For almost 2 years now I’ve been engaging in CNOVA (Creative, Non-Oppressive Vegan Advocacy). Here is a post that explains why we need to do it and how it’s done:
About a year ago I received a call from a telephone solicitor looking to sign me up for something (I think it was home delivery of the local paper). I had just gotten through educating someone in person on Veganism earlier that day (outside a local supermarket). After explaining to the salesperson on the phone that our family would not be able to afford to subscribe to the service, I suddenly got the idea that I might be able to educate him on Veganism right then. So, I asked something along the lines of “Can I ask you an unrelated question?” When he said yes, I asked “Do you think that it’s wrong to inflict unnecessary suffering and death on animals?”
I don’t know why, but I expected the response to be much worse than asking someone in person would be. I had visions of him insulting me, cursing me out, or even simply hanging up without comment.
Imagine my pleasant surprise when this person was actually interested in what I had to say! He wasn’t shocked or even surprised by the question. We went through the usual discussion that any polite non-Vegan will have when challenged and he actually had some very pertinent, even insightful questions and comments about what we discussed. I made sure to give him the link to my blog with a recommendation to check out The Master List (giving people links to AbVegan educational info is essential in this situation). Since the first time I educated someone over the phone I’ve refined my approach a bit.
Now I never try to educate on the phone without using this questionnaire, created by a Facebook friend of mine named Chris Petty (I’ve modified/refined the wording of the questionnaire a bit since I first saved and used it):
I start by waiting ’til the part where they’re explaining why they called is over. If it’s some business you are interested in, wait ’til you’ve completed that, obviously. If you’re not interested, you can say something similar to what I said above. If they say that they’re willing to discuss an unrelated or tangentially related issue, I then tell them that I have some incredibly important information that I’m trying to give to pretty much everyone I talk to on the phone or in person. I then tell them that a friend of mine created a set of questions in order to help get the dialogue going so they can understand this issue.
At this point, you may get some resistance. The trick is to stay calm and respect the person on the other end of the line. This is true for any point in the conversation. If they’re too resistant to any point, remember that you can always hang up and call someone else. Caller ID may even get you a different salesperson who is more receptive! Within this respectful framework feel free to try to convince them to discuss the issue though. I usually tell them my blog address first, and tell them that if for any reason they need to hang up, they can always go there later at their leisure.
Once they agree to answer the questions, I start with the first one. They usually just answer “no.” If they start making defensive arguments that early, you may have a difficult climb ahead. With question 2, I’ve recently started making sure to use the phrase “such as their flesh, dairy, eggs or honey” to ensure they don’t forget any of the nonhumans, like the bees, who almost every person automatically overlooks. If no defensiveness is exhibited, I usually follow question 3 by making the statement that “it’s unnecessary because the top 18 or 20 health organizations on the planet have made statements that we don’t need any animal substances in our diet. And every time we use them for those substances we cause them to suffer.” Usually, the arguments don’t start ’til after question 3, if at all.
If no defensiveness yet, question 4 is usually easy. The reaction I most often get is very thoughtful. You can then give them a very basic explanation of Veganism, just to be sure they understand it. The one I use most often is “Because Veganism simply means that if we don’t have a real necessity to use animals, and since using them causes them to suffer unnecessarily, then it’s wrong to do it, so we have a moral responsibility to stop using them. It’s not only the right thing to do for animals, but it’s also easy and good for you.” This is a good point to link consuming nonhuman flesh and secretions as food with all other forms of animal use as well.
Then it’s on to question 5. Here also we sometimes get some defensive arguments. However, as long as we reassure the person we don’t hate them and we’re not attacking their character, we should be able to counter their arguments without causing them too much distress. The arguments I’ve presented in the link at the top of this post as well as other places on my blog are invaluable for this purpose.
Question 6 is a no-brainer IF they’ve followed your argument up to this point. For question 7 on the phone, I would simply give the person the link to the best Abolitionist Vegan site you know about. Obviously, I always give out the link to my blog, since it has links to many other AbVegan sites right here. In fact, I commonly give people the link even before we start the questionnaire, just in case the call is unexpectedly or suddenly ended and they want to go to the site later. If talking to someone in person, it’s helpful to have a pamphlet or leaflet already printed to give to them, but in a pinch, simply writing the link to a site on a piece of scrap paper also works.
Most of the time this goes very well. Maybe you could try it? As long as we’re calm, nonviolent and don’t promote speciesism, what could it hurt, right? And we’ve got everything to gain. And more importantly, the nonhumans literally have everything to gain, like their lives and their freedoms.
If you think you’d like to try Vegan Education over the phone, please make sure to read my post on CNOVA thoroughly first.
If you’re not already Vegan, and you think animals matter morally, then please go Vegan. It’s easy and great for you, incredible for the animals, and wonderful for the planet. If you’re already Vegan, please educate non-Vegans about why they should go Vegan. Please rescue, volunteer, adopt, foster, spay, and neuter the nonhuman refugees of domestication whenever you can. Please feed your nonhuman family Vegan where you can. These things are the most important, morally responsible things to do and are desperately needed by everyone.
To learn more about Abolitionist Veganism and the issues I’ve outlined in this post, check out The Master List Of Vegan Info:
Disclaimer: My only goal with this list is to produce as comprehensive a resource for Vegan information as possible. I am 100% Abolitionist Vegan and 100% against exploitation of nonhuman or human animals, any type of violence against human or nonhuman persons or property, welfare regulation, any form of speciesism, ethnic bigotry, genderism, ableism, heterosexism, etc., any of the large governmental or non-governmental nonhuman animal organizations, “happy meat,” vegetarianism, veg*nism, Meat-Free Mondays, or other forms of reductionism and anything else that makes it seem like any form of violence or exploitation of animals is ok. If any of those positions are endorsed on any site in this list, or any language is used to imply that, it’s not that I included that link because I agree, but simply because I don’t control every bit of information on all of these sites.