Sunday, March 3, 2013

Animal Rights Conversation Starters and the Socratic Method

A great way to convince people to get more involved in animal rights and/or go vegan is to pop in a comment here or there that'll make them want to have a conversation about it. This way, you give them the power to make their own choice as to whether or not they want to talk about it-- because, let's face it, forcing the topic of animal rights on people will only make them uncomfortable and possibly angry, and being too pushy will make them avoid the topic (and you) for a while after that. On the other hand, when the person you're talking to wants to be engaged in the conversation, you can go far.
Anyway, here are some conversation starters (some of which I have tried, others that would probably work):
  • Wear a T-shirt with a catchy slogan on it. Here is the design (front and back melded into one picture) on one of my T-shirts that I love and that started a short conversation about the egg industry once (but of course you could use another T-shirt, too):
 Team Vegan 2012 Colors
  • Wear something else, like a button, hat, bag, etc. that'll catch someone's eye and start a conversation. This could be something with a slogan or picture on it, or it could be a really beautiful article of clothing that is surpirsingly made out of a vegan alternative to leather, silk, or wool (that way if they say to you, "Oh, I love your wool sweater," you can say, "Oh, this isn't wool. It's rayon, made from plant fibres! I try to avoid clothing that was made from the wool industry.").
  • If you're talking to someone about something that relates to veganism, you can always just pop a comment pertaining to your lifestyle to spark their interest. If they seem interested, get right into explaining the details! Example:
    • Them: I love baking cupcakes.
    • You: Me too!
    • Them: Yeah, I found an awesome icing recipe: milk with icing sugar and [etc]...
    • You: I make my icing with [insert vegan ingredient here], because I'm a vegan.
    • [Depending on their response, either delve into the topic of veganism or move onto something else. Chances are, they'll want to know more. Who wouldn't?]
  • Bring it up in a way that doesn't sound like you're attacking them. Ask them a question such as "Do you know any vegans in your family?" or "I wonder if the sports balls in our basketball class are made of leather?". That way, they can answer your question, which makes them think about veganism, and then if they're interested, they can ask you, "Oh, so are you a vegan or something?". Score!
  • Carry around animal rights books with you, so people can ask questions.
If they say things about animal rights that you don't agree with, it's helpful to be open-minded and use the Socratic method (this gets them to think differently by asking questions):

Other Person: But animals aren't human, so they don't deserve rights like we do. They're different from us and less important than us, so that probably means we can use them however we want?
You (being the Socrates of the conversation): Well, do we have the right to use people of other races, people with mental disabilities, or gay people "however we want"?
Other Person: Of course not!
You: Why not?
Other Person: Because they're human. Animals are not human.
You: What makes being human the only factor in deciding how we treat others?
Photo Courtesy of
OP: Well, I didn't say it was the only factor...
You: What might the other factors be, then?
OP: Um... The ability to feel pain, maybe...
You: Animals can feel pain.
OP: Hmm... You're right. I'll have to think about it some more, I guess. What was that vegan starter kit you were talking about called?
You: [smile and think, SUCCESS!]

By asking questions, we challenge people to think differently. Since we know we're right, we have no reason to try to "trick" people or indoctrinate them into believing us. Once they think about it, they will realize that there is no way to morally justify eating animals and using them for our benefit. They will come to this conclusion for themselves, which is more long-lasting than them being emotionally riled up for a short time but not really changed.

This was fun to write. :) I'm sorry I haven't written much in recent weeks. I was slacking off-- could you tell?
Next week, I want to publish an article that my sister wrote. It's really good. And yes, it has to do with animal rights. And yes, I will write an introduction and conclusion to tie what she is saying into what my blog says. :D
See you next week, then, friends! Have a good one.

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful, thanks!
    Really makes me think.
    Looking forward the next week's article too.