In Defense Of Vegan Education: Opening Statement

Starting today, I have decided to do things a little differently.

Being the passionate supporter of vegan education that I am, it frustrates me immensely when people tell me that it doesn’t work, and doesn’t do anything for the animals today.

Thinking about some of the discussions I have had with people where I have had to ‘defend’ my belief I vegan education as being more effective, I asked myself the question, would people react differently to it, if vegan education was actually put on trial, and people where presented with the facts, not just some emotional campaign.

This is when this idea came to me.

I will put “vegan education” on trial, for the charges of “not being effective” and “not doing anything for the animals, today or tomorrow”.

Every Monday will be a different piece of the trial, starting today with the opening statement. Following on with witness testimony, next Monday, culminating in a closing statement in a few weeks time.

In the absence of being about to have this sort of discussion in front of a live studio audience, reading a transcript of the proceedings is the next best way.

I present to you People v Vegan Education.

Opening Statement.

Ladies and gentlemen,

This past weekend around Australia there were celebrations for World Vegan Day. Yet to the rest of the country, this was just another weekend, and the day before that, a Friday, was just another Friday too.

Except Friday’s aren’t just another day. There is one thing that happens on a Friday that makes it different to any other day of the week.

It is the day that the Meat and Livestock Association publishes their Meat & Livestock Weekly.

According to that publication, for the week ending Thursday 01 November 2012 133,622 sheep, 357,435 lambs, 138,447 cattle and 8,719 calves lost their lives to the animal agricultural system.

638,223 animals who needlessly died because consumers believe that hey need to eat an animal product to stay alive, or their steak or veal tastes just too good to give up.

Which brings me to the reason why we are here today.

The prosecution has leveled the most heinous and insulting of charges against vegan education. That it doesn’t work, nor does it actually do anything for the animals today or those coming into the system tomorrow.

I say it does, and the fact that there are world vegan day celebrations anywhere, is evidence to that fact.

I stand before you now as someone who whole heartedly believes in the effectiveness of vegan education, and is proof that it does work. It just needs to be given a chance to work.

For some of you reading this, your mind has well and truly been made up, and you have condemned vegan education based on a trial held in the court of public opinion. To those people, I ask, no I implore you to put your emotions aside and make your decision based solely on the facts as they are presented to you.

The lives of the animals depend on it!

This will be a trial, the likes of which no one has ever seen before.

Rather than hearing about things via the court of public opinion where the one with the most money or connections wins, you will hear witness testimony from those animals who are directly impacted by the effectiveness or alleged in effectiveness of vegan education.

The prosecution will and already has thrown around disparaging catch phrases, like their most battle weary one The World Won’t Go Vegan Overnight as justification for not even mentioning the word vegan. And they have recited their own version of the starfish story so many times now that they actually do believe that they are making a difference to the animals today.

This claim is nothing more than a furthy that has been able to be repeated so many times unchallenged, that is now treated as gospel.

The truth is that incremental reform changes do not happen overnight either. They often take many months of constant pressure on governments before they can be agreed on. Then taking moans more years after that to be fully implemented. Prior to which, they can be watered down or withdrawn on a whim by the government of the day, as we have seen recently in Tasmania.

The facts of the case are undeniable.

For every person that goes vegan, there is:
One less person consuming animal flesh, regardless of ow that flesh is labelled.
One less person buying any skin care or beauty products that contain animal products.
One less person buying sweets or anything that contains gelatine.
One less person buying leather products.
One less person buying wool products.
One less person going to horse or greyhound races.
One less person going to a rodeo or circus.
One less person who expects an unknown person to fire a captive bolt into the head of an animal who desperately wants to live as much as we do, so another unknown person can cut this animals throat because they are not able to do it themselves.

The prosecution will eagerly tell anyone who will listen that the word vegan is off putting and people aren’t likely to hear it.

I say that this is another story created by them to improve the status of their message.

If, and I say ‘if’ the word vegan is as they claim, likely to turn people away can someone please explain to me why former President of the United States, Bill Clinton is happy to tell people about the benefits of veganism, or the Williams sisters, or anyone else for that matter?

If these people can embrace the vegan message why is it too much to expect others to do the same?
If these people can embrace the vegan message, then the ‘fault’ cannot be with the message, it must be in the way that it is delivered.

Think about those important safety signs around the place for a minute, whether it be a road safety sign, or a PPE sign at a construction site. Do they just have writing on them to convey the message? No, they have both writing and an image, or sometimes just an image. This so done to ensure that all those who view it understand what is being expressed.

The prosecution will have you believe that if you talk to 20 people about veganism and none of those 20 go vegan, then you have failed.

They conveniently forget to mention that more often than not people need to be exposed to a message a number of times before they accept it. That some times they forget the message until they have a level of motivation in their life sufficient to change their life towards that message.

If this were not the case, there would only be a speed limit sign at an entry point of a road, only to be seen once. Unlike the numerous speed limit signs we see along any long stretch of road, freeway, highway or major arterial.

Nor would we need the constant reminding of what the ‘Fatal Four’ are every holiday season.

Yet they do know and understand this, because those advocating for incremental improvements continually expose the consumer to the relevant material for whatever campaign they are involved in at the time.

I’d also like to put the suggestion out there, that there are some people in the baby steps movement who have adopted it as part of their life, and would have no sense of identity if there wasn’t one more rally to attend or one more petition to sign. After all, telling people you have attended a protest for X, Y and Z, still holds more street-cred and is more able to be worn as a badge of honour. Because telling someone that you have spoken to 50 people about veganism in the past 12 months, or written 30 articles for a vegan site in the past 30 days just doesn’t have the same level of impact.

In closing, I would like to leave you with the following discussion between two characters from the British supernatural TV drama, Demons, in the episode titled Suckers. It is between Ruby, one of the good guys, and Quincy, a bad boy vampire.
Ruby is talking to Quincy about him eating people, when he says that she eats chicken. Ruby says that she loves it, and he says he does too.
Ruby “Chickens don’t have feelings”
Quincy “Are you sure about that?”
Ruby “They’re not intelligent”
“Neither are most humans”
“So, I mean, how many people have you killed?”
“You’re intrigued now, huh?”
“Not intrigued, I’m horrified!”
“How often do you eat chicken?
“Once a fortnight”
“For?”
“Eighteen years”
“Once a fortnight for 18 years, that’s 468 chickens. Now if you imagine I’ve been alive for six times longer than you”
“That’s a lot of people”
“The chickens feel the same”
The scene ends with Ruby having a horrified look on her face as if she the penny has just dropped on the weight of their discussion.

The concept of the chickens being free range, organic, or sung to every night never entered into the conversation, only the numbers killed.

Thank you.