After I blogged yesterday about “Meathead” Goldwyn’s upcoming month without meat, I got to thinking about other die-hard meat eaters. These are the people that animal advocates need to reach out to more than anyone else, but there’s a real challenge in figuring out the best possible message for them.
During my one-on-one outreach, I always listen more than I talk. Listening is key because it’ll tell you what a person’s open to, and what ideas he isn’t yet ready to entertain.
If you do a lot of personal outreach, you’ll frequently run into people who are not at all receptive to the idea of cutting meat out of their diets. Once you’ve identified that this is the case, what do you have left to tell them?
What you need is a sound bite: a sentence you’ve committed to memory that packs a radical idea into language that seems commonsense and middle of the road. Here is my sound bite for die-hard meat eaters:
If you’re going to eat meat, you shouldn’t eat it every day, and it should never come from a factory farm.
I’d love for you to read this sentence a bunch of times, reflect on it, burn it into your memory, then rehearse it thoroughly so that you can say it with forcefulness and certainty. Then use it whenever you run into a die-hard meat eater.
Once this sound bite is accepted into your listeners’ world view, they’re in a position where being a part-time vegetarian, and not a die-hard meat eater, is what resonates with their core beliefs.
People don’t respond to long discursive arguments, they respond to short, powerful sound bites that are in tune with their existing beliefs. And with all the Pollanism, Schlosserism, and Foodincism that’s permeated the aether, even the most die-hard meat eaters today no longer believe that daily meat consumption is necessary or desirable; yet they are often not yet aware that this is what they believe! So use a sound bite like mine—then stand back and watch what happens.