International Vegetarian Union (IVU)
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Interviews with Vegetarian/Vegan Activists
May 2008

Interview with the Chair of the Christian Vegetarian Association
Last issue we began a series of interviews with leaders of various veg organisation. In this issue, we interview Stephen Kaufman, chair of the Christian Vegetarian Association.

1. What made you decide to become a vegetarian? When did that happen?
How old were you at the time?

Though there were many good reasons, concern for animal welfare was my principal motivation. It happened in 1979, when I was 20.

2. You are a leader of the Christian Vegetarian Association, a member society of IVU. How long have you been a leader of this organisation?

Since 2000.

3. What is it that sustains your desire to be active?

I am concerned about animal welfare, and these concerns relate to my religious beliefs, which include a faith that God is loving and compassionate, and desires that we show compassion for God's creatures.

4. What is an obstacle that you face in remaining active in promoting vegetarianism? How do you overcome this obstacle?

It has always been a challenge to balance family responsibilities, my professional life as a full-time physician, and demands of the activism work. I've done my best, and I get feedback from my family.

5. What is one of your organisation's accomplishments that makes you especially proud?

We have distributed over 150,000 copies of our booklet "Are We Good Stewards of God's Creation?" at Christian concerts, revivals, and other events.

6. How do you try to maintain good relations and enthusiasm amongst your organisation's members?

We have a weekly e-newsletter, and we respond to all personal correspondence. We also have a moderated Internet discussion group I moderate the list to make sure that messages relate to the group's focus and that all messages show respect for all the group’s participants.

7. What is one way that your organisation cooperates with other veg organisations?

At our information tables, in addition to our Christian literature, we offer a wide range of religious and secular viewpoints. Different messages resonate with different people, and we believe that nearly all religions and ethical systems have a common denominator of compassion.

8. Do you have any fundraising tips for other organisations?

Not really. We don't do a great job of fundraising ourselves.

9. What is one thing that other veg organisations might be able to learn from your organisation?

That religion can, and should, be a friend of the animal protection movement.

10. How does your organisation reach out to people who are trying to become veg or who are newly veg?

Our own literature can help with the transition, and we refer them to other organizations that can help. Also, our discussion group often provides encouragement and support.

11. Finally, any veg jokes you’d like to share?

Question: How many vegetarians does it take to screw in a light bulb?
Answer: Only one, but where do they get their protein?