October volunteer night with John Oberg of Vegan Outreach
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We had a special guest for October’s volunteer night: John Oberg, one of Vegan Outreach‘s regional coordinators, came to Nice Shoes to speak and offer tips as to how to be a more effective leafleter. John is in the midst of a leafleting tour, travelling around the continent as part of Vegan Outreach’s Adopt-a-College program. As of my writing this, he has managed to hand out an astounding 211,183 leaflets, and we were very lucky to have the opportunity to learn from him.
John began his talk by discussing leafleting itself. A method of activism that has existed since at least as early as the American Revolution, leaflets have been utilized in just about every rights movement and continue to be used today. There’s a reason for that!
John suggested that we think of activism in terms of investment. What method of activism gives the best return? We’re all very busy with work and school, but most of us can spare the occasional hour. In that hour, dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of leaflets can be given out, thus exposing that many more people to the realities of animal agriculture. As John pointed out, the great majority of people do care about animal cruelty; as activists, it’s our responsibility to provide them with the truthful information they need to make compassionate dietary choices. (This is something else that Vegan Outreach is great about, by the way. They get all of their information from neutral sources, such as agriculture industry journals, and their leaflets provide a list of references.)
That doesn’t mean that everybody who gets a leaflet ends up going vegan overnight, of course. In fact, it’s safe to say that very few people do! But even the most stubborn person has had a seed planted in her head after she reads a leaflet–or even if she just glances at the cover and walks away. (Even If You Like Meat, one of Vegan Outreach’s most effective leaflets, has photos of battery-caged hens and pigs in gestation crates on the front.)
John was careful to emphasize kindness. “We aren’t here to demonize factory farmers,” he explained. “We’re here to spread compassion.”
As a star leafleter, John was able to offer us some great tips about how to be as effective as possible:
- Smile, make eye contact, and be friendly.
- Have something short and simple to say as you offer leaflets. He recommends “Help animals?”
- Fully extend your arm, demonstrating confidence, and lean in towards people.
- Be nice, even if the other person isn’t. Coming off as angry or bitter doesn’t help anybody, least of all the animals, and it makes the person feel justified in having been rude and dismissing your message. Being polite really takes the wind out of their sails, and might make them think twice! (It’s worth noting, however, that John said that he has very few truly negative interactions; the worst he usually gets is a totally original comment that animal activists have certainly never heard ten thousand times before like, “Mmm, bacon.”)
John also enthusiastically recommended the Animal Activist’s Handbook, and we do too!
After his talk, we all got to eat pizza from Loving Vegan Pizza. I honestly really want some more right now. That stuff is good and they even have a gluten-free crust option.
A huge thank you to John for giving us so much great advice, and to the 18 fantastic volunteers who came out to learn! November’s volunteer night will be on Tuesday the 13th. Details will be announced soon on facebook and on our News & Events page. Hope we’ll see you there!
Update: On October 19th, John, LBC, and some very eager volunteers headed out to the UBC Campus to do some outreach. Here are the results:
What a mega day of outreach here in Vancouver! After the talk on Wednesday night about the importance of leafleting, several offered to join me for today’s outreach! To say this was a big day would be an understatement — with the help of three of the five board members of Liberation BC, as well as Rebecca (the two-week vegan that I had leafleted on Tuesday and offered to help), and Aaron (a member of the student animal rights group), we distributed over 4,200 EI’s [Even If You Like Meat] to students, as well as 56 Guides to current or soon-to-be vegheads. This is the new all-time record for most amount of booklets given out at a college campus in Canada. (more)