A recent feature published in media outlet Quartz declared that veganism has broken through to the general public. Tracing the evolution of the vegan movement, the feature argues that at its inception, activists were loud but mostly ineffective in appealing to the public. Author Chase Purdy describes a clear split that occurred in 2001 between abolitionists (the “heart”) and pragmatists (the “brain”), before highlighting the major changes of the vegan movement since then. “The vegan movement’s brain finally outgrew its heart,” Purdy writes, “and in less than two decades the pragmatic vein of the movement has morphed into one of the biggest disruptors of the American food system.” Purdy focuses on eight individuals—Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) executives Miyun Park, Paul Shapiro, Josh Balk, and Matthew Prescott; Erica Meier of Compassion Over Killing (COK); Hampton Creek co-founder Josh Tetrick; Good Food Institute (GFI) founder Bruce Friedrich; and Farm Sanctuary outreach director Matt Ball—and how their concerted efforts made veganism into a powerful force through strategic advocacy on single issues. HSUS effectively eliminated the confinement of farmed animals in Massachusetts through overwhelming voter support at the polls last week—a change bolstered by the help of undercover videos released by COK. Consumers in Massachusetts (and beyond) have a completely animal-free choice with Hampton Creek’s vegan products, widely available at stores such as Target and Walmart, which GFI lobbies for at the federal level to ensure fair marketing practices. Purdy says that this web of pragmatic vegan activists is changing the world for animals in a big way. “Wielding a bullhorn on the street might feel good,” Purdy writes, “but it’s not an effective way to change behavior.”
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