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Branding: A love letter to advocates (and everyone).

February 2023 / by Cookhouse Hero

Although vegan, plant-based, and WPF approaches are rapidly increasing around the world, there seems to be a branding problem within plant-powered messaging. Fiercely debated data, media focus on sound-bite activism, and people's tendency to avoid reality and intelligent change are a few obstacles.

 

  • Real Food Recipes: Nutrition Facts offers a classic sheet-pan meal for novices and beyond. LINK

  • In the News: LinkedIn shares five strategies for effective messaging towards adopting plants. LINK

  • Feeding Families: Food Revolution Network shows ways to navigate healthy eating in families. LINK

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Branding

CH BLOG - February 2023 / © by Cookhouse Hero / Reading time: 4.5 minutes

Dear plant-powered advocates + everyone everywhere...

Unfortunately, it looks like we've got a branding problem.

     Although about a third of the global population eats plants as a primary source of nutrition, humans still think that eating plants is too unfamiliar, too expensive, and too hard (I mistakenly thought so, too). Most of us are so tied to our comfort zones, that the mere mention of more plants on our plates can create an illogically passionate response, as if we're asking people to eat rocks. All people have been fed the same lies and smoke-and-mirror deceptions about foods, beverages, and food systems. And somehow, we chose to leap into rabbit hole explorations. What we’ve discovered is that plants are gifts from the Universe which offer longevity and a possible hospital-free life. On top of that, we’re exposing atrocious CAFOs - concentrated animal feeding operations (animal factories), unstable eco-systems, imbalanced health care systems, food scarcity, fraud, addiction, political and medical lies, media manipulation, and tenacious corporate and institutional greed.

Is it any wonder that avoiding or denying realities about foods, beverages, food systems, and possible food/bev addictions are the preferred perspectives of the masses? Comfort zones are formidable foes.

     Is it any wonder that accepting these travesties - perpetrated with intention - is too painful to acknowledge as true? Personally, I’d rather not know any of this stuff and would love to dive back into my veggie-nachos-and-a-beer addiction. Breaking up with cheese and our favorite treats is like losing a beloved friend for many of us. Thus, denial comes into play as it lends to keeping our fragile sense of sanity in check. Saying no to reality pushes the truth into outer space, and we're quite good at excuses, avoiding, and rationalizations, too. For some, negation is only temporary, but for others, it can last a lifetime. In this case, too many lives are filled with perpetual pills, powders, surgeries, and doctor's visits, all of which don’t often address or repair the core culprits of our conditions. As Dr McDougall repeats ad nauseum: it's the food!

 

Sound information to support healthy and humane change is abundant.

     However, because we’re losing a primary battle right now, let's consider adding a unified PRO-PLANTS message to our approach. This could look like a cohesive Talking-Point Plan that integrates us regardless of our unique methods. Public figures, who don't necessarily agree with every point of their peers, have been successfully coached to use similar words and messaging in order to create a united front. We could do this, too. Although plant-powered communities are rapidly growing, the voracious appetites of omnivores are growing faster. These voices are powerful and backed with almost limitless funds. Also, false information that contributes to people getting sick is exponentially increasing. So, let's get together even more than we are today and unify our community. We need to reach more everyday people, who either don't know about plants and/or don't believe that we’ve been lied to for profit and power for decades.

 

Considering the amount of  false information campaigns, please keep in mind that intentional deception is a tough pill to swallow. This can inspire a state of ferocious disbelief and denial. Then, anger and fear are sure to follow. Nevertheless, I sense it's time to turn up the volume. Like, right now.

     We've got 60 years left of fertile soil, about 10 billion hungry humans will need to be fed by 2050, and frankly, it's time to uncover the sources of all this CRAP even more (Completely Refined And Processed foods and beverages). Let's join forces to expose the truth about Big Food, Beverage, Law, Marketing, Agriculture, Public Policy, Education, and Media by getting even louder, even more inclusive, and even more effective in our message. Let's focus less on intricate details such as the fierce debates about omega three fatty acids or blending vs chewing (important yes, but a turn-off for many). Instead, let's consider a fundamental PRO-PLANTS message. Let's shift, simplify our brand, and include others who aren't science geeks or passionate activists or whistle-blowers. In other words: let's have even more of an impact on people from ALL backgrounds, cultures, and generations. This includes having our fingers on the pulse of the current state of (dis)belief, (mis)trust, and acceptance or denial.

What to do?

     The awkward truth for our own community is that we’re sometimes alienating people with our scientific jargon, our radical activists, and our conflicting debates about nutritional details. Vegans and plant-based advocates are ostracized in film and TV scripts as well as in popular culture. This tells me something important about how we're being perceived and how we're failing in our overall message. It seems that we, ourselves, aren't speaking to people in their current realities often enough. I'm not referring to the many courageous advocates who shed light on horrific practices such as health inequities and food deserts. I'm talking more about motivating BBQ enthusiasts, hard-core carnivores whose identity and heritage are directly connected to eating animals and animal products, and other folks who fiercely hold onto unhealthy habits (even though they can make us sick and dead). I'm also referring to the 1.8 billion vegetarians worldwide who seem reluctant to learn more about nutrition, dairy, eggs, butter, ghee, junk foods, food animal welfare, and eco-systems.

It's like we're preaching to the choir while forgetting to include the congregation, the neighbors across the street, and the citizens on the outskirts of town.

     As a research geek and skeptical critical thinker, I'm into the complexities of food education. But as an experienced teacher in a myriad of environments, I've observed that engaging people from their current belief systems and levels of knowledge can be positively influential. This includes telling the truth fearlessly without too much candy-coating and caveats. Just say it. Out loud. Just show people. Don't preach. Use more conversational language as much as possible. Don't assume we know what new scientific discoveries mean to our health, and understand that not everyone cares about food animals and eco-systems. Humans are busy, stressed, and maxed-out with disinformation. And... we can't give up! It's more fruitful to create a safe no-judgement zone combined with hard truths, while educating people through starting from their levels of exposure to solid info or the lack thereof. We all don't know what we all don't know, right? This includes you, me, and everyone else. Everywhere. Thus, the KISS approach to branding can work: let's Keep It Simple...

In my experience, intelligent change starts with a fearless, truthful, and empathetic conversation, usually at a kitchen table. I’ll bring the snacks.

With love and humble gratitude,

COOKHOUSE HERO

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