I don’t know. I really don’t have a clue. But the anonymity of the internet has allowed the two of us to exchange ideas, an exchange of ideas that a few years ago, wouldn’t have happened. That being said, not everyone is comfortable with the exchange that Megan and I have had. Stalker jokes, comments about becoming a target of a wacko (on either side of this issue) are real. Both sides have their nut cases. The nut cases on our side gleefully describe eating the ones the other side is trying to save. The extremists on their side call us guards at a concentration camp. But somewhere in the middle I happened along a pretty level headed young woman named Megan.
This is what I know, and what I think I know. Megan lives in a somewhat rural state, in a town of 10.000 to 15,000 people. She has been a member of the PETA Street team for three years. She is bright and articulate. She knows that the information that comes from PETA is biased, but is still deciding where the line on their credibility lies. She hadn’t talked to any farmers before the conversation she had with me. She’s been to a winter farm show, and the tethered show animals bothered her. She believes strongly in her convictions, but has made it clear recently that going vegan is difficult to do. I think she is a teenager, but I’m not sure. I might know a little more, but she protects her identity well.
So why don’t I know more? Because it’s none of my business. Period. I’m a middle aged husband with four teenagers in my house. I don’t need a reason to get in trouble, it happens on its own. Megan shares what she is comfortable with sharing. One of the questions that Megan asked early on was,”Why the interest in me? Or are you just interested in the mind of a vegan?” The later is the case, and she has been really open to sharing her thoughts on what we as animal folks do, and has been open to hearing about our interpretation on how a farm works. With her help, several farm friends and I have been able to interact with a small community of PETA supporters, in a very measured and respectful way.
So does it makes sense to get involved in an exchange like this? Not for everyone, but we need to exchange ideas with those who are and aren’t our customers. Here are some tips if you would like to. It’s not our job to “fix” the way they think. Be respectful of opposing views. Think about how you talk about things that we do. And have fun.