Effective outreach and campaigning depend on good communication skills
Whether you're handing out leaflets, holding a stall or just engage in a conversation with your colleagues, friends or family, you can help educate people about many issues concerning animals or veganism. Here are a few tips for how to make the most of these conversations:
- It's a good idea to approach difficult subjects with 'Did you know that...' - most of us didn't know much about the issues surrounding animal use and veganism growing up, so it's reasonable to assume many people have that in common. If you also add something to make the other person feel like they can relate to you - eg. 'I didn't know that either but then...' - you're off to a good conversation start.
- Try not to get annoyed by silly remarks or arguments you've heard dozens of times before. You can answer that jokingly with 'That's a good one but let me tell you about...' and steer the conversation to what you want to talk about.
- Many people think that when you change the way you eat, you're tortured by what you 'can't have' all the time. Change their perspective by telling them about the amazing and tasty foods you eat and love. Most of us simply want reassurance that any change is practically doable.
- Don't insult people or get angry - this is difficult when someone is very confrontational and may insult you directly but it's crucial not to rise to the challenge. If you feel like the other person is aggressive, tell them. People don't like being told they come across that way.
- Stick to the main facts - you don't have to know everything (try not to let people catch you on minute details, they are not important) and most of the time, you only need to know the basic facts, which make the strongest arguments:
- Dairy cows always have their newborns taken away.
- They are forcibly impregnated every year to keep the milk production going.
- They suffer tremendously - both physically through producing huge amounts of milk whilst growing a baby inside and emotionally through having the baby stolen and being forced to live in unnatural social groups.
- Most of them are exhausted and have serious health problems by the age of six so they are slaughtered for cheap beef (a cow's natural lifespan is around 20 years).
- At least 95,000 newborn bull calves are killed (usually shot) in the UK every year straight after birth as useless byproducts (the actual figure is likely to be higher as births and deaths of bull calves tend to be under-reported).
- People (or any other mammal) don't need to suckle after weaning and certainly not from cows.
- Many people experience health improvements when they go dairy-free.
- It's normal to be dairy-free and there's a rapidly growing variety of dairy-free, vegan products.
- There's no need to get philosophical because any hypothetical scenarios don't solve the problems as well as acting today by not financing the dairy (or other animal-exploiting) industry.
- Desert island scenario - if someone starts by 'What if you're on a desert island and the only thing to eat is...' politely tell them that most of us aren't and won't be on a desert island any time soon so it's best to focus on everyday life; we have so much choice in what we eat that it's very easy to not support industries that cause pain and suffering.