IMPROVE YOUR ACTIVISM

There are many ways you can do activism and there is a place for the majority of activism methods, but how can you become better as an activist in general? I’m going to cover some tips to improve your activism.

TIP 1: DO YOUR RESEARCH

When it comes to activism of any kind, doing your research is likely one of the biggest tips I could give, it’s so important. You don’t have to be the best public speaker, or best at influencing people, but one thing you should be sure of is how well you’ve done your research.

In my opinion, the number one reason you should do your research is people and the media are looking for absolutely anything against veganism. They want to show the world that we are misrepresenting data or just getting their facts wrong. If vegans get a reputation for lying about the data, or the reasons to go vegan, then it’s incredibly hard to recover from.

 

THIS IS KEY: We are on the right side of history, the right side of the cruelty angle, the environmental angle and the health angle. You don’t need to misrepresent data.

 

When you are debating someone or talking to someone in person about veganism, you have so much information to draw from, so you don’t have to use iffy information. In the same vein, you should research the information that’s on the side of veganism too because you shouldn’t be biased. If you just use information which fits your biases, it might actually be wrong. Sometimes you will find information that you just don’t want to hear, but that’s okay.

I don’t like that most vegan friendly fabrics are either cotton or acrylic. Cotton has a lot of water usage and acrylic is made from oil, but not only that, it doesn’t bio degrade, so both have environmental problems.

I don’t like that, but it doesn’t mean it’s any less true. Knowing that the majority of vegan fabrics aren’t environmentally friendly is a good thing because it means we can come up with solutions. It’s true that there aren’t very many commonly accessible (vegan) environmentally friendly fabrics, but there are several in the works (Like leather made from the pineapple leaves that would otherwise be thrown away). It also means we can push to make companies that create and process cotton improve their methods, along with pushing governments to perhaps subsidise the research into innovations in the cotton trade.

Not only does knowing about it help us solve the issue, but if someone on the other side of the argument has researched it and suddenly throws it at you, it won’t surprise you. You can counter their argument and tell them about the pineapple leather, the cork leather and other vegan fabrics which are coming along, thereby ending the debate or line of discussion on a positive note.

TIP 2:STOP USING THE CALORIE FOR CALORIE ARGUMENT!!!

This is kind of tip 1.5, because it builds on what I’ve already said, in using convenient information or biased information. 

There’s this picture going around, you’ll recognise it if you’ve spent time on social media. It states that broccoli has more protein than beef if we compare 100 calories for 100 calories. Now, I won’t do this, perhaps ever again, but I have to praise a website which promotes animal products. Beef Magazine (Really? Couldn’t they have at least thought of a clever pun?)

They have written a whole article on the comparison, I’m only interested in the top of it.

Do you really need meat to get protein? VeganStreet.com says no. The activist group posted this graphic in the Albany Times-Union stating that, “Beef has 6.4 grams of protein/100 calories” and “Broccoli has 11.1 grams of protein/100 calories,” but is that the whole story?

Let’s look at it this way: one cup of broccoli contains 31 calories, which means you would have to eat more than 3 cups of broccoli to get 11.1 grams of protein. Moreover, VeganStreet.com underestimates the grams of protein in a serving of beef. A 3-oz. serving of beef provides 25 grams of protein.

Now, I don’t know whether a 3 oz serving of beef contains 25 grams of protein, but I do know that most vegetables are inferior to animal products when it comes to calorie content. One of the reasons that vegans tend to be thinner, yet eat much more is due to the calorie content.

Your body requires a certain amount of calories per day to be satisfied. In terms of space in your stomach, vegetables fill it up quicker making you feel full, but then you’re hungry again 2-3 hours later once the food has been digested. When you eat animal products, you can get fat so much quicker, because you can eat far more calories with animal products than vegetables. A full stomach of veggies might be 500 calories, but a full stomach of animal products might be double that, or even 3/4 times as many calories. If you are eating more calories than you burn, you gain weight, simple nutrition.

You can see a comparison of animal products vs vegetables in the stomach here: Link

My point is, you need way more broccoli to get a similar amount of protein as you would in beef.

But why is this a problem you ask?

The meat eating side of the article doesn’t have a leg to stand on if you actually get down to facts and figures, once you’ve gone past “Stop forcing your opinion on me”, the data doesn’t lie. Veganism is better on all fronts, environmentally, health, cruelty etc. There is no way to argue against the data, unless of course you start allowing RIDICULOUS arguments like calorie for calorie into the debate.

There was a study done on the environmental aspects of producing foods including emissions produced, water used, space taken etc. It summed up that lettuce was actually 3 times worse for the environment than the favourite war cry of facebook comment sections cavemen, bacon. I’ll say again, LETTUCE, is worse for the environment than bacon.

Does this sound ridiculous to you? Well if you accept calorie for calorie as a valid argument, you have to accept that lettuce is worse for the environment than bacon, because the study was done measuring calorie for calorie, which as we know is a fatally flawed argument. 100 calories of bacon is 2-4 slices, which can easily be a single sandwich. 100 calories of lettuce is several lettuce heads and an amount that no single person is going to eat in one sitting, or perhaps a weeks worth of sittings.

See the full study HERE

In summary… There are MANY fantastic arguments you can make, but this isn’t one of them.

 

TIP 3:LEARN YOUR SKILL SET AND NURTURE IT

Firstly, I want to say that by no means should you shut yourself off from doing a particular form of activism because you aren’t good at it. Even the people you idolise as activists likely weren’t that way to begin with and had to learn how to get their message across better, or make some kind of change to create the final product you see in those viral videos.

However, you are going to be better at some things than others. This is a universal truth that some things you do better than others and it applies in the same way to activism. Even Gary Yourofsky, who by all standards is a fantastic activist, has things he isn’t so good at. In my opinion, Gary Yourofsky should stick to talking at universities, or any form of activism involving his public speaking, it’s undeniably where he is the most effective. More recently he’s been commenting and replying in comment sections and his passion is either being taken out of context, or what he’s saying is being twisted in some way. It’s doing him a diservice as an activist because people will only see one side of the story.

There are many different kinds of activism, which I’ll talk about in a different article, but you should find what your skill set is an apply it to what you are passionate about, whether it’s fur, zoos, dairy or anything else.

Me, I’d say I’m far better at writing comprehensive and logical arguments, but also problem solving and coming up with good suggestions. I am terrible when it comes to on camera work because I don’t feel like I can be genuine on the camera, my personality doesn’t seem to mesh well on video. Though that could honestly just be me being my biggest critic, who knows?

Find your skill set, keep working to improve it and then apply it to activism you support

TIP 4: WORK WITH WHAT YOU’RE PASSIONATE ABOUT

While all of the animal agricultural industries are horrific and we should be working towards abolition of all of these, however it’s natural that you’d be more passionate about one of the different industries ending than others.

For me, I think that both the egg and dairy industry are probably the most cruel in terms of the methods they use. You’re used for your entire life to produce a product and you don’t even get to retire, but you’re sent to slaughter. If your baby is male in both industries, they are slaughtered on the day of birth (if the egg industry), or within weeks if the dairy industry. This doesn’t include mutilations along the way and horrific living conditions.

However the zoo industry I think could quite possibly be the worst in terms of mental torture. Some zoos have had elephants shackled, unable to move, isolated and alone for 40 years! Most humans can’t deal with not having internet for a week, but still can speak to members of their species easily. Imagine being able to not speak to anyone for half of the lifetime of what would be considered a long life (80 years). Not only that but elephants often will travel miles each day and that’s stripped from them.

Those are just a few industries I’m passionate about seeing ending, however why does knowing this help me?

When you are passionate about something, you automatically (generally speaking) become more motivated towards it. You start to learn about the topic more, consuming material and information on it. You want to be involved with it more and find out how you can do it better, you develop focus towards it etc. All these things lead you to become a better activist because you have an internal drive beyond the normal despise for the industry.

This isn’t to say don’t go to a vigil because it isn’t about your main focus, but assessing which industries you want to see end the most and learning better how you can help see this a reality is never a bad thing.

Also… NEVER let anyone tell you that you should be focusing on one industry more than another.

Just because you’re super motivated about the silk industry ending, or the animal tourism industry or vivisection. Just because they are less talked about parts of veganism, doesn’t mean that the victims of these industries should have any less of a voice to protect them. We need passionate voices speaking out against ALL forms of cruelty.

TIP 5: DON’T WORRY ABOUT THE FANCY EQUIPMENT

I feel like this isn’t exactly the most original advice, but it’s still important. You don’t need to have a fancy microphone or camera to be a good activist. Sure if you’re planning on recording tons of cruelty related footage, having a camera that can actually capture what you’re trying to show makes sense. Nowadays though, there have been movies shot on iPhones, which is insane to me.

Tangerine, which was one of the best films at the Sundance Festival was shot entirely on an iPhone and looks fantastic. Even if you don’t have a fancy phone, you can still make a video. A regular phone today is adequate to record you talking to the camera to spread a message or make some logical points, or even interview people on the streets.

Take a look at some of these videos:

The above videos are some of the biggest voices in the vegan community online and yet they had to start somewhere. Joey Carbstrong and Earthling Ed both started likely with a phone, or at the very least they had a shaky camera and audio that isn’t perfect. Joey, in his early videos was holding the camera himself and just holding it towards the conversation, yet look at the work he’s done.

The important thing is to have good content and be promoting veganism in a positive light. You can worry about camera equipment later, but waiting till you have enough money to buy a camera and expensive gear is time wasted you could have been talking to people and getting out there, refining your activism. By the time you have the fancy gear, you’ll have refined your style and be ready to answer any question, so you’ll make even MORE of an impact.

TIP 6: LEARN YOUR AUDIENCE AND GET ON THEIR SIDE

So you know all of the things that you know now, that you probably didn’t know pre-vegan? You know how you wish that somebody had told you sooner? You know how cagey people get when you bring up veganism and can’t even fathom why as soon as you say dairy is animal abuse, that they wouldn’t go vegan on the spot?

These things are all kind of linked and there’s actually a lot to be said and TONS of variables to this, but I specifically want to talk about why facts don’t convince you of anything and often the more facts that are thrown at you, the more you reinforce your position.

Take a look at this video, it’s really interesting, from the perspective of someone who has tried and failed to convince people to go vegan in the past.

Some quotes to consider from the video:

“It’s safer to agree with your tribe and stay united ideologically even if you’re wrong about the facts, than to disagree and isolate yourself”

This is possibly the most important quote I want to draw attention to. How people are perceived is incredibly important, whether it’s your social life, work life or love life etc. There are many negative stereotypes surrounding the word vegan so they might not want to identify themselves under that branch, because they take on the negatives too. Imagine the amount of grief you would get if you were from a family of farmers/ranchers in the heart of Texas. Not only your family will know about it, but eventually the neighbours and local businesses. If your social circles are only filled with people who support animal agriculture, you stick out like a sore thumb and can become ostracised.

“When our world view is challenged, that same part of the brain that processes physical danger gets activated. This is why people sometimes react aggressively to information that proves us wrong”

“Studies have also shown that there is a backfire effect that can occur when people encounter facts which that contradict their current beliefs. They actually become more convinced of their original ideas”

“Studies have shown that when humans are divided into groups of any kind, we instinctively become less empathetic to members of other groups.”

“This distinctive dehumanisation of other groups is what makes things such as slavery and genocide possible in our society.”

The above quotes explain EVERYTHING when it comes to activism. If we acted in a rational manner, we’d all be vegan and yet we aren’t. The line about putting humans into groups allowing dehumanisation which in turn allows slavery and genocide, was especially powerful. Animals are stripped of their individuality, purpose, value and rights to such a degree that they aren’t even victims at this point. Dehumanisation doesn’t even accurately depict the way they are viewed, but not only do we group them as separate to humans, but we then make arbitrary groupings for which animals deserve to be respected and love and which deserve to be killed.

So what can we do?

Of course there is no one right way of doing things, you’ll find your way of becoming more effective. As talked about in the video, you need to first start by assimilating yourself within their tribe, so they don’t recognise you as a threat. Whether that’s you both have the same hair colour, you both have piercings and tattoos, you both like football. Even if you skip this part, you can still get them to recognise you are part of their tribe by telling them about the fact most vegans weren’t born vegan. Most vegans didn’t go vegan because we hated the taste of meat or dairy, we weren’t born this way, but instead recognised the moral obligation to make a change. There’s lots of things you can do and say to eliminate the threat, but it will be drastically different depending on who the activist is and who they are talking to.

By |2018-03-04T19:52:18+00:00February 12th, 2018|Categories: Blog Post, Featured Activism|0 Comments

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