EcoRazzi: Carrots and Sticks to VO!

by Jack Norris, President

I was happy to see the March 15, 2016 article from EcoRazzi, Former NFL player David Carter goes from pigskin to vegan outreach, by Eva Lampert.


For former NFL star David Carter, lovingly known as the 300 Pound Vegan, it’s not enough to sit on the sidelines. The Daily Collegian shared the story of his recent visit to Penn State University, in which he spoke about the dietary benefits of cutting out animal products.

It’s a short article that starts nice but by the end Lampert calls me out for promoting cheese!

I wouldn’t want [Carter] to go the route of Vegan Outreach president, Jack Norris, and promote eating cheese.

Lampert’s comment is in reference to this recent Facebook post that caused quite a kerfuffle:


This has long been VO’s unofficial position, and while many vegan advocates appreciated the post, many others criticized it.

A couple of the criticisms were misinterpretations–I’m not suggesting that current vegans should start eating cheese, nor am I suggesting that people who eat cheese call themselves “vegan.” And for anyone this post reached who is having a hard time giving up cheese, there were links from the text to some delicious vegan cheeses.

Some activists criticized me for implying that it’s okay to eat cheese. They believe it’s important for us to send a consistent message to the public and, apparently, think the meme should have read:

People say ‘I’d go vegan but I can’t give up cheese.’ These people are immoral.

I hope such critics will consider these two points:

  • Many people have told us that because we did not push an “all or nothing” view to them, they were encouraged to take the first steps when they otherwise would not have done so–and eventually they became vegan.
  • The largest study on veg recidivism, conducted by Faunalytics, found that current vegetarians and vegans were more likely to have transitioned gradually than former vegetarians and vegans (Study Of Current And Former Vegetarians And Vegans: Secondary Findings).

While I think we should encourage people to adopt the view that it’s wrong to kill animals for food, we can also promote the idea that any steps taken towards a vegan lifestyle are positive.

David Carter agrees.

11 thoughts on “EcoRazzi: Carrots and Sticks to VO!

  1. I absolutely agree. The idea of telling someone struggling with transition to veganism that they are immoral is foolish. First, I am sick of fundamentalists. Second, telling me i am immoral will get you a big fat F You. Vegan cheese is not readily available throughout most of the country and neither is vegan yogurt. People living in large urban settings have no idea how limited food choices are in the hinterland. I have to drive 130 miles for nutritional yeast, or order online.

  2. I do not eat meat or poultry nor wear animals and buy only cruelty free products…but I confess went back to greek yogurt…tried all the alternatives and they are either sickly sweet and provide very little protein..I use it in limited amounts…isn’t that better than condemning me and discouraging my efforts to live a harmless life

  3. Jack Norris how about “People say ‘I’d go vegan but I can’t give up cheese.’ These people are ignoring and disregarding the unnecessary suffering and death caused by consuming cheese. They may not understand that justice for nonhumans is not about us and our wants but about the nonhuman victims of our actions. Let’s educate them why veganism is a moral imperative when it comes to justice for nonhumans.” I think you’re now misrepresenting the criticisms yourself and certainly missing the point.

    The act of eating cheese *is* an immoral one. I wouldn’t call the person immoral but we need to be clear that what they are doing, the act is. It disregards justice for the victims of this act. To approve of someone participating in the exploitation of nonhumans is to encourage such. *This is something we would never do when it comes to human social justice issues.* The position which is to essentially say ‘if you think you can’t give up cheese then don’t worry about it’, is plainly a speciesist one.

    Any excuses that justify taking the speciesist position of not recognising justice for nonhumans, are just that, excuses. The Faunalytics “studies” are about as biased and flawed as you could get. But even so what matters to me is what justice actually means. It means being clear as to what is acceptable and what is not. No amount of continued exploitation of nonhumans is acceptable, especially when it’s unnecessary, and that is the message which we should be sending.

    The flaws of your speciesist position are shown in the comments here by Jag. Who continues to consume an animal product and cause harm for no better reason than it tastes good and a false notion of protein.

    Jag, please go vegan. All animal products cause unnecessary suffering and harm, you don’t need greek yogurt.

    We need creative nonviolent abolitionist vegan education to explain to people that every dollar we spend on animal products is a yes vote for doing harm. We either directly participate in causing suffering and death or we reject it. If someone truly respects or cares about justice for nonhumans then they go vegan. We should never encourage or praise people for doing less because to do so is to praise and encourage exploitation. We must educate people and encourage them to go vegan, because they can and because it’s the morally right thing to do.

    There are so many confused and compromised messages out there by “animal people” lead by the large “animal groups”, who rely on donations from nonvegans. The only position that currently puts justice for nonhumans first is The Abolitionist Approach – .

    It seems that any time the donate button is present justice for nonhumans is compromised.

  4. In my early days as an activist, whenever people said that to me, I would tell them why they should give up cheese. It never went well. The conversation would turn tense at that point and go downhill. So now I take the same kind of approach as Jack and the conversation goes much better.
    I let people know that it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Yes I suggest they try vegan cheeses but I encourage them to do what they can.

  5. No one could demonstrate what is inappropriate about this statement better than Prof. Gary L. Francione, who asked on his Facebook Page the following question:

    “…Can someone tell me how what Jack Norris of “Vegan” Outreach is saying here is any different from saying “Okay, reject racism except for Asians” in response to a claim that someone would stop being racist but *really* hated Asians?…”

    Needless to say that no one came up with any difference, and that is because there is none I believe. However, if anyone can prove me wrong, I would love to hear the answer.

  6. Mr. Norris, if your intention was to promote vegan cheese I would say that your meme regarding this effort was at the very least very misleading and confusing – some might think it is even possible to be vegan “except for eating cheese,” which of course makes no sense at all. Any serious animal advocate should not ever promote eating cheese or the consumption of any other animal product, and should *always* make it clear that choosing veganism is the only rational response for someone who truly cares about not causing the unnecessary suffering and death of animals. If you really meant “vegan cheese” then the meme should have stated that explicitly and left zero doubt for the viewer.

    You defend praising “baby steps” toward veganism, citing the study conducted by Faunalytics which concluded that current vegetarians and vegans were more likely to have transitioned gradually than former vegetarians and vegans. That study was flawed. Professor Casey Taft, an internationally recognized researcher writes about this in his essay entitled “Animal Advocacy and The Scientific Method: The Humane Research Council Study.” I don’t agree with Professor Taft on some things but I do agree with him on this. Taft states, “Several recent such studies have been put forward and I’ve observed animal advocates indicate that they’ve changed their approach as a result. I caution against relying too heavily on these studies to inform advocacy because they often don’t adhere to key tenets of the scientific method and thus the conclusions we can draw from them are limited.”

    The entire article by Professor Taft may be found here:

    We should not encourage anything less than veganism if we believe that animal exploitation is wrong. If people decide to do less we should not attack them for being immoral but we don’t need to praise them either for exploiting “just a little.” We should instead convey the clear and consistent message that using animals as a resource is wrong and that we don’t need to continue to do so. We can’t make people care about animals, but what we can do is to teach them that if they *do* care about animals then they should not, at the very least, continue to eat, wear or use them.

    Eating and using animals is something that most of us were raised to believe is as normal and necessary as breathing air. We should not condemn non-vegans as being immoral just because they aren’t vegan, but that has nothing to do with advocating consistently for veganism as what is required if we believe that animals have intrinsic worth and are not things to be used for the pleasure, amusement or convenience of human beings.

  7. My reaction to these arguments boils down to “Do you want to be right, or do you want fewer animals to be unhappy?”
    The all-or-nothing approach does not work; the Vegan Outreach approach does.

  8. I went veg 15 yrs ago. And I liked this graphic so much that I had a print made and hung it in my office.

    People who preach an uninviting message are doing a disservice to farm animals. When I’m outside the vegan bubble, I’m doing everything I can to create interest to help farm animals. And without a doubt, this graphic speaks to omnivores and helps farm animals.

  9. Peggy makes excellent points(!) and I feel they are complimentary, not opposing. I’ve followed a strictly vegan diet for 24+ years and I agree 110% with Norris. Please forgive my analogy: this is not about baby steps, it’s more like driving a car. Animal consumption isn’t merely constantly rising worldwide, it’s accelerating with population growth and economies of scale! To go from accelerated consumption to full-stop (universal veganism) the human race needs to 1) stop pressing the gas; 2) apply brakes; 3) avoid losing traction while braking. I think Norris’ approach meets all three criteria while others ignore #1 and/or #3.


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