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.


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.