Vegan Paradox: unsupportive friends and family

An interesting finding from a recent survey: People who felt the least supported when they went vegan were more likely to stay vegan than people who felt more supported. Take a look at "Do vegans thrive in adversity?":
"In 2011 pledgers were asked at the end of the pledge about how difficult various challenges had been including “other’s attitudes” rated from 1 (very easy) to 5 (very difficult). Those who found other’s attitudes more difficult were more likely to stay vegan. Out of 49 pledgers, 13 gave a rating of 4 or 5 on the difficulty of other’s attitudes and all but one of these (92%) chose to stay vegan.""Why might those who found friends and family least supportive be the most likely to stay vegan? One obvious reason might be a third variable. Those who were most passionate about being vegan were most likely to stay vegan and also to have disagrements with others. Another reason might be that those who had trouble with lack of support or others’ attitudes became more committed to being vegan to better integrate with a new social community."
Of course, the sample size is small. And there's the issue of self-reporting. But this is interesting nonetheless.

"The Health Argument" for veganism

As a reminder...

Cultivate Research undertook a large, multi-phase research study including nine focus groups and a survey with 3,200 U.S. adults to investigate these segments and the motivations that affect their decisions to mitigate or halt their meat consumption. [...]

The research conducted during the course of this study clearly shows that increased health consciousness is one of the single most influential factors affecting the dietary choices and habits of the U.S. adult in today’s society. Cultivate Research has identified that a key reason for the growing importance of health is the aging of the U.S. population; and older consumers are more likely to be reducing meat as a component of moving toward a healthier diet. As the “baby boomer” population continues to age and these consumers become increasingly concerned about their personal health, we expect the population dynamics to shift even further in favor of meat reduction for the perceived health benefits. [...]

Cultivate Research conducted in-depth quantitative (the first phase phone survey) and qualitative (second phase focus groups) research to obtain a well-rounded understanding of the trends and motivations of consumers who limit their meat consumption. This project represents one of the most comprehensive research studies ever conducted about the attitudes and behaviors of U.S. adult consumers toward meat reduction and the consumption of meat and dairy alternative products.

This, once again confirms, that "the health argument" for veganism is most appealing to older people whereas other arguments may be more appropriate for younger people.

Of course, it should be noted that the argument alone is not sufficient for veganism, as explained by Vegan Outreach and Ginny Messina. The health benefits traditionally associated with veganism can often be obtained through the consumption of small amounts of lowfat animal products and large amounts of whole grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables (a "flexitarian" diet). Likewise, small amounts of veggies meats are also an acceptable part of a healthy diet.

But what is important to note from the research cited above is this: Grocery stores, restaurants and other food-sellers selling vegan foods can probably profit most by emphasising the health benefits of the vegan foods.

Notes from AR 2011

Here are some of our notes from the 2011 AR conference:

Of particular interest to the readers of this blog are these posts:
Winning Hearts And Minds
Effective Speaking
Advertising Our Message
Printing Our Message
Writing The Animal Rights Message

Print versus online media

A study was done a couple years ago that compared print and virtual advertisements. The researchers showed study participants two ads, one was on screen and the other was printed on paper. They did an MRI on the participants to see how their brains responded to the ads.

The study found that:

  • "Physical materials produced more brain responses connected with internal feelings, suggesting greater 'internalization'"
  • "Physical material involves more emotional processing"
  • physical presentation of information "may be generating more emotionally vivid
  • "Tangible materials leave a deeper footprint in the brain"
  • print materials have "a more personal effect, and therefore should aid motivation"
  • "While in no way denigrating virtual media, which clearly has specific benefits in terms of targeting and interactivity, the study does reveal that there is something special about the physical medium."

This study suggests that print marketing materials can be more effective than virtual ones.

Study link:

Animal advocacy is not exactly the same as marketing, but there are similarities. From this study, we can draw the conclusion that the act of physical leafleting is valuable work that likely has serious tangible benefits. Most likely, whenever someone receives a copy of Compassionate Choices from Vegan Outreach, and they look it over, they have an emotional memory with a significant personal effect.

Clearly, virtual media has enormous benefits due to ease of production, lower cost, less waste, interactivity, and more. However, this study shows an enormous benefit to print media as well.

Why Meatless Monday Works

Civil Eats has an article about the success of the Meatless Monday campaign. Chris Elam, the Program Director of Meatless Monday, explains why he thinks there's been so much acceptance of the program:

  • "It’s merely a suggestion to go plant-based on Mondays. That’s it. We keep the message intentionally simple, to make it accessible to all, in the hopes of reaching as many people as possible."

  • "Meatless Monday is about choice. [...] we want to give people more options, not less. We’re all about getting people to try new healthy foods and veggie-based recipes. It’s not about taking away–it’s really about adding."

  • "we leave it up to our adopters to define Meatless Monday. We work with so many different groups–cities, schools, campuses, restaurants, worksites, chefs, dietitians–that it makes sense to allow each one to shape its message to its specific audience. This flexibility allows people to feel personally invested in our campaign (which is vital in building a national movement)."

  • "There’s a lot of worry out there over large, looming crises: climate change, the obesity epidemic, food safety, environmental degradation, animal rights, budgetary woes, etc. Meatless Monday is a direct, personal response to these global fears, something we can all do that positively impacts these issues. In this way, we can tap into the energy and support of the many groups worldwide fighting these causes, making their platforms our platforms."

  • "Ultimately, after all the elaborate justifications and cross-competing agendas, Meatless Monday is about one simple thing: eating more vegetables. Isn’t that something we can all get behind?"

Emphasis added.

Here are a few other reasons why I think it works:

  • People seem more interested in health on Mondays. Just visit a gym every day at the same time for one or two weeks and you'll notice that a lot more people workout on Mondays than on Fridays or Saturdays.

  • A fresh spin: This concept of eating vegetarian or vegan one day a week is not a new idea. But Meatless Monday puts a new spin on it, complete with a catchy name and cool logo.

  • The timing is great for it. In an era where information is so accessible, sharing veg recipes and information that supports a plant-based diet is so much easier today than it was 20 years ago.

Crossposted at Vegan Soapobox.

The Payday Cycle

I was reading a blog about marketing and I came across this:

University of Utah marketing professors Himanshu Mishra and Arul Mishra studied consumer behavior and attitudes, and found [...] if you are advertising new products or products geared toward improving lifestyle, those should be advertised in the time period shortly after payday. If you are advertising products intended more to maintain or prevent worsening of their lifestyle, target the period just before payday. They provide a simple example: whitening toothpaste would be an improvement-oriented product, while a cavity-prevention message would be geared to prevention.

The link is here:

For vegan advocates, this could be useful information. Although we're not technically selling a product, we're promoting a lifestyle. And much of what marketing is for products is the same as it is for lifestyles: ideas.

I think it's very possible that people are more likely to be persuaded to go veg by using different kinds of explanations at different times of the month. For example, they're probably more interested in hearing about celebrity vegans and indulgent vegan foods at the begining of the payday cycle whereas they're more likely to be interested in a budget and/or health-presevation rationale for veganism towards the end of the payday cycle.

It seems to make sense that people would be more willing to try new-to-them vegan foods at a free feed-in when they're broke but more willing to buy from a charity vegan bake sale when they're flush. And since there are other factors involved in how people rate the tastiness of foods (a variety of perceptual biases influence taste), vegan education campaign adjustments based on the payday cycle make a lot of sense.

The article reminds us that "Not everyone is on the same pay cycle, and it seems that more affluent consumers who don’t live from paycheck to paycheck would be less influenced by payday issues." But when dealing with college students, who are typically living "paycheck-to-paycheck," I bet activists could organize a vegan education campaign on a college campus based on the payday cycle of the university and on the timing of financial aid dispersements. That campaign, if well organized, could result in tremendous long-term benefits for animals, the planet, and human health.

Crossposted at Vegan Soapbox.