|Enewsletter • April 8, 2001|
Not What You Think
Distribution of our literature continues at a good clip – over 93,000 copies of Why Vegan and Vegetarian Living so far in 2001. Our members are reaching many more people each day through leafletting and stocking libraries, natural food stores, restaurants, schools, bookstores, record stores, coffee houses, and other public places with our literature (more distribution ideas). For example, Marsha Forsman and Joe Espinosa – donors and activists extraordinaire – have distributed tens of thousands of copies in Illinois this year alone.
One of our goals is to be able to supply all activists with as many copies of Why Vegan and Vegetarian Living as they can distribute, regardless of how much they can afford to donate. If we were able to ship more cartons of booklets directly from the printer, we could increase efficiency and ensure that all those actively distributing our literature always had copies on hand. To meet our goals, Vegan Outreach is dependent on donations from individuals like you. Your actions and support lead directly to more vegans, and move us closer to the day when animals will no longer be bred, raised, and slaughtered for food.
I really apprecaite you helping me spread the word about veganism. Your group
is unique and truthful, and I think more of your literature needs to be spread
This is just a note to thank you for all the wonderful work you do. Being
vegan is a whole lot easier with your help and support! A long time ago, my
brother’s friend handed him your Vegan Starter Pack. Almost five years
later, the whole family is vegan
– me (18), my sister (13), and my three brothers (16, 21, 23). Our parents
are only vegetarian, but we’re working on them. Please be assured if I had
more money to give, you would surely get it. I know I speak for my vegan family
and all of my vegan friends when I say: Thank you! We love you guys so much!
Thanks for creating such an effective publication! I placed a stack of Why
Vegans at the bookstore where I work, and I was pleasantly surprised to
see so many customers picking them up during my shift. They really pique people’s
Being relatively rugged individualists in the U.S., we tend to think in terms of rights and laws, being mostly concerned with freedom. Because of this, we tend to frame moral and legal issues in terms of an individual's liberty, stressing negative rights (rights against interference from others) while often neglecting our responsibilities to perform positive duties (duties to be charitable to others). Likewise, in the U.S., the saying often holds that "One shalt not kill, but one need not seek officiously to keep alive." This is in large part because negative rights are easier to translate into laws than positive duties. It's hard to tell people how charitable they should be. Nevertheless, how conveniently a moral principle can be translated into law is not necessarily the best criterion by which to judge that principle. And often this fixation on negative rights does not protect but, rather, seriously threatens other people's welfare.
The conflict between negative rights and positive duties sometimes surfaces when we talk about animals.The chant goes: What do we want? "Animal rights!" When do we want them? "NOW!" But it is illuminating to substitute "why" into the second question: Why do we want them? The usual answers are "because humans have inalienable rights" and "because as long as animals remain property, they will suffer." These answers typically come from advocates who take a uniquely legal approach to animal liberation and who foresee liberation occurring only as a consequence of legal victories. But as Steve Kaufman, MD, President of Vegetarian Advocates and advisor to Vegan Outreach suggests, 'rights' don't tell the whole story about how we should (or can) act towards animals.
For another perspective, see our essay "Welfare and Liberation: Mutually Exclusive?"