Speakers at the Animal Rights National Conference, held over the summer near Washington, D.C., boasted “incremental changes” toward veganism, the Animal Agriculture Alliance says in a new observation report from the meeting.
The meeting, sponsored by the Farm Animal Rights Movement group, had about 1,500 animal rights activists attend from 47 states and 22 countries.
The Alliance attended the event to gather information about what activist groups are planning and saying behind closed doors.
Animal Agriculture Alliance President and CEO Kay Johnson Smith said gathering that information "is very important in order for the industry to better understand the animal rights movement and how it affects their businesses.
"By attending these events we can more effectively counter their misleading campaigns against animal agriculture," she said.
The meeting's speakers stressed the importance of focusing on "incremental changes" towards veganism by running pressure campaigns against food companies and convincing consumers to go vegan gradually.
David Coman-Hidy, executive director at Last Chance for Animals, noted that activists need to scale back their demands in order to achieve small victories. "You need to look at everything as stepping stones," said Coman-Hidy.
He encouraged activists to start small with their demands in order to seem rational, but always pressure companies to move towards eliminating meat, milk and eggs from their menus.
Alex Hershaft, founder of FARM, stated that activists should gradually convince consumers to go vegan by saying "we are trying to reduce the number of animals used for food. We aren't trying to make everyone vegan."
By just putting their foot in the door, they are more likely to keep the attention of the specific individual or audience. "Take them one step at a time or you will lose them," Hershaft said.
Other notable activist presenters included Nathan Runkle (Mercy for Animals), Paul Shapiro (Humane Society of the United States), Gene Baur (Farm Sanctuary), Peter Young (Animal Liberation Front) and Erica Meier (Compassion Over Killing).
The report, which includes summaries from more than 30 conference plenary and breakout sessions, also specifies key quotes and details strategies and upcoming campaigns.
The 2015 Animal Rights Conference Report, which includes personal accounts of speaker presentations and general observations, is available to Alliance members on the Alliance website.