Thursday, April 16, 2015

Ginny on Obsession with Celebrities

Ginny has a great new post up: Celebrities, Weight Loss and Penn Jillette’s New Vegan Diet.
Brief excerpt:
[Penn's] current diet doesn’t exactly create a compelling picture of the joys of vegan living. In fact, it sounds like a great way to discourage people from ever considering this way of eating.  
I have to say, I simply do not get this “celebrities and weight loss” brand of vegan activism. It sets vegan diets up to fail, because that’s what happens when vegans (especially those in the public eye) get sick or gain back their weight or start eating meat and eggs again. It presents veganism as the most unattractive eating plan on earth. And it turns its back on the core value of veganism, which is animal rights.

Cross posted at VegFund blog.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

An Environmental Argument to Help Animals

Many, if not most, environmental arguments tend to focus on the serious impacts of beef. Although we  see a vegan diet as optimal, most people instead see chicken as being vastly superior to beef (and increasingly cheaper than beef). Any time someone replaces beef with chicken, many many more animals suffer.

Here is a great argument that actually helps chickens, from New Scientist (March 21, 2015, p. 44):
Such a switch [from chickens to plant-based substitutes] could make a difference to the environment: if we all swapped chicken for beans, for example, greenhouse gas emissions would be much lower. Chicken is responsible for 6.9 kg of greenhouse gases per kg of meat, compared with 2 kg for bean protein.

 Cross-posted at the VegFund blog

Monday, April 13, 2015

How Social Media Distracts

In response to the earlier Ego post, my good friend Leslie passed along this article. Excerpts:

“When the focus of our social efforts begins and ends with “raising awareness” through social media, we can’t help but become sucked into the general “me” or ego-based nature of internet politics in general. It’s all about “my” page, “my” online community, and “my” followers—while things like “our” cause, “our” struggle, or “our” progress take on a more rhetorical significance for when we want to engage more people in our individual expressions.

“In this type of egocentric cultural climate, it can be easy for activists to completely lose perspective. When we get too caught up in the reblogs, retweets, and ‘likes,’ we risk the content of our messages being overshadowed by the perception that people have of us as individuals who happen to be outspoken about these matters.”

Saturday, April 11, 2015

The Problem of Ego

As you know, VegFund and other groups do a lot of video outreach: online advertising, pay-per-view, and screening documentaries. Research has shown this is an important and powerful tool.

I recently received a comment from a longtime vegan and advocacy supporter, who said that since they see almost a video a day, they didn't see what good it would do to create another video, or pay people to watch a video.

You surely see the problem with this logic: our audience shouldn't be plugged-in long-time vegans. Rather, we need to reach new people - those who are not on any vegan mailing list or a member of any animal advocacy Facebook group. For the most part, non-vegetarians are actively looking to avoid any uncomfortable information. We have to go to them with information that will actually open their heart and mind.

Choosing the right message for new people is, of course, a significant problem for advocates in general: Consciously or unconsciously, we want our message to match with our morals and justify our lifestyle. We judge everything based on what we know and what we want.

However, we must understand that a message that excites us isn't the optimal message to get more new people to take a significant and meaningful step to help animals. We - longtime vegans - are in a much different place than someone who has followed the standard American diet their entire life.

To really make a difference for animals, we must reach new people where they are, rather than seeking "Likes" within the vegan bubble.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Gene Baur and The Farm Sanctuary Life

I assume everyone has seen Gene Baur's amazing appearance on The Daily Show. It is always so great to see someone represent animals so successfully. This is my for-the-public Amazon review of his new book, Living the Farm Sanctuary Life
You, like just about everyone else, certainly abhor cruelty to animals. But like most, you probably view veganism as impossible, and vegans as annoying (to put it kindly). Gene’s genius - in this book and in his life - is that his views aren’t driven by dogma. Nor is his perspective defined by the vegan bubble. 
Rather, he knows we can all contribute to making a better world - each and every one of us.  
You will find that Gene’s approach compassionate, constructive, and realistic. This is because so much of his life over the past 30 years has been shared with the amazing individuals rescued by Farm Sanctuary.  
This book, like Gene’s talks and other writings, doesn’t come from hatred or fanaticism. Rather, everything Gene does is driven by both his deep respect and affection for farmed animals, as well as his unyielding belief in the fundamental goodness and decency of his fellow human beings.  
If you have ever wondered about the lives of farmed animals, or been even slightly interested in a more compassionate, mindful life, you should read this book. It isn’t at all what you might fear. Indeed, it is more than you could hope for.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Tobias on Being Right vs Being Effective

More good stuff from Tobias:

"It’s easy to be a philosopher and say true things about the rights of animals. It’s much harder to do the right things at the right time and to truly make a difference. That, indeed, is the art of activism."

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Difference of Life and Death

"If you've got power and money and connections, some differences won't change anything. It's those without the money and the power, who desperately want to live -- for them, small things aren't small at all. What you call no difference is life and death to them."
-Ancillary Justice, Ann Leckie

Monday, March 23, 2015

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Stark Numbers

Saw this online -- a very stark representation of the reality is of the average animal consumption:

If the average person in the US were to stop eating chickens (even if they replaced that spot in their diet with equal amounts of pig and cow flesh) they would move from eating 24.4 farmed land animals a year to 1.9 animals a year. Were they so bold as to drop turkey as well it would move down to 0.9 farmed land animals. From over two dozen to less than one animal a year!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Two Scenarios

Imagine World A, where everyone who is vegan had gone vegan overnight. No intermediate steps, no evolution -- just one day the standard American diet, and the next, pure vegan. Everyone who goes vegan stays vegan. The only positive impact on the number of animals killed in the world is from the number of vegans increasing.

Now imagine World B, where most people who are vegan evolved to be vegan. For example, they gave up red meat, then all meat, then eggs, then dairy. In World B, the majority of people who go vegan eventually go back to eating animals. And the quicker someone goes vegan, the more likely they are to quit being vegan. The main positive impact on the number of animals killed in the world isn't from more people going vegan, but from those who are cutting back on their meat consumption.

If your bottom line is helping animals as much as possible, would your advocacy be different in World A vs. World B? If you want to build a vegan world as quickly as possible, would the differences between World A and World B influence how you pursued your goal in those worlds?