DO MOVEMENTS SPEND TOO MUCH TIME ON ‘WHY’ INSTEAD OF ‘HOW’?
I recently gave an online presentation about going vegan, which felt like a delicate subject to talk about. Not everyone embraces the idea and in fact, just telling someone I’m vegan can cause them to cringe. But, I’m not going to rehash my reasons for this lifestyle change today. What I actually want to talk about was a bigger question that came to light both as I was preparing my talk and in the subsequent discussion that took place afterwards.
Long story short, many people view going vegan as something that is difficult. Now, I will admit that there were some challenges, but overall, I’ve certainly done harder things in my life. Even so, the transition to a lifestyle that doesn’t harm or kill animals seems a lot more overwhelming from the outside, before you’ve made the change. And I believe that this perception of it being harder than it actually is has a tendency to hurt the vegan movement. If people realized it was easier, wouldn’t they be more open to giving it a try?
So, that leads me to the question of why: Why do people think that this is a difficult transition? What’s the root cause of that assumption? Well, there are a bunch of factors to be sure. But, I think there’s one big one that needs to be addressed, not just for this movement, but for others as well:
Do movements spend too much time on ‘why’ instead of ‘how’?
Let’s dig in deeper. When you see or hear marketing that is promoting the vegan movement, what is their message? Save animals, right? Those are the ones I see, from major activists to simple social media shares by friends. A lot of them are heart-wrenching, with slaughterhouse imagery and things that are just so damned sad. Of course, they’re also reality, so I am not dismissing them, but here’s my issue with this strategy — after I’m convinced by the message or the ‘why”, what’s next? I feel like so many campaigns fall short here. A simple “#GoVegan” doesn’t tell me enough.
People need direction. Anything new can feel overwhelming if it’s not broken down into small, bite-sized steps. Provide them a roadmap to follow that helps them along the way. Any change like veganism or going plastic-free, for example, affect multiple facets of our every day life. They can’t be accomplished by a simple hashtag of direction. We need a game plan. A starting point. A ‘what’s next’ indication.
Now, don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of movements, the vegan one included, that provide direction. Possibly even roadmaps to follow. But, I think those should be promoted just as much as the ‘why’ behind them. And as movement builders, we should take note of this as well — it’s easy to forget how lost we might have felt when we started making the changes in our own lives.
So, let’s not only connect people with the emotional side of our movements, let’s also equip them with an action plan that will get them to the finish line. Then everybody wins!