For my research project into the journeys of participants in reduction and vegan campaigns, I had the privilege of working with six different organizations encompassing seven different campaigns. I used a mixed methods approach that looked at their barriers, motives, and dietary goals and behaviors.
In identifying potential campaign partners, I reached out to 48 UK-based and global organizations representing 53 different campaigns and found a few important trends:
- There are just about no campaigns that are focused on “pro-self” (Verain et al. 2016) factors (e.g. health, taste, or price). Given that health is commonly described as one of the most popular motives, particularly for meat reducers, this could be a potential engagement gap.
- Very few environmental organizations have reduction / abstention campaigns and, while 41% of animal protection campaigns promoted veganism, only one environmental campaign did so. Similar trends were identified in US-based research by Laestadius et al. (2013; 2014a; 2014b).
- Over 50% of campaigns used a mixed approach, combining multiple reasons people should cut back / eliminate their consumption of animal-based foods.
- Vegetarianism is so 2010… Only 15% of campaigns promoted vegetarianism. Reduction and veganism seem to be the main goals campaigns promote nowadays.
The Great Vegan Challenge is a month-long November vegan campaign by Animal Aid, the oldest animal rights organization in the UK. The focus is on animal protection but it includes other reasons to go vegan, such as the environment, saving money, and your health. Participants sign up on-line and get a packet in the mail. During the campaign there is a Facebook group for participants to join, a daily blog with recipes and tips, and emails with additional information. The month also includes an optional field trip to an animal sanctuary. In 2018 the campaign was moved to June and re-branded as The Summer Vegan Pledge.
The Great Vegan University Challenge is a month-long vegan campaign in February, also by Animal Aid. It has all of the features of the Great Vegan Challenge but is more focused on the needs of university students. The campaign was cancelled this year.
iAnimal is a reduction campaign by the international organization Animal Equality. Using a virtual reality film, iAnimal is hosted at events around the world — universities, High Streets, etc. — and participants are able to experience the life of one type of farmed animals (e.g. broiler chickens or dairy cows) in a short, narrated VR film. After viewing the film, volunteers / staff are available to answer questions and viewers often end up chatting to them for several minutes. Those who choose can also sign up to the Love Veg Pledge, which includes a month of emails featuring recipes and information about cutting back on animal products.
CreatureKind is a UK organization focused on “tak[ing] animals seriously as a topic of Christian interest.” They run a six-week course with church groups, providing materials for weekly vegan meals and discussions. They also offer a CreatureKind Pledge that promotes (a) reducing consumption, (b) sourcing high welfare animal foods when consuming them, and (c) “continu[ing] to consider how our Christian faith should be put into practice in relation to other ways we treat our fellow animal creatures.”
The Let’s Eat Better Pledge is offered by Friends of the Earth UK and asks participants to eat less meat and dairy. The Pledge was originally set up as an extension to their Meat Free May campaign but they subsequently cancelled the May campaign in 2017. Friends of the Earth and their reduction campaigns focus on environmental motives for eating less. Those signing up to the Pledge receive a monthly email that could include a recipe, action to take, or other information.
The Part-Time Carnivore is a UK organization that targets meat eaters (i.e. those not interested in going vegetarian / vegan) and focuses on environmental motives, with some attention also placed on health. Flipping the usual script on its head, the campaign focuses on the number of days participants will eat meat (with options from zero to six). Participants sign up online and can join “teams” based in certain locations or universities. Participants receive sometimes monthly, sometimes less-often emails that tend to focus on reasons to reduce (e.g. linking antibiotic resistance and meat consumption).
The 30 Day Vegan is an online vegan month challenge by the UK-based animal rights organization Viva!. Unlike other similar campaigns, it does not have a set month and starts the day after participants sign up. The campaign focuses on the food element of veganism, providing four recipes a day, information about a ready-made snack item, and a specific nutrition topic.
Note: There are many other amazing campaigns out there, but due to issues with timing or appropriateness they were not able to be included in the research project.
Laestadius, L. et al. (2013). Meat consumption and climate change: the role of non-governmental organizations. Climatic Change; An Interdisciplinary, International Journal Devoted to the Description, Causes and Implications of Climatic Change 120:25–38.
Laestadius, L.I. et al. (2014a). “We don’t tell people what to do”: An examination of the factors influencing NGO decisions to campaign for reduced meat consumption in light of climate change. Global Environmental Change 29:32–40.
Laestadius, L.I. et al. (2014b). No Meat, Less Meat, or Better Meat: Understanding NGO Messaging Choices Intended to Alter Meat Consumption in Light of Climate Change. Environmental Communication:1–20. Lai, S.-C. (2001). Extra-Ordinary and Ordinary Consumption: Making Sense.
Verain, M.C.D., Sijtsema, S.J. and Antonides, G. (2016). Consumer segmentation based on food- category attribute importance: The relation with healthiness and sustainability perceptions. Food Quality and Preference 48:99–106.