My name's Jon Camp and I'm Director of Outreach for Vegan Outreach, a nonprofit working to reduce animal suffering through the widespread distribution of our booklets about factory farming. I've handed out ~890,000 booklets (I should hit one million within a year, and our organization has distributed 19 million total.)

I've driven nearly a quarter million miles throughout North America over the last eight years, and have stayed with lots of fascinating individuals who opened up their homes to me. I have a lot of great stories from the road and from my job, AMA!

edit: Proof: pic, distribution chart

Comments: 786 • Responses: 99  • Date: 

carnegiehall59 karma

No questions but just wanted to say thank you for the advocacy, I think your organization does a great job of trying to bridge the gap between animal activists and the public that perceives them incorrectly. the message of less meat and more sustainable food practices is so important as we near 10 billion people on the planet. keep up the great work!

joncamp21 karma

Thanks for the nice words! I really appreciate that!

antonvowlvoid50 karma

Hey! That's the pamphlet that turned me into a vegetarian. Well, the pamphlet in conjunction with reading Sinclair's The Jungle at the same time. It's been 3 years now and I've never looked back. Good work!

joncamp27 karma

Booya! Thanks for sharing!

antonvowlvoid5 karma

Thanks for influencing my diet in a good way!

joncamp5 karma

And thanks for being willing to make changes! That's awesome.

theriogenology42 karma

Do you feel that veganism is the only way to end animal suffering?

joncamp31 karma

No, but it's a very effective and efficient way for us, as individuals, to impact animals. We can also donate to groups doing effective work, etc. But I think we should focus our efforts on farm animal suffering, as that's where the overwhelming majority of animal suffering is.

SavannahVegan37 karma

Of all the times you've distributed booklets, is there an instance that stands out as especially successful? What about it made it successful?

joncamp70 karma

Good question. I always like when people come up to say that they're vegetarian, vegan, or have dramatically cut back on meat as a result of receiving one of our booklets. This happens a lot. But I do remember a time two years back at Troy University. A woman walks by and says she likes eating meat. I tell her that it's still good to know where it comes from. She says that her family owns a farm. I tell her that my dad grew up on a farm in rural Iowa. She says something a bit nasty, walks away. A minute later, from across the campus, I see her walking towards me. I'm thinking, "Oh, crap, what's this about?" And she says that she's sorry for being rude to me, that it was unnecessary. I tell her that it's no problem, extend my arm for a handshake. She says, "No, let me give you a hug." And we hugged. It was a good example of taking the hostility of another and turning it into goodwill.

RLamont32 karma

Undercover videos and photographs that reveal the abuse of factory farmed animals can be a very powerful tool in helping people understand where their food is coming from. How do you see the Ag Gag laws affecting your ability to get your message out?

joncamp35 karma

The bills aimed at criminalizing whistleblowers are definitely something we're worried about. I'm glad that groups such as the Humane Society of the United States are working to defeat these bills. We should work to end cruelty, not punish those who work to expose it.

ninety_steps30 karma

What do you find to be your biggest hurdle in making that initial connection with someone who has never put much thought into animal agriculture?

joncamp35 karma

That's a really good question. For starters, you just need to get the information out there and be friendly and non-judgmental. I don't feel like we're asking individuals to adopt some radically new worldview. Americans spend billions on their pets each year, and survey after survey shows that American oppose animal cruelty. So we just want people to take their already existing values -- that unnecessary animal cruelty is bad -- and apply them to farm animals. For some, this is an easy leap. And for some it takes time. The main thing is to get the info out, and to be nice and patient with others.

Quouar30 karma

Have you ever run into opposition from people you're trying to give booklets to? How does that usually happen?

joncamp55 karma

Yeah, definitely have. But we greatly minimize this by being friendly and not taking some holier-than-thou approach. A simple smile can disarm from the get-go. But when there is opposition, all we can do is hear someone out, explain our perspective, let them know that we're not out to demonize anyone, we're just out to do our humble best to reduce some of the great suffering that exists in the world. A lot of conversations that start off on an antagonistic note end with me and the other individual shaking hands and wishing each other well. If you're friendly, hear the other person out, you're usually good to go. And if this doesn't work, at least you've done your best.

smorker58 karma

As a vegan, I often find the 'holier-than-thou approach' is projected on to me no matter how I behave, short of never expressing my opinion. How do you overcome this?

joncamp41 karma

It's tough. By even being vegan, we send a message that we disagree with a practice that is widely adopted and ingrained into our culture. So I guess we just do our best to be friendly, humble, and show genuine interest in others. And as we do that more and more, people will feel more comfortable with us.

Quouar28 karma

Have you managed to convince anyone to go vegan?

joncamp41 karma

Lots and lots of people. I see this firsthand when someone will come up to me on campus to say that a booklet from me or one of our activists changed their life. And we receive hundreds of starter pack requests each month, many of these the results of our leafleting efforts. It's simple and unglamorous work, but it gets the goods.

FrankTheHun22 karma

Have you ever felt threatened, feared for your safety?

joncamp29 karma

When I was gathering signatures for a campaign back a decade ago, a man told me he liked beating animals, and I said a sarcastic comment that I shouldn't have in response. He got in my face, and I thought there was a good possibility of him hitting me. But lesson learned -- respond to everyone as a potential ally, which they are, to whatever degree they could be an ally. I made a rookie mistake, and I do my best to not respond in such a manner these days. Basically, if you're friendly, humble, welcoming, most people, even those who vehemently disagree with you, will have a really tough time being mad at you.

koryisma0 karma

THANK YOU for not taking a holier-than-thou approach. I have a good friend who is brilliant and wonderful who happens to be vegan. Which is great. I've been on-off vegetarian my whole life and totally respect and admire the vegan life choice. But her attitude makes me angry and turns me off of it all.

joncamp6 karma

And thank YOU for saying that. :-) I agree. We want to create a dialogue with society, not a shouting match.

anelida26 karma

Do you think that the Animal Rights/Vegan movement is growing?

joncamp33 karma

Yes. Since Peter Singer printed Animal Liberation in the mid-70s, the number of animal advocacy groups has skyrocketed exponentially. It's an issue that has gone from the fringe to mainstream culture.

VeganSkeptic25 karma


joncamp23 karma

That it's hard or that they'll be socially ostracized. So I recommend people taking this at their own pace -- they could try going vegan one day a week, see that there's a lot of good and filling food to eat, and take it from there.

And re part 2, they should find a local veg or vegan group in their neck of the woods, join online communities, and find like-minded individuals.

With each passing year, being vegan has become easier, and the hurdle will continue to become easier to jump over as this is more widely adopted and more and more delicious options are found in mainstream supermarkets and restaurants (which is happening).

Chronos_FacePunch22 karma

What part of North America is the most understanding of veganism and what part id the worst.

joncamp37 karma

Good question! Best: Perhaps Portland or Los Angeles. Worst? Perhaps Stillwater, Oklahoma.

sovietskaya22 karma

A recent news reported that crustaceans also feels pain. Most probably fish, too. So do you include fish/crustaceans in your advocacy? For example, it would be unthinkable to feature animals being killed in TV but there are shows that features fishing or catching fish, etc.

joncamp35 karma

Our booklets focus primarily on mammals and birds, as it's easier for individuals to relate with mammals and birds. But I don't consume aquatic animals, and am greatly concerned about the emergence of aquaculture (essentially fish factory farms). This is a sad recent undercover investigation:

And actually, there is more and more media coverage with each passing day on the suffering of animals raised and killed for food. Here are some of the recent investigations (most of which have gotten media attention):

carnegiehall21 karma

What can we do in states that have made it illegal to secretly film factory farming conditions?

joncamp19 karma

Vegan Outreach doesn't work on this particular issue, but I definitely recommend contacting the Humane Society of the United States, especially their Farm Animal Protection dept. They're working to ensure that whistleblowers won't be criminalized for their heroic work.

mabdee20 karma

Jon, you obviously think that leafletting is an effective tactic for the animal rights movement. But why? Can you comment on why leafletting, and not other forms of action (like campaigning, tabling, or direct action) is your action of choice?

joncamp14 karma

Thanks for asking. I think leafleting is a really effective form of advocacy, but I don't think it's the only tool in the toolbox. But I see creating new vegetarians and vegans as a numbers game -- reaching as many people as possible with an effective message. And leafleting is able to reach lots of people with limited time and resources. There is some new data showing that it works:

I do think that other campaigns are effective, and some obviously much more effective than others. If they're able to spare lots of animals from suffering per dollar invested and hour spent, I support them. And I'm partial to the campaigns that win the general public over to our side, and am not especially partial to those that alienate the general public.

It's a bit long, but this explains why we do what we do: It's probably my favorite essay on activism.

trailerparksandrec20 karma

Which angle do you feel is most convincing to college students to go or at least attempt to go vegan? The sympathy route of showing the horrors that happen at factory farming, the logical route that demonstrates the toll on natural resources, or how a diet can be adequate without the consumption of animal products?

Which demographic is the easiest to convince to go vegan?

joncamp19 karma

Showing the cruelty that animals endure seems to be the method that gets people to really feel it in their bones, make a change, and sustain that change. This is especially true for our key demographic -- college students.

College students and young folks are the best demographic, because they're the most likely to question the status quo, and not be so stuck in their ways.

yuktrude18 karma

When did you go vegan and how did it affect your health?

joncamp30 karma

Went veg in 1995, vegan in 1998. I was a healthy meat-eater, and I've been a healthy vegan. I don't think veganism has been some magic potion, as I don't think any diet is, but I've stayed in good shape, am athletically involved, and I appear to be in better health than most of the individuals I graduated with in high school. Diet plays a big role in this, but so does exercise.

drewsaysgoveg17 karma

Was it worth it?

joncamp19 karma

Yes, this work has been a great use of my time, and it has been the most meaningful time of my life thus far. And it's been effective for the animals. So I'm very happy and grateful to be doing this work.

Seth498916 karma

I think I've actually met you and I remember you very clearly as you made a lasting impression on me.

It was several years ago, but I'm inclined to say I was a sophomore at SUNY Albany and the year was 2009. I remember walking up some stairs, that led to class from my "quad," as its called in Albany. You got my attention and generally, I like to give people a chance when they've got the difficult task of spreading their message when 99% of us don't want to listen.

Anyway, we engaged in a short conversation. My feeling over going vegan, has been along the lines of: how does not eating meat prevent animal suffering? I'm more of a, "Let's find the dude who broke that dog's back and beat him down with a baseball bat," rather than, "Let's not eat steak." Nothing against it, however, and I have close friends who are vegan.

In response to my comments you handed me the pamphlet which had some brutally honest examples of how not eating meat does save animals. The picture I remember most clearly is like a vat of yellow chicks being ground up like hamburger meat. It put my stomach in a knot.

What I remember about you, which was different than other activists I've come across, is that you were open-minded and almost intrigued when I presented an argument. Rather than getting angry or accusing me of ignorance, you offered suggestions and held back on judging me. Your personality and demeanor led to a brief 2 minute conversation, even though I was already late to class. After wards, we shook hands, I headed off to class and burned your pamphlet with a lighter.

Just kidding.

A year later, I was on Netflix and I randomly decided to watch a documentary called, "The Cove." After being absolutely horrified by it, I remember thinking back on meeting you.

Last thing, I'm pretty sure you were wearing a flat cap.

Glad to see your still going strong!

joncamp12 karma

It was a flat cap, it must have been Vic Sjodin, amazing human being and lover of flat caps. But I've been to SUNY Albany many times. Thanks for sharing!

runnerdood14 karma

how did you get started doing this?

joncamp13 karma

An ethics college course in 1995 led me to going vegetarian, then eventually vegan. And then in 1998, I read a book by Ingrid Newkirk of PETA about ways to help animals. In the back of the book she mentioned Vegan Outreach, and I liked their productive, friendly, non-dogmatic, and results-based approached to advocacy. I started volunteering then, and was told of a job opening for VO in 2004. I said hell yeah(!), and it's been a labor of love since.

vegn14 karma

What was the weirdest place you've stayed?

joncamp20 karma

I always stay with the kind individuals who are willing to house me, and have only had to spend money on a motel less than a dozen times over the last eight years. I once stayed with someone who claimed to channel poetry from her dog and the kitchen cabinet. I didn't read any of the poetry, regrettably. And I've stayed with lots of other interesting characters -- for example, a sweet man who was anti-Hitler, but was forced to go to war for Germany in WWII. He eventually escaped, became a pianist in Hollywood, and then a computer programer at Duke University. But he wasn't weird, just fascinating and sweet, like so many of my other hosts.

dmeadz12 karma

Who decides the layout of your leaflets? Do you find certain leaflets more effective for certain places versus others?

joncamp10 karma

Our activists and those who receive our booklets continue to give feedback, and we take it into consideration, and then a few of us work on putting the booklets together. And we continue to emphasize techniques that work and that seem to be backed by good psychological data, and ditch those that don't work. The more graphic booklets work best with those college-aged; the less graphic work better with those younger and older than college-age.

IceRollMenu212 karma

Sometimes I find discussions with meat eaters very tiring. Your job seems to be 24/7 of that. Do you ever get frustrated from your work?

joncamp11 karma

I feel ya, but I find my work more invigorating than frustrating. Sure, there is some antagonism, but it comes with the turf. And I'd rather deal with antagonism than be ignored. I feel very fortunate to be a part of one of the most important social movements going on.

howerpower3 karma

Do you actually call people meateaters?

joncamp12 karma

Yes, but it is more a statement of fact than a put-down.

magickhours12 karma

I'm in Bruins for Animals at UCLA; I'm sure we've met! You guys are awesome, thanks for all your hard work and devotion :)

joncamp6 karma

Thanks! It was probably our Southern Cali Coordinator Nikki Benoit or Steve Erlsten. Thanks for doing what you do!

Alxxy12 karma

You handle the asshat trolls on here well.

joncamp8 karma

Thanks! I've had many years of practice. :-)

piccolittle12 karma

Can you share any specific stories of people who changed their worldview based on your advocacy? What do you find is your most effective argument?

joncamp15 karma

I don't think we're getting people to change their worldview, as most people care about animals, and I don't know of anyone who genuinely wants to cause suffering to animals (though, I'm sure such people exist). We're just getting people to put their already-held beliefs into practice or getting them to extend what they feel to other animals to farm animals. But there are always individuals who will come up to say that we "changed their world" and that they're now going veg or vegan. This happens all the time.

I think my most effective argument is: Animals suffer. And we can reduce unnecessary suffering by opting for more vegan meals. I don't know if there is a magic bullet that will get people to change. They just need to really grasp the torment of today's farm animals, and see it in their hearts to make a change. And I just give them the info so that they can see what animals endure.

jamie7951211 karma

I have probably pretended to be talking on my cell-phone to avoid talking to you!

Nothing personal, I just don't like being approached like that.

I have a few questions that aren't directly about consuming animals:

Do you think we should do everything we can to help animal populations thrive/survive? If we don't, are we indirectly responsible for any suffering they incur?

And if we should help them thrive, at what point should it end? Should we continue to help them thrive even if it starts stressing our species?

joncamp16 karma

Ha. I forgive you, and when I next see you, you can keep talking to your imaginary friend, but please take a booklet. :-)

Are you referring to wild animals, or, say, feral cats? Would you please give me an example of what you're talking about?

jamie795126 karma

Are you referring to wild animals..?

I'm referring to any animal, and if that requires two separate answers to separate wild/tame I'm okay with that.

The more interesting one is probably wild animals though. Should we help the wild animal population thrive by trying to prevent as much death as possible, otherwise giving them free reign to live/procreate as they please?

Essentially, I'm asking if it's our job to prevent suffering that comes about naturally, and at what point we should stop sacrificing our time/money/resources to do so.

joncamp16 karma

I think we should first focus on the most extreme form of animal suffering that we can do something about -- farm animal suffering. And we can tackle wild animal issues later. I think many options should always be on the table with dealing with these issues. That said, I'm not concerned with taming wild animals, who have no choice in what they eat, but getting humans, who have a choice, to choose actions that minimize suffering. For now, if we do care about wild animal suffering, we should make choices that don't destroy or foul their habitat.

joncamp11 karma

Also, I don't claim to have some perfect worldview that solves all the ills of the world, nor does anyone else. I'm just doing my humble best to reduce the suffering that I can reduce.

anelida11 karma

awesome work you are doing. Thanks for all your efforts and dedication

joncamp10 karma


strike_anywhere11 karma

Thanks for your work!

I've found some good advice at your site on how to talk about practicing veganism to non-vegans. But I'm still not very good at that type of conversation so I tend to avoid it all together. Basically I'm defending an ethical choice. And by my choice I am implicitly saying choosing to use animals when you don't have to is unethical...I think that is what gets to people, especially if they are animal lovers. (It would get to me...and did!)

Any more advice for us vegans in the wild?

joncamp17 karma

With friends and family, I don't try to convert them. They know where I stand, and they'll ask questions if they feel compelled to do so. By not continually talking about my beliefs, and instead just being a friend, asking them about themselves, they get disarmed. Some have made changes, some haven't, and I just enjoy them and don't stress out about it.

What I like about leafleting is that I can reach hundreds in an hour, feel like I've done some tangible good, then not worry about converting those in my social circle.

It's too bad that some feel threatened, but I guess that will always be the case because they know you're doing what you do because it's a serious moral issue. I guess you should just continue to have patience with these individuals, just be a good friend, and they'll ease up with time. Good luck, and hang in there!

zoxcat11 karma

You can stay with me if you ever need a place in Houston.

joncamp10 karma

Thank you! But my brother lives in the Woodlands and he and my nieces and nephew will be upset if I don't stay with them. :-) I appreciate the kind offer, though!

usurp_synapse11 karma

How did you get involved with leafleting and how long have you been vegan?

joncamp12 karma

Went vegan in '98. Read an Ingrid Newkirk book about ways to help animals, she mentioned Vegan Outreach. I loved VO's constructive, pragmatic, and results-based approach, and got involved then. In 2000, I had my first chance to leaflet, and have been actively involved with this since.

duffmcshark10 karma

My friend and his wife donate to Vegan Outreach every year and have had some of your activists who were traveling stay with them for the night. From my experience I have to say you guys are a great organization, you use logic as opposed to shock value, and your attitude is so much more welcoming than other organizations I have seen. Plus your activists are some of the most aggressive (in a friendly way of course) when it comes to handing out pamphlets, as in just about everyone who walks by gets one. I know you didn't get to nearly one million booklets by sitting behind a table. Keep up the good work!

joncamp11 karma

Thank you! And thanks for donating to VO and for hosting us! We so appreciate it!

shamrocker6710 karma

Thank you for what you do first and foremost. Forgive me if this has been asked previously but what do you tell those who claim they were Vegann or Vegetarian but got sick and were advised to eat meat blah blah blah - I find that one a hard argument when they pull the 'I got sick' card. Thank you

joncamp12 karma

I agree with AZ Progressive. I take what people say at face value. I just hope that they can read legit nutritional advice, and that a vegan diet works for them. The wide body of data out there suggests that it should

Emmash10 karma

What's your favorite conversion story? Someone you met who was totally anti-veg who became a great animal advocate/vegan?

joncamp9 karma

A lot of people have come up to say that they're now vegetarian or vegan as a result of getting a booklet from me. As far as new animal activists, I feel that my leafleting at Middle Tennessee State, and my conversation with then-student Kenny Torrella, played a big role in him being the activist he now is, employee with the Humane Society of the United States. He's so effective, and if I played any role in that, it has made all my years of traveling worth it.

merstudio10 karma

Thank you Jon for all you do! You are truly an inspiration!

joncamp13 karma

Thank you!

TruthRage10 karma

You seem to be really involved in changing people's perspective about animals,as a dedicated meat-eater, i'd love if it you could give me some quick points or explanation as to why i should be vegan.

I'm always open to try new things, but usually the vegans i encounter just project the holier than thou attitude and never tell me about stuff when i ask them.

I'm sure it's more complex than just saying "Oh we don't want to kill chickens because they get hurt!"

Throw a few solid points at me!

Convince me!

joncamp16 karma

For me it's basically as simple as this: Farm animals endure great suffering on factory farms and in slaughterhouses, and their suffering is as real to them as our suffering is real to us. By making some basic dietary changes, we can reduce a great amount of suffering.

plantbasedpunk9 karma

Hey Jon! Glad to see you're doing this AMA. I leaflet for Vegan Outreach, too but I've always missed working with ya every time you come through AZ. Keep up the good work and maybe I'll see ya next time!

joncamp8 karma

Bummer that we've never leafleted together! Hope that changes if I come to AZ again. And hit me up if you're ever in the DC region. Thanks for all you do!

bfan29 karma

I don't have a question, but I just want to thank you for what you do, and it does make a difference in people's lives. I got handed one of your booklets (as far as I can tell, it was almost exactly the same as one you linked above) about 5 years ago at a college campus. I looked at it, and it made sense to me, but I decided it was just too hard to do. Cue five years of cognitive dissonance, still eating meat but wondering if it was possible to stop. Two months ago I went vegan, and I haven't looked back since. I've never been happier and healthier in my life. I finally feel like I'm living up to my belief that unnecessary suffering is wrong, and on top of that I'm in the best physical shape of my life as well! Never going back.

Oh, and I still have that same booklet that sparked all this. It's sitting in my library right now.

joncamp7 karma

Hooray! Thanks for sharing!

sam11239 karma

Hi Jon; first of all thank you for all that you've done. Second, what's your opinion of intervening in nature to deal with wild animal suffering?

joncamp13 karma

I think we should first focus on the most egregious animal suffering that exists and that we can do something about -- farm animal suffering. Once we've got that figured out, we can consider issues of wild animal suffering.

magicbullets9 karma

Do you like The Smiths?

joncamp10 karma


HappySab9 karma

Is distributing booklets still effective activism in 2013? Do creative campaigns on the internet not provide a better platform to reach more people?

joncamp11 karma

I think there are a lot of great ways to reach people via online methods. But leafleting still gets the goods in 2013, as evidenced by AZProgressive's response.

apricotpajamas9 karma

hi Jon! Just saw via MFA (on facebook) that you are doing this-- I would love to pick your brain about something. I've been considering using reddit (or attempting to) to springboard the large problem of Chinese medicine and its destruction of the big cats, elephants and rhinos (plus "bile bears" cat and dog fur, fur in general etc). Violence against those protecting the big African animals has increased; the populations are dwindling fast. The only avenue I can think of that might cause a shift in thinking in China is social ridicule-- maybe even coming from youth/young adults in China). I was considering writing a research paper and posting a link in Ask Reddit for a brain storming session on what can be done...would be great it it was upvoted enough to gain some momemtum. China's population will wipe out these animals forever-- for ivory chopsticks and sex potions. What can we do?!

joncamp8 karma

I feel for the animals you're speaking about. But I guess you have to ask where you can have the biggest impact. It's very hard for English speaking Americans (assuming that's what you are) to impact other countries. And while not threatened with extinction, animals on American factory farms suffer as much or worse, and in larger numbers. So my quick thought is for you to work on farm animal suffering. Extinction of wild animals sucks, but the acute and prolonged suffering of billions of farm animals might suck more, and we can actually do something about it.

lyndaker9 karma

I attended an environmental school where it was mostly vegetarians and vegans, but I also attended an agricultural school where most people consume massive amounts of meat. The ag school had a slaughtering program and butchdring program as well as actually raising the livestock on campus. Obviously I would expect the ag school would be more difficult to go into and expect to not become a pariah. So my question is do you do research on what kind of school you are walking into before you go there; and what do you hope to really accomplish at a school like that when they most likely know more about the process from birth to death than most others?

joncamp15 karma

We've been to virtually every school, so we know what to expect. We're not going to be as well received at, say, Oklahoma State as we would be at Oberlin. But ag students at least have one thing in common with us -- they feel strongly about the same issue that we feel strongly about. And if we're friendly with them, most will reciprocate that. We do often have heated arguments, but they usually end with a handshake.

ChemEWarrior8 karma

Have you been to UCSD? I've seen a similar group here that had a tent with factory farm movies playing. Have you heard of Citizen Radio? Good far lefty political podcast hosted by a married couple that are staunch vegans.

joncamp7 karma

I've never been there. But our Southern Cali Coordinator goes there frequently. San Diego is the only big city in the mainland US that I haven't been to yet.

ihaverocketlegs8 karma

Wait, wait. "Help Stop Violence" guy? Dude I KNEW you were everywhere. My sister (Indiana University) and I (Illinois State) were hanging out over break and as I was pulling something out of my backpack I pulled your flyer out too. She asked if a guy with a ponytail handed it to me and calmly said "Help Stop Violence" before moving on, because it had happened to her the previous month or so. Keep on keepin on, sir. I respect anybody willing to go beyond the bare minimum (ex: clicking 'like' on a Facebook page) to support a cause, and you certainly do that.

joncamp15 karma

I'm not the Help Stop Violence guy. That's Joe Espinosa, a social worker who works at a methadone clinic treating heroin addicts and uses one of his two days off each week to leaflet, in all weather extremes, on campuses across the Midwest. His fan page is here: And more on him here:

Joe rocks. Thanks for your nice words about him!

dildostickshift8 karma

While I'm not a vegan, I am very against factory farming. Thank you for what you do, it must be incredibly fulfilling.

Question: Have you ever gotten into a frightening situation with some angry carnivores?

joncamp9 karma

Thanks for the nice words! Most people are very friendly to me, as I'm friendly to them. I do occasionally get some people who are belligerent. But so far, I've just been attacked by words, not fists. :-)

gangofgiraffes8 karma

Have you come to UMBC? Because we see you guys all the time. As much as I support your cause, I'm also an environmentalist and most of those books just get thrown on the ground. Isn't there a better way for you to get the information out? It's really a waste of resources.

joncamp10 karma

We go to UMBC and I've been there many times. We find that the good we do far outweighs the bad of discarded booklets, both from an environmental perspective (many fewer individuals eating animals) and from a suffering reduction perspective. If we found a more effective way to reach so many students, we would be on that. But we think that sacrificing four pieces of paper for as many students as possible does far more good for the world than if we didn't do this.

NotMyRealFaceBook7 karma

What makes you choose to save/advocate for livestock when there are millions of people in the world who are starving/dying?

Not trying to be confrontational, I'm genuinely curious. I've always imagined that if I was to devote my life to advocacy, it would be in order to improve the human condition first. Thanks for taking the time to do an AMA.

joncamp12 karma

I'm super-grateful for those genuinely working to improve the lot of humans. I do my work knowing others are working on that.

I focus on farm animals because of the sheer amount of suffering, both in acuteness of suffering per animal and in the number of those suffering. And because it's so easy to eliminate.

I also like campaigns that make people think. Most of us accept that we shouldn't abuse other humans, but many don't think twice about where the meat they're eating comes from.

In short, I think that an ethical and fair-minded society should -- and can -- work on both human and animal suffering, with the work complimenting one another, as opposed to hindering it.

vincentxanthony6 karma

Hey! I hope you're still around.

I always use VeganOutreach pamphlets when leafletting. Thanks for your help, and I love my VO shirt. I wear it to the gym. It has a baby chick on it. I'm buff, it's funny.

ANYWAY, how do you feel animal abuse is ingrained in our society as a whole? Is there a societal/structural issue to it all? How do you feel veganism as a philosophy involves more than just animals, but humans as well?

joncamp6 karma

Awesome that you use VO lit and wear a VO shirt!

I don't think that we as a society are hardened to animal cruelty. When we show videos or give booklets about animal cruelty, people don't like what they see. We are ingrained to turn a blind eye to things, though, if we know it would disturb us and force us to reconsider our habits. Habits are tough to break.

I think vegans should be concerned about human rights abuses and such, and I think that being concerned about the plight of others brings us up as caring individuals. But I see my veganism mostly as a practical means to an end, with the end being a reduction in animal suffering.

Chebyshev6 karma

Every time I see someone like you (vegan, against animal cruelty) on Reddit, I ask the same question:

How do you feel about hunting?

And then the follow up, if you don't like hunting (because it is cruel or whatever), why is it ok for other animals to hunt and consume meat, but not humans? Are we somehow special?

joncamp16 karma

I guess I'd rather see someone shoot a deer and eat that meat than buy many many packages of factory-farmed chicken.

That said, in an era with so many great things to do, I'm a bit dumbfounded that someone would spend their Sunday afternoon going into the woods and deriving pleasure from turning a living being into a dead being. And not all hunters are sharpshooters, and the hunted often languish after a bad shot.

I don't think we should compare our actions to other animals. For example, if I were to go to your house and throw my feces on the wall. You wouldn't say, "it's ok, other animals do that." Rather, we should ask what our capabilities are, and act in a manner that lives up to those capabilities. And we can decide to opt for food that is tasty, healthy, and good that doesn't harm animals. So why not?

But if none of this is convincing and you still feel the desire to live more like a wild animal, I recommend hunting without a gun. Go to the woods, chase the deer and squirrels that pass by, and tear them up with your mouth and hands. :-)

280Z286 karma

What's your opinion of PETA today? Would you say their approach does more to help or hurt the causes you're trying to promote?

joncamp16 karma

I think they're a net positive for animals, and they played a role in me going vegan and finding out about Vegan Outreach. I don't agree with all their tactics, but they're using urgent measures to try to counteract urgent suffering.

azuldev6 karma

Have you read Eating Animals by Jonathon Foer? An interesting read; what are your thoughts on it?

joncamp7 karma

Great book! I like his non-strident approach. Cool that you read it!

LordEdge42005 karma

I've been vegan since the mid-1990s and the food choices have widened dramatically since that time. Do you think these alternatives and options have helped veganism's growth? Or, do you think they cater to people who already are vegan?

joncamp3 karma

As someone who went veg in the mid-90s as well, I most certainly agree. And it seems that the broadening of vegan options has led to more people exploring vegan fare, as evidenced by the increasing popularity of these products, more and more young vegans, and more people claiming that they make an effort to eat vegan. More good vegan products is always a net plus for the spread of veganism.

TaylorGem5 karma

Jon, could you or someone from Vegan Outreach create a video or document where you demonstrate how to respond to common questions/criticisms that animal advocates encounter? I've been vegan for 3 years now and have thought about leafleting. I've even ordered some booklets. However, I feel nervous about those who might antagonize me. I've had conversations with friends about veganism, and I feel like I never make any progress. I am always polite, but I feel like many conversations end with people making fun of me and/or my choices. If I could have some responses prepared, I think it would make me feel confident enough to start leafleting. Thanks.

joncamp4 karma

Thanks for your interest in helping out!

Here are some FAQs that we get:

These are some tips for leafleting:

But I think your leafleting will be a lot easier if you just join one of our leafleters. Please send us a note telling us where you live, and we'll put you in touch with the right person. But please do it! We don't need to know every answer (no one does). We just speak from the heart and with the info we know.

seitanist5 karma

Hi Jon! Keep up the great work :) Pleasure working with you in Louisville.

joncamp3 karma

Thank you! And the feelings are mutual!

emcl-4 karma

I did a report on the ineffectiveness of striking image-brochures for activist's causes in college! I researched about 120 people with a few self-made brochures of my own and found that the alarmist nature of your type of content is more likely to turn people off to your organization (and thus donating to it), though it will enhance those already interested. If you'd like to hear my findings to efficiently optimize your reach let me know.

Edit: I named the paper "Dead Puppies". I thought it was fitting to the topic :p

joncamp8 karma

I don't think we have an "alarmist" approach. Our language is sober-minded, and we just state happens, without saying anything that can't be backed by facts, and without calling anyone names.

Here is some good information showing that we are effective:

joncamp4 karma

Hey everyone: It's been nice chatting with you. I'm going to bed. If you ask more questions, I'll answer them tomorrow.

Mrs_Matty4 karma

I have volunteered with MFA in the past, mainly handling the Paid-per-view effort. I'm completely intimidated by the idea of leafleting because I know how I react towards most people shoving papers in my direction. Any advice for moving past that and gracefully handling the inevitable rejection one faces while leafleting?

joncamp10 karma

I used to feel the same way. I'd only want to stand behind a table. But then I joined some friends for leafleting, tried it out, and it was so easy. And then I saw that I could reach so many more this way. Contact VO and we'll tell you who lives in your area. You could join him/her and get your feet wet that way. Really, the toughest booklet to hand out is the first and it gets easier and easier after that. So don't think much about it, and just do it. Great that you've already done some PPV!

therealhulkman3 karma

Have you thought of/considered ways to raise awareness that wastes less paper? I know a lot of people will take pamphlets to be kind and then simply throw then out

joncamp8 karma

If we could reach so many of our ideal demographic in a different way, we would. But the good that comes from leafleting far outweighs the bad, both environmentally-speaking (as each new vegetarian does so much good for the environment, and we've got some good evidence to show that this work creates change) and from a suffering-reduction perspective.

nosayingbagpipe3 karma

Just want to say thank you so much for your work. I live in Australia and come from Georgia and each time I visit I am reminded of how far from the center the mind-set about animal treatment is in the south, to nearly a point of pride. I recently encountered (unintentionally) information on how big dog fighting has gotton in rural southern places, so I wanted to ask what does Vegan Outreach say or do in regards to aninal cruelty for literal entertainment?

joncamp2 karma

98=99% of the animals raised and killed in the US are raised and killed for food. So we focus all our attention on farmed animals. But groups like the Humane Society of the US are doing great work to stamp out animal fighting and the like.

And while not all is fine in Georgia, they do have some of my favorite veg restaurants: The Grit in Athens, and Soul Vegetarian in Atlanta!

TheJack383 karma

Hello there :P

I have read in various places that there exist experimental techniques that essentially grow meat in vats... It's never been in contact with an animal. It's still being refined, so it's not ready for the public yet, but what is your opinion on this? Assume the meat is impossible to tell apart from "real" meat.... It's just been grown in a vat instead of in an animal.

joncamp2 karma

I think it's one of the best hopes for reducing future farm animal suffering, and I fully support it. More here:

LightPoursLikeHoney3 karma

One day during my senior year of high school I was walking down the street with my friend when we came across a little booklet on the ground from Vegan Outreach. We picked it up, looked through it and it changed our views so much. I became a vegetarian that very same day. Three years later I am still vegetarian and slowly making my transition to veganism. Thank you so much for all you do! : )

joncamp3 karma

What a nice story to hear. Thanks for letting us know!

piratespit3 karma

It was raining on the way to class and I was handed one of your booklets. I put it in my bag with my other books. When I came home that night, the wet booklet has cemented onto the cover of my Sociology book and I couldn't resell it :(

joncamp10 karma

But at least you now have a good story. :-) Sorry your book got ruined.

FrenchieSmalls3 karma

Are you the "stop the violence" guy with the ponytail?

joncamp3 karma

I'm not the Help Stop Violence guy. That's Joe Espinosa, a social worker who works at a methadone clinic treating heroin addicts and uses one of his two days off each week to leaflet, in all weather extremes, on campuses across the Midwest. His fan page is here: more on him here:

cloudform5113 karma

Thank you for what you do! I helped you guys hand out leaflets a year and a half ago. I was vegetarian at the time, but talking to you guys helped me solidify my ethics and be a vegan. I am now involved in the Animal Rights movement. You guys are great!

joncamp2 karma

Hooray! Thanks for letting us know and for leafleting!

erbear73 karma

I personally could never be a vegetarian or a vegan, I love meat and cheese too much. But I am all for your cause to bring light to animal cruelty in the food industry.

Is there any way to help out that doesn't require becoming a vegetarian/vegan?

edit: thanks for all the advice! I might try the meatless mondays but going vegan after eating normally seems too daunting for me. I'll also be sure to look at what products I'm buying.

joncamp7 karma

Yeah, it doesn't have to be all or nothing. Just try new vegan foods, and pat yourself on the back each time you do so. And you can always donate to Vegan Outreach. :-)

If you'd like some tips for incorporating more vegan foods into your life, you can order this free starter guide:

Thanks for caring!

compassionforanimals3 karma

Has there ever been a moment where you feared an encounter might escalate to violence? Has such an incident occurred?

joncamp5 karma

By being friendly with individuals, I greatly minimize that likelihood. I have had a few really angry people get up in my face, but it's never ended in me being physically injured.

nattakunt3 karma

Yeah I tried being vegan, costs a bit too much with time included just looking around for food

joncamp3 karma

If you're just replacing meat with mock meats, it might be expensive. But I work on a very non-profit salary, and do fine. I recommend Googling "vegan on a budget."

petearth2 karma

Do you ever do any work in europe/have colleagues that work in europe?

joncamp3 karma

I wish there were a need for me to! I'd love to explore more of Europe. We've got some Italian activists who use a variation of our booklet on college campuses. Other than that, not much right now. But there are other animal activist groups throughout Europe doing good work.

crocoperson2 karma

Are you the man that says.

Help stop slavery.

As in we're you at Illinois state a few weeks ago?

joncamp2 karma

I'm not the Help Stop Violence guy. That's Joe Espinosa, a social worker who works at a methadone clinic treating heroin addicts and uses one of his two days off each week to leaflet, in all weather extremes, on campuses across the Midwest. His fan page is here: more on him here:

pure_C9H13NO32 karma

So is your organization about ending animal cruelty or about promoting a vegan lifestyle? I don't think these two things are completely inclusive.

For example, my family owns a small farm with a couple chickens (they typically roam around the back yard doing happy chicken things) and a cow. The animals are not fed anything abnormal or injected with anything. Is this an acceptable way of living and consuming animal products?

joncamp5 karma

Vegan Outreach works to end animal cruelty through the promotion of a vegan diet.

I'm glad that the animals on your family's small farm are treated well. However, this is not the case for the overwhelming majority of farmed animals.

I'm assuming you still eventually slaughter the animals, which I'm sure isn't a pleasant experience for them. But I'm not going to spend my limited time on those who get their animal products from their family's small farm (though I'm assuming you also get a good amount from mainstream restaurants and grocery stores.)

Anyway, I'm not out to spend my time out the outliers, more on where the majority of today's animal products come from -- industrialized factory farms where animals lead wretched lives.

MetalGear4202 karma

Have you ever visited Binghamton university? I took the brochure and thought it was interesting

joncamp9 karma

Many times! I like that school and the winding tunnel that leads from the new student union to the old student union. And Binghamton students are very receptive.

Sageburner1272 karma

My father spent his entire life in the cattle industry, mainly working on medicine and pharmaceuticals to keep the cows and the consumer healthy, and he's always maintained that the cows are treated humanely and are killed painlessly, and from what I've seen when I've been on business trips with him, I'm inclined to agree. With that being said, do you feel you have visited and investigated enough feedlots to truly make a judgement about how livestock are treated across America and the globe? And what would your solutions or suggestions be for the tens of thousands of ranchers, meat packers, animal pharmacists and the like if the nation was suddenly almost entirely vegan?

joncamp6 karma

Really good questions. I appreciate you asking this.

1) I guess a key question would be what defines "good?" I've seen numerous massive feedlots, and I wouldn't consider the dry terrain, the scorching sun, etc., to be conducive to optimal cow well-being, given that they like to munch on grass (not high protein pellets). And the route to slaughter means a cramped ride that often lasts many many hours and will go on whether it's -10 degrees out or 100 degrees outside. And then these massive animals are shackled by their legs, hung upside down, and have their throats slit. So I think it's easy for us to say such and such is humane, but I sure wouldn't trade my existence for theirs.

2) That said, as much as I don't think cattle living in feedlots lead a desirable existence, the most intensively confined animals in the US are chickens and pigs, with chickens making up about 90% of the land animals raised and killed for food. So I don't think we should extrapolate from a good experience at a few feedlots to mean that most farm animals lead good lives.

3) The transition to societal adoption of a vegan diet won't be overnight -- it will be very, very piecemeal. So I don't think this should be a concern at this point. But: a) The consolidation of animal farms leading to bigger and bigger farms has put more farmers out of business than vegetarian advocates have. So factory farming has already destroyed lots and lots of farming jobs. And b) Consumer preferences change and those who run a business need to adapt or accept defeat. Those who made cassette walkmans got beat out by the cd walkmans and then by the iPod. Those who focused on desktop computers got defeated by the laptop makers. And so on. More vegan options will mean more vegan entrepreneurs thriving. And I don't see that as a bad thing. So while I empathize with anyone who has had their job cut, and I think that we as a society should have a safety net for such people, I'm not kept awake at night by the thought of my work putting those involved in animal ag out of business.

Thanks again for your questions.

BeeGrinder2 karma

Have you totally eliminated all traces of animal abuse and labor, not only from your personal life but in the company you represent? On that note I've found it to be increasingly difficult -actually rather impossible- for me to do this, as even though most organic grown foods I buy, and cloths I wear come from reputable producers, workers, distributors, and fellow consumers will seem to always feed back into a system in which animals are abused. Don't let the last statement distract you, please answer only my first question as detailed as possible.

joncamp4 karma

I haven't, and I don't think it's possible. But I don't strive towards some goal of personal purity; I just do what is in my power to reduce suffering, and I think that's all that can be reasonably expected from those I interact with.

wx32 karma

Is the point to inform people, or as a means of activism/promote change? While there may be some overlap, I think a huge majority will be informed, but very little (a negligible amount) will actually take the knowledge and change their life.

So, I guess that's my question. Is the ultimate goal in the grand scheme of things to change the eating culture of America? To have more vegans? To decrease animal suffering by improving the meat industry? Get rid of it all together?

joncamp3 karma

The ultimate goal is to decrease as much animal suffering as possible. Leafleting is one way to do this, but I fully accept that it's just one tool in the toolbox and is not a cure-all. But it does create real change.

thinkingotherthings2 karma

A few weeks ago someone who might have been from your organization was handing out books on animal suffering near Suffolk University in Boston.. I didn't take one because my instinct when someone tries to hand me a pamphlet is to keep going. If that person is reading this thread, I just want to let you know that I felt bad about not taking the pamphlet and have been making a conscious effort to cut back on my meat consumption.

joncamp3 karma

What a great story! I'll pass that on to the folks in Boston who do the outreach. They'll love it. Thanks for sharing!

joncamp3 karma

Update: The Boston leafleter read your story and is happy. :-)

thinkingotherthings3 karma

Awesome! I actually did look for her again on my way back from class, but she was gone. At that point I didn't think I would ever have a chance to explain what happened, and was bummed about it because she looked dejected when I refused the pamphlet. That incident really did motivate me to be more diligent about avoiding meat though. Cool thing, this internet is..

joncamp3 karma

Ha. Such a good story. Thanks for taking the issue seriously.

identicalParticle2 karma

How do you feel about people wearing leather, and in particular used leather, products?

How would you describe the relationship between leather and factory farming?

joncamp4 karma

I don't wear leather, and when you purchase leather, the money essentially goes to the meat industry. And there are lots of good leather alternatives out there. That said, as consumers, our food choices impact animals more than if or if not we wear leather. So if we're looking to take our initial first step towards reducing our support for animal products, we should start with our food choices, such as by getting chicken out of our diet.

j34342 karma

Holy Cow ( no pun intended ). Two questions : 1) Do you think your work is making a significant change in the way people think about animals ?

2) Do people get overly philosophic with you for example saying "what about plants ? We are killing them ? We also kill insects to grow plants.

joncamp4 karma

Yes and yes. :-)

storko2 karma

Hello! Can anyone truly be vegan with so much product made from cow parts? I don't know how accurate this picture is:

joncamp9 karma

If you're living in modern society, you're going to be at least using some minuscule animal byproduct. But purity isn't the goal; reducing suffering is. So we just do our best to take actions that reduce suffering and make our imperfect world a bit less imperfect.

petearth2 karma

Hi Jon

I'm a vegan and want to have an impact like you do. Problem is... I feel like what you do requires you to have a lot of social skills which I just don't have, I'd probably do more harm than good. Any suggestions what I could do instead?

joncamp4 karma

Thanks for caring! For starters, I'd consider myself more on the introverted side of the spectrum than the extroverted side. If you're sincere and nice, people will take booklets from you. Our leafleters consist of extroverts and real, true introverts, and we all make it happen.

Also, it might help to get your feet wet with someone who has already done this. Please contact VO, let us know where you live, and we'll put you in touch with the right person. But please do get active. It does so much good for the animals, and part of life is pushing ourselves to go beyond our comfort zone. Go, you!

PurdueBoilermakers2 karma

So this question is yet to be answered. Are you the guy with the long black pony tail who repeatedly says "Help stop the violence?" (or something along those lines)

joncamp6 karma

I'm not the Help Stop Violence guy. That's Joe Espinosa, a social worker who works at a methadone clinic treating heroin addicts and uses one of his two days off each week to leaflet, in all weather extremes, on campuses across the Midwest. His fan page is here: more on him here:

thlrulesrachel2 karma

Has there been a study done that judges leafleting as an effective use of time? I'm looking for numbers to support leafleting.

joncamp3 karma

What AZProgressive said. And I also recommend that you just do it once to see the positive outcomes that come from it.

tennisjunkiie1 karma

What are your thoughts on the ALF and PETA helping pay for josh harpers defense?

joncamp4 karma

I'm out of the loop on this, so don't know any of the details. If they did pay for this, I don't see it as incompatible with the work they do.

flowerbomb191 karma

How expensive is it to print all those booklets??

joncamp4 karma

About 10 cents to print. With shipping included, about 13 cents. Very efficient!

strongcoffee1 karma

Hey yea! I remember you! you did not convince me to stop eating meat. I love meat.

BUT. Now when I buy meat, I get it from a local farm owned by my college. Those animals are treated very well. What's your opinion on farms that treat their animals like pets before eating them?

joncamp10 karma

Eating from farms where you know the animals have a decent life is a lot better than just buying meat from a mainstream grocery store. But having volunteered and interned at many farm animal sanctuaries, I still came across many animals who were abused and neglected on small farms. I see these farms as less cruel, but not cruelty-free. The animals still often endure, say, castration without painkiller, a long trip to the slaughterhouse, and of course, slaughter itself. Perhaps you might try supplementing some of this with vegan meals from time to time. I used to love meat, but found lots of good alternatives to it. But regardless, thanks for caring and for taking steps to better the lives of animals.

WexfordIRL1 karma

Did you ever feel like just throwing the booklets somewhere and setting off to buy a macflurry?

joncamp4 karma

No. :-)

Sweet_Baby_Cheezus1 karma

How do you plan for retirement? Do you have a house/wife/kids? I guess my real question is, have you lived like an "average" American and still been able to keep up the vegan lifestyle?

I'm against factory farming and animal cruelty but I can't afford a 20% increase in my food budget. Plus, I can't imagine telling my wife that we have to make two dinners every night because I'm vegan and she's not. Or that we have to start finding restaurants that are vegan when we go out.

joncamp11 karma

I purposefully take a low salary (though, don't think everyone should). But I still find it easy to eat well. Grains, legumes, fruit, veggies, pasta, etc. is pretty cheap.

Unless you're just straight-up replacing meat with mock meats, it should be feasible for you to eat well and not pay a ton. I recommend Googling "vegan on a budget" and ordering our free starter guide:

You might just try going vegan one day a week, and see how that goes. Experiment with new foods, get your wife to eat some of them, etc. Perhaps she'll find that vegan eating is a lot better than she thought it was.

Good luck. And thanks for caring!

Muaddibisme-1 karma


I can only assume that you yourself are a vegan and that you are promoting a animal product free lifestyle.

My question to you is, How would you feed everyone?

As it stands now, if we didn't waste any food, we would not quite have enough food production to feed everyone. The currently employed methods require GE crops and factory farms to meet the demand as it is and without those methods we couldn't possibly produce the same amount of food on the same amount of land. Read that as this: To feed the same number of people requires more land per person if you use natural methods as opposed to when GE crops and factory farms are used. Also, supporting one person on a vegan diet requires more land than supporting one person on a meat based diet.

So my question to you is, how would we feed everyone in a way that isn't cruel to animals? Where does the land come from? Where do the farmers come from? How would we harvest it without destroying animals (I think you would be surprised to find out how many small field animals are killed using our current harvesting methods)? How would we store and ship that food so it remains edible during transport?

I think factory farming methods are deplorable but before they can be ended a real plan for what would replace them needs to be there. So what are your thought? Or the thoughts of the group you represent?

joncamp4 karma

We would actually need less land, as we would get food straight from the source, rather than funneling it inefficiently through farm animals. More on that here:

cprio122 karma

I'm sure you'd love reading Joel salatin's stuff. He's a farmer who practices some pretty interesting practices that make his land use extremely efficient. Much more efficient than factory farming. While giving the animals a good life (before eating them).

joncamp6 karma

I think his farms are better than factory farms, I'm still not for raising and killing animals. But I'd rather have meat eaters buying from him than from mainstream grocery stores.