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Vegan Outreach: being healthy and well informed vegans


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Vegan Outreach is an aptly named organization. They do nothing other than reach out to non-vegans to persuade them to eat vegan diets. They do almost nothing other than distribute tens of thousands of vegan advocacy booklets a year.


The position of Vegan Outreach has long been that a vegan who knows what s/he is talking about and who is visibly healthy is one of the most persuasive arguments for veganism.


I think many people here would agree with that so I thought I would post a few of these snippets from their site:


From their pamphlet A Meaningful Life where they outline their philosophy as activists:


Staying Healthy


For many, maintaining a change in diet is a far more significant undertaking than most advocates admit – or even realize. While leafleting colleges across the country, Jack was often told, “I was veg for a while, but I didn’t feel healthy.…” He heard this so frequently that he sometimes felt he met more failed vegetarians than current vegetarians!


Contrast this with the messages many activists like to present, such as “Meat is a deadly poison!” Just consider a meat eater hearing a friend’s story of feeling unhealthy on a vegetarian diet, and then being faced with the nearly desperate-sounding activist chant of “Meat causes heart disease! Colon cancer! Breast cancer! Diabetes!”


As we know, even a moderate health argument doesn’t hold much sway over most people – especially young people. But the health argument is not only an inefficient use of our limited resources: when we regurgitate extremist-sounding, black-and-white propaganda, we hurt animals. Everyone who tries a vegetarian diet because of its “magical properties” will quit if they don’t immediately lose weight and increase their energy. They will then tell everyone how awful they felt as a vegetarian, and how much better they feel now as a meat eater. Just one failed vegetarian can counter the efforts of many well-spoken advocates.


It is well past time that we accompany the case for ethical eating with an honest and thorough plan for staying healthy. The nutritional case historically presented by advocates is so bad – and has led to so many failed vegetarians – that Jack went back to school to become a registered dietitian, so he could evaluate nutrition research and provide sound recommendations.


If we want to do our best to prevent suffering, we must learn and present a complete, unbiased summary of the nutritional aspects of a cruelty-free diet, including uncertainties and potential concerns. Doing so not only leads people to trust that we are not just partisan propagandists, but also creates healthy spokespeople for the animals!




This quote is from Jack Norris in A History Of Vegan Outreach And Our Influences


I decided to become a Registered Dietitian, which entailed three years of school and an internship. Most fellow activists assumed I was doing this so I could have the credentials to tell people that a vegan diet is healthier than other diets. My actual motivation was to become educated on the science of nutrition to help those who had tried to be veg but for health reasons didn’t believe they could, and to figure out what we could do to avoid so many failed vegetarians in the future. Explaining this to my fellow activists was often met with a glazed-over look.


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I tabled 4 or 5 times with members of this organization when working on my PhD in Minneapolis. I mentioned promoting the health aspect of veganism instead of just the factory farming. The people there at least weren't interested back in 2004. There wasn't any health angle at all in terms of pamphlets, pics, etc.


So we had the PETA factory farming video on. With some fake chickens crammed in a cage. That sort of thing. People avoided even looking at all for the most part. I do think focusing on the positive would have been more useful in that public setting. But then I think the negatives of factory farming, etc should be obvious.

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Vegan Outreach has an interesting position.


At the same time they are against using a health argument for veganism AND they want to promote healthy diets for people who already are vegans.


Vegan Outreach feels that it is important for vegans to make realistic claims or they will lose credibility. People can be and are pretty healthy on some kinds of healthy diets, so they think preaching "meat is poison" will only erode credibility. So, they want to focus on the core issue which can't be argued away, the cruelty in food production. On the last issue they want people who call themselves to be healthy because omnis will not switch if they see vegans who don't look healthy.

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