Our Head of Campaigns Louise Davies explains the thought processes behind our biggest campaign yet.
I joined The Vegan Society in December, tasked with devising campaigns that would increase the positive profile of veganism, bring new people to a vegan lifestyle and encourage business, institution and policy change to better serve vegans. We've just launched the biggest campaign in The Vegan Society's history and it may have raised some eyebrows because it's not about animals. Our new campaign, Plate Up for the Planet, talks about the link between climate change and diet and encourages green people to try a vegan diet for seven days.
So why the focus on the environment, rather than following the successful footsteps of Go Vegan World, who've exposed the cruelty of the meat and dairy industry, or Veganuary who asked people to think differently about the animals we eat? Well, let's get the more obvious reasons out of the way. Firstly, these other vegan campaigns are doing a fantastic job and duplication doesn't serve anyone well, and secondly, I've worked in the field of sustainability (environmental and social justice) for almost 15 years so playing to my strengths seemed sensible!
More strategically, this campaign is about talking to new audiences in new ways, and about creating a shift in the conversation about climate change to embrace veganism as one of the solutions. When we think about green behaviour change, flying less, switching off lights, washing at 30° and recycling are front of mind. Even people who do think about food in this space often consider buying local and organic to be the best things to do. The crux of the Plate Up for the Planet campaign is about encouraging those people to switch to a vegan diet by highlighting the impact of meat and dairy on climate change and our natural environment. We can tap in to this new audience of environmentalists (from the light greens to the deep greens) and convince them to try our 7 day challenge. In those 7 days their eyes will be opened up to the damage that meat and dairy diets cause, and the benefits and positive effect that veganism brings.
We've spent a long time collating facts and producing persuasive messaging to appeal to this audience - see our animation below for a summary.
We also want to get influencers - NGOs, businesses and politicians - to engage with the campaign. We want environmental campaigning organisations to acknowledge that going vegan is a positive thing to do for the planet. It's time to get veganism on the climate change agenda, and this campaign helps us to start those conversations.
While the environmental angle isn't specifically about animals, it’s worth noting that land degradation is responsible for a huge loss of biodiversity, and animal agriculture is the largest cause of species extinction. So even when talking about climate change and the natural world we're asking people to be more thoughtful about our attitude to animals and wildlife too.
We're a few weeks into the campaign and so far the response has been hugely positive. We've attended festivals and had hundreds of conversations with potential vegans. A familiar refrain at green events has been "I've been meaning to do this, the challenge is just the push I need." We have, of course, had more nuanced debates about the most ethical ways of eating. A diet based on quinoa and avocados will have a hefty impact on the planet, but as an 'off the shelf' diet, veganism is evidently the best option. If this campaign can encourage people to think differently about what they eat, and veganism’s place in the environmental debate then we're happy.
This campaign has been a large investment of our resources, and we're hugely grateful for your membership fees that allow us to do this. I hope this will be the first of many high-profile campaigns that bring new people to our movement, and support existing vegans. Rest assured we will be talking about animals in future campaigns - after all that's what we're here for.
By Louise Davies
The views expressed by our bloggers are not necessarily the views of The Vegan Society.