System change for veganism

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What makes The Vegan Society’s campaigns unique? Here we outline our approach to campaigns and explain some of the impact we’ve had over recent years.

Our approach to campaigns

The starting point for our campaigns is our organisational strategy. We identify the issues that we want to address, and then devise campaign tactics to enable these strategic outcomes. As part of the process, a review of other campaigns across the movement and wider society is undertaken to ensure there is no duplication.

Many of our campaigns are entirely unique, making a case that no other dedicated campaign in the UK makes, for example our Plate Up for the Planet campaign which calls for a shift to veganism for the environment or our Vegan and Thriving campaign which engages with older people.

Our organisational strategy calls for a legal and policy framework to support veganism. This will not happen without dialogue with politicians and the media to call for the required system change. So, the majority of our campaigns support system change as opposed to carrying a simplistic ‘go vegan’ message. Where the main campaign message is around behaviour change, we look to back this up with a call for government action to support this change. There is space for different approaches and we commend the work of other vegan groups, however we believe that a vegan world will only be possible if a framework to support it exists.

We collaborate with other campaigning organisations where appropriate. Often this involves using our staff resources and social media to support a project, for example our partnership with Veganuary in which we used our resources to amplify their messages. However, it is worth noting that we are often unable to collaborate due to the lack of credible evidence used in other campaigns. We believe that an evidence-based approach is crucial to the ultimate success of the vegan movement, but we frequently see poorly researched and easily disputed facts used to back up other campaigns, particularly in the health and environment spaces.

Quantifying our impact

Quantifying the impact of behaviour change campaigns is notoriously difficult, and it could be argued that whilst some are high profile within the vegan community there is little evidence that they have led to long-term positive outcomes. When a campaign is not selling a product or service, it can be challenging to measure success.
Nevertheless, we have outlined below some of the measurable impacts of our work, which we hope will encourage vegans to support our work

Plate Up for the Planet is the only dedicated campaign that makes the case that a vegan diet is best for the environment. So far over 21,000 environmentalists have committed to trying a vegan diet. 82% of those who responded to the post campaign survey said they will reduce the amount of meat and dairy they consume and 44% said they would definitely continue eating a vegan diet.

As with many of our campaigns this one has secondary objective to call for system change. We do this by calling for environmental NGOs to support the benefits of a vegan diet in their policy work. We have seen support from WWF, Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth and The Centre for Alternative Technology in recent reports.

Grow Green is the only dedicated campaign making the case for a transition from animal agriculture to plant-based agriculture. We supported farmer Jay Wilde to move out of animal farming, saving 75 cows from slaughter. Our policy asks have been taken to politicians and policy makers via party conferences and our own conference (which was attended by Defra staff). This resulted in a face to face meeting with George Eustice, farming minister at the time and currently the environment minister, who committed to support the growth of the UK pulse sector.

Vegan and Thriving is the only dedicated campaign that confirms that a vegan diet can be healthy for everyone no matter their age or stage of life. The initial phase of the campaign was unique in that it worked to reassure an older demographic that veganism could work for them. Our ITN film was viewed over 10k times in the first month, and the campaign reached over a million vegan-curious older people through digital advertising.

Catering for Everyone is the only dedicated campaign calling for improved vegan provision across all public services. Our campaign has resulted in agreement from the NHS to review Healthy Start vouchers and vitamins, a government commitment to review the provision of plant milk in nurseries and local success stories at schools and hospitals across the country. 

Live Vegan for Less is the only dedicated campaign that supports vegans to access affordable food in light of the coronavirus pandemic. The campaign reached 35k people in the month of May alone.

VeGuide is the most successful app that guides new vegans through their journey with daily tips. It has had over 70,000 installs and an Android rating of 4.1.

Our Climate Emergency campaign is the only dedicated campaign that calls for vegan diets to be part of the climate crisis response. We engaged with all UK Councillors and so far have support from Sheffield and Leeds to take on board our asks.

Vegan on the Go calls for better provision of vegan food across a variety of commercial sectors. Our work with trains saw the number of rail providers offering vegan options rise from 2 to 7 and resulted in Virgin trains getting the Vegan Trademark.

Our Vegan Vote campaign is the only dedicated campaign that calls for a range of vegan policy issues to be considered by candidates. Last year’s General Election campaign received almost 200 responses from candidates.

What's next?

We will shortly be launching our Future Normal campaign, which encourages people to reflect on their relationship with animals. Whilst not unique in the topic addressed, we have developed innovative and thought-provoking content to inspire deep and meaningful behaviour change. We’re aiming for 450k views of our powerful campaign film and 10,000 commitments to behaviour change in the first month of the campaign.

We could go on – there is so much work that the team is doing behind the scenes to influence change and work towards a vegan world outside of our campaigns. Not least our vital services that support existing vegans provided by our nutrition and rights experts. However, there is always more that we can do and our door is open for questions and feedback. Please email campaigns[at]vegansociety[dot]com if you’d like to get in touch.

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