To celebrate our 75th anniversary The Vegan Society have launched a new campaign ‘Vegan and Thriving’. We asked Head of Campaigns, Policy and Research Louise Davies and Senior Communications and Campaigns Officer Elena Orde to tell us all about it.
Tell us about the campaign and why it is important
LD: Last year we commissioned some research from Edge Hill University to find out about the barriers and pathways to veganism. The findings showed that a chunk of the population were interested in exploring veganism, but had concerns about the impact on their health. We’ve also seen several media scare stories targeting veganism in the past few years.
We want to reassure people that you can be healthy, happy and can truly thrive on a vegan lifestyle. This message also links nicely with our anniversary in that the vegan movement is thriving, 75 years on.
EO: We wanted to create a really positive campaign, but at the same time needed to avoid telling people that they will automatically become healthier by following a vegan diet. While this is true for many people, it’s our duty to be responsible in our messaging and to let people know that you still need to keep an eye on your nutrition, same as everyone else, to check you’re getting everything you need.
Health means different things to different people, and doesn’t look one particular way. But as individuals, we all know when we are feeling our best, and how that impacts on our everyday lives.
Veganism can be good for your health in a holistic way. More importantly than how you look, it can positively affect how you feel physically and mentally. To us, ‘thriving’ encapsulates this feeling.
Why a health campaign as opposed to an animal rights campaign?
LD: Research has told us that the motivations bringing people to veganism have changed in the last few years with health and environment overtaking the ethical driver. We felt that now was the time to spread the message that a vegan diet can be healthy and to provide lots of nutritionally balanced recipes, advice and support to ensure that new vegans really do thrive.
Of course, for many vegans it’s all about animals, and we’ll be putting animals front and centre of our work later in 2020 with an exciting new campaign. More news on that soon!
How did the campaign come together?
EO: Our first meeting about the campaign was back in April. We sat down with several key members of our team, and looked at the research we had and the problems we were trying to solve.
Our main issue was getting the tone exactly right. Some people believe that a vegan diet is automatically unhealthy, while others believe that it is automatically healthy. We needed to find a way to communicate with both of those audiences and ensure that everyone came away from our campaign better informed and more able to make healthy, compassionate choices.
LD: This campaign involved lots of hard work from our fantastic colleagues across The Vegan Society. Dietitian Heather worked to ensure that the nutrition advice was spot on and that our recipes are truly healthy; our Communications Assistant Pedro has meticulously proofread all 42 of our new recipes; our digital team Violeta and Jen have been busy editing videos and working up a social media plan; our website manager Adam has ensured that all the content is easy to access; and our press team Sam and Domi have been getting the campaign covered on radio stations across the nation. It’s taken lots of advance planning and teamwork and we’ve consistently referred to our research to ensure that we’re using the right messages and hitting the right audience.
What are your hopes for the campaign?
LD: At the very least, we hope the campaign will allay any fears that people may have about the healthfulness of a plant-based diet. Even if this doesn’t encourage individuals to adopt a vegan lifestyle themselves, they will hopefully have no concerns or negativity about those who do. For example when friends or family announce they’re going vegan, we hope they won’t now be faced with the standard ‘but what about protein’ response! But we also do hope that those who have been drawn towards veganism will now feel confident that they can thrive using our pool of resources.
What are some longer-term goals in this area?
LD: This is a long-term campaign and will take more work to disseminate the message that you can thrive on a vegan diet. As well as individuals taking the message on board and changing their lifestyles we need system change that recognises the benefits of plant-based. With all the scientific evidence telling us that plant-based can help the public and the planet to thrive, there’s plenty that governments could do to make healthy food more accessible and affordable. We’ll be doing more over the coming months to get this message out to key individuals and organisations.
Visit vegansociety.com/thriving to get involved
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