Features and Benefits

How to win hearts and minds

My daughter has been a vegetarian since she was a toddler, and has recently decided to make the commitment to full-on Veganism. It’s an important part of her life, and I totally respect and support her decision.

Yes, I admit it can be a faff cooking for a Vegan – you do have to check ingredients very carefully, and it’s remarkable how much we rely on animal products – but actually there’re plenty of nice things you can cook relatively easily.

The real problems seem to arise when she tells other people. For some reason they often take exception to her dietary choices, and there’s often real hostility around her reasons for not using animal products.

I wonder how much of that is down to the way many vegans and animal rights advocates have historically presented their case though…

People invariably ask ‘Why did you choose to become a Vegan?’ – and often the trap is sprung.

Rather than replying ‘Well, I find it feels like a really healthy way of living, and it makes me feel good’ – the poor Vegan is often unwittingly steered into a hard justification based around animal cruelty, exploitation and the classic ‘Meat Is Murder’ defence.

As the conversation becomes more heated, talk of ‘sentient beings’ and ‘carcasses’ starts to clash with ‘superior beings’ and ‘compassionate production’ – often fuelled by spurious medical claims from both sides.

It’s a bit like a lot of attitudes to religion, politics and Brexit – ‘I see your point of view, but it’s wrong and you must be an idiot for thinking it.’

So, how about applying a bit of good old-fashioned sales advice to such debates? Tell me what’s good about your point of view, how I might personally gain from adopting it, and show me real evidence for what you’re proposing – i.e. ‘A Vegan diet makes me feel fantastic, it tastes great – can I cook you something to prove it? Oh, and every time you eat a Vegan meal you can feel smug about the fact it’s not harmed another living thing’

Nobody responds well to threats, and Project Fear wears very thin very quickly. People buy people, things and ideas that are attractive and desirable – generally we like things to succeed.

But beware, the features and benefits you present must be truthful and real. Like religion, politics and Brexit – and any advertising you might consume – nobody likes being told porkies.

Paul Carter