UPC’s 2003 Forum on Promoting Veganism Widely and Effectively (Part III). Talks are Now Available on VHS.

In August 2003, UPC held our 4th Annual Forum at the University of Colorado, Boulder. Following are summaries of talks by Lauren Ornelas of Viva!USA (vivausa.org) and Bruce Friedrich of PETA (Peta.org).Other taped speakers are Zoe Weil, Paul Shapiro, Jack Norris, Karen Davis, Pattrice Jones, and Carol Adams. Order single presentations or the whole set from Video Transfer, 5800 Arundel Ave, Rockville, MD 20852. Call 301-881-0270 or fax 301-770-9131 or email videotransfer@movielab.com. All orders must be prepaid by check, money order or credit card (MasterCard, Visa, & American Express). $15 each + shipping.

We thank Annie & Neil Hornish for videotaping these inspiring, permanently valuable 45-minute presentations.

“My Experience Going From Working on Anti-Vivisection to Veganism”
by Lauren Ornelas

Lauren Ornelas
Photo By:Annie & Neil Hornish

When I worked on vivisection issues full-time, I often felt ineffective trying to get universities to change their practices. Gail Eisnitz' book Slaughterhouse opened my eyes to a more direct way of helping animals and getting others to join me. I discovered how simple it is to have a big impact - by going out and talking to people and handing them literature about the suffering of animals on factory farms. I now wait eagerly for people to ask me what they can do. I'm from Texas. When you leaflet in big meat production places like that, you help young people to feel they're not alone anymore. If you talk to them about university research, they don't feel the applicability to their own lives, whereas veganism is personally applicable and immediately doable.

We leaflet where people buy Honey-baked hams for instance. You'd be surprised how often people apologize to demonstrators about why they're buying this product, saying things like, "I thought about going vegetarian but I didn't know how." We hand them information about how easy it is to get started. We also have food, like vegan ice cream and delicious meat substitutes. People flock to food, and we want to show them the convenient options. We say, "Save a cow, eat vegan ice cream."

We've investigated dairy cow and duck operations and made videos of what we found for distribution. We show people large and small operations so they see this cruelty isn't just on big farms. We show people what goes on in their own backyard. People driving by these places often have no idea. We expose them to the facts.

One of our big campaigns is to stop the sale of duck meat. People are surprised to learn that ducks are treated just like chickens and turkeys: they're debilled, force-molted, boiled alive, kept in cramped, filthy conditions, and forced to drink from nipple-drinkers. As waterfowl, ducks need water to maintain their health. They develop eye diseases and other infections when they can't immerse themselves frequently during the day, and they are miserable.

No matter how bad I might feel, for the animals I go out and act positive and energetic. I have changed myself from negative to positive for their sake, and I have become well-informed. When I tell people about the animals we see in our investigations, I say, "You can see in their eyes how much they need us to speak out for them." Even if you don't do investigations yourself, you're making a huge difference by distributing and showing our videos. By doing that and going vegan, you're part of the solution.

“Effective Vegan Advocacy: Look at Corporations and Steal from Their Corporate Playbook”
by Bruce Friedrich

Bruce Friedrich
Photo By:Annie & Neil Hornish

Two books have had a powerful effect on my advocacy: Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Steven Covey and How To Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. Covey shows how to avoid getting so bogged down with the "tyranny of the urgent" that we neglect what's important. Carnegie shows how to be an effective communicator. This includes thinking positively to create positive audience response. When I go "out there," I need to be smiling and upbeat.

When I ran a soup kitchen in Washington DC I had a full beard and looked sort of Jesus-like. But I changed because we owe it to the animals to look middleclass like most of our audience. Our own individuality is nothing compared to what animals are suffering, and since we want to enroll people in animal rights, this includes even eating with meateaters rather than avoiding opportunities to bring veganism to the table. But don't make the mistake of insisting that the waiter go back to the kitchen to make sure the veggie burger on the menu is strictly vegan. And while courtesy is mandatory, we should never minimize animal suffering or apologize for the "inconvenience we're causing" by prioritizing the animal cruelty issue. We're not sorry for the "inconvenience" - we're sorry for the animal suffering.

Our advocacy for animals is so important that it's incumbent on us not to have haphazard responses when people ask questions. We should practice our responses. Joining Toastmasters is a great way to advance your effectiveness while educating the audience who's critiquing your presentations. And even though we may be tired and don't feel like being "on," remember that the animals are always "on." Wear a button or a t-shirt in public, and when people ask, "Why are you vegan?" don't just say, "I don't support cruelty." That's too vague. Hand them a brochure (always carry literature), and explain, for example, that chickens are debeaked and that all kinds of other painful amputations and surgeries are performed on animals raised for food without anesthetic. Say, "This is like telling the vet, please spay my dog, but don't use anesthetic." Help people see the picture and make the connections. At the same time, explain why they should care about chickens and other animals raised for food. Talk about how intelligent and interesting these animals are.

I believe we are winning. Compared to just a few years ago, 60% of people in the US now support strong laws to protect farmed animals. Even the fast food chains agree that while certain things may be legal, they're not okay. Remember that it took from the 1520s to the 1860s to abolish the slave trade. I think we're reaching a time when the eating of corpses will be as unbelievable as past atrocities that were once accepted as normal.