Belief on the Right Side of History

A Talk by Matt Ball in Salt Lake City, Utah, 2012

Most people think a concern for animals is limited to liberals. But this isn’t necessarily the case. Many leafleters report they were received more openly at places like Brigham Young and the University of Oklahoma than Berkeley or the University of Colorado in Boulder.

I am a good example as well. I was raised in a religious family and went to religious schools all the way through high school. I read Ayn Rand and considered myself a “neo-con.”

Three events changed my outlook.

The first occurred when I was in high school. An older cousin I had admired left our church and joined the Baha’i religion. As nearly everyone I knew—my circle of friends, classmates—were of same religion, I had hardly ever considered other religions; when I did, I thought of them as slightly “wrong” versions of Christianity. Yet here was a very different religion that led my cousin to leave the church of her upbringing. Obviously, my first reaction was to simply dismiss my cousin as misguided, and the Baha’i religion as heresy. But in the back of my mind, I wondered.

The second event was studying World War II. (Growing up, I loved airplanes; WWII was the time of greatest change in aircraft.) I had always assumed the Holocaust was the work of just a few individuals. I discovered, though, that the Germans knew what was going on, and, except for a relatively small proportion of the population, supported it.

Like most Americans, I had always been horrified by slavery in our country. The idea of treating other people as mere property—and that so many people would fight and die for the “right” to do so—was both shocking and appalling. Simply and utterly bewildering.

But learning more about the Holocaust revealed an even worse aspect of human nature—where people turn on their fellow citizens, systematically and methodically exterminating them.

Obviously, the normal reaction is to assume that I would have been a part of the Underground Railroad, or would have protected the Anne Franks of the world. But . . . really? Did I honestly think I would have gone against the overwhelming majority of my society? If I had been raised in a slave-holding household in a slave-holding society, would I really have stood up? Was I truly different from everyone who viewed certain people as “property,” who went along with Hitler’s “Final Solution”?

Did I honestly think I would have been different from nearly everyone else?

And if all these millions could fully believe things that, today, are so obviously absurd and repulsive, how could I assume everything I currently believed was absolutely right? If so many would willingly support gruesome atrocities, how could I possibly think everything today is morally pure? Even if I’m not chaining up a slave or leading my fellow citizens to the gas chambers, isn’t it possible—even probable—that I am at least tacitly supporting another horror, one that future generations will also look upon with bewilderment?

The answer came my first year of college, when I met my vegetarian roommate. Fred—a big block of a man—introduced me to the horrors of modern agribusiness. Again, I was not a liberal. I was a middle-class kid who dreamed of a successful career, a bigger house, a cool car, an elaborate stereo system, travel, and good food. That first week of college, my parents and I planned to celebrate my future graduation at the city’s five-star French restaurant.

I didn’t go vegetarian. As uncomfortable as Fred made me with his stories of how animals were treated on farms—the brandings, the de-beakings, the tail dockings, the confinement—I justified eating animals by saying that they were “just animals.”

kristof_chickens

But the stories did bother me. There’s plenty of gruesome video footage to turn your stomach (more is released every month), but I’d rather give a description from the New York Times[1]:

Piglets in confinement operations are weaned from their mothers [quickly] because they gain weight faster on their hormone- and antibiotic-fortified feed. This premature weaning leaves the pigs with a lifelong craving to suck and chew, a desire they gratify in confinement by biting the tail of the animal in front of them. A normal pig would fight off his molester, but a demoralized pig has stopped caring. “Learned helplessness” is the psychological term, and it’s not uncommon in confinement operations, where tens of thousands of hogs spend their entire lives ignorant of sunshine or earth or straw, crowded together beneath a metal roof upon metal slats suspended over a manure pit. So it’s not surprising that an animal as sensitive and intelligent as a pig would get depressed, and a depressed pig will allow his tail to be chewed on to the point of infection. Sick pigs, being underperforming “production units,” are clubbed to death on the spot. The USDA’s recommended solution to the problem is called “tail docking.” Using a pair of pliers (and no anesthetic), most but not all of the tail …is snipped off. Why the little stump? Because the whole point of the exercise is not to remove the object of tail-biting so much as to render it more sensitive. Now, a bite on the tail is so painful that even the most demoralized pig will mount a struggle to avoid it.

Pregnant pigs can be seen in their pens at a farm near Brussels

And a different section:

[T]he American laying hen . . . passes her brief span piled together with a half-dozen other hens in a wire cage whose floor a single page of this magazine could carpet. Every natural instinct of this animal is thwarted, leading to a range of behavioral “vices” that can include cannibalizing her cagemates and rubbing her body against the wire mesh until it is featherless and bleeding. . . . [T]he [five percent] or so of hens that can’t bear it and simply die is built into the cost of production.

chickens-1

This last point is important: if you look at the statistics, hundreds of millions of animals a year die before going to slaughter.

Just think about that: hundreds of millions die before even being shipped to slaughter.

I assume my dilemma at this point is clear. Obviously, I considered myself a good person—an ethical, kind, and thoughtful human being. And yet, here I was, supporting what is clearly a modern-day atrocity. “Our own worst nightmare” is how the New York Times describes modern agribusiness, and I was giving this nightmare my money to continue to tail dock, de-beak, confine, forcibly impregnate, brand, dehorn, and otherwise brutalize these thinking, feeling creatures.

And the argument: “They’re only animals”? Having seen this phrase used to justify slavery and Hitler’s “Final Solution,” I certainly didn’t want to be uttering the phrase “just animals.” I read the various justifications for past atrocities—not just from hateful, ignorant people, but from some of America’s and Germany’s leading citizens: professors, clergy, civic leaders, and politicians. I saw just how easily the vast majority of people went along with the prejudice of their day: to believe whatever they were taught without question, no matter the contradictions or consequences.

So I couldn’t simply accept the line, “They’re just animals.”

Here is where I should tell you about the great breakthrough, where I went from unquestioningly accepting society’s norm to animal advocate. But it didn’t happen that way.

I did go vegetarian for a while, late in my first year of college, but soon I convinced myself I was starving on the cafeteria’s beans and Cap’n Crunch. To my lasting shame, I went back to eating animals, just like all my friends and family.

But I couldn’t stop thinking about what it means to eat meat. Even if they were “just animals,” my choices caused them to suffer—suffer terribly and die horribly. My choices deprived them of the life they wanted to live. My choices—the choices I was consciously making, every day—created absolutely unnecessary suffering.

The next year, I was living off campus, entirely responsible for my own food choices. One day, I was looking in the mirror and the thought just came to me: “How can I consider myself a good person if I continue to eat animals?”

I had no answer.

And then (this is entirely true) the medicine cabinet started shaking, and a deafening “Bam! Bam! Bam!” filled the room.[2]

I’ve never eaten another animal.

Now obviously, there is much more to discuss: everything from nutrition to priorities to optimal advocacy to the future of society.

But before all that are questions that took me so very, very long to fully consider. We each have to ask the question: What kind of person are we? Will we accept what our society dictates today, or will we write our own story? Will we rationalize the status quo or thoughtfully make our own decisions? Will we oppose cruelty or support slaughter?

Slowly, very slowly, embarrassingly slowly, I came to realize there are more important things in life than accepting the status quo and taking the easiest path. Choosing the road less traveled does not necessitate denial and deprivation. Making our lives a part of something real, something larger than ourselves—this expands our life’s narrative, enriches our existence, and allows for real meaning and lasting happiness.

History shows that questioning society is necessary in all times. Today, choosing not to eat animals makes a public, powerful, ethical statement—not just about the lives of animals, but about the nature of our character. It shows that we are honestly striving to be truly good, thoughtful people.

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Today, you have the opportunity to help bend the arc of history by simply clicking here! 

Thanks so much!

 

[1] “An Animal’s Place,” by Michael Pollan, New York Times, November 10, 2002.

[2] It turned out that someone in the adjacent apartment was driving a nail into the other side of the wall. Banal cause, but a fitting punctuation for when my life changed.

 

 

Do You Know VegFund’s Secret?

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     This (video) made me cry.
     I’m never eating meat again!
     -Ameyah

You know the animals need our best efforts, every day.

This is why we’re working around the clock to provide the animals a voice and get more people to make compassionate choices.

Here’s the secret:

You can expand these cutting-edge outreach efforts, and change even more lives!

Today, a generous donor will double your donation, dollar-for-dollar!

All overhead is covered, so 100% of your contribution will go directly to reaching new people!

We are thankful you are a part of this work. Your dedication really is making the world a better place.

Please click here and give what you can — every dollar makes a difference. Thank you!

Holiday Joy Found in Fundraising & Vegan Baking (w/ Recipes!)

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Left to right: San Diego vegan advocates Tracy Childs, Veg Appeal, Liz Gary, New Options Food Group, and Gina Sample, The Vegan Lab

By Liz Gary, New Options Food Group

Everyone loves holiday cookies but the fact is that nearly all of our traditional holiday cookies are riddled with eggs and dairy.  I love to bake and after becoming a vegan several years ago I began developing and teaching vegan pastry and baking classes to share the goodness of plant based baked goods with the local community.  Three years ago I decided to initiate a holiday baking tradition that would bring friends together to create holiday gifts with a purpose; raise awareness to the joy of vegan baking and create change…it’s working!

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This year’s event was hosted at the beautiful home of vegan bloggers David & Donna Kater (www.davidkaterblog.com).  There were mixing, rolling, cutting, decorating and gift-wrapping stations set-up.  Participants were able to make up to six gourmet cookie gift packages to share with family, friends, and co-workers.  This joyous occasion brought in donations to support the Veg Fund and Vegan Outreach, there were drawings for generous gifts donated by Mark Reinfeld of Vegan Fusion, a cookbook provided by the Humane Society, and t-shirts provided by Boulder Brands Earth Balance Butter.  We baked, we sang holiday carols, and we celebrated the goodness of plant-based living knowing that the work we were doing would continue to help create change and raise awareness.  Each cookie gift package included recipe cards providing “food for thought.”  Then, the best part of all of this is the gift giving and seeing the reaction from the recipients of these beautiful holiday vegan cookie packages!

 Here’s how it works:

I work part-time as a substitute teacher and on Monday following our baking event I took some cookie gift packages to work with me.  I checked in at the office and gave the principal and receptionist a cookie gift and they thanked me.   Within minutes the principal was sampling the cookies and rushed into my classroom and shouted out to me, “these are vegan cookies!!?”  My heart swelled, I smiled, and said, “YES!!”  She was delighted and surprised, and that’s exactly what I was after.  I had more cookies with me, and in came my class of 10th grade English students.  The teacher had left an article about cattle farming to discuss with the class so this opened up a big opportunity for me to expand on my work in teaching vegan cooking.  I gave the students information about my free vegan food fairs held at our public libraries and I gave them a list of online resources to learn more about the plant-based diet.  Next, I took out my big bag of chocolate chip vegan cookies and shared them with the class. They ate the cookies in amazement and everyone wanted the recipe!  I had just made a lot of new friends who were starting to think about what they are eating, they were beginning to make the connection.

During my lunch break one student returned to my classroom, she came to see me to tell me that she was ready to try a vegan diet.  That moment was beautiful and I felt tears of joy!  I told her it wouldn’t be easy at first, to go online and study, research, and follow up by attending the free food sampling events.  It’s moments like this that make it all worthwhile. We help make the world a better place by sharing information and vegan holiday cookies!

Change is happening and it’s thanks to organizations like the Veg Fund and Vegan Outreach who are providing the foundation of information and resources to help us get out there in the community to spread the good news and share the wholesome deliciousness that’s found in plant based foods.

So, we end our year giving thanks and celebrate the good things we’ve accomplished in 2014.  We look forward to a fantastic 2015 and will be offering free Meatless Monday Family Cooking Classes, more Vegan Food Fairs, and my dream for 2015 is to hold a Vegan Fashion Show and Food Fair where students in fashion design and culinary arts can learn more about plant based living and participate by creating projects to share at the event.   This dream is getting closer to becoming a reality with organizations like the Art Institute of San Diego taking interest and the San Diego Public Library System offering a world-class venue to hold the event.

Thank you VegFund!  Being a part of this movement to create change and make the world a better place could not be a more rewarding experience!

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Cane Sugar Cookies
¾ cups vegan butter
1 cup organic cane sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
½  tsp almond extract
1 tsp baking powder
2 ½ cups unbleached flour
2-3 tablespoons almond milk
Pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 350F. In a large bowl combine the vegan butter and sugar.  Beat until smooth then add the vanilla and almond extracts.  In a medium mixing bowl combine the baking powder, flour and salt.  Gradually add the flour mixture into the butter and sugar stirring until it forms a dough.  Divide the dough in half and wrap each piece in plastic wrap.  Refrigerate for about an hour or until the dough is firm.  On a lightly floured cutting board roll the dough to 1/4 “ thickness and cut with assorted cookie cutters. Bake for 12-15 minutes. Decorate with buttercream or royal icing.

Buttercream Frosting

½ cup vegan butter
2 cups organic powdered sugar, sifted
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla
2-3 tablespoons non-dairy milk

Food coloring (optional)

Use an electric mixer to combine all ingredients until fluffy.

With an electric mixer cream the butter until smooth.  Add the sugar, vanilla, and milk.  Beat on high speed until the frosting is light and fluffy.  Divide into smaller bowls and tint with food coloring.


ginger

Vegan Gingerbread Men

3 cups unbleached flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
¾ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
1 ½ teaspoons ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
Pinch of cloves
6 tablespoons vegan butter
¾ cup organic dark brown sugar
½ cup applesauce
½ cup molasses

Preheat the oven to 350F. In a large bowl combine non-dairy butter, brown sugar, applesauce and molasses.  Beat until smooth.  In a medium bowl combine all the dry ingredients, mix well then gradually stir the flour mixture into the butter mixture mixing until it forms a dough.  Divide the dough into two pieces.  Flatten them and refrigerate for at least one hour or overnight.  Roll the chilled dough on a lightly floured surface.  Roll dough to ¼” thickness and cut with cookie cutters. Transfer to baking sheets.  Bake for 10 – 15 minutes or until the edges begin to brown.   Transfer to a wire rack to cool then frost with Royal Icing.

Royal Icing

1 cup organic powdered sugar
2 teaspoons non-dairy milk
2 teaspoons light agave syrup
¼ teaspoon almond extract

In a small bowl combine all ingredients until smooth and well blended.  If the icing is too thick add more agave syrup. Divide into bowls and add food coloring.  Cover icing with a damp cloth when not using to avoid drying.

 

About: New Options Food Group was founded to provide outreach to the community and foodservice to help raise awareness to the growing need for more plant-based foods.  We host and coordinate community food sampling events, cooking classes, culinary tours and provide foodservice support in growing new vegan-friendly menu options.   Contact: Liz Gary for more information at 760-815-5590 or by email at liz@newoptionsfoodgroup.com

 

The Roadmap to Animal Liberation

The Roadmap to Animal Liberation
Why, What, How, Who, and When

A talk in Los Angeles by Matt Ball, November, 2014

Perhaps the single line most animal advocates would agree on is:

“We want animal liberation.”

But exactly what does this mean?

Why

The first question – Why – is the easiest to answer and the hardest to face. I assume we don’t have to go into detail. We all know non-human animals suffer absolutely horrific brutality in numbers that completely dwarf the human population of the earth. We could spend all day watching sickening footage of animals being tortured and brutalized, and when we get up tomorrow, there would probably be another investigation revealing new horrors.

Piglets being stomped; from this video.

A lot of people don’t want to face this constant and stomach-churning cruelty. I can certainly understand this. And others believe the brutality justifies anything, including burning anger and even hatred of those who eat meat. I also understand this.

Going forward, I ask that you keep in mind this “Why” – the overwhelming cruelty to animals, and the moral imperative to end it as quickly as possible. This is the bottom line.

What

While the “Why” of animal liberation is clear, “What” animal liberation will entail is a topic of significant dispute. For some individuals, animal liberation requires that everyone adopt their specific diet, lifestyle, and philosophy. And not just our views about animals, but about religion, politics, GMOs, smoking, alcohol, families, and every other subject.

Of course part of me wants everyone to hold all my views. But this will never happen. And if I insist “veganism” must encompass all my views, I make it significantly harder, if not impossible, for others to even consider the animals’ plight. The more we insist on, the fewer individuals we’ll inspire to take any constructive steps for the animals.

Lessons from Other Movements

In one sense, it is instructive to consider human liberation. While things are by no means perfect for people, we have to admit most of us in the US have it way better than other animals. This doesn’t mean no one faces oppression, discrimination, or even violence. This isn’t to say there is no racism, sexism, or homophobia. This isn’t to say we don’t have a long way to go to achieve equality for all people.

What we have accomplished, though, is that now our society generally says these things are no longer acceptable.

What does this tell us about working for animal liberation?

If we step back for a second, we should note that about 99% of the animals killed in the US die to be eaten. So from where we are now, to a first approximation, animal liberation would be achieved if society no longer viewed animals as food. Not that everyone agrees with us on everything, but that animals are generally seen as individuals, not food.

This might seem far off, but in a way, bringing about this shift in perspective is an easier task than securing full human liberation. The vast majority of people oppose cruelty to animals – far more than believe in equal marriage, or equal pay for equal work, or even in racial equality.

Think about it this way: there are people who will consciously discriminate against or even work to deny equality for their fellow human beings. But almost no one eats meat because they actually want animals to suffer.

How

This brings us to the “How” of animal liberation: There are millions and millions of people out there who share our disgust, our moral revulsion, at animal cruelty. In fact, there are already enough people close to us to change society’s norms and bring about de facto animal liberation!

VegFund’s pay-per-view video.

What we have to do now is convince those people to match their actions with their ethics.

Being Right Is Not Enough

Here’s one of the many mistakes I made in the past: I thought being right was enough. I thought all I had to do was point out how immoral it is to eat animals, and I was done.

But of course, being right isn’t enough. Resting on my perceived superiority wasn’t just harmful to making progress for the animals – it was downright stupid! I hadn’t changed my diet simply because someone pointed out what I was doing was “wrong.” Instead, I evolved over time, in fits and starts, even backsliding away from vegetarianism for a while.

Most vegans I know also evolved over time. They didn’t change because someone screamed at them. They weren’t chanted into being vegan. They changed, like me, because our hearts and minds were slowly opened to the animals’ plight. Just as importantly, we slowly became convinced that we had the ability to take meaningful action.

So as tempting as it is to be “right,” to be “pure” in our beliefs, what is actually important is that we are effective in getting people to start to evolve, to begin taking meaningful steps for the animals.

And in many ways, our task is actually easier than other social justice movements. We don’t have to eradicate a lifetime of racism. We don’t have to undo centuries of oppressive culture.

We already have people’s revulsion at cruelty to animals. We just have to get them to act according to the ethics they already have.

Yes, of course this can be difficult – we have to overcome habit, convenience, and peer pressure. But it is getting easier and easier every day! There was a great review of the vegan restaurant Souley Vegan, where someone who calls himself “a carnivore all the way” said:

Wish they were in my neighborhood, ‘cause I’d be one happy fat vegan cat eating some deep fried tofu with their crazy good tartar sauce. This food is the shizznyee. Not kidding.

We can do this. We no longer have to settle for the attitude of “do something, do anything.” We no longer have to settle for advocacy practices that were popular twenty years ago. Now, via groups like VegFund, we can pursue modern outreach like video that leverage the latest technological advances and psychological research. These new tools and insights mean our efforts and our donations can have the biggest possible impact for the animals.

And just as important, we now have vegan food that is the shizznyee!

The specifics of “How” to bring about animal liberation is a huge topic in and of itself. This is why I wrote The Accidental Activist and co-wrote The Animal Activist’s Handbook – to share what I and my colleagues have learned over the past quarter century. If we all can avoid the mistakes I’ve made in the past, the animals will be much better off.

Effective Advocacy Requires Focus

But before I cover the last two topics, I want to mention one key lesson we should keep in mind if we want to be effective advocates:

We should leave our ego at the door.

I know I’ve said this already, but I really can’t emphasize it enough. I deeply regret all my many failed opportunities to help animals – all because I couldn’t keep the focus on the animals and on the person with whom I was speaking.

In short, we have to stay focused if we want to be effective.

Again, the “How” is covered in my books and on websites like VegFund.org. Now, I want to conclude by covering the

When and Who

Because of number of individuals suffering, and the horrific brutality they face, I firmly believe animal liberation is the moral imperative of our time. Looking back at the long arc of history over the millennia, I know animal liberation will come about as our ethics gradually continue to evolve.

Working along with the expansion of our ethics, capitalism – which brought us factory farming – will continue to squeeze the inefficiencies from food production. This will ultimately end the practice of feeding grain to animals first, and then eating a part of the animal. As we know, it is much more efficient, and cost-effective, to just eat foods made directly from the plants.

But when de facto animal liberation will finally occur is an open question. Will it be decades? Centuries?

The variable that will determine “When” is “Who.” Specifically: You. Specifically: Us.

In retrospect, the expansion of our ethics seems inevitable. But it didn’t just happen on its own. Countless individuals struggled and sacrificed over the centuries to bend the arc of history towards justice.

I know at times, things can appear to be so overwhelming as to be hopeless. It is easy to feel that we can’t make a difference.

But if there are just two things you take with you tonight, know

One: we are winning, and

Two: you really can make a difference.

I stopped eating animals over a quarter century ago. At the time, I never dreamed of restaurants like Veggie Grill or Native Foods. I never dreamed Bill Gates and other billionaires would be investing in vegan food companies. I never dreamed of presidents going vegan.

Most of all, I never dreamed the number of animals killed in this country would decline by hundreds of millions every year since 2006, even while the population increases. We’ve changed the world so much in the past 25 years – far more than I ever dreamed!

VegFund’s vegan food sampling.

The next 25 years could exceed our dreams even more! Of course, we are on the right side of history. But more importantly, we are stronger and much, much smarter. We are equipped with better tools and, with groups like VegFund, a growing dedication to optimal advocacy.

And although big ag is ruthless to the animals, we are now just as relentless in our efforts for the animals.

More importantly, we are winning! It can take some perspective to see it, but the wind is at our backs and our sails are unfurling.

You can be a part of this! Your time and donations can now accomplish far more than they did 20 years ago.

implore you to be a part of this work. You can bend the arc. You will change the world. And you will live a meaningful life alongside some of the best, most dedicated individuals who have ever lived.

Thank you so much.

Today, you have the opportunity to help bring about this new world by simply clicking here!

Matt Ball Joins VegFund!

Matt Ball in PhoenixWe are very excited to announce that Matt Ball has joined the VegFund team as Senior Advisor!

Matt is the author of The Accidental Activist and co-author of The Animal Activist’s Handbook. He has been a leader in the animal advocacy movement for over 20 years, and was inducted into the Animal Rights Hall of Fame in 2005.

Dr. Michael Greger, Director of Public Health and Animal Agriculture at HSUS, has observed Matt’s work: “Over the past two decades, Matt Ball has had a singularly profound influence on the animal protection movement in the United States. Matt’s reasoned, eloquent focus on having the biggest possible impact with the greatest possible efficiency has resonated with tens of thousands of individuals, and created fundamental, pragmatic change on every level of the movement.”

Similarly, Bruce Friedrich, Farm Sanctuary’s Senior Policy Director, notes: “Matt Ball is in the very small group of people who have had the most significant influence on animal advocacy. Matt has been an essential, logical, relentless force for changing our movement’s focus, stating over and over in every possible forum that since something close to 99% of animals killed in the U.S. each year die to be eaten, our priorities as a movement should shift to reflect that. As much as anyone I know, Matt has bent the arc of history toward justice.”

Matt explains: “It is vitally important that we all learn and evolve. My approach to advocacy 20 years ago is no longer the best way to help animals today. VegFund is driving new and innovative advocacy, learning from the experience and research of activists and groups across the country and around the world.

“VegFund isn’t driven by inertia or tradition. Rather, they have been at the leading edge of inventive, effective veg advocacy. This is why VegFund is such an important group, and why I am honored to be a part of this dynamic, vital work.

“Thanks to all the donors and activists who have made VegFund such a powerful force for good. I look forward to working with you!”

If you’d like to support Matt and the work of VegFund activists around the world, please click here!

Big Numbers Hurt Animals

As Stalin said, “One death is a tragedy, but a million is a statistic.”

This Psychology Today article discusses the dynamics in detail; excerpt:

“Mother Teresa once said, ‘If I look at the mass I will never act.’ When Stalin and Mother Teresa agree on a point, I sit up and pay attention. It turns out that the human tendency to turn away from mass suffering is well documented. Deborah Small and Paul Slovic have termed this phenomenon the collapse of compassion. It’s not simply that as the number of victims goes up, people’s sympathy levels off. No, when the numbers go up, the amount of sympathy people feel goes perversely down. And with it goes the willingness to donate money or time to help.”

This has obvious implications for animal advocacy. Many vegans talk about how many billions and billions of animals are killed every year. But as the above article relates, this just numbs people.

Furthermore, in the face of unfathomable numbers, the one burger or chicken leg someone is going to eat that day seems negligible — indeed, less than negligible.

Obviously, if we are going to create a world where all these animals aren’t killed, we have to convince people not to eat animals. We need to be psychologically insightful in our efforts to do this, instead of repeating facts / stories that move us. Indeed, if something is meaningful to us as long-time vegans and activists, it is almost certainly not the best way to reach someone who currently eats meat.

Furthermore, we are not only looking to get people to stop eating animals. Rather, we need them to maintain that change, be a positive example of compassionate living, and to help advocate for the animals. In other words, we need to think strategically about our advocacy — not just the immediate impact.

If we do this, change can grow exponentially!