If you are reading this post, chances are that you’re vegan and wish that everyone else was too. A vegan world would be an amazing world. Not only would there be even more vegan cheese brands to try, we would also live in a world where cruelty to animals didn’t exist. Clare Mann and Sara Kidd are vegan advocates from Australia who run courses called Skills For Conversations That Matter to help vegans be more effective at communicating about veganism. I caught up with them recently to chat about their pioneering courses:
How do we communicate the vegan message to our non-vegan friends and family in a way they will accept? Do you have any tips for us?
Always engage people around issues they are most interested in. For example, talking to someone about animal social justice may be met with indifference or cries of ‘Don’t tell me any more’ if that person isn’t interested in animal issues but intrigued by the health giving benefits of veganism. Similarly, someone interested in the environment and implications of animal farming on climate change, is best engaged by talking about sustainability. I believe it is the vegan’s job to identify the specific hooks in a conversation and then talk about veganism from that perspective. Listen carefully, ask questions, build rapport and then conversations flow with more ease.
What are the positive results people have received from attending your courses? Do you have any success stories you can share?
Our attendees say they feel empowered to speak about veganism more confidently whilst being able to manage their own emotional state. We teach powerful listening skills that enable vegans to come into the world of the other person and then present the information calmly and powerfully. Attendees leave with simple but powerful techniques to avoid conflict when presenting difficult information and to be comfortable in the presence of other people who become angry or upset. Our workshops help vegans move someone along what we call ‘The continuum of awareness’ towards veganism. These skills can be used in all conversations, not just those around veganism.
What are the keys to being an effective vegan advocate?
The effective vegan advocate is someone who continues to do work on bettering themselves as a human being. They have moved from the often experienced, and very uncomfortable stage of being an angry vegan. This state disempowers the vegan who ends up feeling helpless and frustrated. Self-care is an essential – good nutrition, regular exercise, relaxation and fun. Many ethical vegans feel guilty having fun but the best thing we can do for animals, people and society is look after ourselves so we can stay the course and get the message out. Let’s be the best example for veganism – in our health, appearance, compassion, outlook and ability to listen – then people will look to us and say ‘Whoa! How can I have this too?’
Together with Clare, you are part of a team that is helping people enhance their communication skills for conversations that matter. How important is it that we develop our communication skills in order to become effective animal/vegan advocates?
It is very important that we are able to be effective, positive communicators as now is the time the planet and the animals need us the most. To create change we must inspire others to be a part of it, our presence must be compassionate, well informed and approachable towards ‘pre-vegans’ so they feel safe to ask questions, receive information and take that next step.
What is the most satisfying part about being involved with this work?
The most satisfying part about being involved in this movement is knowing that I have done everything I could to affect positive change.