YOU'RE DOING??" But alas, it doesn't work very well. I'm going with a light touch these days.

I only went vegan about a year and a half ago after seeing Food, Inc. The knowledge of the severe animal abuse occurring is a hard thing to handle. Every day I learn more.

Today, my 80-plus year old father went out of his way to talk about the hamburger he ate and how it wasn't as good as the ones he makes athome. Yes, it was painful and yes, it made me angry. I guess I could have asked, "While you were eating it, did you think of the cow's suffering?" But I know his answer: "No, not really."

Still, I've planted a seed with him. It will probably never germinate. But I know its there, otherwise, I wouldn't have gotten the hamburger story.

Yes, yes, yes, I know friends and family are usually a waste of time. Much better to leaflet.

message 37: by Leslie (new)

Leslie Goldberg | 18 comments Thinking more about seeds....

I'm mortified to say a few years ago, I got our son and daughter-in-law to pay for a chicken from Heifer International. It was my Christmas present to give a bird to an impoverished family living in the Third World.

Tonight my daughter-in-law who eats meat and eggs and has gotten pissed about my vegan evangelism brought up the Heifer chicken.

I said, "Yeah, that's definitely not my religion these days. I sure hope whoever got that chicken was nice to it."

"I'm sure they were nicer to it, than if it had ended up in this country," she said.

I just think this consciousness of love for animals is dawning. I have to believe that. Same way I believe in God. It's probably not true, but life is better if you at least try to believe.

message 38: by Erik (last edited Dec 12, 2010 10:00PM) (new)

Erik Marcus (erikmarcus) | 58 comments Mod
Leslie wrote:

Yes, yes, yes, I know friends and family are usually a waste of time. Much better to leaflet.

You have zero control over who you convince to go vegan, but you have total control over how many people you reach.

Doing nothing more complex than driving to college campuses and leafletting, four different Vegan Outreach volunteers have each handed out literature to upwards of a quarter million students.

message 39: by Leslie (new)

Leslie Goldberg | 18 comments OK, I know this is going to sound like whining and totally whimpy, but I leafleted for VO twice when I had a partner to do it with. Now my leafleting partner is out of commission for health reasons. I don't have VO buddy and I don't want to do this by myself. And here's the weird part: I'm in the San Francisco Bay Area. So if you know anyone here who'd be up for going out, please let me know.

message 40: by Joe (new)

Joe Espinosa | 22 comments Vegan Outreach can put you in touch with someone, either a local volunteer or an employee leafleter who you can work with in your area. Email with this request. I believe East Bay Animal Advocates are also in your area and may be a source of a teammate for this work.

message 41: by Lisa (new)

Lisa Vegan (lisavegan) Leslie, Bay Area Vegetarians organizes some outings for handing out VO literature, and it's easy, via messaging at the group, to find buddies for this kind of activity:

message 42: by Leslie (new)

Leslie Goldberg | 18 comments You guys are the best! thank you so much! I'll get on it when the next semester starts.

message 43: by Richard (last edited Dec 13, 2010 10:01AM) (new)

Richard Donovan | 7 comments Great points on here and I agree wholeheartedly about the "planting seeds" mentality. One other phrase I like is "actions not results" meaning I just have to focus on presenting the info and trusting my audience. Try not to worry if people will go vegan, but just do the next right action. I do a ton of leaflettings, leave info at all the health clubs in my area, etc but I also try to leave brochures everywhere I go---doctors offices, co-workers,etc.......

message 44: by Erik (new)

Erik Marcus (erikmarcus) | 58 comments Mod
Yeah, Richard, along those lines one of the more helpful phrases I've heard in regard to leafletting is, "it's a numbers game."

It's impossible to know the ultimate effect of all the outreach you do, but you can at least know that distributing 10,000 leaflets will have about ten times the impact of distributing 1,000 leaflets.

It seems to me there are two things we need to see more of:

1) There are countless vegans who are obsessed about the 18th ingredient of their bagel, but who never do a bit of outreach. We need to convince them that even small amounts of outreach done on a regular basis will impact vastly more animals than you can ever save simply through your own personal food choices.

2) There are a tiny handful of activists who display massive commitment to doing outreach. Joe Espinosa, who is participating in this thread, is one of these people. I'm pretty sure that not one in 10,000 vegans have his level of commitment. But I'm also sure that if more vegans knew how many animals they could save by becoming seriously involved, we'd see a lot more activists with levels of commitment comparable to Joe's.

message 45: by Elaine (last edited Dec 14, 2010 08:24AM) (new)

Elaine Vigneault (elainevigneault) | 13 comments On the point of bumper stickers:

Our group recently made and sold bumper stickers that say:
Simple, to the point, truthful, and inspiring.

We sold the bumper stickers to raise money for billboards that have a picture of two animals (puppy & piglet, kitten & chick) that ask:

People who have pets (the majority of Americans) are more likely to rate animal protect as important when buying food, clothing, and other consumer goods than people who don't have pets (source: And since this is an area where people are clearly hypocritical by treating similar animals very differently... And since people in general don't like to feel like hypocrites... And since pet owners often have more empathy towards animals in general, the pet-owner demographic is ripe for vegan education.

Moreover, bumper stickers, billboards, leafleting, feed-ins, blogging, and tabling are all peaceful, legal, and effective activism strategies that are easily embraced by a wide variety of people.

Thus, I try to have our group - Vegas Veg - focus on this kind of activism. Besides the bumper stickers and billboards, when we can, we do leafleting and tabling at pet events.

(Please note: when I say "pet" or "pet owner" above, I am simply using the general terminology, not condoning the property status of animals, the pet trade, etc.)

message 46: by Erik (new)

Erik Marcus (erikmarcus) | 58 comments Mod
Hey Elaine, I like your idea of reaching out to "pet owners." Once people get the idea that dogs and pigs aren't terribly different in being able to think and suffer, I think veg*n living becomes a much more attractive idea.

I wouldn't be at all surprised if animal guardians were significantly more likely to be veg*n than people who don't have an animal in their care.

message 47: by Joe (new)

Joe Espinosa | 22 comments Presenting information about the harsh reality farmed animals endure to dog and cat lovers seems like a very good idea, as each day their own companion animal serves as a reminder/ambassador of the thousands of animals they will (or will not) sentence to horrible suffering and death. Here in Chicago we do make it a point to leaflet at humane society charity walks with good results.

message 48: by Jaya (new)

Jaya Bhumitra | 5 comments @Elaine - I use the COK bumper sticker that says "" I like it because I like command sentences that give people a direct call to action. If they visit the site then they have an array of resources, such as COK's veg starter guide, recipes, fact sheets, and more. I drive between 2-4 hours a day in Los Angeles, so A LOT of people see my message. Also, we tabled at the Puppy Mill Awareness Festival in LA this past year, and were able to reach a lot of those cat/dog lovers who weren't making the connection to farm animals. It was a really good forum for us, so I agree with you that reaching "pet" lovers is a great strategy.

message 49: by [deleted user] (new)

@Elaine, that is so AWESOME that your group raised money to erect that MFA billboard! I agree that the "pet lovers" are ripe for outreach, though I personally haven't had much success in that area. I recently resigned from the board of my local rescue after they held a barbecue fundraiser. Though a few individuals were able to make the connection between farmed animals and companion animals, most were not, and my appeal to adopt a humane food policy was interpreted by many as a threat to the organization's success. It was disheartening, but I do hope that a few seeds were planted in the process.

message 50: by Peacegal (new)

Peacegal | 17 comments Yes, I had a similar experience with my local humane society. (They hold annual fundraising dinners featuring meat dishes.) You're probably better off getting away from the cagey bureaucracy of organizations and going straight to individual pet owners.

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