What Did a Vegan Cruise Teach Me About Shifting the Prison Paradigm?
It taught me to approach the problem strategically, holistically and frame it in a positive light.
If you wonder what I was doing on a vegan cruise in the first place, it was because my sister asked me to go with her and it was going thru the Norwegian Fjords which I always wanted to see …. and yes I had a wonderful time and ate great food.
The speakers on the cruise were from ProVeg International and their talks addressed shifting the paradigm from eating animals and their by products to one of veganism. They gave a number of informative talks, but the one that made an impression on me was their talk on strategy. Their mission was to reduce animal consumption by 50% in 2040. How do you shift cultures that are oriented to eat animals and the by products of animals? They understood that people became vegans for a variety of reasons. For some it was their health, for others it was their compassion for the suffering of animals. For those with science backgrounds it was the impact on the environment. Their strategy was inclusive, holistic and they posed those reasons in a positive light and categorized them as: pro health, pro animals, pro environment, pro social justice and pro taste.
Shifting any paradigm that has been entrenched is a difficult task, but is not impossible. The organization ProVeg understood that after awareness of the problem one had to influence the ‘influencers’ to create significant change. That is why the organization has made in roads with culinary institutes, chefs, caterers, health professionals, insurance companies, universities, app developers, animal groups, etc.
So… how does one approach changing the current prison paradigm? First determine what are the reasons that people want a change. Is it because- it’s unfair, it doesn’t work, it’s too expensive, it wastes human potential, it fails as evidenced by high recidivism rates, it doesn’t keep society safe, it’s inhumane, it doesn’t address the cause of the problem etc. What if we posed those reasons in a positive light as : pro social justice, pro efficacy, pro possibility, pro safety, pro compassion. Then comes the steps to heighten awareness and influence the ‘influencers.