The graphic to the left is based on a billboard and poster campaign from Peaceful Prairie Sanctuary, a Colorado-based vegan-advocacy group and sanctuary for rescued farmed animals.
When I posted it on my facebook page a few weeks ago, it clearly resonated with many people, given the number of shares it received. In fact, when I shared it on my personal page, it even got a few “likes” from non-vegetarians among my circle of friends.
That suggests to me that this is a very effective way to share a vegan message. It’s hard to know which types of vegan education efforts have the best impact, of course, because we don’t have the data to tell us. But other kinds of research tell us that a story about an individual is likely to touch more people than a focus on the vast number of animals abused and killed for food. In fact, as Matt Ball of Vegan Outreach writes here, talking about the billions and billions of animals killed every year is likely to simply numb people. It’s referred to as “compassion collapse” in the Psychology Today article he cites.
In my upcoming book for over-50 vegans, my co-authors and I said this about those numbers. “We can’t really imagine that many animals, let alone hold that much suffering in our heart. So we tune out. But when we hear stories about individual animals, we’re reminded that each is a living, breathing creature who desires life and freedom.”
Most vegans don’t/can’t tune out, of course. At this time of year, we’re very aware of the incredible amount of suffering that occurred to produce those mountains of turkey bodies in the freezer section of the grocery store. But if those numbers don’t affect others, we should definitely find out what does. Matt writes: “Indeed, if something is meaningful to us as long-time vegans and activists, it is almost certainly not the best way to reach someone who currently eats meat.”
I wrote a couple of years ago about my mixed feelings about Thanksgiving. It’s a sad day for anyone who cares about animals. But it is also an incredible opportunity for outreach. And we should definitely be smart in that outreach. Leave the steamed green beans and brown rice for another day. This is a day to make it clear that vegan food can be celebratory and decadent. And, if someone asks about your vegan choices, maybe a story about an individual animal will make the biggest impression.
I love this post, Ginny! I especially love that I visited that very sanctuary, Peaceful Prairie, yesterday and met beautiful pigs, cows, goats, chickens and, yes, a turkey. It was a pleasure to watch them enjoy a feast of produce (delivered every Sunday) and even more pleasurable knowing they will never end up on someone’s plate.
Here’s to a compassionate day of thanks in which we enjoy family, deliciously prepared plants, and know that we are doing everything we can to change the world for animals!
I saw on FB that you were there, JL. I need to get back to Colorado to visit you and PPS!
Thanks for posting this, Ginny. I appreciate the picture. I’ve been to a turkey “farm”–all those poor, imprisoned birds, heading for eventual slaughter.
Vesanto Melina, MS, RD, author.
Thanks for drawing our attention to this image and story. I just emailed it to all my family members. My father is a vegetarian, but still eats dairy and fish, and the rest of them are all non-vegetarians, unfortunately. I am hoping this will jar them out of their complacency. I love the work you do on this site and in your books.
Wow! This is a powerful picture. Thank you for posting. I went to a church carry-in the Sunday before Thanksgiving, and it was the same as you say…the food made me sad (and more sad after seeing this picture), but on the positive side the others at my table noticed I wasn’t eating any meat (I didn’t initially say anything about it…I’m kind of not the evangelical type, either for religion or diet), but they asked questions, and it was a wonderful opportunity to share my feelings for veganism. I offered to bring three books to church for them — Victoria Moran’s book, your book, and Dr. Fuhrman’s book – so hopefully…
Also…really looking forward to your book for 50 plus vegans!!!