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An AR Blueprint For the '20s

Social movements, like all living and prospering entities, must evolve and grow, else they wither and die. In the next decade, our movement will face massive challenges with direct consequences for the lives and deaths of billions of innocent sentient beings. Let’s explore the options.

One Vision – Multiple Paths


Although we may all share the animal rights vision of a world where humans no longer exploit animals for food, fashion, science, or amusement, we follow different paths for getting there. Here are the four most common ones:

  • Hands-on animal advocates rescue a limited number of animals and maintain sanctuaries
  • Advocates of reduced suffering focus on getting animals out of their cages and out of doors
  • Food reformers seek to save the greatest number of animal lives at the earliest date by replacing traditional animal-based foods and ingredients with their plant-based versions
  • Animal rights advocates focus on promoting veganism and animal rights ideology

Although all four approaches have important merits, I am most qualified to comment on the last one and will restrict my recommendations accordingly.

Internal Networking

When I launched the first national animal rights conference in the Summer of 1981, I thought of it only as the first step in bringing our movement together. Indeed, others have since arranged national and regional conferences. We had a beautiful national magazine in The Animals’ Agenda (1980-2002), but that was almost two decades ago. We need more.

In the 2020s, we should consider the following measures designed to improve intra-movement communication and cooperation:

  • A professionally edited and produced monthly online or print publication patterned after The Animals’ Agenda
  • Regional advocacy training seminars, or national advocacy training webinars
  • Inter-organizational working groups on special-interest topics like video production, video promotion, mass mailings, use of social media, and financial transactions

Online Promotion

There is general agreement that videos are the most effective tool for advocacy and social media – the most effective platform. Unfortunately, our experience with screening videos on social media has not been very positive in gaining vegans. If the video is too graphic, people shun it. Of those who watch, few sign up and even fewer stick with it. Still, a video showing a piglet playing with a puppy invariably goes viral. Is there a connection?

In the 2020s, we should consider taking advantage of Facebook’s amazing ability to create custom audiences of people who watched a particular video. We could start with a cute video and a huge custom audience, then keep refining our audience by showing them a series of 3-5 ever more engagingย  videos, until we end up with a much smaller custom audience that is ready to view and react positively to a video requesting a vegan pledge.

Vegan Support

A 2015 survey sponsored by Faunalytics found that 5 out of 6 vegetarians and vegans revert to consumption of animal products, usually for reasons of convenience, social pressure, or health. Clearly, our movement has failed to provide new and would-be vegans with adequate support.

In the 2020s, we should consider the following measures to support new and would-be vegans:

  • Weekly emails with entertaining videos, stories, recipes
  • Facebook groups, moderated by seasoned activists, able to provide encouragement and answer questions (see https://challenge22.com)
  • A searchable directory of vegan videos (FARM is developing one)

Promoting Plant-Based Foods

Most of us agree that the most effective way to protect animal rights is to get people to stop eating them. And, certainly, the most effective way to do that is to provide consumers with delicious, convenient, affordable plant based meats and milk products. Yet, most of us are not likely to develop the next plant-based chicken nugget, to invest the millions of dollars required to launch such a product, or to negotiate with food service companies that distribute it.

In the 2020s, each of us should consider helping to stimulate the demand for plant-based foods and ingredients. Here are a few ways:

  • Distribute plant-based food samples at events we attend
  • Request more plant-based offerings in our favorite restaurant or cafeteria
  • Encourage our schools and other institutions to engage in Meatless Monday
  • Participate in letter writing campaigns requesting restaurant chains to offer more plant-based entrees and food processors to use animal free ingredients in their products

Outreach to Children

One of our movementโ€™s biggest failings has been in reaching out to children. People’s affinity for animals is nurtured by their fondest childhood memories. Toy animals were the very first objects they’ve handled. Their favorite fairy tales revolved around animal lives. Their family dog gave them unconditional love, when their playmates would not. Yet, we ask them to embrace veganism and animal rights only after they’ve undergone a decade of meat and dairy industry brainwashing, with unwitting complicity by parents, teachers, and other trusted sources.

In the 2020s, we should consider a couple of avenues for reaching our children:

  • Use social media to remind children that the food on their plate once shared the same feelings of affection, joy, sadness, and grief as their favorite characters in The Jungle Book, Lion King, Babe, Charlotte’s Web, March of the Penguins, Chicken Run, and Finding Nemo.
  • Arrange classroom presentations through supportive teachers and school officials. Congratulations to The Educated Choices Program for doing just that.

Engaging Abroad

Most of us believe that all animal lives are equally precious. It follows that our efforts should be much more effective in countries, where animal consumption is still low, so that we seek to discourage people from acquiring new bad habits, rather than asking them to drop lifelong ones.

I actualized that concept about 20 years ago by establishing the Sabina Fund to support grassroots organizations in Israel, India, and Africa. Our Meatout and World Day for Farmed Animals have been observed throughout the globe since the early 80s. Today, a number of U.S.-supported organizations are promoting plant-based eating in Israel, India, China, Southeast Asia, and Latin America, making it one of our movement’s notable success stories.

In the 2020s, we should continue and expand our engagement for animals abroad.

(In the preparation of this article, I requested comments from 33 of our movement’s leading thinkers. I am most grateful for their responses.)

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34 thoughts on “The Vegan Blog”

  1. We have learned nothing, but I see a glimmer of hope in this next generation. There’s more love and willingness to care… Maybe I’m dreaming; naive; or surrounded by ‘nice’ young people, but it’s heartening. Thank you for everything you have done to keep those souls safe and loved ๐Ÿ’š๐Ÿ’š๐Ÿ’š๐Ÿ’šโœŒ๏ธ๐Ÿ’•
    Alison,
    Co, Antrim
    N. Ireland

  2. Amazing post. Some people are shocked at the comparison between the Holocaust and what humans do to animals, but this is just speciesism. They feel that comparing human and animal suffering somehow discredits or diminishes human suffering, because they believe animals are lower than humans. Thank you Alex Herscaft for making this important point and hopefully the no vegan majority will see the truth soon. Peace and Love
    Emily

  3. Thank you. I often reference the holocaust in my animal activism and now here are your world changing words to back me up. Thank you thank you. Blessings.

  4. Dear Alex,

    I am moved and humbled by your experience as a young child and the journey it has taken you on. I am finding it hard to put in to words my gratitude that you have been able to find a positive trajectory for the suffering, pain and loss of life among your loved ones, not to mention countless others.

    I am only months in to living a more compassionate life. Vegan eating has been an easy conversion for me and my only regret is having not done it sooner. I have often been saddened by peoples’ lack of empathy towards fellow humans and found it hard as a child to understand racism. Little did I know I was implicitly being taught that oppression (in its’ many forms) was ok. I guess it has never sat well with me, but until only recently the connection between eating animals, animal cruelty and our oppression of people, has eluded me.

    Thank you for giving voice to such a big topic and sharing your experience. I look forward to reading more from you.

    Sincerely, Cyntra

  5. I was never in a camp. But I recognized oppression, and resolved to stop eating meat many years ago. Interestingly enough my own mother tried to guilt me about my decision. And she was raised on a farm.
    So thank you. I firmly believe that you cannot say you love animals and continue to eat meat…it’s more appropriate to say you love certain animals and hate the rest.
    And if you eat meat, you are harming the climate. That’s a proven fact. So thank you sir for your convictions. They are entirely correct.

  6. I wholeheartedly agree with you. I have been a vegetarian since I was a child and a vegan for ten years.
    It is so refreshing to read that others see how this evil, everyday like slaughter, slavery and torture is acceptable if someone else does it for you

  7. Thank you very much for this website, for this clear message.
    I am from Slovakia, and I woul like to make translations of your blog posts, so people, who do not speak English, can read your important thoughts, if it is ok with you.
    I never heard thoughts about our beloved animal toys in our childhood opposing the teaching, that animals are food. I is very strong image of our internal incoherency.
    Thank you. I is honor to read your kind words!

  8. Itโ€™s awesome to become acquainted with a four-decade Vegan. I will keenly anticipate your periodic sharing of wisdom and advice

  9. Thank you. Sir for your incredible insight…
    World must start to understand that
    Savagery is. Savagery… no matter the species ๐Ÿ™

  10. This Text was verry emotional and show the same Violence to animals in high level how the Violence to jewish people before many years ago. Changes was only the Spezies,the cruelty ist the same and so unnessesary!!! Love all beeings is our learning Prozess! I fight for every Animal!๐Ÿ’ช๐Ÿ’ช๐Ÿ’ชโœŒ๏ธI’m a vegan.โฃ๏ธ

  11. Thank you very, very much for calling on your family’s tragic experience, and that suffered by so many others, to advocate for fairness and compassion for all sentient beings. When will the world learn? “Peace on Earth, goodwill towards ALL.”

  12. This was the first time I heard of you. Iโ€™m already vegan , 3 years only unfortunately.
    I wish you can reach more and more people , your words are so powerful. I wish you health and happiness and that many people will hear you out

  13. Alex, I’m so grateful that you are still so active in fighting for the animals! Keep it up as there is still too much work to do. We are fighting against our own government which subsidizes the animal industry!

  14. What an excellent piece of writing to defend animal farming industry ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿฝ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿฝ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿฝ Iโ€™ve just shared it in Facebook

  15. Dear Alex, dear, dear man! I have for many years referred to the killing of these precious beings we share our Earth with as another holocaust! It has always saddened & sickened me. I am forever grateful for the work you do to try and bring awareness, awakening to the human species about what is REALLY going on!!! There are many times I cannot even leave my home for fear of what I might see! I pray and oh I do so hope one day this horrifically heinous treatment of these beloved beings, the innocents indeed will end! …. Thank you!

  16. Thank you for your kind comments.
    Additional information and lessons from the Holocaust about our oppression of animals are available on our website at https://never-again.org.
    The video of a speech I delivered before 2,000 vegan activists in England on August 31st may be viewed on the FARM Facebook page or YouTube channel.

  17. Thank you for the content of this piece, nicely written with lots of great historical information. (I wanted to re post it but I’m an aesthete and cant bring myself to post the cartoon pig logo)

  18. Greetings! This is my 1st comment here so I just
    wanted to give a quick shout out and say I really enjoy reading through your articles.
    Can you suggest any other blogs/websites/forums that cover the same subjects?
    Thanks!

    1. Thank you for your kind comments. I am not aware of anything comparable. That’s why I was motivated to start this blog.

  19. Good question. Much of what I write about is material that I have given a lot of thought to or actually written about. Beyond that, when a thought strikes me, I put it down, name the topic, and file it. So, a lot of my writing is more a matter of rescuing these files, organizing the content in some meaningful fashion, and filling in the gaps, rather than generating new ideas.

    1. I hope to eventually, once the blog has become more established and assuming that the author is someone whose expertise and opinion I respect.

  20. This is a great reminder of how far we have come. Sometimes it seems as if we have stalled and that there is no way to reach the 8 billion people on this planet.

    But comparing the progress over the past four decades does reveal a real move forward. I can remember the day when wanting a veggie burger meant boiling lentils or soaking beans to start with!

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