Defined as: the practice of actively not participating in the exploitation of any animal to include food consumption, animal testing, entertainment, consumption of byproducts, and clothing.
Some methods Vegans use to raise the awareness can be peaceful and other can be more obstructive. If you have a social media, there is a high probability that you have seen a disturbing video of farm animals being abused and then likely slaughtered. The impact is obvious but can we rank its effectiveness?
This topic is complicated because it depends on how it is portrayed. On one hand, showing someone a graphic video/image of the animal-to-food process can leave a lasting imprint on the persons mind, if they have a way of silencing you, then they most likely will.
What I mean by this is (running with the example above) now the non-vegan is traumatized by the footage/imagery and is perhaps in shell-shock. The next time they see meat, it may remind them of the graphic imagery and they may hesitate to consume it or downright avoid it entirely. The vegan has now “ruined” meat for the non-vegan, which was the whole point to begin with, right? Here is where it gets fuzzy.
Let’s say the non-vegan (NV) was so offended by this unsolicited imagery that (if on a social media platform) because of this they have decided to block/ ban/ delete/ remove/ hide this graphic image/video, and perhaps do the same to the NV as well. The vegan (V), metaphorically, dowsed the relationship-bridge in gasoline and gave the lighter to the NV. Depending on how strong their relationship is, the NV is given the choice to accept, ignore, or remove the new stimulus. So even though the V did make an impact (albeit perhaps temporarily), if the NV decides to disassociate themselves from the V, then the V no longer has any future opportunities to provide more educational material, awareness, and has stifled the possibility of conversion, that in the long run would have otherwise actually made a lasting effect.
So, are the images effective? Yes. But in terms of lasting effect, no. For someone to completely convert and stay vegan, it must come from a place of education and information that is voluntary.
This is probably why the stigma exists: “Don’t push your veganism down my throat!” and why the most likely response to such images are “MMM BACON!”
If you are trying to express your veganism and raise awareness then I recommend the following:
- Provide opportunities for NVs to participate in conversations. Especially about why you consume the food you do.
- Educate people with factual information that is sourced by reputable sources.
- Do not be confrontational; confrontation begets defensiveness which begets willful ignorance.
- If they aren’t vegan at the end of your conversation, that’s okay! The point is to keep the conversation lasting. They will be curious and at some point ask you questions or do their own research.
- If you see an opportunity that calls for graphic imagery, then do so in a manner that is voluntary and can be supplemental to narratives you want to address. Examples: Would you like to see why I don’t eat meat? Why meat is unhealthy? Why I feel compassion for the animals? Would you like to know how your food gets from the farm to your plate?
Let me know what your opinions are on this topic.