Recently, I started leafleting for Vegan Outreach with someone who has been leafleting at colleges for years. I thought I would share a few stories of my leafleting experiences.
The other day, I leafleted at a small college in rural Missouri. The leafleting at this school was both enjoyable and educational. Most of the students were friendly and accepted a booklet.
One guy came up to me and started asking me questions. He told me that he was a farmer, and that some animal rights activists don't understand the reasons behind certain farming practices, like dehorning and castration. I asked him if he uses anesthesia when he castrates his bulls. He said no, but the pain is over quickly, and it's not that bad. I asked him if he would mind being castrated without anesthesia. He said he wouldn't really mind, and would do it if necessary. I told him I imagine that most guys would disagree. If someone tells me he wouldn't mind having his testicles ripped off with nothing to ease the pain, there's really nothing else I can say to him.
Another guy came up to me and asked me if we were the animal rights activists that are trying to ban hunting. I told him no. Our literature is about factory farming. He said, "Good, 'cause I had a whole spiel ready if you were." He proceeded to talk to me about precision shooting, conservationism and population control, and how hunters care about the animals. I asked questions and agreed with him on what points I could. Of course, in my mind, if they really cared about the animals, they wouldn't kill them, but I understand that they believe otherwise. I told him honestly that if people are going to eat meat, I'd rather them eat hunted meat than the meat from factory farms. Because I listened to him and agreed with a lot of what he said, I was able to make an ally of him in opposing factory farming, and he actually thanked us for what we were doing.
One woman told me she hadn't been eating much meat for a couple of months, and asked me what kinds of vegetarian options there are for a student in that town. I'm not familiar with the town, and I know it's more difficult in rural areas, but I told her about some of the veg-friendly restaurant chains I'd seen there, and my leafleting partner told her about some others. I asked her if she cooks at all; she said she does, so I gave her a vegan cookbook recommendation. Hopefully, we gave her enough info to encourage her to adopt a veggie diet over the long term. It sounded as though she was already thinking about it. She said she is a nutrition and dietetics major, and we talked some about veggie nutrition. Unfortunately, nutrition science (and science in general) in the U.S. is colored by financial interests. I mentioned that much of what is taught in dietetics classes comes straight from the USDA, which is not the best source of science-based nutrition information. She told me that a lot of dietitions don't follow the USDA's guidelines. It was an interesting and refreshing conversation.
I look forward to more experiences like the other day's as I learn more about leafleting. If you have your own leafleting stories to share, feel free to do so in the comments.
Image credit: Tobias Akerboom (at hutmeelz)