In our Menu of Outcomes blog series, we explore different interventions for achieving animal advocacy outcomes and highlight real-world examples from charities across the movement. Here, we look at interventions to encourage and support individuals to decrease their consumption of animal products.
Adopting a plant-based diet is one of the single most effective ways people can help reduce animal suffering. Since there’s no “one size fits all” approach to influencing dietary change, organizations use different interventions1 to encourage people to go vegan or vegetarian (i.e., veg*n).
This post highlights some of the ways our Recommended Charities and ACE Movement Grants recipients encourage people to spare animals’ lives by consuming fewer animal products. Our goal here is not to examine or compare the effectiveness of different interventions but rather to showcase the diversity of approaches animal advocates can use to achieve similar goals. We hope that the programs and interventions below inspire organizations and individuals to broaden their awareness of ways to approach their work.
Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organisations’ Vegan Pledge
Pledge programs can be a fun, engaging way to encourage people to try a vegan diet. Besides reducing animal consumption in the short term, vegan pledge programs help recruit people to the movement, normalize veganism, and raise awareness of veganism and animal-related issues.
Standout Charity Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organisations’ (FIAPO’s) “Eat the Plant” 21-Day Challenge supports individuals interested in trying a plant-based diet by providing them with recipes and lifestyle tips during a three-week pledge period. More than 46,000 people signed up for the 21-Day Challenge in the past year.
FIAPO reported that after completing the 21-Day Challenge, about one-fourth of subscribers reported reducing their intake of animal products by 75%, and nearly 45% chose to stay on a vegan diet. FIAPO encourages inspired pledge-takers to repeat the challenge or share it with their friends and families.
“Many subscribers and activists claim that FIAPO’s 21-Day Challenge is one of the easiest tools to help transition to a vegan diet,” said Shweta Kavishwar, Senior Manager of Campaigns at FIAPO. “People often write to us that having more than 60 recipes made them realize that tasty food and good health can be a completely cruelty-free and compassionate choice—one that is not made at the cost of animal lives and the planet.”
Animal Outlook’s Starter Resources
Like pledges, guides filled with tips and resources for following a plant-based diet can be incredibly useful for people who want to reduce their animal intake but aren’t sure where to start.
Animal Outlook (formerly Compassion Over Killing)—which received an ACE Movement Grant in Spring 2019—offers a free Vegan Starter Guide with nutritional information, facts about dietary impacts on farmed animals and the environment, meal ideas, and lifestyle tips for those transitioning to veganism. Their companion website, TryVeg.com, contains even more resources designed to make plant-based diets more accessible.
Animal Outlook’s content reaches over 400,000 people each month, and much of it focuses on recipes and resources for new vegans. Their article on vegan egg options remains one of their most popular web pages, receiving over 2,000 visitors in the last six months despite being published more than six years ago.
“As we’ve developed these [vegan starter] tools, we’ve realized that folding our vegan outreach into other pillars of our work (undercover investigations, legal advocacy, and corporate outreach) is the most effective way to drive meaningful engagement,” said Cheryl Leahy, Executive Director of Animal Outlook. “In fact, we often see spikes in interest shortly after a major announcement, such as the release of an undercover investigation or a major legal victory.”
Food Empowerment Project’s Recipe Websites
Showing how easy it is to make delicious vegan food can be an excellent way to encourage people to eat fewer animal products. Movement Grant recipient Food Empowerment Project (FEP) takes this idea a step further by connecting people with naturally vegan and veganized recipes from their culture.
FEP’s three recipe websites—VeganMexicanFood.com, VeganFilipinoFood.com, and VeganLaoFood.com—offer nutritious, original comfort food recipes in both English and their native languages. Each website also contains information about the impact of colonization on Indigenous cultures and diets. FEP ran newspaper ads in California-based Latinx and Asian-American newspapers to get the word out about the websites, with coverage from two Spanish-language newspapers resulting in an increase in website traffic of more than 300%.
“These incredibly popular sites represent us as an organization and can help vegans eat their comfort foods and eat their ethics,” said lauren Ornelas, founder and president of FEP.
As of April 2022, FEP offers recipes for 75 dishes on their recipe websites and more than 60 original entrees, sides, desserts, and other foods on their main website. They encourage supporters to donate their favorite recipes to make it easier for others to try vegan food.
Asociația de Conștientizare a Industriei Agricole’s Classroom Presentations
Humane education programs aim to foster compassion for animals, other humans, and the environment. On top of raising awareness about the effects of eating animal products, these programs often also work toward spreading and promoting anti-speciesist values.
Movement Grant recipient Asociația de Conștientizare a Industriei Agricole (ACIA)—the Agricultural Industry Awareness Association—educates young people in Romania about the impact of their food choices on the sustainability of the planet.
ACIA’s main program, “Behind the Plates,” consists of showing students a video about the impact of factory farming on animals, the environment, and workers, followed by a group discussion where they can share their opinions on the issue and discuss potential solutions. In-person events include a break for students to sample vegan snacks.
As of December 2021, “Behind the Plates” has been presented to over 2,100 students in 20 educational institutions, many of whom have left positive testimonials. ACIA founder Teodor Vasile told ACE that he has been pleasantly surprised by some students’ commitment to go vegan or vegetarian after participating in the program, given that ACIA’s method (video material and group discussion) does not explicitly tell students to stop eating meat.
SHAMAYIM: Jewish Animal Advocacy’s Campus Fellowships
Educating new activists is crucial to maintaining advocacy efforts, and targeting existing peers can be an effective way to spread values. Movement Grant recipient SHAMAYIM: Jewish Animal Advocacy supports both of these ideas with their fellowship program to prepare college students to become vegan and animal activists in their communities.
“The Shamayim Campus Fellowship brings together Jewish students from schools across the [United States] who are guided by ethical eating choices,” said Rabbi Jonathan Jaffe Bernhard, Shamayim’s Executive Director. “Through monthly meetings, they deepen their awareness, meet others on a similar journey, and share with their communities what they have learned. They learn to lead, and they lead to change.”
Over the course of a school year, fellows learn from leaders in the Jewish and animal advocacy communities and complete five projects to teach their peers about veganism in connection with the Jewish faith, animal welfare, health, and other issues. Past projects have incorporated a variety of interventions, including cooking workshops, educational presentations, facilitated discussions, and vegan dinners.
Sociedade Vegetariana Brasileira’s Training for Health Professionals
Personal health is a common motivating factor in eating less meat, yet few health professionals are familiar with the basics and benefits of plant-based nutrition. Standout Charity Sociedade Vegetariana Brasileira (SVB) seeks to change that—through training health professionals and influencing dietary guidelines, their work aims to reduce animal consumption by making the health sector more vegan-friendly.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, SVB provided plant-based nutrition training to over 950 physicians, dieticians, and students in six cities. More than 99% of participants (47.6% of whom were neither vegan nor vegetarian) rated the training as “good” or “excellent” and said they would recommend it to colleagues.
SVB trained an additional 4,476 people via distance learning during the pandemic. While they have returned to holding some courses in-person, they now offer an “Introduction to Vegetarian Nutrition” online course and virtual webinars.
In addition to training health professionals, SVB works with medical associations to shape dietary guidelines and successfully influenced national dietary guidelines for children under two.
Dharma Voices for Animals’ Documentaries
Documentaries appeal to a broader audience than other interventions and can play a significant role in people’s vegan journeys. Films such as Blackfish—which raised public concern for captive marine mammals and influenced SeaWorld to end orca shows—demonstrate the potential of documentaries to drive lasting, systemic change.
Standout Charity Dharma Voices for Animals (DVA) offers two documentaries as part of their wider efforts to advocate for diet change in Buddhist communities. Their first documentary, Animals and the Buddha, features interviews with prominent monastics and lay teachers on the connection between Buddhism and compassion for animals. Their second documentary, Từng Bước Chân An Lạc, is a Vietnamese-language film focusing on why some Vietnamese people choose to be vegetarian. DVA has published both films on YouTube and regularly screens them at Buddhist temples.
“DVA has received countless words of praise and encouragement from those who have watched [Animals and the Buddha], and many have told us that our film converted them to veganism,” said DVA President Bob Isaacson. “Although there have not been many YouTube views [for our other film], DVA regularly screens [it] at our half-day presentations on why Buddhists should be vegan, with temple audiences averaging 1,000 people. Our Vietnam Project team reports that many have shared that our film has inspired them to become vegans.”
Ways to Support
Support more programs like the ones above by donating to our Recommended Charity Fund or ACE Movement Grants. To learn more about interventions that work toward decreasing the consumption of animal products and other advocacy goals, please visit our Menu of Outcomes page.
Animal Charity Evaluators (ACE) seeks to identify the most effective strategies to reduce animal suffering. Based on available research, ACE currently prioritizes institutional interventions—those focused on influencing larger-scale systems and social norms—over individual ones, which affect change at the personal level. Despite this, we recognize that interventions can achieve multiple outcomes, and shifts in individual behaviors can help drive systemic change.