The vast majority of individuals (~80%) who go vegetarian or vegan go back to eating animals, becoming active advocates against a compassionate diet. In part because of this, the percentage of the population that is vegetarian hasn’t really changed in the US (actually declining from 2012 to 2015, but still within the margin of error), again despite all our standard advocacy efforts to date.
The Key Insight The most important insight driving us is what won Herb Simon his Nobel Prize in Economics: People don’t make optimal or “perfect” decisions. Rather, almost everyone makes choices based on what is a bit “better” or is “good enough.”
This has direct implications for our efforts. For example, most advocates see their vegan diet as best for water usage (or global warming, or heart disease, etc.). But for almost everyone who actually cares about water usage (or climate change or heart disease, etc.), all they see is chicken being much much better than beef.
This is true on just about every measure – chicken is noticeably better in terms of environmental impact or health consequences.
With our natural affinity for fellow mammals, most people who care think that eating chickens is morally “better.” Very few people realize just how wonderful chickens are!
Given the above (and all the other information in the links), One Step for Animals’ mission is two-fold:
Promote a simple, incremental message that is accessible, sustainable, and maximally impactful on the amount of suffering in the world.
That message is: stop eating chickens. If we can convince someone to stop eating birds, they would go from being responsible for the factory farming and slaughtering of more than two dozen land animals per year to fewer than one.
Isn't this amazing?
Beyond just numbers, though, we want our advocacy to be psychologically sound. We know a “big ask” is far less likely to lead to any change at all (and the people who go veg overnight are more likely to go back to eating animals). Relative to full vegetarianism or veganism, just giving up (or cutting back on) eating chickens can seem far more achievable. Any change has to start with the one step. Let’s make it a meaningful one.
Summary In short, One Step is only concerned with reducing the number of animals suffering and dying. One Step does not try to be popular, does not cater to the vegan bubble, and does not pursue what we personally find most compelling or persuasive. Rather, One Step focuses on helping as many animals as possible. Period.
Those of us behind One Step have over 150 years of combined animal advocacy. At this time, based on the five facts above, we truly believe numbers-focused, psychologically-sound harm reduction is the best way to both reduce suffering, as well as work toward the world we want: a world where animals are no longer viewed as food.