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Vegan Outreach is a 501(c)(3)
nonprofit organization dedicated to
reducing the suffering of farmed animals
by promoting informed, ethical eating.

Donations to VO are fully tax-deductible.
VO’s tax identification no. is #86-0736818.

Vegan Outreach
POB 1916, Davis, CA 95617-1916

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Enewsletter

Vegan Outreach Enewsletter  •  July 30, 2002

 

Requests and News

National Day of High School Leafleting

The sign-up form for the September 17 event is now online here.

 

Want to be a local Vegan Outreach contact?

We often receive email asking for information in a specific area. These queries include meetings, demonstrations, shopping and restaurants, etc. If you or your group would like to be a contact in your area, please email us with the contact information. We will create a new web page with the list of email addresses and web sites listed by region.

If you are looking for an email group in your area, see this list.

 

Website Revisions

If you've been a regular browser of our website, you might have noticed some changes recently. Mostly, the Vegan Starter Pack has been revised and expanded, although new information is being added throughout as we have the chance. Feel free to pass along feedback and/or suggestions!

I wrote you some time ago and asked for your advice on being a healthy vegan in a cafeteria environment. I just wanted to say that your advice is paying off big. I think my metabolism is a fast one and lack of dairy makes it all the faster, the olive oil has helped so so much. Thanks so much for caring enough to email a person you don't even know and give them thoughtful advice. It really reinforces my whole vegan decision.
AW, 6/13/02

 

Fat and the Vegan Diet

Knowing the health hazards of saturated fats in meat, dairy, and eggs, many vegans extrapolate this information to condemn all fat. However, not all fat is bad – quite the contrary. As Walter Willett, the leading nutritional epidemiologist in the country, writes in an interview:

What is a common mistake people make when they are trying to eat a healthier diet?

"Getting rid of all of the fat in their diets. The USDA has promoted the strategy, but it can be really dangerous. Not all fats are bad and, in fact, some should be required in any diet. Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats found in foods such as nuts, avocados, fish, olives, and most oils help lower ‘bad’ cholesterol levels without affecting ‘good’ cholesterol levels.

"People also tend to replace fat in their diets with foods high in sugar or refined carbohydrates. A lot of people think that a plain bagel with jam can be a healthy thing to eat in the morning, but actually that is one of the unhealthiest duos you can eat because it has a high glycemic load. You’d be better off with scrambled eggs cooked in corn oil or a whole-grain cereal."

Brenda Davis, R.D., has written a good summary article regarding fat and the vegan diet; Becoming Vegan has a more complete description.

 

Milk and Crohn's

Previously in Spam, we referenced an article by Michael Greger, MD, regarding the possible links between Crohn's Disease and dairy. Recently, NPR did a story on Crohn's that parallels Dr. Greger's article in many respects.

 

Feedback

This is just a small donation to the group that has given me so much (info., support, materials). Keep up the good work. More donations to come, as I get money in. Thanks again, you guys are the best organization out there for animals today.
JS, Tucson, AZ, 7/20/02

I just got my Vegan Starter Packet and Why Vegans in the mail...awesome info! I have begun distributing the pamphlets and talking to people. Keep up the great work!
SH, Columbia, SC, 7/20/02

We just passed out 800 free vegan lunches with a Vegetarian Living in each one. It was great success.
DT, Seattle, WA, 7/20/02

 

Building Bridges?

Cow in Slaughterhouse

Matt Ball

From the previous Taco Bell-triggered "Setting Priorities" article, as well as the E Magazine articles regarding vegetarianism, follow-up discussions have occurred concerning the relative importance of alliances with other organizations.

This seems straightforward enough. I'm sure that many animal advocates have found themselves thinking, "If you care about wild animals, Mr. Environmentalist, why do you eat 'domestic' ones?" "If you oppose killing human criminals, Ms. Anti-Dealth Penalty, why don't you oppose killing innocent animals?" Many "progressive" groups seem like obvious allies who should be promoting animal liberation and vegetarianism.

The obvious question is, "Why don't they?" One member wrote to us:

I think one of the reasons the progressive community is generally less than receptive when it comes to nonhuman animals is that the animal rights movement broadly continues to do things that needlessly alienate progressives.

 

Message and Tactics

There are two aspects to this – the message on which we focus, and the tactics we use to get this message heard. In their issue devoted to vegetarianism, one E Magazine article, under the subheading, "Forward in All Directions," concludes: "But if the disparate movements galvanized around a single, easy-to-understand message of vegetarianism for health and concern for the planet...". Clearly, the message isn't "forward in all directions." Rather: Appeal to people's self-interest. Don't bring up factory farms, slaughterhouses, or animal cruelty.

As discussed elsewhere, there are many reasons why encouraging people's selfishness is not the way to create fundamental change for a better world.

Discarded Dead Ducks

Tactics are another issue, however. The member quoted above continued:

Some animal advocacy groups would have people send campaign contributions to arch-conservative Republicans like Senator Rob Smith because of how he votes on our narrow issue. No wonder the gay rights movement doesn't embrace us.

Other activists are opposed to supporting campaigns which attempt to improve worker safety in processing plants. As long as people are treated as commodities, animals will be treated as commodities. It's like when I hear anti-vivisection activists saying we should experiment on prisoners instead. No wonder the human rights movement doesn't embrace us.

Meanwhile other groups use sex, even pornography, to "sell" their message. No wonder the feminist movement doesn't embrace us! As long as we objectify women, we will objectify animals. As long as we treat women like meat, we will treat [animals] like meat.

Maybe if we recognized our ideological connections and discontinued engaging in such acts, progressives would be less likely to dismiss us as we have so often dismissed them. I think we should consistently seek out the higher moral ground. (And Taco Bell is pretty damn slimy.)

Of course, we should strive to be respectful of other concerns because: 1) we advocate respectfulness, and 2) when vegans alienate people, it hurts the animals.

 

Efficacy and Offensiveness

That being said, in order to be heard above the cacophony of voices screaming for public attention, sometimes we need to push the envelope to be an effective voice for the animals. It is inevitable that anything successful in reaching the public is going to be upsetting to at least some people. We can never know for sure if the new people who are reached offset those who are offended, but we have to take both groups into consideration – not just the latter.

For example, the McDeath campaign, organized by Peta, handed out UnHappy Meals to children at McDonalds. It was criticized for how it would affect children. These are legitimate concerns, of course, but they were not enough, IMO, to have canceled the campaign. It is a tradeoff worth making – upset parents and children for the advances made.

Crated Sow with Piglets. From VivaUSA

Specific to Vegan Outreach, everything we have ever published has upset people – Why Vegan first and foremost. Each article in the Vegan Advocacy Booklet has been denounced by multiple persons.

This is not to deny the validity of the views of those who are upset. However, instead of attacking the messenger, it might be best to realize that, in almost all cases, their efforts are motivated by a heartfelt desire to make the animals' case as efficiently and effectively as possible. These efforts can't adhere to everyone's political agenda (and this is true in my case as well, even regarding some of Vegan Outreach's efforts). But I believe the suffering in factory farms and slaughterhouses has to be addressed right now, instead of after society has adopted all other progressive causes.

Some might not share these priorities. But we shouldn't spend our limited time and resources attacking those trying to speak for the animals. Rather, we should work hard to develop other campaigns that are optimally effective at exposing the animals' plight. The animals deserve all our focus and efforts.

 

History and Bridges

The feedback continued:

The history of social justice movements in the U.S. is replete with examples of racist unions, abolitionists who thought women weren't exactly people, suffragettes who didn't want poor women voting, etc etc. I'm interested in ways we can as a movement move ahead without grounding ourselves in prejudice, without compromising other social justice goals to forward ours.

The latter goal is noble, and I am certain many activists and organizations would be open to campaigns that can optimally speak for the animals while meeting these criteria. However, I think the former history lesson is the more important point. Should other social movements have waited for purity? Should the Union army only have had those with no prejudice fighting at Gettysburg? Should the civil rights movement have refused to support relatively progressive legislation during the Johnson administration in order to protest Vietnam?

Can we realistically expect environmental / women's rights / anti-death-penalty groups to promote the animals' agenda? While the logic seems obvious to us, consider how it looks from the "other" side. Shouldn't animal advocates be promoting an agenda that is pro-environment, anti-abortion, pro-Christian, anti-sweatshop, pro-U.N., anti-globalization, pro-choice, anti-fundamentalism, pro-Palestinian, anti-isolationist, pro-Israel, anti-GMO, pro-affirmative action, anti-discrimination, pro-organic, anti-terrorist, pro-pacifism, anti-technology, pro-free trade, anti-luxury, pro-raw foods, etc. etc. etc.?

Specific to our efforts: should Vegan Outreach promote veganism, or small-community local farm socialist handcrafted veganic living? Should we only accept money from and send booklets for distribution to members who fulfill all these requirements? Given our fundamental goal – to prevent animal suffering and promote animal liberation – I don't believe so.

Turkeys Entering Slaughterhouse

Knowing what goes on in factory farms and slaughterhouses, billions of times over every year, I do vegan outreach because I do believe it is the most important, most pressing issue. Given inherently limited time and resources, I have no choice but to prioritize, which means not always addressing social concerns that, in my opinion, are not as pressing as the unimaginable torture and slaughter of billions of animals in the U.S. each year.

I certainly don't want to alienate anyone. But it is most important to be active in today's society on behalf of the animals as effectively as possible. If, for example, someone chooses to ignore what goes on in factory farms because Why Vegan mentions Taco Bell, I am not confident that they were truly willing to consider a non-speciesist view of the world. In a society where one in four people eat fast food once a day, I will not ignore the importance of convenience just to avoid allegedly giving an anti-Taco Bell person an excuse to continue to eat animals.

Given this, I have to accept that the argument cuts both ways. I can't expect other groups with different fundamental goals to adopt and promote any other agenda. Because of the possibility of some common ideas, these other groups may be fertile grounds for reaching new people. Successful outreach is desirable when possible, and offending others should be avoided when possible. But we must remain focused on the main issue: the immense suffering of the animals. I don't think that the animals are best served by spending an inordinate amount of our limited resources on trying to build certain bridges. I believe we are ethically required to work based on our best estimate of what the payoff of our efforts will be, not on what it should be.

 

Every Donation Prevents Suffering

Vegan Outreach is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to reducing the suffering of farmed animals by promoting informed, ethical eating.

All donations are tax-deductible.

Vegan Outreach

POB 30865, Tucson, AZ 85751-0865