If you follow our posts here at Vegan.com, you know we love creative activism. And this website that we just stumbled upon definitely deserves to win a creativity award! FurDiscounts.com is set up as a website for people looking to get fur at discounted prices—and upon first glance, it appears to offer steep discounts on the latest trendy fur and fur-trim items.
However, when unsuspecting visitors click “Buy” (or anywhere on the site), they are taken to an informative webpage exposing the fur industry cruelties—and are presented with facts, photos, and several ways to take action. This is a part of the #MakeFurHistory campaign, and this bait-and-swicth tactic has been executed flawlessly.
When it comes to making huge change for animals, well thought-out and brilliantly executed efforts like this deserve a ton of credit.
With the cold weather setting in, now is a perfect time to share this website with your friends and family as a reminder to never buy fur.
Target is a one-stop-shop for virtually everything—groceries included. We’ve long been singing praises for the many vegan products that are appearing on Target shelves—from several varieties of soy milk to Gardein cutlets to Annie’s vegan gummies.
The increasing presence of vegan food at Target is a testament to the growth of vegan culture, and the growing demand for cruelty-free products. That’s why we are ecstatic about the news that Target just launched their very own line of plant-based meats. Why is this significant? Meatless products have been tested across thousands of Target stores, and they must be doing quite well for Target to invest in their own varieties of these products.
What else does this mean? You can expect these Target-brand vegan meats to be lower-priced than comparable vegan meats sold elsewhere. And this in turn means that, in the United States, vegan meats are now more affordable and widely-available than ever before. So if there’s a Target in your area, drop in soon to get a taste of the vegan future.
Have you tried these new Target-brand vegan meats? Let us know what you think on Facebook
I began doing vegan advocacy in 1991. It was a different world then. Nobody knew what a vegan was, much less how to pronounce the word. And the first generation of vegan meat and cheese products was simply vile. I remember craving cheese once and paying a small fortune for a block of vegan cheese. I stuck it in the microwave but no matter how long I nuked it the stuff just wouldn’t melt. Instead it simply perspired, like a glistening block of vinyl hanging out in a sauna.
Those were the days. Vegan food had a deservedly wretched reputation, and there were no popular vegan cookbooks. Most vegans had to make due with vegetarian cookbooks like the Moosewood Cookbook, and hunt through for recipes that were either vegan or could easily be converted. As you might imagine veganism was a tough sell in this climate. The general public knew nothing about factory farming, and there was a widespread belief that being vegetarian meant risking a life-threatening protein deficiency.
Around this time though, I met someone who opened the doorway to activism for me—helping me realize that there were countless possibilities to make an enormous difference. At the time I met him Henry Spira was a 63-year-old activist, who, working alone from his Manhattan apartment, had won one major victory for animals after another.
Spira had been a lifelong union and civil rights activist but in 1973 he switched his focus to animal protection—bringing with him the strategies and tactics that he had learned from a lifetime of activist experience. If there’s one thing that characterized Spira’s work it was a relentless focus on the bottom line: how many animals can you keep from harm? And how quickly and reliably can a proposed campaign be won?
Because he was obsessed with getting results, Spira spent huge amounts of time planning and strategizing before ever launching a campaign. His goal was to avoid conflict by establishing friendly and productive private dialogs with company leaders who were in a position to create change. Public confrontations were always a last resort, and would only occur after all other options had been exhausted.
This is the approach Spira used back in the 1980s when he sought to eliminate widespread animal testing by the cosmetics industry. Spira recognized the industry was vulnerable since it performed agonizing experiments on millions of cute fluffy animals—all for products that could in no way be considered anything but a luxury. So he decided to start his campaign by approaching Revlon, the biggest and richest cosmetics company of all.
Incredibly Revlon spurned Spira’s repeated overtures to establish a meaningful dialog, no doubt thinking, “Hey, what’s the worst thing that could happen?”
And then the worst thing happened. Spira had no choice but to implement the publicity campaign that he had carefully planned in case all else failed. Full-page newspaper ads began appearing across the United States asking, “How many rabbits does Revlon blind for beauty’s sake?” More than 30 years before the launch of YouTube and Facebook, Spira had a viral campaign—one that threatened Revlon’s future as the world’s top cosmetics company.
Revlon quickly made an about-face. They poured millions into setting up research on animal testing alternatives, and in short order issued a moratorium on future animal tests. Other cosmetics companies, not wanting to be left behind, enacted similar measures.
There are countless lessons I learned from watching Henry, but the three big ones involve refusing to see your opponents as enemies, to fight only as a last resort, and to always strive to scale up your effectiveness. Henry liked to talk about finding ways to tack a zero onto your results–to go from saving one animal to ten, or from 10,000 to 100,000.
We certainly need more of this kind of thinking in the animal protection movement, as focusing on being a Level 5 Vegan can never by itself bring the massive results we need. Most estimates say that one person being vegan will, over a lifetime, save between 100 and 4000 animals. The trouble is that the United States alone slaughters about 9 billion animals a year. And 9 billion minus 4000 equals, well, 9 billion (I think it’s fair to round up.)
So the only way we’re going to see the vegan movement reach its potential is for more of us to act in big ways. We urgently need more vegans to think in the largest possible terms—scaling up their efforts to do work that impacts large numbers of animals. By the late 1990s, thanks to Henry’s relentless focus on scaling his results, I had adopted the lifetime goal of being an animal millionaire—someone whose work has kept at least a million animals out of the slaughterhouse. Just like there is a multitude of ways to earn a million dollars, there are a great many viable paths to saving a million animals. Believe it or not, anyone sufficiently motivated can attain this level of effectiveness. In my next blog entry we’ll look at how you can become an animal millionaire.
When you think of activism, what comes to mind? Maybe it’s protests, demonstrations, and megaphones. While those things represent one form of activism, there are countless non-confrontational ways to make a huge difference. When you match your activism to your skills, you can achieve tremendous things for animals. And that is just what the folks at Skool of Vegan have done.
Here is just one of their artistic PSA’s calling for people to rethink their relationship with animals:
Help the cartoons published by Skool of Vegan to reach a massive audience. Be sure to follow these amazing people on Facebook or Twitter, and share their art with your friends at every opportunity!
I’ve never started work on something with such mixed feelings, but two-and-a-half years after I quit blogging I’ve decided, for reasons probably not worth getting into, to have another go at it. Maybe this will last for weeks or months, but I doubt it’ll last for years. Blogging makes me uncomfortable, but I feel like some good things could happen for animals if I start doing it again. So I’ve decided to start posting occasionally. We’ve also just started a Friday newsletter you can subscribe to, and these emails will also include whatever new Vegan.com content Michelle or I have created over the course of the week. One day, just like last time, I’ll probably wake up one morning and decide it’s time for me to stop blogging. But until then I’d be grateful if you come along for the ride.
Apart from a few side-projects, the focus of my life has been working to bring us closer to the day when animal products disappear as a widespread and socially acceptable food. And if you look at what the vegan and animal advocacy movements have accomplished over the past decade, you can see we’ve gained a lot of ground. We’ve now got hundreds of vegan cookbooks covering every niche. Food science where it concerns replacements for meat, milk, and eggs has come further in the past ten years than it had in the previous century. Brands like Beyond Meat, Hampton Creek, Wayfare, Gardein, Tofurky, and Daiya Foods offer an unbelievably good assortment of products that can totally replace the animal products in your life.
Vegan quick serve chains like Veggie Grill, Native Foods Café, and Loving Hut now have dozens of restaurants apiece, and all three of these chains are rapidly expanding. What’s more, they serve food that can win the hearts and stomachs of any omnivore. Have you had Loving Hut’s eggplant tofu, Native Foods’ deli reuben, or Veggie Grills’ carrot cake? Dayum!
On the activist front, it’s likewise been a decade of astonishing gains, most of which were won by the Humane Society of the United States and its allies. California Proposition 2 was a landmark victory, which will result in California’s last battery egg facilities being shut down by January 1st 2015. The Humane Society’s 2008 undercover investigation of Hallmark/Westland Meat Packing Company resulted in by far the largest meat recall in history, and the closure of one of America’s largest cattle slaughterhouses. In 2013 the Los Angeles Unified School District’s school lunch program embraced Meatless Mondays—a monumental win considering the district serves 650,000 meals daily. And finally, the writing is on the wall regarding the end of veal crates for calves and gestation crates for breeder sows, with top pork producers like Smithfield having signed on to abolishing these barbaric confinement systems.
On the outreach front, volunteers and staffers have taken leafleting to an unprecedented level. We’re not even at the end of October, and already 568,000 Vegan Outreach booklets have been distributed this semester at 524 different college campuses. This is vital work that anyone can do, and you can get involved here.
Groups like Mercy For Animals, Compassion Over Killing, the Humane Society of the United States, and PETA have released dozens of undercover factory farm investigations in the past decade, which have awakened tens of millions of Americans to the cruelties of factory farming. Animal agribusiness views these investigations as such a threat that they’ve thrown their weight behind ag-gag bills, which are viewed even by some meat industry partisans as a disastrous strategy that plays right into the hands of the animal protection movement.
Thanks to the progress we’ve made on these and other fronts, the number of animals slaughtered in the United States has at long last started to drop.
The best part of this is that we’re only just getting started. At long last, the pieces are finally in place to dramatically speed up our dismantling of the meat industry. I’ll be back next time to begin my analysis of how we can start gaining far greater results.
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