License to influence (but do it right)

I believe that trying to make another person change their beliefs and behaviour is not a crime. If you believe in something, and you start from empathy, and you have rational arguments to back it up, then you have every right to try to make another person see your point of view and to try to sway them in your direction.

Don’t let anyone tell you that what people eat is just their own business. As long as they are eating animals or the products of animals, it’s not just their business. This doesn’t mean we should force them to think or do anything, but it does mean that you don’t have to be ashamed or embarrassed about wanting to change people’s hearts and minds. Moreover, everyone tries to do that, all the time. Everyone making a sale, every mom or dad, every child, every husband, every wife… is trying to influence others all the time – often for much less noble objectives than ours.

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People will tell you that they will decide what they eat for themselves. If only that were true. If only they weren’t so influenced by what supermarkets, producers and restaurants were trying to make them eat. If only they weren’t so affected by prices and promotions. If only they could choose what was on their plate independently of what their parents and grandparents or the other people in their nation or culture eat… No, most people are only under the illusion that they are free to eat what they want. Your voice won’t limit them any further. Rather, it can liberate them.

So just like the media, like their family or their peers, we too will influence people. We can not not influence. We can, however, avoid being coercive or manipulative. Trying to influence another person of something is not a crime, but it is an art. It starts with not thinking in terms of convincing people, but rather in terms of helping them to open up. It starts with behaving not like moral crusaders, judges, or the police, but rather, like supporters. 

7 thoughts on “License to influence (but do it right)

    1. A Recipe to Force Behavior Change

      Ingredients:
      1 cup inpatience
      3/4 cup arrogance
      2 cups of putting your wants ahead of the animals’ needs
      1 dash of derogatory remarks, or for extra spicy results add as many dashes as you’d like to your own personal taste
      (don’t concern yourself if your guests like it spicy or mild…just make it to your own personal taste & if they don’t like it, they know where they can go, right?)

      Mix all ingredients together and shake and stir and shake and stir some more until you have congealed mess.

      Serve cold and in your guests’ face.

      Don’t worry if this makes your guests uncomfortable; many will most likely ask to try a taste first, because they’re concerned about how spicy the dish may be.
      Just keep piling more and more on top of the first uneaten serving, and eventually that will make them want to eat it, right?

      Voila! You have successfully prepared the time-tested Recipe to Force Behavior Change*

      *Please note that this is the “Recipe for Forcing Behavior Change, but in the Opposite Direction You’d Like to See”.
      For the “Recipe to Force Behavior Change in the Actual Direction You’d Like to See”, just do the opposite of what this recipe above calls for.
      🙂

        1. Thanks, havegonevegan! 🙂

          When talking to others about veganism, I’ve personally found that a good analogy to think of is that the people you’re talking to are “guests” you’re having over for dinner, and you’re very much hoping that they’ll like what you have for them to “eat”.

          If your guests aren’t “eating it”, and some have actually pushed their plate away while saying, “I’m not gonna eat that crap!”, the next time you might want to try something more palatable for them to “eat”. Something that will not only be eaten, but something that will also go down & stay down (you don’t want them just spitting it out after a small test-bite).

          It makes no sense to keep making the same dish if your guests have shown over and over again they don’t want to eat it. Maybe one or two here and there will eat and also digest it, but my experience has shown that the majority of people won’t, and many will outright reject what you’re serving them.

          You can even think of this analogy as a real vegan dinner you’re making for non-vegans. You don’t want to just plop a container of tofu in front of them and then ask them WTF is wrong with them because they won’t eat it. You need to make something more palatable to THEIR tastes, not YOURS. Vegan lasagna & a yummy vegan dessert, or something like that.

          “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
          -Albert Einstein

          “Nothing will benefit health or increase chances of survival on earth as the evolution to a vegetarian diet.”
          -Albert Einstein

          I guess this guy Einstein knows what he’s talking about… 😉

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