Talking to Non-Vegans


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Jul 2, 2017
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Hello 👋,
In your opinion, what is the best way to promote veganism to non-vegans? Do you think it can be best to just present the information to them without actually telling them to go vegan or trying to persuade them to go vegan? Do you think it would actually be a good idea to bring just one, socialised farm animal (such as a lamb, a piglet or a chicken) into a small city/a city park or something and present them with the information and let them meet and play with and give treats to the animal?
How do you generally talk to non-vegans about veganism?
What do you think are the most successful and effective strategies for talking to non-vegans (including both the public and those you know (e.g family and friends)?
Also, I am currently writing some pro-vegan/animal rights fiction. Do you think fiction has its place in animal advocacy?
Thanks and have an amazing and successful, vegan New Year! Good and successful activism to y‘all!
Hello 👋,
In your opinion, what is the best way to promote veganism to non-vegans?

IMHO, it's best to do what is the most comfortable for you. Because of personality and circumstances there are very few general rules. Play to your strengths.

In my experience you can expect a very low success rate. Maybe keep in mind that at one time you weren't vegan. What worked for you?

What do you think are the most successful and effective strategies for talking to non-vegans (including both the public and those you know (e.g family and friends)?
I've read more than enough articles on this subject. IMHO, Melanie Joy might be the best source of info. Check her out on YouTube. She is the founder of The Center for Effective Advocacy. And teaches a the course Effective Vegan Advocacy.

Peter Singer is a good source of background material. You might want to pick up one his books.

I used to always recommend an online article called something like Effective Advocacy for Vegans. It was from Free From Harm, or One Green Planet. But I can't find it anymore. I'm pretty sure PETA has a few good and short articles, too.

Also, I am currently writing some pro-vegan/animal rights fiction. Do you think fiction has its place in animal advocacy

Absolutely, in fact I think there is another writer here on the Forum that has a thread on the subject. see if you can find it. I'm not sure where it is. Maybe another forum member can point it out to you.

Oh! BTW, there is at least one really good historical example of fiction being used in advocacy. Uncle Tom's Cabin was published in 1952, it is said to have "helped lay the groundwork for the [American] Civil War".
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Personally, I keep the conversation around how good I feel and how both my health and my athletic performance has improved dramatically by living a Vegan lifestyle. This way you are not perceived as preaching Vegan, but simply sharing your experience regarding how it is an amazing lifestyle choice for you.

I have mentioned being Vegan to some of my business associates and friends, and also on a few of the other Forums that I frequent (Forums that have nothing to do with being Vegan). The response was mixed. Some was favorable, and some was not very positive to say the least. Some meat eaters are hard core and may get very defensive at even the slightest hint of removing animal products from their life and their table. Others want to know more about how it has changed my health and athletic performance, and that sometimes opens the door for a more productive conversation regarding the benefits of being Vegan.
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Speaking as someone who does eat meat, there are a few key points you might want to consider.

Vegans and non-vegans are not a different species

Rather than viewing the situation as a "them and us" scenario, it's worth remembering we're all people. The viewpoints might differ but we all ultimately work the same way.

No-one likes "holier than thou"

No matter how superior you may feel (if at all - you may well not) to someone who doesn't follow a vegan lifestyle, you won't change any minds by putting yourself forward. Instead, you'll either come across as arrogant (in which case why should anyone listen to you) or be perceived as setting impossibly high standards (in which case, what's the point of trying).

Challenge obliquely

Confrontation won't work since ultimately the person with the power over whether an omnivore changes their habits is the omnivore themselves. Since you don't have the authority to dictate, don't try to do so. Instead, lay out reasons for considering a change of attitude and let them mull it over. If they don't change, they weren't going to by threats, insults or dictats either and so you've lost nothing. If they do change, you've achieved something. "Have you considered..." and "But what about...." are your friends.

Incremental change is better than no change

Focusing on areas where, if a person were to choose to try and change, such change is relatively easy means you may well be able to encourage change by degrees. If someone decides to eat meat less often that is still less meat being consumed. If someone decides to buy meat more ethically, that is still a reduction in cruelty. By no means ideal by your vegan standards but an improvement on the current situation. And once that change has been incorporated into an omnivore's life, their base point has changed meaning focusing on the next easiest change to make becomes less of a leap for them.

If you've got to talk ethics, talk about yours not theirs

I have rarely met someone who likes being preached to or sold to, so telling someone where they are wrong is never likely to end well. However, taking a stance like "I found myself becoming increasingly uncomfortable I started doing things this way instead..." simply means you're commenting on yourself. It says what you found difficult to live with and how you resolved that conflict. It's fine for you to judge yourself and by not judging anyone else by your yardstick means they are free to draw their own conclusions. Bear in mind you have a viewpoint that makes sense to you but that doesn't mean that viewpoint is "right"; right and wrong are remarkably difficult to define in absolute terms, so best not to try. "Works well for me" is much easier to assert.

Different people, different priorities

We've seen environmental campaigners attacking owners of diesel vehicles without bothering to find out what else hidden to them someone may be doing to improve their environmental impact. I had a choice of installing solar panels and an air source heat pump or buying an electric car; I couldn't afford both. All anyone sees however whilst I'm out and about is the diesel car, yet I have reduced my household's CO2 emissions by more than the car generates. Same goes for changing people's minds about diet; take time to know a little more about what positive steps they are already taking and celebrate what they are already doing right before tackling what you see as things that still need to change.

Demonstrate your willingness to be open-minded

If you aren't prepared to show willingness to change in the face of a well-reasoned argument, why should anyone else in the face of one of yours? That doesn't mean you have to compromise on your principles but simply saying something like "That's an interesting point, let me think about it" and then following up later with your REASONED response demonstrates admirably that you're prepared to listen. That will influence much more than simply expecting others to listen to you.

Finally, be consistent and accurate

If your views are built upon dodgy logic or if you are sloppy in the facts you provide, your arguments will fall down and you will develop a reputation as someone not worth being listened to. No matter how much you like that Youtube video or that blog article, if you don't research its sources to ensure it's not just another conspiracy theory then you'll end up having the rug pulled out from under your feet by someone who WAS prepared to put in the effort to cross-check. Eventually, lots of people saying the same thing doesn't make that thing right; it may just be something wrong being given a lot of air time. If you can back up all your assertions with reasonable factual evidence, the points you make are immeasurably stronger.

Overall, what I'm saying is in fact nothing to do with vegans talking to non vegans per se. It's really just a 101 on how to interact with other people and put your point across, but it's none the less valid for all that.
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