Veganism, radical veganism rather, is a sharp clawed, and grotesquely faced beast. It hides behind gory pictures of animals and unnerving pictures of food, some of which feigned for the sake of fear-mongering. But by no means do I believe vegans have no leverage. I simply believe that the way in which many go about convincing others is wildly ineffective and occasionally borders upon the offensive.
Here’s a quick crash course on rhetoric. Establish a goal and use any combination of logic, ethics, or emotion to persuade your audience to your side. Logos: your logical appeals. These use any combination of facts, statistics, or logical sequences to accomplish the goal. Ethos: the ethical appeal. This is your credibility; this is why your audience should listen to you. Pathos: the emotional appeal. This is the strongest when used effectively. If you can make your audience feel what you want, then you’ve won.
Problem number one: it seems that many vegans have made a habit of spreading false anthropology and biology and creating falsified images about food to convert nonvegans. The argument that our ancestors were not omnivores is particularly ineffective. Due in large part to the fact that IT IS NOT TRUE. There is no debate among the anthropological community. Our ancestors were omnivores. Period. End of discussion. I could easily run through the faults(some bordering utter absurdity), but for the sake of brevity, I believe this person does a thorough job. This line of thought will only work for the particularly gullible. And it pains me to say this, but in rhetoric, facts don’t matter, as long as the audience believes you . For the majority of people however, hearing this, and other similar arguments only thickens their shell, making them less receptive to future arguments. Your tools of persuasion lie elsewhere.
Problem number two: do not draw parallels between #blacklivesmatter or similar movements and veganism. I do not know who taught white vegans how to interact with colored people, but equating the injustices I face along with my life, to that of a chicken’s is insulting and vaguely racist and dehumanizing. And with one simple statement, you have lost all of your ethos, and thus any chance of persuading me.
Problem number three: upper class vegan have a tendency to delude themselves into believing that everyone has the resources necessary to go vegan. Pretend a teenager living in a typical family of five wants to go vegan. They would have to have separate meals from their family which adds to living expenses and hassle. And some naive soul is thinking “then convert the rest of the family to veganism too,” blissfully unaware of how difficult it is to sway an entire family away from the life they’ve known their whole lives. Especially in ethnic families where going vegan can be seen as an erasure of their roots.
Problem number four: do not dare approach anyone with a “holier-than-thou,” bourgeoisie attitude. You will approach me as an equal. The “benevolent God” ethos does not work on me, nor anyone else. It only serves to annoy your audience. Get eye level with your audience. Don’t look down. It is much easier to persuade a person when they don’t feel like they’re being belittled. One of the biggest reasons Bush beat Gore was that he 1) was pro-gun and 2) was the more relatable of the two. He came off to the people as a guy you can sit down and have a beer with. And that’s one of the biggest keys to persuasion: approachability and friendship.
I can continue to beat this point into the ground, but I feel it a tad unnecessary. After all, you need only recognize these problems and the recurring themes underneath. Stay focused on your goal. Your goal is to persuade, not to enter a battle of “who dost be the holiest?” Engage your audience as an equal, as a friend. You become much more effective. And don’t make outrageous claims without the proper verification.