Resolved: Vegan USA by 2018

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Resolved: Vegan USA by 2018

From VINE Sanctuary
December 2012

Building on Miriam’s “pushy vegan campaign,” VINE Sanctuary invites every vegan—pushy and otherwise—to join us in resolving to convince two people to go vegan this year and, in so doing, begin the process of reforming U.S. food and agriculture in five years.

At present, only 0.5% of people in the United States are vegan. If all of us convince two people to go vegan, that brings us up to 1.5% at the end of 2013.

Doesn’t sound like much, does it? But do the math: If we do the same the next year, that brings us to 4.5% of the population by the end of 2014, Again, and we’re at 13.5% of the population by the end of 2015. Yet again, and we’re at 40.5% of the population by the end of 2016. One more time and we can ring in 2018 with vegan nog for everyone!

Of course, all sorts of other changes will have to happen at the same time. Some will happen naturally. As demand for vegan food rises, costs will drop [due to economies of scale] and availability will increase [due to new producers entering a newly attractive market]. But that won’t fix the problem of lack of access to healthy vegan food in many urban and rural low-income communities. We’ll need more efforts like the Food Empowerment Project. (And vegans will need to do more than just say they support such projects. Everybody will need to pitch in, doing whatever is needed to make sure that everybody in their particular city or county has access to fresh fruit and vegetables, bulk beans and rice, and kitchens to cook in.)

Similarly, as decline for meat, dairy, and eggs drops, some farmers will be able to easily transition to the more satisfying and lucrative venture of growing food crops for people. But other farmers, like some former tobacco farmers who now grow organic vegetables, will need grants and technical assistance from the state or from non-profits. We’ll also need to do something about those federal subsidies to the meat and dairy industries, which artificially lower their prices and elevate their profits while also helping them to export to other countries.

Whew! That’s a tall order.

You have to start where you are. That’s the first tenet of effective activism. So, let’s start here and now. Start with where you are, with the people in your social circle. Those are the folks you know best and with whom, most likely, you share some socioeconomic and cultural characteristics. Those are the folks, then, who you are in the best position to influence.

You don’t have to convince everybody, just two. Perhaps a sibling and an ex. Or perhaps a neighbor and a coworker. Or perhaps your grandmother plus that bike-riding barista who you happen to know is lactose intolerant anyway.

The next tenet of effective activism is educated and mindful trial and error. Throughout the year, we’ll be sharing tips gleaned from what we know—not guess, but know—about persuasion, in general and related to veganism. We’ll also be asking you to join us in information gathering, by sharing your stories of success or failure.

Psychologists know that persuasion isn’t a one-size-fits-all process. Some people are swayed by direct and logical argumentation, others by appeals to emotion. Some think only of self-interest while others are insulted by the notion that they are only interested in themselves. Some make snap decisions; others need time to think. Some people balk—becoming even more unlikely to be persuaded—if they feel pushed. Others like a direct challenge.

Similarly, we all bring different strengths and weaknesses to the task of persuasion. Some are skilled at creating those logical arguments, while others have wonderful intuitions that help them connect at the emotional level. Some hate to stray even an inch from the realm of rational argumentation while others feel smothered by demands that they stay within that realm. Some vegans are great cooks who can bring truly delicious food to the table while other vegans should be banned from ever bringing a tasteless casserole to a potluck again.

Some things do seem to be abidingly true across the board. One is that people are more likely to follow through on pledges that they have actually verbalized to others. So, first things first:

Please join us in resolving to persuade two people to go vegan this year. You don’t have to decide which two people yet, just make the pledge. Do so by making this comment below:

I resolve to persuade two people to go vegan this year and to encourage every vegan I know to do the same.

Then, start thinking: Who will you choose? Why? What persuasive tactics are likely to work with each of them? Why? Are they similar or different? What will you do or say first for each one? When will you begin?

We’ll keep track of who’s made the pledge. (We’re starting on New Year’s Day, but anybody can take the pledge and start any time during the year, as long as they can bring in those two vegans by December 31st 2013.) We’ll post updates here and also set up a private discussion forum to which people making the resolution will be invited.

Oh, and… Happy New Year from VINE!