Saturday, September 28, 2013

Having an Impact / You Are Not Your Audience

Chris Guinn posted this video, on being effective as an advocate for the animals.

Perhaps the best line is:

"Having an impact is not the same as 'telling it like it is.'"

Vegan Outreach seeks to have as much of an impact as possible, rather than telling it like it is ("All animal abuse is wrong"). We don't care about anything other than reducing suffering -- having an actual impact, as much as possible. "Respect" "liberation" "rights" -- these are all just words that might matter to us vegans, but they don't matter to the hen slowly dying in a battery cage. All that matters there is that fewer people buy eggs, for whatever reason. We aren't here to demand people think a certain way, or make choices for reasons we deem acceptable. In an even broader sense, we don't care what people think ("Yes, animals' lives are important to them") if their actions cause suffering. All that matters are the consequences. All that matters is fewer animals suffering. The rest is just talk.

Equally important is YANYA -- You are not your audience. What we, as advocates, present to the public shouldn't be what appeals to us / matches with what we currently believe. In fact, if our advocacy materials makes us, as vegans, feel good, then they probably aren't the best for reaching our target audience -- those whose choices currently are hurting animals.

[Postscript: the one area where Tobias analysis is off regards why we don't embrace the health argument, thinking it is only because of our personal ego. He points out that people who reduce eating meat are often motivated by health. However, this only looks at the self-selected sample of those reducing meat, not everyone who are making choices for "health" reasons. We have to look at the overall impact of our advocacy, and the net impact of the health argument -- even including those who go veg / reduce meat for health reasons -- is many more chickens and fishes suffering. (Seriously -- who reading this doesn't hear, over and over, "Oh, I only eat chicken and fish.") If we only look at those who have changed as we want them to, instead of the entire society, it is easy to miss that advocacy can hurt animals. And if you think about it, in the US -- where basically every doctor, medical organization, and public health advocacy group is saying "Eat healthier!!" -- it is laughable to think that if only Vegan Outreach would just tell people to eat healthier, fewer chickens and fishes would be killed. And, of course, VO's target audience of young people aren't generally concerned about health.

More importantly, Tobias' work is, in general, very different from VO's. Tobias and his group works with governments -- getting money from the government, having cities embrace Meatless Mondays, etc. Getting entities to say nice things about vegetarianism is quite different than trying to get college students to start taking steps towards vegetarianism.]