VeganDrew wrote: To a compassionate, rational, open-minded person the vegan message is, I think, straightforward, simple, and obvious. To the other 97%, it's misplaced emotion or anthropomorphism on the part of touchy-feely hippies. Can't we agree that, PETA or not, most people don't care? I've handed out thousands of leaflets, listened to or given multiple talks, and I feel good if one person at each one has changed their mind.
I can certainly agree that most people don't care. However, we need to keep in mind the ratio of exposure for tactics such as what you have done via leafletting and, say, a wacky PETA campaign that gets national exposure. You may only reach a few hundred people in an afternoon of leafletting, and find a few people that are interested. The exposure from a PETA campaign that gets massive national attention (good and bad) will be seen by millions, but what is the actual conversion rate? Requests for additional literature via their site are not a true indicator of real "interest" in making any changes, while it's much easier to gauge actual interest when dealing with someone in the way you would by leafletting. That's not to say that some people don't make the change by seeing PETA's campaigns, but if they were to say "We got 5000 requests for Vegetarian Starter Kits after that campaign", perhaps a few dozen of those people are really interested in making a change. Now, compare time and money spent on the mega-campaign vs. the end result, and it could very well be shocking if we could REALLY see how many people made any change to their lifestyle from the bizarre campaigns that PETA runs.
It's the equivalent of my saying "I have 100,000 people on my email list", but that doesn't mean that everyone cares if I send them things. Based on statistics, I get about 10x the number of site visitors to my store vs. the number who make a purchase - just because they're coming to take a look doesn't mean that they're serious about it, be it buying vegan products or requesting literature based on a campaign. You never really know just how much good it's actually doing, as simple stats don't reflect a true sense of accomplishment toward the goal. I could be wrong, maybe more people DO need to see shock value, lowest common denominator stuff to care about anything, but then again, if you gave those same people a copy of Mein Kampf, they might have an equal interest in national socialism as they would veganism via campaigns relying on exploiting sexuality
VeganDrew wrote:If the strength of an argument on its own were really enough to win people over, we'd live in a much better world. But I would think it's common knowledge that the world doesn't move on good arguments, but on PR, advertising, lobbying, money, greed, and incentive. Personally, I blame capitalism.
Which is true, however, playing by the "bad" rules of the game and not working to change things only accomplishes part of the mission, and with concessions. It's sacrificing integrity in order to reach a goal - it's very tempting, but is it really the best way to go, even if it does get more exposure?
VeganDrew wrote:As both an activist and a journalist I can attest to the fact that your standard animal rights argument won't get much media coverage. You have to bring something new and interesting to the table and then use the 15 minutes to spew your facts/argument real fast. Is that ultimately counter-productive? I don't know, and it's impossible to measure with any precision.
I never said that the common methods were necessarily the most effective (if they were, all the other grassroots vegan and AR groups wouldn't be small operations that are struggling to get by). However, I think that a NEW way of doing things that incorporates the good in PETA with the good in how others operate could effectively be a proficient way of getting the message out WITHOUT needing to make us look like we need to stoop low just to get attention. Unfortunately (while simultaneously fortunately), my life revolves around vegan products and being on the sidelines to fuel those out to battle for the cause, which doesn't give me a whole lot of time to spend working on new ways to promote the message as organizations need to.
VeganDrew wrote:If you can show me a model that works, can be replicated, and takes the same target audience, then I'm game.
As noted, my field of expertise lies elsewhere. Someone else will have to be the one to develop a new plan of attack, I suppose
VeganDrew wrote:I think Vegan Outreach leaflets are a great way to go, for example, but they have limited demographics and niches. If its proven that showing the gruesome videos in public will ultimately do more good, then maybe we could just shift to that. However, if getting into big press NYTIMES, CNN) is considered good for the cause, which PETA attests that it is and I'm willing to hear counter-arguments, then you gotta be silly.
Ultimately, my gripe is that much the press gained from the PETA campaigns doesn't focus on the debate over AR or even animal welfare - it's the shock tactics used that take center stage. I've seen so many news clips of PETA reps trying to explain their way around why they use the tactics (often, with minimal mention by the hosts as to WHY these campaigns are even running, rather, they're more concerned over the shock value of it all vs. the sake of the message), and sometimes, I can say I've seen PETA reps fail miserably at getting the point across. The "Save the Whales" billboard issue was a great example of this - the news clip of it was a sad state for the vegan message. The person from PETA being interviewed failed to make any valid points, and the dietitician that they had to debate him proved him and the campaign wrong multiple times (such as, the "you won't be obese if you go meat-free" schtick that is far from true, since I can prove that one wrong by experience
). To me, that whole thing was a black eye - it was insulting to overweight people, was based off of inaccurate information, and the person they set up to go on camera couldn't prove any of the points he was asked to. Essentially, it was a circus for a few minutes, then became utterly forgettable afterward. But, it did piss people off, all without really making a point for the sake of the animals with any real facts behind it.
VeganDrew wrote:Who, for example? While a lot of celebrities who do shoots aren't vegan, they are doing campaigns like anti-fur which they don't wear. Am I wrong about that?
She posed for one of the famous "Fur? I'd rather go naked" campaigns. As noted in the article, it took a whole week before Khloe was pictured draped in real fur. Boy, do they know how to pick their celebrities for campaigns!
That site has a whole log of celebs that shilled for PETA who live lifestyles completely contradictory to what PETA is aiming to accomplish. It's like if I said "I'm going to use Emeril Lagasse to promote my store because he's famous and willing", even thought he isn't vegan, likely will never be vegan, and will go back to cooking meat for famous folk the follow day. THAT to me is downright shameful. I'm still reeling over their promotion of Pamela Anderson for so long - but I've already covered my gripes over her use in campaigns in other threads, and I could rant all day about that sort of thing
VeganDrew wrote:PETA is targeting a mainstream (read: dumb and generally apathetic) audience. The Peter Singers will take care of the people who want logical argument (me!), Carol Adams will reach feminists, other scholars will reach academia, Rory Friedmann or whatever her name is will reach teeny-boppers, and Mike Mahler and the guy who wrote the Engine 2 Diet can reach the 'tough' guys.
No question about who they're targeting. With these kind of press-loving campaigns they run, it's obviously not for those who typically think beyond who they're going to hook up with that night or where they might go for lunch that day. However, I still cling to the notion that we CAN somehow reach people that are looking for the mainstream WITHOUT having to use the same tired and questionable tactics. Take, for example, PETA's presence at events like the Warp Tour - having a strong presence with youth-oriented events where people are open to different ideas is a great place to find those who have interest, and you don't need to have a naked woman in a cage to get attention. There's nothing inherently vegan about the Warp Tour (except maybe some band members that are potentially vegan), but it's a great place to tap into the audience and promote veganism. Things like that I give them lots of credit for - their work to target the teen audience is exceptional in many ways, and they're at the forefront of getting the message out in a "cool" way without bringing shame on anyone for using questionable tactics. There has to be a better way to do that with the "average American" audience, but somehow, things just stay the same.
VeganDrew wrote:And, as I've said before, I'm really happy to change my mind on this issue. I don't like partnering up with sexist and baiting advertising, but I feel like we're in such a sordid state of affairs that we need to normalize vegetarianism. That means being part of the norm, no matter how gross it is.
I agree, being part of the norm will bring more people in, but how far do we go? If someone went up to you and said, "I'll go vegan for a month and save dozens of animals if you eat this steak right now", would it be worth it to you to sacrifice your ideals and dignity for a few minutes for that tradeoff for the "greater good"? Where do we draw the line at stooping down just to be heard? Everyone has their limits - I just feel that we can't lower ourselves too far without doing damage to the movement and seeming like the class clown, always getting into trouble just to get attention. Like I've said here again and again, there's GOT to be a better way - we just have to come up with it and put it into action. The problem is, we just haven't come up with it yet
"A 'hardgainer' is merely someone who hasn't bothered to try enough different training methods to learn what is actually right for their own damned body." - anonymous