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Caryn Ginsberg, Animal Impact\
After a corporate career that included senior positions in strategy and marketing, Caryn Ginsberg co-founded Priority Ventures Group which has helped businesses and nonprofits achieve better outcomes for over 16 years. Caryn brings over 20 years experience with clients ranging from the Fortune 500 to leading nonprofits and smaller organizations to her work with Priority Ventures Group LLC.
She has served on several nonprofit boards of directors and advisory boards. She has also taught marketing management and strategy in the MBA program at Johns Hopkins University, for Humane Society University, and for the Bank Marketing Association.
Caryn has spoken extensively at conferences in both the business and nonprofit sectors on increasing marketing and outreach effectiveness. She has also authored many articles, including for Executive Update, Vegetarian Journal and The Animals’ Agenda.
Caryn holds an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business, as well as an A.B. in economics / mathematics from Dartmouth College, where she played varsity ice hockey. She earned an advanced certificate in marketing design from Sessions College for Professional Design.
Caryn Hartglass: Hello everybody, I’m Caryn Hartglass and you’re listening to It’s All About Food. Thank you so much for joining me today and before I get started I just …I’m looking out the window here and I saw something very odd and I wanted to share it with you. Actually what was odd was what was going on in my head. So I saw a truck outside and I thought it was the ice cream truck that goes around relentlessly in my neighborhood. One of these big hulking white things. And then the more I looked and I realize it was an Access-A-Ride van. And I was thinking did my brain kind of connect the dots thinking that people that end up unfortunately physically unable to get around and I don’t mean everyone because some people of course get into an unfortunate accident but many people today have such compromised health because of what they eat and by frequenting things like ice cream establishments that have all kinds of very high saturated fat, sugary dairy foods which we know are unhealthy for us. Anyway, that’s what was going in my mind just for a moment, and at the same time I was sipping on my lovely green juice and this if you know me you know that this is my daily regimen, getting all kinds of fresh, organic, nutrient, immune-system boosting goodies inside so that I can go on and do what I really want to do which is help make the world a better place. And we’re going to be talking a lot about that today so let’s say you’ve had the veil lifted, you’ve seen the light, you want to make the world a better place and you’ve made the connection between exploitation and all the misery that’s going on and the planet and you want to make a difference but you’re busy, you have a family, you have a life, you have interests. How can you really use your time effectively? And that’s what we’re going to be talking about today, and we’ve got somebody that we’re going to be talking to who’s got it all figured out.
I’m going to bring on Caryn Ginsburg. She’s the author of Animal Impact and I want to just read some of her bio because it’s impressive. She’s had a corporate career that included senior positions in strategy and marketing. She co-founded Priority Ventures Group which has helped businesses and nonprofits achieve better outcomes for over 16 years. Caryn brings over 20 years experience with clients ranging from Fortune 500 to leading nonprofits and smaller organizations to her work with Priority Ventures Group LLC.
She has served on several nonprofit boards of directors and advisory boards. She has taught marketing management and strategy in the MBA program at John Hopkins University, for Humane Society, and for the Bank Marketing Association.
Caryn has spoken extensively at conferences in both the business and the non-profit sectors on increasing marketing and outreach effectiveness. She has also authored many articles including for Executive Update, Vegetarian Journal, and The Animals’ Agenda.
She holds an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business as well as an A.B. in Economics/Mathematics from Dartmouth College where she played varsity ice hockey. She earned an advanced certification in marketing design from Sessions College for Professional Design, but most importantly she spells her name like I do C A R Y N and I think that’s what really makes the difference. Welcome to It’s All About Food.
Caryn Ginsburg: Caryn, thank you so much. Thank you for inviting me here. I’m delighted to be with you and a big hello to all of your listeners.
Caryn Hartglass: Thank You! Well, I’m so excited to talk too. You know we’ve had this little email dialogue and I think nothing … I don’t believe in coincidences. I think that I got that one email that Bruce Friedrich sent to me awhile back that was meant for you but he accidentally saw my name spelled like you because we were supposed to connect, so.
Caryn Ginsburg: Absolutely.
Caryn Hartglass: There we go. So, personally I have a, I come from a very structured problem-solving oriented background. I have an engineering background and I really believe in tools and structure and data and analyzing in order to really optimize what you’re about. But for a long time it’s been very hard to apply that to activism, or at least for a long time activists have not been really very effective in doing it and fortunately that’s changing. And you’re a part of that.
Caryn Ginsburg: The sophistication has really in the last 10 years continued to grow in terms of people taking a very theoretical and structured look at activism.
Caryn Hartglass: I think part of the challenge is that many people come to activism, at least this kind of activism, which is to reduce pain and suffering of animals in variety of different industries, and people come to it with emotional motification motivation, what I’m making up words now. Emotional motivation. And, as a result, they may not be thinking that it has to be planned and methodical and logical and thinking about their audience and they just want to reach out with their heart and that doesn’t really work, does it?
Caryn Ginsburg: No, and in fact I love the way you’ve talked about that is, that it is exciting the passion that people bring to animal issues, to food issues, once as you say they’ve sort of peeled back the veil and seen what’s really going on. And that passion is valuable because it keeps us able to work and it keeps us enthusiastic, but it’s not enough. So what I talk about is, we want to be not just passionate, we want to be passionately powerful. And the powerful is where we bring in methods that work. Methods that are effective. And combine them with our passion so that we’re getting results. Because as we know, if we’re passionate but not powerful, we can lose our passion. We can become frustrated or we can become depressed. Why don’t people respond? Why don’t people change when I ask them to change? And so my work is about helping advocates combine that fabulous passion with the power that we can bring through proven approaches.
Caryn Hartglass: Another part of the problem is when you’re putting all of your life force into something you really believe in and you’re not effective, you can burn out very quickly. It can be very damaging.
Caryn Ginsburg. Absolutely. And I experienced this personally. I appreciate your reading my background with all the exciting things I’ve been able to do, but like many people I started out as a volunteer in this field. I did administrative work, I went to events, and I worked at different outreach tables just like so many people do when they’re getting involved, and for many, many years. What I noticed was a very different experience in different situations. So if I were doing an information table at a health fair, I had all kinds of people interested in vegetarianism, and asking questions, and wanting to know what that they could do, and my time there just flew by and I left with a sense of satisfaction that I was making a difference.
When I tabled as was common here in Washington D.C. on our National Mall outside the Smithsonian Museum, mostly I was seeing tourists who were not here to learn about vegetarianism. Most of them really were not interested at all, and that period of time was very draining. So you would go by and have maybe a couple of productive conversations in two hours. And so on the very theme that you talk about of avoiding burnout, I quickly concluded there’s only one me. I only have so much time, and so much energy. I want to choose the opportunities that are going to be effective.
Caryn Hartglass: That’s a very enlightening and powerful realization. Many of us kind of get drowned in wanting to do it all. I know I’m one of them. And we can’t. I’ve said to myself many times over the decades, I can’t do it all. You really have to be selective.
Caryn Ginsburg: Absolutely. It’s important that people find what energizes you based on both where you can be effective, get success, things that apply where you’re able to apply your special talents and your special gifts. And it doesn’t mean that we won’t have to do some things we don’t like to do. We all do some things in advocacy that may not be our first choice but over all we really do want to focus on the things that work, that get results, and usually the less is more theory applies. It’s very common for advocates, both individually and as organizations, to spread themselves very thin and to be doing a lot of different things. And it’s really hard to do a lot of things well and get the satisfaction that you deserve as an advocate. It’s often better to concentrate on an issue or a limited number of efforts or campaigns and really go deep and become an expert and be able to put in what it really takes to get results.
Caryn Hartglass: Now you said you started because you were volunteering for a number of different organizations. Now what was the motivation for you to want to volunteer?
Caryn Ginsburg: Well I had started going vegetarian in 1990. It’s sort of a confluence of events. My husband and I honeymooned in Australia and New Zealand and we really like sheep and we had already stopped eating lamb, but on the last day we saw a truck of lambs being driven down the street and they were not taking them to the movies. So that made very clear exactly what was happening and I think made the connection more strongly. That and another factor, we started going vegetarian at that point. I ate fish the first couple of years, did not make that connection till a little bit later. It was sort of got interested, belonged to some of the organizations. I was actually a member of a vegetarian club at the company I was at. A woman named Beth Price, some people may know. She worked with HSUS for a period of time and was very active in the Vegetarian Society of DC. She ran a little vegetarian club. We met for lunch, and it was she who really encouraged me to sort of do a little bit more and step up. And I really so loved animals that I did and, you know she referred me to different volunteer opportunities locally, and that was really how I started getting involved. And I say I volunteered with at least four different groups, at least off the top of my head, before I later got more involved professionally.
Caryn Hartglass: Well, that underlines the importance of the power of one individual and take one individual like Beth with some very simple, non-offensive, welcoming type of recommendations, and she planted a seed. Maybe some others did as well, and you’re doing amazing things as a result. It’s our connection with each other that can be one of the most powerful things in activism.
Caryn Ginsburg: Absolutely and I very much … I give Beth…I think Beth gets partial credit for anything I’ve ever accomplished because she helped bring me into the field. But you are so right that we all do that, and that’s something that now that I’ve been in the field a little bit longer, I love to have opportunities to do that, to influence people who then come in and have that multiplier effect. People might think well, I can’t do that, I don’t have the power, I don’t have the position, but you do so much through your example and it doesn’t have to be active recruitment. It can be small things like including people and showing the way. You can be definitely creating the kind of forces that will create the kind of outcomes you want to see.
Caryn Hartglass: I’ve learned a lot personally over the years. I started on this vegetarian path when I was about 15 many, many decades ago and I really didn’t … I’ve never been shy. I’ve always been confrontational and not exactly sure why that is, maybe I get some pleasure out of it, whatever it is, but when I was a lot younger I was in everyone’s face. And that’s really not the best approach.
Caryn Ginsburg: It really isn’t and it’s so hard because it comes back to our passion. Once we have seen what’s happening to animals and feel that pain, or even thinking about the health consequences and can be coming from that direction as well. You want to convert everybody right now. Everybody should see it right now. But so few people become vegans. Few of us woke up and became vegan in an instant. And yet that’s what we turn around and ask other people to do and we often do it in a very push kind of way. One of the things that I do in many of my conference talks and that I did in the book and one path is that I asked people to be on the receiving end of an advocacy campaign. So for example I’ll chat with them about it’s really important that you stop doing any shopping at malls or big retailers like Walmart and Target. You’ve got to do 100% shopping at thrift shops or second-hand right now. And I’ll talk about the environmental reasons, and I’ll talk about the human rights issues in China where a lot of these clothes come from, and at the end I ask people how many of you are ready to do it? And rarely does anyone raise their hand. And we talk about why and people raise the practical barriers: that there’s not a thrift shop, it’s in a bad part of town, they don’t have the clothes I want, it’s not a pleasant shopping experience.
Caryn Hartglass: I don’t want to do it.
Caryn Ginsburg: I don’t want to, I don’t want to. And I think but are there advocates who feel as strongly about these issues as we do about our own? And that’s where people start to be, aha the light goes on and people say I at least can be more sympathetic about why people don’t respond to me. And then I talk about …usually I do this in a very calm voice and I said but what if I just yelled at you? What if I said what is the matter with you people? How can you be so irresponsible and uncaring about the world that you won’t make that change? Does that engage you more to want to make the change? And then people also experience what it’s like to get yelled at or berated or whatever for their choices. And it’s hard, it is very hard for us to empathize with people that we think are doing the quote unquote “wrong thing.” But none of us is perfect and if we were to list out all the choices each of us makes, I’m sure that there’s advocates somewhere who would find reason to question many of the decision we make just as much as we question the decisions of others. But more importantly it just doesn’t work. Berating people, yelling at people, making them feel guilty, actually our research shows is not effective.
Caryn Hartglass: I don’t like coming across like fundamental religious zealots and, ok, I’m not a religious person. I respect those that follow different faiths, but there are some that have this intensity, and they want you to understand their point of view and many times people have compared that type, that stereotype, with vegans and vegetarians who are promoting their message, and I don’t want to be like that.
Caryn Ginsburg: That is a fabulous comparison and you are absolutely right. We often do come across that way and even amongst ourselves. I do remember at one point I was still transitioning from vegetarian to vegan. I was getting there but I wasn’t there yet and I remember someone in the field just really chewed me out. You know, how could you do that? How could you not be 100% vegan right now? And my reaction at the time was almost the same. I don’t need this. I’m going to do something else. And fortunately my cooler head prevailed and you know you can’t let one interaction get to you, but we really risk having exactly the opposite experience of what we want in terms of perfecting people. And so one of the things that I talk about with people is we need to view with our emotions and our well-being, and engage in self-care and take care of ourselves, that we aren’t that raw that we deal with people that way. It’s ok to have those emotions, it’s ok to need to deal with the emotions and the sadness and the anger and the frustration, but the place to deal with that is someplace else. It’s not when you’re trying to engage someone on the issue.
Caryn Hartglass: It is hard. It’s just hard. Especially when… I use all these different metaphors but when you finally realize what’s going on in the world and how your actions have supported this horrible exploitation and pain and suffering, it is so unbelievable for so many of us that these things go on, and they do, almost in front of our faces, although we cannot see what’s going on in factory farms but that’s another discussion. It’s so hard to contain ourselves, and we do want everyone right away to see what’s going on. And you know we’ve seen it’s not just with animals unfortunately. And there’s a correlation: exploitation with animals and exploitation with people. They go hand in hand. But when we’re in war situations and all kinds of horrible things are happening to people and we wonder why aren’t these people doing things? There’s only, there’s really only so much each of us as individuals can do, and we need to do it from a place of compassion, not a place of hatred or revenge or fear.
Caryn Ginsburg: Not easy, but that is a key. We have to start with our own attitudes and our own place instead of anger and judgment and push. It does need about compassion, invitation and service. And I look at the kind of work you do Caryn, you know through responsible eating and living. The cooking classes, the parties, things that invite, things that are positive, things that give people an opportunity to participate in a good way. You know those are the kinds of initiatives that are making a big difference.
Caryn Hartglass: Well you know I do what feels good to me. And you mention how important that is, that we need to pick and choose and do what we’re motivated to do. And I personally prefer to focus on all of the positive reasons to do what I’m promoting people do. I don’t like to focus on the dark side and I know it’s important and I really commend those who have gone undercover and have done all kinds of incredible film work inside of factory farms and inside of vivisection labs. People don’t like to look at those images, and I value the importance of it but I don’t like focusing on that. I like to personally …my passion is to turn the tide by focusing on all the benefits. When we eat healthy, plant-based food, we feel better. When we treat the world with love, we get love in return. And you know it’s really that simple.
Caryn Ginsburg: You’ve hit the key word there, which is people change when it’s in their interest to do so. When we ask people to change, whether it’s to eat veg or to shop at a thrift shop or to avoid or to recycle or compost, at some level everyone asks what’s in it for me? That’s the term right out of the marketing sector. And that can include altruistic. That doesn’t mean we’re selfish or material but we sort of mentally add up what’s good about this, what are the benefits, as you said, and what are the negatives or the barriers? And that’s how people decide to do things or don’t do things. As advocates, it’s our job to help people see more benefits and fewer barriers to making the change we want them to make. So your work in focusing on the benefits is clearly working to tip the scale so that people see more benefits, and you’re also reducing barriers by making it clear or making it easier for people to go veg. And another piece is you’ve caught really a pressure on veg and vegism in the title of this very show – It’s All About Food. We talk a lot about that. Should we talk about animals? Should we talk about health? Should we talk about the environment? And that’s important in terms of which benefits we want to present to people but at the end of the day, it’s really about the food. Mark Rifkin, who is a dietician I interviewed in Baltimore for the book had some great quotes. He said “People will eat just about anything if they think it will taste good and if it looks good. If it doesn’t taste good or look good, they won’t eat it.”
Caryn Hartglass: That’s right.
Caryn Ginsburg: There are people who still think vegetarians only eat sticks and twigs. Dazzle them with flavor and that’s something that you do, and that’s something that he had a lot of suggestions that we as veg advocates have so much opportunity to make veg eating be fun. Share food. Bring things to potlucks. Invite people to restaurants. Do things that make it happy, make it a celebration and show people the joy of veg food. And you can enjoy that too and that doesn’t have to be a stressful or as difficult as maybe having some of the advocacy discussion.
Caryn Hartglass: Well I’m glad that I scored a few points there based on your program.
Caryn Ginsburg: Absolutely.
Caryn Hartglass: Of animal Impact and marketing. Marketing…it’s funny there’s a couple of a few different terms that really have some negative connotations to them and I’m always trying to make people see both sides. I talk about chemicals a lot and a lot of times when people hear the word chemical they think oooh bad, bad chemical, toxic, bad, and yet our bodies are filled with chemicals, and there are good chemicals and there are bad chemicals and the same thing is with marketing. We’re hearing a lot of bad things about marketing, especially about corporations who market all the wrong products. They market to children, to get children to eat sugary foods and unhealthy foods, and they market to certain demographics, people that don’t have enough income. And they market their dollar meals and their very inexpensive but unhealthy foods to certain people knowing that they’re going to bring them into their stores and restaurants. And marketing can be very divisive and it can be very manipulating, and so it appears evil. And so all the good people out there that want to do good things don’t think about marketing as a very useful tool to make the world a better place.
Caryn Ginsburg: Absolutely, because marketing is tied up with exactly the concerns that you have raised and when I talk about marketing at a conference, I know that it’s going to be a turnoff initially, and I didn’t put anything about marketing on the cover of the book or about business because I felt that I would have that reaction. That we would lose some people before they even understood what it was about. But marketing is neutral. I like to give the analogy marketing is like a hammer. You can use a hammer to build a house, to hang a photo, hang a picture, to do so many valuable things, or you can use a hammer to whack somebody over the head or break something. It is a tool, and what it is good for is based on both the intent and the skill of the person who uses it. And there is a branch of marketing that’s been around since about 1971 called social marketing which is adapting commercial marketing approaches for the good of society that’s very well-used in the public health arena. It’s used in the environmental field, and increasingly social marketing is used in animal protection, so it’s to take that tool that some people and companies use for evil and we use it for the good that we know we can do in the world.
Caryn Hartglass: I think it was early in your book when I was reading about social marketing and thinking about all the benefits of marketing, I kind of likened it to some people in romantic relationships who don’t believe that there should be any discussion about how to deal with the relationship and how to know what affects the other person in the relationship in order to avoid problems in order to relieve tension because they just want it all to be natural and to just happen, otherwise it’s not romantic. And you know at some point we all have to realize that everything we do, if we want to do it well, we have to analyze, we have to evaluate and we need tools. And that’s where your book and marketing, social marketing for what we want to do is so important.
Caryn Ginsburg: And that’s so key. If we speak to be influential, we need to use the tools of influence. And again, keeping in mind that these tools are used for good, even in the corporate world, the companies bringing out the veg-alternative products that we’re excited about, or people that are bringing out alternatives to animal testing. They engage in marketing as well. And it doesn’t just happen. If we wait for just happen for the animals we’re going to be waiting a long time and it’s going to be a lot of needless suffering if we don’t take advantage of what we can use.
Caryn Hartglass: Yes, it does all come down to that and so how does one decide when there’s just an endless endless endless endless list of possible things to do? To pick some…one particular thing to work on so that they can be effective at that?
Caryn Ginsburg: Well, one thing that I recommend especially for people who may be new to advocacy or looking at some different options is can you engage in something where there’s a learning opportunity? Can you volunteer or work with one of the bigger groups that has more time maybe to look into campaigns or to plan so that you can not only be helping, but secondly now you’re helping on something that’s going to be more effective, and thirdly learn from the experience for the work that you might do. So, if you look at the different groups like Farm Sanctuary, or FARM, or Humane Society of United States, Mercy for Animals, Compassion over Killing, any of these groups that have a really impressive track record of accomplishment. I would say would you maybe want to first look at doing something with one of them, see what they’re involved in, because you get so many benefits in terms of effectiveness and learning.
Caryn Hartglass: That’s really a good place to start.
( Above transcribed by CQ, 2/18/2014)
Caryn Ginsberg: For those who have more time or looking to get into the animal protection field and I speak to a lot of people like that. Some of those groups also offer internships where you can have a truly immersive experience and really come up to speed. For others there are certainly individual events or campaigns or things that you kind of put your toe in the water. Even if it’s a simple as initially just trying to write some letters. letters can be very powerful especially when these groups give you a direction, here are some issues that are timely, here’s something you might want to talk about. Your letter to your representative or to a corporation, those don’t take a lot of time and they can be very impactful.
Caryn Hartglass: Ok. The next thing I want to do is talk about some specific stories because individual stories are really the ones that get people’s attention the most. First I want to take a little break and then we’ll come back and talk about some stories, ok? We’ll be right back. And we’re back I’m Caryn Hartglass and you’re listening to It’s All About Food and I am here with Caryn Ginsberg the author of Animal Impact Secrets Proven to Achieve Results and Move the World. One of the things that I wanted to bring up which is I think really the challenging part of all of this is I know I’m a member of the human race and sometimes I wish I was an alien. Because as humans, we do so many things that I’m not very proud of and all of us are guilty. We’ve all been good, we’ve all been not so good and some more than others. When we get on our pedestal and we start to parch about how we want to see the world a certain way and people aren’t responding to us it can be as I mentioned before very challenging. Some people are never ever going to change. I’m not quite sure what that’s about, why some people don’t see the exploitation, they don’t feel the need for compassion, whatever it is, I’d like to think that ultimately we’re evolving and that the whole race will get to a better place before we destroy ourselves. Meanwhile, there is a pool of people that we can be reaching and changing and we’re definitely seeing the change growing exponentially. I think we’re reaching a critical mass at some point soon in terms of animal advocacy. We are dealing with humans so that’s what makes it really challenging. I like one of your stories where I forget the guy you talked about but the way he was running his company was no complaining. He didn’t want anybody in his organization to complain.
Caryn Ginsberg: Oh that was Steve Hevan, one of the humane societies in the midwest, I don’t remember the name of it offhand. Yeah no psychic vampires, no complaining. It’s difficult because as advocates we can do that. We can bring each other down instead of buoying each other up by focusing on the negative. We all like to blow off a little steam now and then, venting a little bit, it can be healthy to a degree but when we spend too much time focusing on the negative we miss the opportunity to be making ourselves stronger for the positive outreach we need to do.
Caryn Hartglass: Obviously, to me, all of these tools that are in your book can be applied not only to advocacy but to life in general.
Caryn Ginsberg: Absolutely, absolutely. It’s written in the animal protection field because that’s the field I’ve spent the most time in. I felt that animal advocates want to read animal advocacy stories but it really is true for influence in the environmental field, human rights, even in just dealing with people one on one. I’ve definitely gotten response from people beyond the animals protection field who have seen that right away and have said these are tools I can use in my life as well.
Caryn Hartglass: So do you have some favorites, some favorite stories or a surprise accomplishment?
Caryn Ginsberg: There were really two that stand out, well there are many, but two that I think stand out to this audience. The first was in part of doing the research for the book, I found the Vegan Mentoring Program. I found it from Animal Rights Coalition in Minnesota, they are not the only group to do it, they are not the first group to do it but I really love this program. What it is is when they go to events and table they have profiles of their members who have offered to mentor people who are interested in becoming vegan. It’s a no charge program and people have the opportunity to request a mentor and that mentor then becomes a buddy to work with them for as long as necessary. The buddy might invite them to social events, the buddy can answer questions, the buddy can be a source of moral support, so that when this newbie vegan is facing some of the barriers that all of a sudden vegan doesn’t look so fun or easy, or the person is feeling isolated, they’ve got somebody who can help them keep going and move forwards. I think this is a big opportunity for us as a field which is we do a lot about creating awareness and interest as getting people going, but handing people a vegetarian starter kit and saying good luck is rarely enough to get them through what is a major lifestyle change for most people. These kinds of things like vegan mentoring program, online app programs that are starting out there that give people a more ongoing source of support over a much more extended period of time are really critical to converting if you will the interested to the active. That’s important for us to build our numbers.
Caryn Hartglass: I love that idea and I like the idea of matching people up. Certainly when people go into something knowing that they chose a certain relationship I think it’s going to work out better, but you also have stories in here about how that’s done with, not exactly the same, but with animal placement with profiles of prospective people that are going to adopt animals and how it turns out much better when you match up the animal’s characteristics with what the people are looking for in companions.
Caryn Ginsberg: This is the meet your match program in the ASPCA, which I was involved in some of the research on this program when they were beginning to test and implement it. It was developed by the ASPCA and Dr. Emily Weiss to look at categorizing different types of dogs and cats into nine categories and then looking at prospective adopters and looking at the lifestyles and the type of animals that they would want and making the best match. For example, if I’m someone who wants a low key animal who’s not going to need a ton of attention but likes to cuddle, that’s going to be a very different match from someone who wants a very energetic animals who’s going to want to run and jump and want to play. You can quickly imagine how putting the right animal with the right adopter is going to result in a better partnership and relationship than simply having people picked based on well I like how that one looks.
Caryn Hartglass: I’m sure the idea came out of all the online dating services that go on trying to match up people personalities but it’s probably a lot easier to match up a cat or a dog with a person than it is to people.
Caryn Ginsberg: I think the cat and the dogs are a little more patient than the people so it makes it a little easier. I saw that coming back when I had a background of financial services and to me it looked like credit scoring where you used to look at people’s profiles and you matched them with different products. I said long ago why can’t we do that with adoption? But I was involved in Meet Your Match later that was completely originated by the ASPCA. It isn’t a really good example of a bigger concept which is around listening to people and finding out where they’re coming from and then making a match in the information you share or the help you give. I talk about in the book that there’s a chapter I Am Not My Target Audience. Once we become vegan or vegetarian for a long time we’re not like the person that we’re trying to affect. Think of it, if they were just like us, they’d already be vegetarian or vegan and we wouldn’t try to help them get there. We have to not rely on our experience or our current perceptions and being what they want. There are a couple of different ways for us to be more educated and more effective. One is to read research. There are studies that are out there I strongly recommend humanespots.org for humane research. They have all kinds of free research about how people think about animal issues including vegetarian and veganism very valuable resource for us to understand where people are coming from. One on one, it’s as simple as asking questions. Before we launch into our little lecture on why you should be come veg or vegan, ask an open ended question. What interests you about possibly eating more vegetarian food? Then stop and listen and truly with a sense of not let me see what they say so I can see what they say so I can figure out how to win and get them where I want them to be, but really where are they coming from. What do they need, how can I help move them forward and what’s an appropriate next step for them? For most people, it’s not an all or nothing and for most people vegan 100% tomorrow is not the next step. The next step could be Meatless Monday. The next step could be maybe for the next 30 days I’d like to reduce my meat consumption by half. Maybe I would like to especially target giving up chicken. You talked about the analytical approach. Chickens are I think over 95% of the animals killed for food because of how much we eat and how small they are at least out of land animals. So getting people to move away from chicken is very powerful in terms of the number of individuals affected. Looking for something really asking, listening, engaging in a dialogue can really help you match what you’re offering to the needs of the person that you’re trying to help.
Caryn Hartglass: There are some animal rights activists that have a lot of issues with animal welfare as a concept where different organizations are promoting small steps of improvement for animals, larger cages, no cages, and they argue that this is a waste of time, this is a waste of money, it’s just an opportunity for some nonprofit organizations to have a campaign so that they can fundraise and keep themselves going but it’s not really benefiting the animals because the only way to benefit the animals would be to totally not exploit them.
Caryn Ginsberg: I very much appreciate the emotion and the commitment. I think most of us share the same goal. Sometimes we lose sight of that. We all share the goal of wanting to reduce and eliminate animals suffering. Where we disagree is what is the most effective path to get there. Looking at different measures, I’ve been very involved with a Certified Humane, the labeling program for meat, egg, dairy, and poultry raised to humane care standards. Many people object to that as promoting the eating of meat and a counter to veg and vegan advocacy. I truly respect where they’re coming from as they’re questioning it at a path or strategy. My perception is right now the data show that the number of vegetarians in the country ranges anywhere from 1-5% depending on different surveys and some different methodologies and at least for the moment, we’re not seeing statistical evidence that that number is increasing. It’s a little hard to measure percent of the population. So for now, we’re still dealing with 95% of the population that is consuming animal product and a large percentage intend to continue to do so. Humane Research Council in a study they did a number of years ago, actually interviewed a broad spectrum of U.S. adults and asked about how many people were semi vegetarian, reducing meat, etc. Only about 7% said they would be willing to give up meat entirely whereas about 24% were willing to cut it in half. Even those people were still not willing to give it up. Given the vast majority of meat eating that goes on and the fact that we are a very very very long way from a vegan society, I feel that having both welfare and abolitionist strategies, tactics and organizations operating in parallel is actually to the animals’ good.
Caryn Hartglass: Very good. In my world I guess certainly I would like it to be a vegan world. Some of the good things we hear the word vegan more often now in mainstream media where no one knew what it was several decades ago, that can only help. More people know about it, more people are talking about it, and more people are actually acknowledging that it’s healthy. There’s all kinds of attitudes that are really changing in the last 5 years I would say. I think we’re going to see those numbers change. I don’t know that in our lifetime we’ll see a meat free world but I think we’re going to see some big changes, at least I hope we do.
Caryn Ginsberg: I think we will. We need to be careful and be helpful is the subject of lapsed vegetarians. There was a study done I think in the UK that showed that about 7% of the population was lapsed vegetarians. If we’re losing them out the back door as quickly as we’re bringing them in the front or perhaps more quickly, that’s the thing that can be an obstacle to our growth. Businesses know that retaining a customer is far more cost effective than having to go out and attract a new one to replace that customer. Things like providing people with ongoing support, making sure that people are choosing a fairly healthy vegetarian, vegan diet. We get jaded or we get tired of all the issues where are you getting enough protein, we’re all sick of hearing that, but it is possible that people can go veg and eat nothing but potato chips or whatever and be unhealthy and then they blame it on the veg diet and so we lose people. It’s important that we being people in in a sustainable path to veg and that we also support organizations like the local vegetarian societies that give people an outlet, a chance to come together, and a chance to celebrate and be supportive in their veg activities. It’s really valuable and sometimes they’re overlooked because they don’t seem as sexy as the outreach of going out and bringing new people.
Caryn Hartglass: If I could I would feed everyone. I would make dinner for everyone if I could make healthy delicious dishes for everyone but I can’t. I would cook for the world.
Caryn Ginsberg: You can’t but we can. That’s a fabulous call to action to all of us and it gets back to some things that you said and Mark Rifkin talked about is we can share wonderful food, we can invite people to dinner. It doesn’t have to be expensive, it doesn’t have to be fancy. I’ll tell you on the front page of the Washington Post yesterday there was an article on veggie burgers and they had recipes for veggie burgers from two top restaurants in D.C. and in Cambridge, MA with veggie burger recipes. All of us can get recipes like that, can learn to make those recipes, could take them to barbecues, could share them with people. I think this is something that no, no one of use can feed everybody, but it does come back to it’s all about food and all of us do have that opportunity to share wonderful food.
Caryn Hartglass: I have to say thank you for the internet because this has definitely helped our advocacy in so many ways. People that are looking for information, sure sometimes you can find a lot of misinformation on the internet but there’s a lot of great resources and certainly for recipes you can find just about anything. There’s just so many different places that offer so much help. All you have to do is put something in the search bar and it’s really connected a lot of us. I want to just for a moment talk about the competition within the animal groups, the veg groups because you know we are all full of love and we want to make this world a better place and we really do meant to do well but there’s also some competition going on because some believe that we’re vying for the same audience even though I don’t think we are. I think that’s infinite and the funds for those that would support organizations that do similar work is finite. Some people want to I guess become the face of the movement and there’s some competition going on. Is that a good thing?
Caryn Hartglass: I think it depends on what kind of competition it is. If we can hold ourselves to a higher standard and compete to be the most effective, to get the most results from the funding that we’re receiving from donors and foundations then I think that’s a very positive type of competition. It’s kind of parallel to what happens in the for profit sector where if you are not good at what you do you go out of business and on the non profit side, I think that donors and foundations do ask more in terms of tangible results and research supported strategies. I think that is a good thing. When our competition degenerates more into sniping or name calling or personal attacks, that distracts us from what we’re doing. I’m not questioning the healthy debate of tactics, I think it’s ok for people to say I don’t think that’s the most effective way to go, I don’t think that that’s the best use of our time and resources but really the answer to that is for us to invest in the research and evaluation to prove what works and what doesn’t. That’s something where as a field we have been lacking in the past that we have made truly exciting strides in the last 10 years due to groups such as Humane Research Council that are working on things like looking at advocacy strategies and which ones are getting results and which ones aren’t. On a very simple scale, this can be as simple of each of us as asking am I getting results? Is what I’m going seeming to be making a difference? If not, can I do something different? Holly Sternberg which is local down here asked that question of her veg advocacy and she concluded that probably 10 years of talking to people, she probably hadn’t created any veg people and she gave it some thought and what would it take and said if only people would watch the videos, it would make such a difference. I could pay people to watch this people. She was the originator of pay per view.
Caryn Hartglass: Which has been very successful.
Caryn Ginsberg: Which has been very successful and which Veg Fund and Farm are both working with Humane Research Council to even test what if we used different types of video footage. Which type of video footage might be most effective in moving people forward. This to me is the research, the evaluation really getting back to what you said at the outset about being analytical and using data. This is a very exciting trend for us and something that I think portends very well to where the animal protection field is heading.
Caryn Hartglass: I’m always looking for what I can come up with that’s new, that’s different that’s exciting and something that I have to keep reminding myself is that I have to keep reminding myself and others of the same things. We have to be repetitive, redundant. Say things over and over because sometimes people aren’t ready to hear information and sometimes it just takes some nurturing and some seed watering but the information needs to be heard over and over. You do this in your book where you repeat the achieve change system that you’ve come up with and the steps that are involved. We get to re-read what each of them are in every chapter.
Caryn Ginsberg: That’s definitely a case of walking the talk. Marketers know it can take about eight exposures before people respond to information and think of it, we’re all busy, we all have a lot on our minds, and so when something drops in, we may attend to it or it may just sort of bounce off, go in one ear and out the other. I created for the book this seven step achieve change structure where I lay out here are seven steps to effective advocacy and there’s a chapter on each of those pieces that shows what it takes to do it, gives examples, stories to illustrate how effective advocates are using this step. In each subsequent chapter, it builds and there is repetition so that you are left at the end of the book with a seven step process that you can follow for any campaign. That campaign can be getting more veg options at your local restaurant or your child’s school. It doesn’t have to be a big campaign from a national group though it’s good for that as well. I’ve read many good books. I’ve read some self improvement books and even though I’ve read all these self improvement books, I really haven’t improved all that much.
Caryn Hartglass: That’s a very good point. A lot of people read a lot of self improvement books and nothing changes.
Caryn Ginsberg: Because you read the book and you get a lot of ideas but in the end you don’t have a way to move forward in a structured, easy to use disciplined fashion. So that’s why I created the achieve change seven step process that guides the book and also when people get the book, there is a free downloadable companion work book that summarizes the key points, that gives people room to answer the questions that are at the end of each chapter, a lot of activities and exercises in this book because it doesn’t do me any good to write a wonderful book and people buy a bunch of books unless they put it to work for animals. The seven step process, the free companion workbook, is all geared to help people put the book to work for animals, for veg, and for the world.
Caryn Hartglass: Amen! We just have a couple minutes left Caryn, it’s been great talking to you. Let’s just talk about food for a minute because it’s all about food and that’s my favorite subject. You’re in the Washington D.C. area is that correct?
Caryn Ginsberg: Yes.
Caryn Hartglass: You’ve got a lot of great food options down there. Do you have some favorite places that you like to get your grub?
Caryn Ginsberg: We are pretty fortunate down here at this point. We have a lot right in the district. Java Green and Cafe Green are fairly well known in vegetarian circles. They were among the first in compassion over killing. Paul Shapiro and folks had a big role in getting them going. But we have smaller places such as Everlasting Life Cafe and Sanbed Cafe. Up in northeast D.C. that I also enjoy we also have the original The Vegetable Garden out in Rocksville. It’s amazing to see how many places there are that are veg. Also even the number of veg friendly offerings that aren’t 100% veg and that is a real compliment to the work that advocates have done and for people realizing that there are vegetarians and vegans and there are a lot of people who maybe aren’t vegetarian or vegan but would like to have some vegetarian meals out and that is a big opportunity for us to help grow our bases as well.
Caryn Hartglass: So everything’s looking good and it’s only going to get better especially when use these tools that are staring us in the face. Animal Impact Secrets Proven to Achieve Results and Move the World. Read it and then go out and do good things. Thank you Caryn.
Caryn Ginsberg: Thank you Caryn!
Caryn Hartglass: We’ll chat some more and maybe we’ll have a bit somewhere sometime soon. I’m Caryn Hartglass and you’ve been listening to It’s All About Food, more information at my website responsibleeatingandliving.com. Have a delicious week!
Transcribed by Meichin 2/4/2014