If we only have the opportunity to present a single, short phrase to someone in the hopes that they will adopt a vegan lifestyle in the future, what phrase should be used? It seems that the vegan movement has decided on 'Go Vegan', which can be found on many pro-vegan bumper stickers, shirts, and graphics that currently exist.
I'm not convinced that this is the best choice.
What's the problem with 'Go Vegan'?
I think 'Go Vegan' might not be very useful for a few reasons:
- It sounds forceful
- It requires a prior familiarity with the reasons why one would want to go vegan
- It requires a positive association with the reasons why one would want to go vegan
These problems are only heightened by the current climate around veganism. In the mind of the general public, vegans are already seen as forceful, veganism is poorly understood, and the reasons for veganism are seen as irrational or naive. When someone has these misconceptions about veganism, a bumper sticker that tells them to 'Go Vegan' is probably not going to do any good.
In short, we need to show people that veganism is a legitimate option worth considering, and I fail to see how the phrase 'Go Vegan' accomplishes that.
What's the alternative?
I'm sure there are many possible alternatives that would be more effective, but the one I favor is the name of this very website: 'Consider Veganism'. I think this phrase avoids all of the problems of 'Go Vegan':
- It does not sound forceful
- It encourages the person to look into why one would want to go vegan
- It doesn't matter if the person has a negative association with the reasons why one would want to go vegan
The second point is especially important: by leaving the decision in the other persons hands completely, we are proving that we have faith in the strength of our own arguments. I personally think that the arguments for veganism are so strong that simply getting people to seriously consider veganism is almost an end goal in and of itself. That is, the more they look into it, the more likely they are to go vegan.
I place confidence in this idea because I believe veganism is not being adopted as quickly as it should be due to the prevalence of misinformation and misconceptions about what veganism is, and not due to a widespread, conscious rejection of vegan ethics. In fact, most people likely already accept the ethical premise from which veganism logically follows—it is unethical to cause unnecessary suffering to animals—so, by simply getting people to consider the argument, we might find that they will (perhaps begrudgingly) see its merits.
Note: There are some instances where I think 'Go Vegan' is appropriate. For example, in the popular "Hail Seitan, Go Vegan" joke ("Hail Seitan, Consider Veganism" is a rather jarring juxtaposition of tone).