Activist News

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Activist News

Volume 4, Issue 1
December 1998


  • Meatless Mayhem
  • Days to remember...
  • No time to cook?
  • These little piggies aren't going to market
  • Activist tidbits
  • Spreading the Word About Vegetarianism in the Workplace
  • Helpful School Resources Offered
  • Book Review
  • Activism Online
  • Tabling and Teaching Materials

  • Activist News is published by The Vegetarian Resource Group, a non-profit organization that educates the public about vegetarianism. Editor: Dar Veverka Writers: Amie Hamlin, Tammy Purcell, Jillian Still Layout/Design: Davida Gypsy Breier, Jessica Dadds, Tammy Purcell, Dar Veverka

    Send us your ideas! If you have any ideas or article proposals for the next issue of Activist News, we'd love to hear about them. Let us know what you are thinking. Tell us about your organization's events. Write us via post at P.O. Box 1463, Baltimore, MD 21203 or email us at If you would like to order a paper copy of Activist News, please email us with your request and mailing address.

    Meatless Mayhem!

    Great ideas for spreading the word about vegetarianism

    By Amie Hamlin

    This year, Club Veg had its biggest Great American Meatout (GAMO) event, and its biggest event ever, for that matter. For the fifth year in a row, we had a food tasting at Barnes & Noble Bookstore in Vestal, NY (a suburb of Binghamton). It was also the biggest event that Barnes & Noble has ever had locally, and they hold a lot of events! In addition, we fed the DJs on four radio stations breakfast, lunch, and dinner on the day of the Meatout - feeding a total of 12 DJs.

    The Bookstore Food Tasting
    For the food tasting at Barnes & Noble, we sent out press releases for the event to 30 media outlets - which can be done with the touch of a key if you have fax software on your computer. The daily newspaper carried an article on the front page of the "B" section the day before the event and the article was quite positive. In the past, we fed about 200 people each year, but this year we fed at least 300. According to the people who attended, the newspaper article had a lot to do with their knowing about it.

    Each year, beginning in January, we start asking caterers and vegetarian friendly restaurants to donate food for this event. We go to a few of the Southern Tier Chef’s Association meetings with handouts about what we are looking for (all vegan food) and make announcements. We have worked with this chef’s group for years, but it doesn’t hurt that the current president of the group is a VEGAN!!! We also keep a simple database of vegetarian restaurants and caterers and send out requests, but we find that they must be followed up with phone calls. We always hold the GAMO event on the Sunday afternoon before the actual GAMO, from 2-4 PM. Some years we provide a registered dietitian as a speaker, but this year we did not.

    The bookstore supplies napkins, plates, utensils, etc. The only thing we regret is that they are disposable, and we wish there was another way to do it, but rental would be prohibitive for that number of people. We otherwise request that people bring non-disposable place settings to our potlucks. I guess that we can feel good knowing that the dietary changes made will more than make up for it in terms of environmental resources. We can say this because each year numerous people tell us how much they changed after they came to the GAMO.

    The fun begins when the volunteers show up an hour before the event begins. We portion the food out into individual servings as much as possible to help the line move more quickly. You must adhere to public health standards when dealing with the food including: long hair tied back, hands washed and gloved, and reminding volunteers not to eat while they are working with the food. Though it is often difficult to get volunteers, we never have that problem with the GAMO; people love doing this event. Ten minutes before show time, people were lining up, and we were so excited to see a line that quickly extended almost the entire length of the store, three to four people wide!

    Two tables are set up for people to pass when they are standing in line waiting for food. One contains vegetarian books and cookbooks selected by us, and the other contains free literature (much of it from VRG) along with our newsletter and information brochure.

    Each caterer or restaurant is invited to be there to serve their food if they wish, but we provide volunteers if they can’t be there. Business cards are placed in front of each food item so people will know where it came from, and this really helps to promote these businesses. Of course, Barnes & Noble sells a lot of books. But the best part is that people who come to taste the food rave about it and talk about making changes.

    Something that we have learned, which we feel makes our group successful, is that no matter how much we wish everyone would become vegan or vegetarian, many will never go the "whole way." Knowing this, we find that people are much more likely to change if they don’t see their dietary shifts as an all or nothing situation. We tell them, "we know that not everyone is going to become a vegetarian, but the more you move in that direction, the better you will feel, and the more your health will benefit." We believe that by taking away these all or nothing thoughts they might have, we also remove a good deal of defensiveness and fear, clearing the way to real dietary changes. Sure we’d like everyone to be vegetarian ideally, but does it matter if one hundred people become vegetarian or 200 people cut their meat consumption in half?

    We followed up the bookstore food tasting with thank you letters to those who supplied the food and to the volunteers. Next year, we will definitely be reminding the restaurants and caterers about how many people we fed this year because this is a great way of advertising to a large target audience. One of the best things about holding the GAMO in a bookstore, especially a busy one, is that we have a ready-made audience. Barnes & Noble has a big poster up numerous days before the event in the foyer of the store and also places a notice in their events newsletter. We have found it much easier to go to people than to ask the people to come to us.

    Feeding the DJs
    A DJ at the popular local rock station called us after receiving our GAMO press release. She is vegetarian and asked us if we wanted to come and feed the DJs. When I hung up from that phone call, I was jumping for joy! She not only wanted me to feed the DJs at her station but at three others. These stations are all part of a conglomerate and share offices. The stations consisted of: the #1 rock station, the #1 station (which happens to be country), the talk show station, plus one other station.

    I contacted the president of the local chef’s association and asked him if he would make the breakfast-scrambled tofu and vegetarian homemade sausage-which I had just tasted recently at one of the chef’s meetings and found to be extremely impressive. Next, I called my good friend and gourmet cook to brainstorm what the most delicious food we could make would be. We decided we could serve the same food for lunch and dinner since it would be different DJs and probably a different listening audience. My friend made tempeh fajitas, I made Alsation onion pie from a recipe by Ron Pickarski in Friendly Foods and we got the local Indian restaurant, Curry’s of India, to donate masala dosa. The big hit was the fajitas, though the other food was delicious and well liked by all. This was one of the most tiring but rewarding days of my life. I can’t even guess how many people got the message about the GAMO, how delicious vegetarian food can be, and about our local group, Club Veg. It had to have been in the tens of thousands. Two good friends, including the friend who made the fajitas, volunteered to come along and help feed the DJs. The DJs ate the food while they were on the air, and it was great to hear some of the disbelief at how delicious the food was, knowing how many people were hearing such wonderful declarations of gastronomic pleasure over the radio. We also got to speak on the radio a total of nine times that day.

    I have no doubt that we will be invited back next year for a repeat performance. One thing to keep in mind if you are going to feed DJs: the food must taste incredible - so find your gourmet cooks for this type of event. Other groups may not have the fortune that we did of having a DJ contact them after receiving a press release, but I think that many radio stations would be very open to this idea. Don’t be afraid to call and ask. Make sure to do it with plenty of advance notice, and we would suggest speaking with the DJs directly to arrange it.

    Club Veg tries to follow the example of VRG, working to reach as many people as possible. Feeding DJs is one great way to do that. This was our best GAMO Celebration yet! Next year we will do what we did this year, and in addition we will try to get the hospitals and schools involved. If you plan to work with hospitals and schools, remember you must contact them well ahead of time, at least 4-6 months before the event. Don’t forget that quantity vegan recipes can be obtained from VRG.

    Amie Hamlin is a member of Club Veg in Binghamton, New York. For more information about the organization, please send an e-mail to

    Days to remember…

    Turkey-Free Thanksgiving Vegetarian and animal rights groups often hold traditional holiday feasts, minus the bird, for this occasion. (4th Thursday in November in the US; 2nd Monday in October in Canada)

    Fur-Free Friday The day after Thanksgiving in the US is the biggest shopping day of the year and serves as the stage for anti-fur protests across the country.

    International Buy Nothing Day Observed the same day as Fur-Free Friday, this day focuses on the elimination of needless consumption. It is coordinated by the Workshop for Sustainable Living.

    Saturday, March 20, Great American Meat Out This annual event works to promote meat-free diets and animal rights issues (held March 20 of each year).

    April 18-25, World Week for Laboratory Animals This week attempts to raise awareness about the treatment of lab animals.

    Thursday, April 22, Earth Day This annual event honors Mother Earth and features environmentally-friendly activities.

    Friday, October 1, World Vegetarian Day As its name aptly implies, this day celebrates vegetarianism (held Oct. 1 of each year).

    No time to cook?

    Meatless Meals for Working People is a great timesaver and fundraiser

    These days, there are so many vegetarian cookbooks on the market, offering a diverse array of recipes for those who choose a meat-free diet. But, as any cook knows, preparing meals can be time-consuming and many working folks just don’t have time for the hassle.

    With this in mind, The Vegetarian Resource Group is proud to introduce the second edition of Meatless Meals for Working People, Quick and Easy Vegetarian Recipes. Authored by Debra Wasserman and Charles Stahler, the book offers over a hundred convenient meat-free meals. The recipes’ lack of significant preparation time certainly doesn’t translate into a loss of flavor or creativity. Items include everything from classics like rice pudding to the innovative "mock" tuna salad.

    But this book doesn’t just stop there. Designed for those constantly on the run, it doubles as a reference for vegetarians looking for quick and easy meals on the road, providing a guide to veggie and vegan options at 74 fast food eateries. Taco Bell, for example, makes bean burritos which are free of lard and Burger King offers French fries cooked up in vegetable shortening.

    Still, Meatless Meals for Working People goes a bit further in its quest to aid the working vegetarian. The book includes a chapter entitled "Vegetarianism on the Job," in which professionals from a variety of fields share ideas on what to eat at work. The book also offers a vegetarian spice chart, vegan meal planner and seasonal party ideas.

    If your group is interested in using this book, or any other VRG publications, for fundraising, please call for more detailed information at (410) 366-8343 or email us at

    These little piggies aren’t going to market

    Groups work together to save abandoned animals

    This holiday season, give the gift of life! Pigs, a sanctuary, Poplar Springs Animal Sanctuary and Farm Sanctuary need your help.

    In early October, a truckload of 167 farm pigs was found abandoned on a Washington, D.C. street. Neighbors contacted the police, who in turn contacted the Humane Society of Washington. The Humane Society arranged to have the pigs taken to Poplar Springs.

    Shortly after the pigs arrived at the Poolesville, Maryland sanctuary, local police along with agents and legal counsel from Hanor, a large North Carolina pork producer, arrived to retrieve the pigs. Poplar Springs’ director informed the Hanor representatives that they would return the pigs if they were immediately given $16,000 to cover the cost of transporting and caring for the animals. In lieu of the payment, company representatives relinquished the pigs, allowing them to remain at the sanctuary and avoid slaughter.

    The sanctuaries' press release noted a number of the pigs died as a result of crowded and stressful conditions in the truck. The remaining animals have found homes at the three sanctuaries. Weekly feed cost for the pigs (nicknamed the DC 167) is about $1,000. Add to that other expenses like medical care and it’s easy to see the financial burden incurred by housing the animals.

    In light of the astronomical costs, the sanctuaries need your help. So, this holiday season, add a pig to your gift list. Donate money for food or adopt a pig and give these animals the precious gift of life. They have already been saved from slaughter, now they need your help! Although all three groups cooperated in the rescue, Pigs, a sanctuary, is handling the donations. Call Pigs at (304) 725-7447. You can also visit their website

    Originally, VRG intended to suggest folks donate fresh produce to the sanctuaries or simply call the feed store and order food via credit card. However, the feed store was unable to accept credit cards and the sanctuaries had inadequate storage space for produce, making this a situation any activist can learn from.

    Be sure to check out all the logistics with organizations you are attempting to help!


    Activist Training Offered

    An activist training school called SALSA (Social Action and Leadership School for Activists) in Washington, D.C. offers an interesting selection of workshops on media strategies, public speaking, guerilla theater, civil disobedience, fundraising, direct action and cyberactivism, among others. For a workshop brochure contact: 202-234-9382 or visit their website at

    A Call to Young Feminists

    Spinsters Ink, the feminist publishing house in Duluth, MN, announced the establishment of the Spinsters Ink Young Feminist Scholarship as part of their 20th anniversary celebration. This $1,000 scholarship will be awarded each year to a student in her last year of high school with the best essay on feminism and what it means to her. A possible topic could be the connection between feminism and animal rights. The deadline is January 1st, 1999. The winner and runners-up will be announced on International Women’s Day, March 8th, 1999. For further information contact: 218-727-3222.

    VRG Aids in Bilingual Education

    Upon release of VRG’s Guía Alimenticia Vegetariana para los Jóvenes (Vegetarian Nutrition Guide for Teenagers) several language institutes contacted VRG requesting copies of the new brochure to use in translation exercises for their students. The students now learn about vegetarianism and English at the same time. Naturaleza, a vegetarian organization in Argentina, is also working vegetarian lessons into its French and English language classes. For copies of the Guía Alimenticia or Una Dieta Vegetariana brochures, contact VRG at (410) 366-8343 or P.O. Box 1463, Baltimore, MD, 21203.

    Library Outreach

    About two years ago, VRG’s Vegetarian Journal magazine included a note on creating library displays that promote vegetarianism. Since then, Jim and Meriam Corcoran have successfully created many such displays and encourage activists to contact them at for advice on similar projects.

    Request Vegetarian Resources

    Did you know that, according to a recent survey sponsored by the Library Journal, 90% of libraries rely mostly upon patron requests when purchasing books? Requesting books on vegetarianism and veganism, animal rights, environmental problems, etc. from libraries can be a great way to inform others. Bobbie Landau of San Ramon, California wrote to us after having approached several libraries with donations of copies of Meatless Meals for Working People. In general, the libraries appreciatively welcomed the books.

    USDA Features Violation Hotline

    The USDA Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration has established a toll-free telephone number (1-800-998-3447) for reporting violations and abuses in the grain, livestock, meat, and poultry industries. States administrator Jim Baker says, "We will respond as quickly as possible to reports of violations."

    Organization Directory in the Works

    Bunny Huggers’ Gazette is requesting updated information for a new directory of organizations which they promise will be the largest listing of US and Canadian animal rights, welfare, protection, and vegetarian organizations. To be included in the directory, provide BHG with your organization’s name, address, phone/fax numbers, e-mail address, web site address, and mission. There is no charge for the listing. You may contact BHG at: or at P.O. Box 601, Temple, TX 76503 or via fax at 254-593-0116.

    VegHead!! Magazine Wants You

    VegHead!! Magazine, a new publication written by and for vegetarian youth, needs YOUR help. The periodical is in search of articles, artwork, ideas, and recipes from young vegetarians. The magazine needs professionals as well, to help with editing and serve as mentors for youth. If you would like to join in this exciting endeavor, please contact VegHead!! Magazine at 517 Arguello Blvd. #1, San Francisco CA, 94118 or visit their website at http// E-mail them at

    Environmental Papers Sought

    A call for papers on the environmental effects of animal agriculture has gone out from two faculty at the University of Minnesota. They are soliciting contributions for a peer-reviewed volume that will present a broad overview of the environmental concerns associated with animal agriculture now and into the new millennium. All submissions should be original research or academic-quality review articles. Informal inquiries are welcome For more information contact: Carl V. Phillips, 612/625-9974 or or check out the specifics at

    VRG Essay Contest for Youth

    The Vegetarian Resource Group's Annual Essay Contest deadline is May 1st of each year. The 2-3 page essay should discuss any aspect of vegetarianism, and should be based on interviewing, research, and/or personal opinion. Young people 18 and under may enter. The first prize winner in each age category will be awarded a $50 savings bond. Send essays to: The VRG, P.O. Box 1463, Baltimore, MD 21203. Include your name, address, telephone number, age, grade, school, and teacher’s name.

    Spreading the word about vegetarianism in the workplace

    By Jillian Still

    Working in a health food store for the past year, I have had many opportunities to voice my feelings about vegetarianism. I found the best way to get my message across in a job situation is to let people come to me. Not every situation is appropriate for heavy debate and protest. So, when at work, I find it pointless to try to force my opinion on others. Instead, I do things like wearing pins that promote vegetarianism. This allows me to discover who it is I have the best chance of influencing, because they ask to hear my views.

    At a health food store, most of the people I come in contact with are already vegetarian. However, talking to other vegetarians is an important part of spreading the word because often they have something knowledgeable to share. There are still a large number of people who are not vegetarians who would ask me why I was a vegetarian. This leaves the door open for me to help someone understand the importance of a vegetarian lifestyle.

    At this point, the conversation goes one of two ways. Either the person will listen attentively, becoming more interested, or they will get extremely defensive. A negative response sometimes makes things difficult because I am very passionate about the cause and it becomes somewhat frustrating when people refuse to see something that is so clear to me. When this occurs, I try my hardest to continue calmly, because as humans we seem to respond to the energy we are receiving from others. Also, it is probably not a good idea to get irate with customers. So, if you can clearly and calmly express what you have to say, people seem to calm down and absorb it better. The hardest lesson I had to learn as an activist was that sometimes it is absolutely impossible to change someone. All anyone can do is inform and hope for the best.

    Jillian Still, a student at Carver Center. for Arts and Technology High School in Towson, MD, works at the Health Concern, also in Towson.

    Helpful School Resources Offered

    Wealth of materials available for students, teachers and administrators

    By Tammy Purcell
    To meet the demands of the vegetarian movement that is blossoming in educational settings, The Vegetarian Resource Group offers information designed to aid activists, educators and foodservice administrators in their quest to provide dietary alternatives.

    Foodservice Resources

    Headlining these resources is a new addition to the VRG staff: Nancy Berkoff, a dietitian, teacher and writer with a wealth of foodservice knowledge. Nancy has worked in this field for nearly two decades, serving as foodservice director at a large university, teaching culinary arts at various institutions, and writing columns for major publications.

    Nancy answers questions concerning the foodservice industry on VRG’s Foodservice Bulletin Board, which can be accessed on our web site at This board serves as a forum for those with questions and comments about vegetarian options in institutional settings.

    Nancy writes and edits articles for Vegetarian Journal’s Foodservice Update as well. Foodservice Update is a quarterly publication which offers tips, quantity vegan recipes and other pertinent information for foodservice personnel in each issue. It takes a practical approach, featuring how-to articles on everything from cooking with soy to preparing vegan holiday treats. Subscriptions are $20 per year for just the update, and $30 per year for Vegetarian Journal with Foodservice Update.

    In addition, a Quantity Recipe Packet for foodservice administrators and those attempting to incorporate vegetarian choices into daily menu options is available. The packets are $15 each ($5 for students).

    Reference materials for foodservice are also available. One of the most popular, Product Listing for Institutions, provides an up-to-date source of 150 suppliers offering vegetarian and vegan food in institutional sizes. The list includes such items as soups, soy products and non-dairy frozen deserts. It provides contact information for each supplier, and mentions helpful publications and organizations. Tips for Introducing Vegetarian Food into Institutions provides helpful hints for those interested in expanding food choices to include vegetarian and vegan selections. Both of these resources are available at The VRG web site at or they can be ordered by calling (410) 366-8343.

    Teaching Resources

    VRG offers handy tip sheets for activists interested in starting a group. The student version, authored by a student who started an environmental awareness organization at her school, provides general hints for getting started and more detailed information about coordinating activities. There is also a version for local groups.

    The VRG lends a helping hand to teachers as well, providing lesson plans and coloring books that aim to educate children ages 4-7 about diets void of animal products. Six different lessons are included, featuring everything from coloring activities to helping students make the connection between the meat on the dinner table and the animal it is derived from. For children ages 8-11, activity booklets are offered, featuring various veggie themes.

    For activists interested in talking to classes about vegetarian lifestyles, VRG provides a list of tips and guidelines specifically designed for speakers. This handout mentions ways to acquire speaking opportunities and possible topics of discussion.

    An annual essay contest is held in which young vegetarians are encouraged to share their views on the lifestyle. Winners are awarded savings bonds and their work is published in Vegetarian Journal. If you would like to order any of this information or ask any questions, contact The Vegetarian Resource Group at (410)-366-8343, mail a request using the listing below, or visit our web site at

    Tammy Purcell is an intern at the Vegetarian Resource Group. She is pursuing a career in journalism.

    Book Review

    The Co/Motion Guide to Youth-Led Social Change

    By The Alliance for Justice

    In its book, The Co/Motion Guide to Youth-Led Social Change, The Alliance for Justice provides an invaluable tool for adolescents interested in progressive social activism. Throughout its 250 pages, broken into thirteen chapters, the book offers eloquent and insightful tips for organizing activities and seizing social change. The guidelines and helpful hints, combined with pictures, graphics and quotes from notable activists of the past, form a lively and innovative text, specifically designed for young readers. In essence, this book accomplishes the goal explicitly stated in its title. It is a guide for youth involvement in social action. Its content is basic, thus it is a resource of limited help to those with extensive experience.

    The book follows a simple and logical path, beginning with a brief history of social change in the United States. In the next chapter, the guide explores the idea of power and how it relates to the dynamics of society. That is, it discusses who has power, how they attained it and keep it, and the way in which the powerful shape the direction of social movement.

    Having set up a theoretical framework and placed social change in an historical context, the book then moves to a more practical analysis of activism and its uses in achieving positive change, providing a point by point plan for community-level transformation. It encourages youth to choose a timely and important issue, research it thoroughly and organize around it, offering the example of students working to clean up a polluted community stream. The book then provides hints for building coalitions and networks within the community - bringing a diverse group of people together to work for a common goal.

    Once the issue is chosen and folks have begun to rally around it, a viable plan of action must be laid out. The text provides pointers for planning activities and meetings as well as shedding light on the importance of using media as a means of advancing one’s message. The book encourages young activists to write and distribute literature and press releases as well as engaging in public speaking whenever possible.

    Next, the book offers tips for managing any conflict that may arise within the activist group. In addition to this, it provides tips for planning finances and monitoring and evaluating plans of action. Finally, the text concludes with an appendix that defines key terms and provides other resources for the young activist.

    The Co/Motion Guide to Youth-Led Social Change lends a helpful hand to adolescents interested in social progression and community improvement. It is both a theoretical primer and practical source book for youth approaching social action.

    If you are interested in ordering The Co/Motion Guide to Youth-Led Social Change, contact The Alliance for Justice at 2000 P Street NW, Suite 712, Washington, DC, 20036 or call 202-822-6070. You can also visit their website at The guide sells for $35 and there is a $10 student rate also available.

    Reviewed by Tammy Purcell.

    Activism Online

    Finding other activist groups in the busy world of cyberspace is as easy as point and click. Here are a few quick tips on where to begin and what to avoid.

    For more information, send an SASE (with two stamps) to The Vegetarian Resource Group, P.O. Box 1463, Baltimore, MD, 21203 and request our Guide to Vegetarianism Online.

    Tabling and Teaching Materials

    The following are available in single or multiple copies.

  • VEGETARIANISM IN A NUTSHELL (8-page handout) gives basic nutrition
         information and provides recipes.
  • UNA DIETA VEGETARIANA is an abbreviated Spanish version of our
         Vegetarianism in a Nutshell handout in a brochure format.
  • UNA DIETA SANA PARA UN CORAZóN SANO is a Spanish version of our Heart
         Healthy brochure.
         ages 5-18; includes a vegetarian lesson plan for educators.
         of our Vegetarian Nutrition for Teenagers brochure.
  • WHAT IS ANIMAL RIGHTS? is a brochure defining animal rights.
         Single copies of a lesson plan for this booklet can be requested.
         for ages 8 to 11.

    These materials are available in single copies only.

  • STARTING A VEGETARIAN GROUP includes helpful ideas.
  • SPEAKING TO CLASSES ABOUT VEGETARIANISM is a useful handout for educators
         and others wanting to promote vegetarian living.
         vegetarian food pyramid.

    Send a self-addressed stamped envelope for each item requested. Quantities of the materials can be sent but a donation is appreciated. If you are interested in receiving our activist group discount for books and materials, please contact us directly at (410) 366-VEGE or write The VRG, P.O. Box 1463, Baltimore, MD, 21203. You can also email us at

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