Co-founder and history’s all-time leading volunteer leafleter Joe Espinosa reflects on a quarter century of advocacy:
“25 years ago on this very evening, I attended my third meeting of Students for Animal Rights at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. I let the group know I had not eaten meat in 6 days, and did not think I ever could again.
I realize that I am ... shall we say ... a rather unusual person, going from an ag kid (my uncle taught me dairy farming from age 6-13, and I entered UIUC in the College of Ag) to dropping meat 21 days after seeing the suffering chickens and turkeys endure in modern farming.
“Further evidence of the peculiarity is my volunteer work in animal protection, as no other volunteer has handed out 600,000+ animal protection booklets. With that in mind, and a mountain of negative data to back up the rarity of someone going from meat eater to vegetarian or vegan very rapidly, and high recidivism if they do, we established One Step for Animals in 2014.
“Drawing on the lessons of history, One Step presents a more doable ask: sparing 25 of the 26 land animals the average person eats each year. After spending hundreds of millions of dollars over the past 20 years, animal protection has failed to increase the percentage of people who are vegetarian or vegan. More importantly, we have failed to decrease the number of animals raised and killed for food. Per-person animal consumption is at an all-time high.
“I hope more people can use my 25 year vegeversary as a time to question the idea of doing the same thing and expecting different results. We believe we should try something new. One Step For Animals welcomes those who care about sparing animals above all else.
“Thanks for being one of us!”