Last week I met this cutie about a block from my home. She looks so much like my baby girls Speckles and Lily 😍
She had a collar on and always hung out at the same block of apartments 🏡 It was likely she had a home, but, she was so skinny! I could feel her spine when I patted her. I have been feeding her all last week. I decided to go on an adventure on Friday by catnapping her for a vet visit.
It turned out her name is Boo and she is 15 years old! She is microchipped and desexed. She had fleas, bad teeth and possibly hyperthyroidism (which would explain why she is thin). The vet gave her flea treatment and reviewed her general health. The vet didn’t want to do any invasive procedures without owner consent.
Boo and I went back to where she had been hanging out. After a few door knocks I found the owner. The owner was an older lady who has TWO tortie girls (a reflection of my future self?!). The owner was nice and said she takes care of the cat, which I believe is true. She admitted that she sometimes skips the monthly flea treatment – obviously not a good idea.
I told her that I took Boo to the vet, and the Boo needs some dental work. I told her about the fleas and the importance of monthly flea treatment. She was appreciative of the information. We spoke for a while about both of our cats.
I suggested she take Boo and her other cat to the vet again. She said that she will. I left my phone number and said she can contact me about the cats in future.
I have no doubt I will see the cats again during my evening walks. I am glad to know that Boo has a human and a place to call home. I will still give treats and cuddles on my way. I hope Boo gets the treatments she is desperately in need.
Please take care of your pets. They depend on us to do right by them.
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I am taking an Edx course called “UQx: Think101x The Science of Everyday Thinking”. Lesson 7 of this course discusses why it is hard to change people’s minds about various things, particularly when it comes to long held beliefs. I thought this is particularly relevant to veganism as we know how frustrating it is to hear the same motivational excuses repeated over and over again as the basis for carnism.
Why it is hard to change people’s minds? The Edx course says that it’s because of the following two things:
1) Source amnesia. We have difficulty remembering why it is we believe in something. Think about this. What makes you think you have access, that you can instantly recall the exact basis for why you believe something?
2) It is hard to reconcile what it is you believed previously with this new data. It’s cognitive difficulty. You can’t replace your former belief in the heat of the moment. It takes some work and time to put new wealth of evidence.
Evidence alone is not enough to get people to change their minds. We need evidence and a good story to show people what they can change their minds to. The course suggests the following 6 leads for prompting opinion change.
6 Leads of Opinion Change
1) Ask yourself “what do you really believe anyway?”
2) How well based is the opinion that you already hold?
3) How good is the evidence for changing your opinion? Is it based on experiments or appropriate research?
4) Does the evidence really contradict what you already believe?
5) If the answer to question 4) is “no”, then what would be enough evidence to contradict what you already believe?
6) Is it worth finding out about? Why or why not? What is the cost of changing your belief?
I attended an animal rights conference in October 2016 and listened to a speech by Farm Animal Rights Movement (FARM)’s Executive Director Michael Webermann. His speech provided me with the following tools for effectively moving people toward veganism.
- Provide Incentives
That is, give a reason for people to go vegan. The main one of course is the ethical incentive. Another way to give an incentive is the ‘pay per view’ style activism. This is where we can pay $1 or $2 for a person to watch a film clip such as 1000 Eyes. In this instance, money first becomes the first incentive but then hopefully the ethical obligation become the longer term incentive to go vegan.
- Follow Up
Once we’ve spoken to somebody about going vegan and they say that they’ll try, we need to follow up. It could be a phone call, a text or a survey. This will allow us to know if they are sticking to their promise. If they are struggling, we can help them address their struggles. Over time this will give us a sense of what the most ‘common’ struggles people face when they first go vegan. We can use this information for continuous improvement of our activism.
- Aim Young
Michael Webermann said to aim the vegan message to teenagers and young adults because they are more likely to be open to new ideas. They are also more likely to share the message within their network. As a caveat make sure the people we approach are not too young. i.e. no children.
- Captive Audience
Find an audience that would be receptive to our message. For example, it is no use doing a speech in a noisy mall. A speech at high school or a university class room would be far more effective.
- Focus on the Message
Be specific about the message. Michael Webermann believes that focusing on the injustice to animals will keep people engaged the longest. However, we can discuss the other benefits of veganism, such as health and environmental benefits, but don’t loose the focus from the main message: The Animals!
- Focus on the Most Vulnerable
There is no denying that all suffering is bad. The atrocities we inflict on animals is beyond horrid. But in terms of quantity, the largest amounts of animals that suffer for food are chickens and fish. This is because the number of chicken and fish consumed per head is much larger compared to cows and pigs. It is also common when people give up red meat, they end up eating more chicken and fish. This would exponentially increase the number of animals eaten. So if we ask a person to give up chicken instead of cow meat; that would save a larger number of individual animals.
- Make the Right Ask
If we ask a person to go vegan straight away and if that person is not ready, they could shy away from the idea completely. Therefore, at times it might be beneficial asking for one or two days per week where they follow a vegan diet. Let them do that for a few weeks. Then apply the tool number 2 (following up). If they are doing well eating a vegan diet several days per week, ask them to increase the frequency. Apply this logic until they are fully vegan.
- Acknowledge When We Are Wrong
So we try to positively influence people but we can still get it wrong. It’s ok. Being wrong and knowing we did something that didn’t work is good, because at least we know next time to try something different or fix our mistake 🙂