Engaging Your Audience

D. R. Hildebrand

by D. R. Hildebrand

Every year, shortly before Thanksgiving, I come across a spate of videos promoting compassion and humanity by way of veganism. Some of the videos are classics that have circulated for years and gain upticks in viewership around the holidays. Others are new releases receiving attention for the first time. Of those I have seen, many appear unaware of the importance of presentation. The final products often lack an understanding that content alone will not transform a viewer. Style, tone, length, variety, narration, and accessibility are equally imperative. To dismiss them is a fateful flaw.

One example that avoids these errors was published last year in the week before Thanksgiving by Animal Place. It is called “Something To Be Thankful For” and it serves as a model for how a video can capture an audience’s attention, pique its interest, and sway its sympathies.

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You Don’t Look Like A Baby Cow

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Silk featured a hilarious (and poignant) new commercial for their Almond Milk created by John Brookbank, who was a finalist in last year’s user-submitted contest. And it’s stirring up quite a controversy in the dairy industry, referring to cow’s milk-drinkers as “suckling heifers”. This video is an intelligent counter to the hyper-masculine marketing that the meat and dairy industry uses – especially when it comes to protein and athleticism. I think the slapstick humor is clever, the delivery is spot-on, and the facts delivered are so true! We are not baby cows. Cow’s milk is designed by nature for calves, not adult humans. Plus, dairy has been linked to many diseases, and has pus and blood in it. Gross.


The Evolution of Man: Carol Adams

As part of my ongoing exploration into male identity and its ties to consuming animals, I had the honor of interviewing one of the most respected thinkers on this, Carol Adams. Adams wroteThe Sexual Politics of Meat, published first in 1990, to explore the relationship between patriarchal values and meat eating by interweaving the insights of feminism, vegetarianism, animal defense, and literary theory. She also wrote The Pornography of Meat, published in 2003, posing the question, “how does someone become a piece of meat?“.

For more information on Adams or to read her books, visit www.caroljadams.com

Please also see other interviews in the series:

The Evolution of Man: Jovian Parry
The Evolution of Man: James “Lightning” Wilks
The Evolution of Man: Patrik Baboumian


The Evolution of Man: Jovian Parry & A Prison Experiment

As we delve deeper into exploring why so many men identify with meat-eating, it’s important to consider the role that mainstream masculinity plays in our culture, and its ramifications. Does this identity pose a roadblock to sustainability? Does it undermine justice in general? Is it inevitable and in our nature? “The Evolution of Man” series is based around the article I wrote for VegNews Magazine’s “The Man Issue”. In this episode I interview Jovian Parry, a doctoral student at York University in Toronto who researches meat, gender, animality and popular culture.

There are many places we can see heightened forms of mainstream masculinity and machismo. From sports arenas and butcher shops to Wall Street, testosterone spectacles play out – but what about in prisons? And what happens when one of the most powerful symbols and rewards for men – meat, is removed from the equation? This is exactly what happened in a California prison not too long ago. With great success, Mooreland Prison offered inmates a program called NEWSTART which included a vegan diet. Over 85% of the 500 inmates chose the program over the standard CDC protocol.

California had a recidivism rate of 95%. This is the percentage of former prisoners who are rearrested. The Victor Valley facility enjoyed a recidivism rate of less than 2%… The remarkable behavioral changes could even be seen outside in the prison yard where according to prison officials, nobody “owned” or controlled the yard… The CDC side of the house had the same racial divisions experienced at any other prison.

In testimonials, inmates assert that the surprisingly good-tasting food led them to feel better, have greater energy, increased stamina and reduced problems with acne. Indeed the effectiveness of a vegan vegetarian diet in rehabilitation has been scientifically validated.


Germany’s Strongest Man, Tofu is Gay & Vegetables Terrorize Men

The Evolution of Man: Patrik Baboumian

“The Evolution of Man” series is based around the article I wrote for VegNews Magazine’s “The Man Issue”. In this episode I interview strongman, Patrick Baboumian, who won Germany’s Strongest Man 2011 Competition. Baboumian currently holds the German crown in strength sports and is vegan.

But It doesn’t matter that Germany’s Strongest Man is a vegan. When it comes to identifying with meat-eating, there seems to be an association with masculinity that reaches across many cultures.  And likewise, when it comes to eating vegetables (or specifically avoiding meat) it’s considered feminine or gay. According to the gay European news website “Pink News” a German ad agency recently was “outed” and forced to apologize for a 2009 ad that surfaced, labeling tofu as “gay meat”. Not only is this homophobic and sexist (insinuating that both femininity and homosexuality are to be rejected as inferior) but it’s also using those popular isms in an attempt to insult those who eat tofu.

Deutscher Strongman Meister 2011 - Patrik Baboumian - Deutsche Strongman Meisterschaft - FlashreportAn den Kugeln konnte er nach 4 Punkten Rückstand im Kopf-an-Kopf an Daniel Wildt vorbeiziehen - Deutsche Strongman Meisterschaft - Flashreport

Scholz & Friends designed the ad, which shows a steak branded with the words ‘Tofu ist schwules fleisch’ for a restaurant chain, but it was never used in public, Der Spiegel reported.https://i2.wp.com/lgbtweekly.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/wpid-71_2194_2750.jpg?resize=300%2C201

A spokesman for Scholz & Friends told Der Spiegel that the firm apologised for the steak advert, which has been hosted on the Art Directors Club website after the campaign won a prize in the competition it was designed for.


This example is a much more obvious form of the themes I’ve addressed again and again on The Discerning Brute. Typically the homophobic sentiment surrounding vegetarianism and veganism is underhanded. This ad, however, went with bold clarity. They apologized to the gays they offended (but not to women or those who eat tofu).

There was also a recent study conducted in the Journal of Consumer Research, and the conclusion was, not surprisingly, that consumers are influenced by a strong association of meat with masculinity.

“To the strong, traditional, macho, bicep-flexing, All-American male, red meat is a strong, traditional, macho, bicep-flexing, All-American food,” the authors write. “Soy is not. To eat it, they would have to give up a food they saw as strong and powerful like themselves for a food they saw as weak and wimpy.”