Do It Again
In a recent essay, I shared a story of how I’ve been inspired by my friend and fellow vegan educator Colin Wright to try redirecting phone conversations with strangers* into vegan education opportunities whenever possible. More recently, I was able to create a similar opportunity during a live online chat with a customer service representative.
[*it’s entirely possible that my mother Joni Ray told me never to talk to strangers (though she may have encouraged such behavior… who knows?), however since she’s vegan herself, I imagine she’ll approve in these instances 😉 ]
I’d been searching all over for non-leather tennis shoes and had been having a tough time locating them, so I decided to reach out to Nike via their website and ask for assistance. I was able to get some direction from a representative named Kimberly who really took the time to help, even though some of the information she provided at first was incorrect. As our conversation was coming to an end, I thanked her for her assistance, told her my reasons for seeking non-leather shoes (see image above) and asked her one question:
“Would you agree that it is wrong to hurt animals?”
Kimberly’s reply was, “I totally agree with you! That is what I thought so earlier (sic). I really admire you for doing this, you are awesome!”
Knowing that she wouldn’t be able to linger much longer in our chat now that her actual work was done, I followed up by telling her that, “…since you agree that it’s wrong to hurt animals, it becomes our moral obligation to live vegan” and gave her links to the excellent How To Go Vegan podcast and VeganEducationGroup.com
Kimberly thanked me and said she’d check out the information and, with that, our vegan education session came to a close.
Doing My Duty
Is it possible to determine what effect, if any, our conversation will have on her attitude toward the use of non-human individuals for human pleasure, comfort and convenience? Unless she contacts me with feedback, the answer is no. However, if I had chosen not to engage her in that portion of the conversation, odds are she would not have been challenged to think about this issue at all on that particular day. For me, it was worth the effort to raise the issue and get her thinking, at least for those few minutes, about our moral obligation to innocent, vulnerable non-human individuals.
The “V” Word Revisited
Please remember – there’s nothing “scary” or “off-putting” about the word vegan or the idea of veganism, despite what some large animal welfare corporations would want people to believe (and they propagate that myth to further their own ends and increase their profitability at the expense of the animals they purport to be “helping”). When presented in a calm, rational and respectful manner, there is nothing about veganism that drives people away. On the contrary, these ideas of nonviolence, fairness and true justice for all resonate deeply with those who hear them and frequently foster internal and external changes that can and will shift the current speciesist paradigm that demands the enslavement, exploitation and execution of the most vulnerable members of our global society – non-human individuals.
If you won’t say the word, you won’t change the world.
[I encourage all readers to click the blue links embedded in this essay and explore the information on those sites.]