Is asking people to eat less meat enough?

Last night I went to Dr. Casey Taft’s lecture about “Motivational Methods for Animal Advocacy”. His background is focused on anti-domestic violence, and he is also a founder of Vegan Publishers. He started by saying that there isn’t actually a study which proves the best method for vegan advocacy. But, in his opinion that when we are advocating, we need to only ask people to go vegan rather than take incremental steps like Meatless Monday, Reduce meat, or go vegetarian first. He also solidly ties veganism to being solely about ethics and animals. Therefore in his opinion, to go plant-based for diet, or for environmental reasons isn’t a good option.

Obviously, I don’t agree with this approach. He did say a number of things I did agree with:

1. Be respectful and support positive changes

2. Have a listening mindset and avoid focus on winning arguments

3. Avoid aggressive advocacy and angry vegan stereotype.

4. There are stages of change (similar to smoking) that includes contemplation, preparation and action. Know when to open discussions.

There you go, we can always find a common ground with everyone.

Some interesting questions after his talk:

One person in the audience asked about his personal journey. He started doing a plant-based diet for health reasons. Then, at some point later on, a friend challenged him about ethics and he went vegan. So, for him it was an incremental change that did not start based on ethics about animals. Also, it is harder to make a decision based on animal ethics while you are actively involved in the behavior of eating animals.

I don’t think it is important for advocates to argue about the methods too much. If he can reach people solely based on animal ethics, that is great. But, what about the people who absolutely do not want to hear that message? If they are open to smaller changes, that definitely seems better than nothing at all. And vegetarians absolutely do make a difference to the lives of animals- at least to pigs, fish and some cows and chickens.

There were questions about hunters and pets that eat meat. I feel that these types of questions take us farther away from the largest issue we face. To me, this is like worrying about what we are going to wear to dinner on the Titanic. We need to deal with the iceberg first. By trying to be perfect in all things, it becomes too hard for some people to attempt.

If it was working to just ask people to go vegan, there should be more vegans in the last few decades. However, our environment is not even set up for that to happen. Most restaurants do not even offer a vegan option. We need to get a few delicious vegan options on the menu so that people can choose those. Non-dairy cheeses and plant-based meats are becoming more popular and available. We need to let people find their path, in their own way.

Towards that end, I’ve been working on several options for a new name instead of “eat less meat”. I’ve been writing this blog for awhile, and I am trying to see what is most effective and appealing to people who aren’t vegan. Keeping in mind, there are unavoidable truths that I try to bring awareness about through science and facts. If showing that the food and recipes are easy and delicious is more effective than showing articles about animal cruelty, I would like to know.

I’ve put a poll on my facebook page, and I just need 40 non-vegan people to tell me what matters to them. Thanks for any information you’d like to share, and let me know if there is some resource you’d like to see on the website going forward.