Shhh. Don’t Talk About The “Elephant” In The Room

There is something missing from the vegan movement.

Something so obvious, yet it’s not spoken about.

Something that if it was spoken about and acknowledged, has the potential to turn veganism on its ear.

Before I talk about that, I want you to think for a moment about the job that you do.

How did you get it?

Some of the people reading this may have gone to Uni for a number of years and obtained a formal qualification in a particular field. Then once you had the degree(s) in your hand, you set off out into the world to look for employment in that field. This was usually an entry level role which would allow you to work yourself up the hierarchical ladder.

Or, if you were like me, you went out and did an apprenticeship for four years, learning the finer points of your trade under the tutelage of teachers and qualified tradesmen. Then at the end of the apprenticeship you are deemed competent enough to mentor new apprentices.

Now compare this to veganism and the movement in general.

You may have initially found out about it by reading a pamphlet or looking at some information on a website.

Once you made the decision to go vegan, and fully embraced it, you think it will be easy to convince people that veganism is the way to go. You head off with your passion for it and the animals riding high.

Then you are faced with your first objection, and the line “The world won’t go vegan overnight”, and everything crumbles.

You start to doubt yourself, and your own ability to tell the world about veganism.

You then become convinced that because the world won’t go vegan overnight that you need to sell out on your own beliefs and promote incremental reform as stepping stones.

Now cast your mind back to a really big risk you took where you didn’t really have much experience. I’m not talking about some business venture or anything like that, I am talking about riding a bike.

Can you remember the joy you felt when you got your first bike? There you are, stepping up in the world, moving away from the tricycles that little kids ride. Sure this bike has four wheels instead of three, though two of them will be coming off soon.

You spend sometime riding your new bike around to get used to the feel of it and how things work. Then the big day comes where the training wheels are taken off, and you get to ride on two wheels.

The big ride starts with an adult holding on to the seat helping you get balance, and depending on how fit they are, running along side of you until your confidence builds up that you can do it on your own.

The next thing you know you have hear a few encouraging words in the distance and quickly realise that you are riding a bike on two wheels.

What happens next? Well if you had an experience anything like mine, you went crashing into a neighbors fence and skinned a few knuckles. Or maybe you just simply stopped and fell over. At which point those who were there with you to watch your first ride usually all came over to you to see if you are ok. If you were crying maybe they gave you a bit of a cuddle and told you everything was ok. Then they told you how much of a great job you had done, and made a point of showing you how far you had gone, and the next time you will be able to go further again.

[GARD]I’d be willing to bet that they didn’t pat you on the head and say to you that it’s ok, they didn’t expect you to be able to ride a bike overnight. Then telling you that what they would do now was take one training wheel off for a while until you get used to it. Then after a few days/weeks of riding like that the next step would be to ride without the training wheels, though only for 5-10 metres. At which pint the training wheels would go back on for another 10-15 metres. Because taking baby steps is the only way you will ever get to ride a bike.

I highly doubt that you would have presented the above option to your parents either. Your goal was to ride a bike, and you were going to keep trying that until you got there.

So why have we given up so easily when it comes to promoting veganism?

This brings me back to the title of this article.

The “elephant” in the room is that whilst we know our own reasons for going vegan, and why other people should go vegan, we don’t really know how to sell it to people.

And this is what we are doing every time we talk to someone about veganism.

If you are vegan and tying to sell people on the idea that happy meat is the way to go, then you are selling them a product you don’t believe in yourself. If you did, you would be eating happy meat yourself instead of being vegan.

If you believe in veganism start selling that to people, rather than trying to convince them that happy meat and incremental change is the way to stop animal use.

You at least owe that much to yourself and to the animals.

2 thoughts on “Shhh. Don’t Talk About The “Elephant” In The Room”

  1. Great post Cameron.

    I believe the bigger question is “how do we sell veganism?” Here’s my answer.

    I think we need to sell veganism under the umbrella of non-violence, as a legitimate solution for bringing about peace. I love the approach that http://www.nonviolenceunited.org is taking and I think we would do well to emulate it. We need to clarify to the public that the vegan philosophy is not a diet or a lifestyle choice, but rather a matter of showing kindess and respect to all living beings. We need be uncompromising in our message that speciesism is the equivalent of racism, sexism, heterosexism, ageism and ableism.

    My first idea: We need to get people going to sanctuaries in droves. Sanctuaries are one of the most effective advocacy tools we’ve got. People need to reconnect with animals if they’re going to stop exploiting them. As we mobilize a vegan base, we can start building sanctuaries all over the world.

    Second, I believe we ought to be selling people on the social and personal BENEFITS of bringing about a vegan world. The approach that is not working is trying to convince people that using animals is a moral issue. People simply don’t care when we try to sell them on the moral argument. Using animals is socially-sanctioned and glorified, far too engrained in our culture for people to give it any serious moral consideration. Many people don’t care too much about morality, anyway.

    Third, we need to sell people on the SOLUTIONS that veganism offers. If we show people how veganism addressed the most serious issues in all of history, then more people will get on board. We need to sell BENEFITS other than having a clean conscience and a good bill of health.

    We’re not going to get anywhere by selling Meatless Mondays or passing out a zillion leaflets.

    One of the main things we’re lacking is a VISIBILE IDENTITY as a movement. We need to start BRANDING this movement just like AIDS, Beast Cancer, McDonald’s and NBC brands their identity. I suggest we start wearing a vegan t-shirt everyday, as an identifiable uniform and as a show of solidarity. But not just any t-shirt. We need to wear a shirt with the same exact design so that it becomes instantly recognizable to the general public. The one I recommend is simply called the “Vegan T-Shirt”. Check it out at https://www.facebook.com/pages/VeganShirtcom/171217812973206?fref=ts.

    The VEGAN T-SHIRT is clear about the vegan philosophy and lists the BENEFITS of veganism on the back. It is eye-catching and it gets people asking questions.

    When people start asking questions, we need to hand them a simple BUSINESS CARE and write our name and contact information on the back (handwritten notes increase follow-through). On this business care will be a url for ONE VEGAN WEBSITE (that still need to be built).

    We need a BRANDED website, where we provide support and training for new vegan activists. We need to employ the same methods used by McDonald’s so that we become a well-oiled machine for pumping out new vegan advocates. On this website, we can provide the necessary resources for helping new vegans make a more seamless transition into their newly-awakened consciousness.

    We must use this website to educate new vegans about the vegan philosophy and what it means in our everyday lives. We need to provide excellent resources for teaching them how to deal with family and friends, how to talk to the general public and how to handle antagonistic people.

    We must teach new and old vegans alike that the people who many vegans consider to be “the enemy” (industry, farmers, hunters, circus performers, etc.) are NOT our enemies. We need to befriend these people. They have the most potential to become incredibly effective advocates for our cause. We must embrace them and not make demands or call them evil for exploiting animals.

    Our website must provide resources for helping new vegans make all the necessary adjustments in their consumer choices. It must also provide invitations to attend what I envision as a “vegan academy” where mentors can teach effective advocacy and grassroots organization.

    We must provide new vegans with regular opportunities for community outreach other than simple leafleting or Meatless Mondays. We must go out in large numbers, have fun, wear goofy hats and ornaments, showing people that we’re not a tiny minority of angry vegan extremists. People are going to pay much more attention to a large group of vegans wearing the same t-shirt and having a great time than they are to one dude on a street corner handing out leaflets packed with way too much information and gory pictures that are met with empathy avoidance.

    We must develop programs at community colleges that educate new vegans about every aspect of the lifestyle and the movement.

    We must start marching in parades, running 5K’s and marathons, going to sporting events together – all wearing the same shirt that will get us tons of visibility and eventual press coverage.

    We need a symbol like the Lance Armstrong bracelet for cancer, the pink ribbon for breast cancer, the red ribbon for AIDS and so on. What do vegans have as an identifiable symbol? Nothing. We just wear inflammatory t-shirts spouting phrases like “Meat is Murder” or immature slogans like “McCruelty”. (I’m astonished that PeTA hasn’t figured out by now that that shit doesn’t work!) No, because they’ve got their heads buried in the sand with their own dogma. Their website is ineffective, as is Mercy For Animal’s and Vegan Outreach’s. They’re all a bloody mess – totally cluttered, with way too much information and way too many celebrities who aren’t even ethical vegans. The word “DONATE” takes up half of every page. I don’t want to bash these organizations any further, though. We all have the same goal. If they adopted this more logical approach we could mobilize their supporters with a far more effective, uniform approach.

    We need to simplify! There’s too many books, too many websites, too many podcasts, too many blogs and too many people doing nothing!

    I’d like us to come together to accomplish these goals – QUICKLY! Arguing and bitching about HSUS and other corporatized welfare organizations is getting us absolutely nowhere.

    We need to brand the shit out of this vegan movement. It’s not just an animal rights movement- it’s a VEGAN movement which encompasses a whole lot more than just animal rights. Veganism means equality and justice for all, restoration of humanity and getting nature back to its intended order. That’s what this movement is about and I sincerely believe these are the methods we need to achieve our goals.

    Many thanks to Eriyah Flynn and Matt Bear for their inspiration. These ideas are not my own and never occurred to me until I met Eriyah on Facebook a few days ago. My words are my own, though, so if I’ve misrepresented any of their ideas, I apologize in advance.

    Thank you to every single vegan who has struggled to find their place in a non-vegan world. It’s very easy to become misanthropic. But, that’s just another form of bigotry. You guys are awesome and we can move this movement together! Right now, we’re just stuck in neutral, at best.

    Sincerely,

    James DeAlto

    (If you like this vison for our movement, please feel free to revise these ideas into a much clearer and more comprehensive outline.) Feel free to contact me anytime on my Facebook page if you’d like my input or have questions. We can do this!!!

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