Plant-based or vegan: what’s the big deal?

I identify as vegan, rather than plant-based. The term “plant-based” refers to one’s diet, and is often connected to a healthy living style described as “whole foods, plant-based”. Veganism pertains not just diet, but also the use of animals in clothing, entertainment and other aspects of life as well. Some plant-based people are vegan, some vegans are plant-based, but the terms aren’t really interchangeable, although they are often used that way (which is fine).

Why do vegans often call themselves plant-based?

It’s pretty common for ethical vegans to call themselves plant-based. One of the main reasons vegans call themselves plant-based is because the public has a negative perception of veganism. And I get it. But veganism isn’t really the problem – it often has to do with the way it’s presented.

The problem with accusations

Some organizations use an accusatory tone as part of the activism. And maybe that works as part of a public demonstration.But when you are talking with someone individually, it’s not very effective. If a person feels threatened, they respond defensively – which is not great if you’re trying to have a dialogue with someone.

Making people feel safe is important if you want to have a real conversation with them. Otherwise, you might as well save your breath. You won’t get very far in attack mode.

Learning effective communication

You may have noticed vegans focus a great deal on educating themselves about the cruelty of factory farms. And people who care about animal exploitation and animal rights often have a very emotionally charged approach to advocacy. The emotion is ok, but if you attack, you will put your audience on the defensive.

Vegans need to spend a lot more time learning about effective communication. We know what is wrong with factory farms and animal exploitation. The problem is that we don’t know how to communicate that message effectively.

So, if you practice effective advocacy – call yourself vegan! And if you don’t… just be aware that you’re the reason people aren’t that fond of vegans.

Thanks for watching,
Margaret

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