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The Accidental Activist

Stories, Speeches, Articles, and Interviews by Vegan Outreach’s Co-Founder

Matt Ball

Not every activist starts out with the goal of changing the world. Some have their life shaped by chance, quirks of timing, and strange coincidences. And an unwillingness—or simple inability—to fully ignore the horrors perpetrated on animals today.

Since Matt Ball learned of factory farms well over a quarter century ago, his journey has been anything but linear. Instead, his evolution has been fraught with denial, regression, conflicts, and failures. Matt’s evolution shows that not every activist is a confident extrovert with all the answers. His struggles—often publicly played out in written form, in newsletters, mailings, blogs—have influenced, directly and indirectly, countless individuals.

Even though accidental and reluctant, the hard-learned but ultimately pragmatic lessons Matt shares in this book are changing the world. Having learned from years of mistakes, his insights can help others be effective and, hopefully, happier as well. As Peter Singer notes, “A new future is in sight, one that Matt, Vegan Outreach, and other advocates are hard at work creating.” This book can help each of us be a part of bringing about this new future.

This book is also available as an audiobook here.

“Matt is in the very small group of people who have had the most significant influence on animal advocacy. The animals, and those of us who have dedicated our lives to making theirs better, are extremely fortunate to have him on our side.”—Bruce Friedrich

“I wish Matt’s essays had been around when I first became part of the animal protection movement. You have the benefit of reading Matt’s essays right here, and then thinking critically about how they may help you become a more pragmatic protector of animals. I’m certain they’ll give you a lot to think about, and more importantly, to act on.”—Paul Shapiro

“Over the past two decades, Matt Ball has had a singularly profound influence on the animal protection movement in the United States. Matt’s reasoned, eloquent focus on having the biggest possible impact with the greatest possible efficiency has resonated with tens of thousands of individuals, and created fundamental, pragmatic change on every level of the movement.”—Michael Greger, M.D., Director Public Health and Animal Agriculture Humane Society of the United States

“Matt Ball is a terrific human being and a seasoned campaigner who really knows his onions. In this book, he ably condenses his decades of experience, public outreach, and good deeds into an irresistible, practical guide for the ethical Everyman. Buy this book and give it to anyone who aspires to do right and do good.”—Ingrid Newkirk, President People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals

“Eloquent and inspiring, The Accidental Activist is essential reading for any animal advocate. Read this book and I can guarantee that you will come away uplifted, determined, and armed with exactly the information you need to change the world for animals.”—Virginia Messina, MPH, RD co-author of Vegan for Her, Vegan for Life, and The Vegan Sourcebook

“Tired of feeling frustrated? Starting to feel like it’s hopeless? Don’t waste another minute: read this book, get inspired, and maximize your effectiveness!”—Jon Bockman, Executive Director Animal Charity Evaluators

“Matt Ball is a thought leader in the animal movement who has helped pave an important path towards more pragmatic advocacy. For years he’s inspired many not to focus on activism that may “feel good,” but rather on what’s actually effective.”—Erica Meier, Executive Director Compassion Over Killing

“Matt Ball presents activists with the most important question: How can I do the most good? His essays are required reading for all our staff and interns.”—David Coman-Hidy Executive Director, The Humane League

“Matt Ball is the activist’s activist. His mantra is effectiveness; his style is cool, calm, and collected; and his driving force is a palpable passion to end suffering. If you want to find out how to make your life matter, this collection of his wisdom is necessary reading.”—Jasmin Singer and Mariann Sullivan Our Hen House

“There are few people whose work I have more respect and admiration for than Matt Ball. A true pioneer, Matt has put veganism on the map, sparing millions of animals from suffering on factory farms. I am excited that this book exists and hope it will serve as a textbook for new and veteran advocates alike.”—Kristie Middleton, Food Policy Manager The Humane Society of the United States

“I highly recommend The Accidental Activist for all of us who strive to become more effective voices for animals.”—Josh Balk, Director of Food Policy The Humane Society of the United States

“For over two decades Matt Ball has shaped, led, and expanded vegan advocacy. He’s shared a wealth of informa- tion over these years, never hesitating to examine and modify his own assumptions and strategies as he went. The Accidental Activist highlights the best of his work, with the added bonus of pieces by other leaders in the movement whom he’s inspired. Read it and be inspired, too.”—Charlie Talbert, Board President Alliance For Animals and the Environment

“Read this book if you want to prevent cruelty and inspire com- passion.”—Nathan Runkle Executive Director, Mercy for Animals

“Animal advocates are fortunate to have the benefit of Matt Ball’s many years of experience as an activist, and to be able to access that experience through his writing. In his essays, Matt provides many important insights and guidance for anyone who wishes to wield their time and resources to efficiently defend animals from harm.”—Mark Middleton, AnimalVisuals

“Matt Ball is one of my heroes. There is nothing I want more than to help make the world a kinder place, and nobody whose work has guided me better toward that goal. This book is a terrific collection of his ideas. I recommend wholeheartedly that it go to the very top of every activist’s reading list.”—Karen Dawn, DawnWatch and author of Thanking the Monkey

288 pp.  
5" x 8"
Illustrations: 0

Lantern Books

Matt Ball, along with Jack Norris, co-founded Vegan Outreach in 1993. Before working full-time as the Executive Director of Vegan Outreach, he was a Department of Energy Global Change Fellow, and earned degrees in the Department of Forest Ecology at the University of Illinois, and the Department of Engineering and Public Policy at Carnegie Mellon University. Vegan Outreach activists have distributed millions of detailed animal advocacy booklets around the world, with distribution growing every year. Along with Mr. Norris, Matt was elected into the Animal Rights Hall of Fame in 2005. See all books by Matt Ball

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