Day one ended at like 4am so although I had planned on making it to the morning yoga session, I slept in super late and rolled into the conference around noon.
11:30 Engaging the Media– Silvava Andrade, Alex Hershaft, Kezia Jauron
From Kezia Jauron regarding interactions with press and media
- Knowing who should talk to the media on your groups behalf is just as important as knowing who should NOT talk to the media.
- Be professional even in the interviewer is not. If he or she seems causal, stay professional.
- Always better to wear a suit or dress up than an organization T-shirt.
- Take notes and follow up, never flake if you say you’ll do something for the press. Follow up no more than 3 times.
- Be at the service of the media, not the other way around. They have deadlines, follow through on all promises. Make yourself easy to work with.
From Alex Hershaft regarding letters to the editor:
- You can write to the editor in response to an article or something happening locally.
- Should be about 200 words, include your name, phone #, and a mailing adress. They often like to contact you to verify who you are.
- You should sound like a citizen and not a fanatic, keep it conversational and end with a recommendation like, “search ‘vegan recipes’ for ideas.” Do not name a specific site.
12:30 Strategies for Promoting Vegan Eating– Nick Cooney, Bruce Friedrich, Erica Meier, Michael Webermann
- Request more vegan option at local supermarkets
- Contact vegetarian companies and ask they stop using eggs in their products to make them vegan friendly.
Nick Cooney touched on some things I hadn’t known or thought about before. He talked about how fishes and chickens make up most of the suffering of factory farmed animals. This was surprising to me. I just assumed it was chickens and cows. A lot of people have started cutting out red meat for health reason and then switch for fish, thinking it’s a healthier alternative. Not only is the animal protien not good for you but eating fish is not sustainable since for every pound of fish that were intended to be caught, there is a huge amount caught that was unintended. It’s accidental bycatch is not put back safely in the water, it dies. Sharks, seals, whales, turtles, dolphines. If you want to greatly reduce your impact on animal suffering start by cutting out fish and chicken.
Change is hard and if we are going to try to get people to adopt a vegan lifestyle as a more compassionate and healthy way of life then we need to make it seem easy for them. People need to know it’s possible and need to know HOW to transition before they can make a decision to change their ways. There are a few factors that come into play:
Taste: No one wants to sacrifice good tasting food
Health: They need to know it’s safe and healthy
Convenience: Where to eat out and where to buy groceries
Social: We need to give advice on situations we all encounter (like eating with a non vegan family, holidays, vacations, road trips, answering immature questions)
Michael Weberman talked about the importance of staying vegan. I am approaching my 5 year vegan anniversary and if you asked me 3 years ago if I thought I’d be vegan forever I would have said, “maybe, not sure about vegan but vegetarian for sure”. Also I wasn’t sure if I’d raise vegan babies or not. Now I am 100% sure I will be vegan for life and my kids will grow up knowing animals are not ours to control or eat. I have given up watching any and all animal abuse stories. I know and I don’t need to see it again. It’s too hard to watch and it makes me feel pretty helpless. But Weberman said it’s a strong indicator that these visual reminders will keep a vegan a vegan, so in that spirit I tried to keep my eyes open a tad this weekend at some of the undercover footage in people’s presentations. I also like to go back once in a while and reread the books that changed my life as a way to motive me to do more for the animals and for my own health and happiness. Going vegan is the single most life changing and positive action I’ve taken in my life. I can’t imagine not being vegan. It’s important not to torture ourselves by watching abuse videos, but it is important to turn that anger and sadness into something productive.
Bruce Friedrich then touched on a few topics I’ve given a lot of thought to over the years. He talked about vegan purity vs efficiency. The example he gave was when a bartender asked if he was vegan and then told him what beer he could have. He went on to say that we as vegans need to make it seem possible for non vegan to be attracted to our lifestyle. If veganism seem unattainable, we’re not doing ourselves, or more importantly, the animals, any favors. If we were the animals, what would we want our advocates to do?
Then he pointed out that vegans will never be 100% pure since the food we eat is grown with soil that contains manure and blood meal. So let’s focus less on being perfect and more on being effective. I used to really beat myself up over the occasional accidental consumption of an animal product. Just last week I discovered my favorite bread has honey in it. And while mistakes like these can be disappointing on a personal level to have eaten something I’m so against, I think the bigger issue was always feeling like a hypocrite to NON vegans. If you tell another vegan, “I accidentally ate this ‘fill in the blank’ and it had ‘fill in the blank’ in it!! I’m so upset!” They’d probably just tell you it happened to them last week and it happens to everyone and it’d be no big deal and you’d move on. But somehow if you tell a non vegan they start saying the most asinine things like, “So I guess you’re not vegan anymore.” “Are you still vegan if you eat a bug in your sleep?” I think I was always too concerned with the non vegans opinion that I lost sight of the bigger picture. I’ve since grown in confidence. (also not all non vegans are a-holes about me being vegan)
2:30 Engaging Young Adults– Jon Camp, Angie Fitzgerald, Stephanie Frankle
Fitzgerald talked about her time with the 10 Billion Lives Tour. The group went to college campuses with their van and TVs and paid students $1 to watch a 4 minute video about how 10 billion land animals are raised and slaughtered for food every year in the U.S. alone; this does not include sea food. She talked about the best way to engage with the students after they watch the short clips containg undercover footage of animal abuse (which is VERY common place). She offered the following tips:
- Let them dominate the dialogue, ask leading questions if they are speechless. “How did that make you feel?”
- Be friendly and non judgmental
- It can be overwhelming. Most want to pledge to go vegan or vegetarian right then an there but that can be unrealistic and overwhelming. Ask, “where would you like to start first?” If they say they want to give up dairy, help them come up with a plan. Give them the knowledge, tools and resources to succeed.
*Also worth noting is the group ARM. They do amazing work shutting down illegal groups that are abusing animals! Look them up; give them your money!
After a good morning of talks and more doughnuts Cassie, Bobby, and I went to dinner at Sage, which apparently there are two of in LA. So delicious.
After stuffing our faces and walking the pups we headed back to the conference for the closing night karaoke party and MORE FOOD. No shame in some late night carrot cake and ice cream.
I’ll leave you with some people saving Beagles in Brazil.
Special shout out to Toni and Bobby for making my weekend so much fun. I didn’t want the weekend to end. I really want to go to San Diego’s Veg Fest. Who’s in?!