John Oberg is an outreach coordinator for the national animal advocacy organization, Vegan Outreach. In the last 4 years and across 35 US states and 3 Canadian provinces, he has distributed over 360,000 pamphlets that describe how animals are treated in factory farms while promoting a vegan diet. He engages in outreach at universities across the United States and Canada, raising awareness about the plight of today's farm animals.
My mother has always reminds me of when I was 12 months old being so concerned when our cat, Muse, lost her balance and fell off the couch. Fast forward many years and the accumulation of years of living with cats, turtles, fish, and other animals taught me that animals are capable of felling a range of emotions and fellings -- including happiness, sadness, and pain.
2. When, how, and why did you first get involved with the animal welfare/rights movement?
I grew up with a love and respect for animals. I knew nothing about factory farming, however. I watched the film Earthlings, was in absolute horror, went vegan, and knew I wanted to get involved. I did some Googling about veganism and came across what I still think is the most concise, accurate blueprint for creating the most amount of impact per hour and dollar spent -- the essay called "A Meaningful Life" written by Matt Ball, executive director for Vegan Outreach (www.veganoutreach.org/meaningfullife.html). I was inspired to begin leafleting so I began doing so while living in Phoenix, Arizona with the great Jeff Boghosian. I found it to be really effective and I enjoyed doing it. I kept it up, took up volunteer opportunities, and upon graduating college was hired by Vegan Outreach and now tour around North America working to raise awareness about the animals' plight.
3. What are your favorite types of animal advocacy activities? Why? (i.e. lobbying, letter-writing, petitions, volunteering, protests, etc.)
I find leafleting to be one of the most effective activities one can engage in -- plus it's easy to do and doesn't require much organization or recruiting of volunteers or anything. So it's accessible to all and super effective. Just grab a box of pamphlets, go somewhere with foot traffic (i.e. a college), and begin distributing them!
4. What animal issues are you most passionate about?
I am most passionate about farmed animal issues because farmed animals comprise the vast majority of animals killed in the United States every year. My heart goes out to all animals that are exploited and killed but I feel I can make the biggest impact my concentrating my efforts where I can get the biggest "bang for my buck."
5. What advice do you have for someone looking to become a more active animal advocate?
My advice to someone wanting to get more active for animals is to just do it. Just like with change, the hardest part is just getting out there. Once you do, you'll find it's super easy and rewarding. Contact me (JohnO@veganoutreach.org) or someone else from Vegan Outreach and we'll send you pamphlets -- all you have to do is dedicate an hour here or there for the animals. My call to action for you is to dedicate one hour per month to the animals. Order some pamphlets, take them out with you, and start distributing them. If you are unable to do this, then dedicating an hour of your paycheck and donating it to an effective animal advocacy organization is another way of helping.
6. What book, quote, photo, video, story, etc. have you found most inspiring/has inspired you?
"A Meaningful Life" is the most inspiring essay I've read. "The Animal Activist's Handbook" by Matt Ball & Bruce Friedrich as well as "Change of Heart: What Psychology Can Teach Us About Creating Social Change" by Nick Cooney are the two most useful books, with "How to Win Friends and Influence People" by Dale Carnegie being a close third. I encourage omnivores to watch either "What Came Before" (produced by Farm Sanctuary) or "Farm to Fridge" (produced by Mercy For Animals).