Strategic Recommendations For Vegan Advocacy
[This two-part blog series examines some of the central ideas from Carrie Freeman’s 2014 book “Framing Farming: Communication Strategies for Animal Rights.” This week we look at “Strategic Recommendations for Vegan Advocacy,” an examination of specific frames through which advocates can make thier case to a variety of audiences for a variety of reasons. Next week, we will publish an excerpt from the book that explains how to frame animal agribusiness and eating animals as unjust, including a cruelty and suffering component.]
From Dr. Carrie P. Freeman’s 2014 book Framing Farming: Communication Strategies for Animal Rights (Rodopi Press, NY), www.framingfarming.com
This summarizes ideas for how animal rights advocates could practice “ideological authenticity” in designing advocacy campaigns promoting veganism by framing messages in ways that directly challenge speciesism (bias against nonhuman animals) yet appeal to values that resonate with a largely speciesist public.
The chart below summarizes Freeman’s recommendations for framing animal farming and fishing as a problem based on it being environmentally destructive and unfair to animals (with cruelty and suffering as a subcategory here). The blame for problems falls upon a speciesist society that enables a lucrative consumer market for animal products, which are provided by an exploitative animal agribusiness and fishing industry. Activists should engage the public as both consumers and citizens to explain everyone’s culpability and capability toward individual and collective solutions. The solutions are to:
- Appreciate the mutual subject status and sentience of all animals (including ourselves);
- Eat a plant-based (animal-free) diet and make it widely accessible; and
- Work collectively to create a less speciesist and more ecologically sustainable society that avoids exploitation and unnecessary violence.
Infused through all of this should be appeals to values such as: fairness, respect, life, freedom, integrity, honesty, naturalness, vitality, responsibility, moderation, community, diversity, caring, compassion, peace, sharing, humility, accountability, making a difference, self-esteem, health, and personal growth/ development.
Some tips to keep in mind:
- Steer the discourse toward questioning human entitlement to domesticate and use animals at all (and question our need to use them), rather than just continuing the centuries’ old debate over preferable levels of ‘humaneness’ in the treatment of the animals we use.
- Don’t compromise the value of animal life by suggesting people merely eat fewer animals or switch to “free range” farming. We should ask for more, and then it is up to them to decide if they want to do less. But do show some flexibility toward people’s process of transitioning toward a plant-based diet in ways that work for them, understanding we can’t be perfectly ‘pure.’
- Following nature’s example, an ethical goal is not to harm or hunt anyone unless it is necessary for sheer survival (killing only in self-defense), and never to farm anyone ever (avoid enslaving someone to be a food source).
- If any extremes are to be painted, it is the current level of callousness, injustice, cruelty, arrogance, and environmental irresponsibility (which is extremely out of sync with our human identity as smart, civil, moral beings). In contrast, veganism is radically kind and extremely sensible.
FRAMING RECOMMENDATIONS FOR VEGAN CAMPAIGNS
Carrie P. Freeman (2014) Framing Farming: Communication
Strategies for Animal Rights. New York: Rodopi Press
(See the book for more nuance, detail, and ideas, as well as insights from prominent activists interviewed)
Carrie P. Freeman (PhD in Communication & Society, Univ. of Oregon, 2008) is a tenured Associate Professor of Communication at Georgia State University in Atlanta. She researches the role of communication and media in creating a more just and sustainable society, with specialties in media ethics, environmental communication, and critical animal studies. You can link to her many scholarly journal articles and book chapters here: works.bepress.com/carrie_freeman. An animal rights advocate for the last two decades, and vegan since 1996, she has volunteered as a local grassroots activist leader for the Vegetarian Society of Southwest Florida, the Speak Out for Species student group at Univ of Georgia, and Univ of Oregon’s Students for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. She now volunteers for the Georgia Animal Rights & Protection group and serves as an indie radio cohost for WRFG-Atlanta 89.3FM’s “In Tune to Nature” environmental program and “Second Opinion Radio” animal rights program.