This article by Brock University professor Dr. Gordon Hodson, discusses the importance of taking a patient, positive, and effective approach towards advocating veganism and animal welfare. Hodson says animals are relying on advocates to keep calm, appeal to reason, and set a good example to others. Although shock tactics can sometimes work to induce (short-term) change, long-term change comes often from being genuinely convinced, not from being exposed to strong or dogmatic viewpoints.
Effective advocacy is something with which I struggle. I am not a fan of the aggressive shock tactics that some animal welfare organizations use, and have stopped supporting those that do so. On the other hand, it’s difficult to deal with the frustration of the cognitive dissonance that I so often encounter, or, as Hodson puts it, the biggest challenge is getting the mainstream to recognize that their life choices (e.g., eating meat) are out of step with their OWN morality (e.g., doing no harm to others). Research on cognitive dissonance shows us that people can become their own agent of change, bringing their behaviours more in line with their own attitudes and values. This becomes less about imposing yourself on others, but asking them to look to their own moral compass. My frustration lies in seeing how continue to consume animals and participate in their exploitation, even as they profess their love of animals. On the other hand, I am probably guilty of cognitive dissonance in other aspects of my life, so I should understand how or why this is possible. Ultimately, all we can do is to live with our own conscience and choices and be honest about both.