Sunday, 1 December 2013

Extreme tactics

As most of my friends and family know, two things I feel very passionate about, beyond my family of course, are breastfeeding and veganism. Actually,  I often wonder how you can feel passionate about breastfeeding and not be vegan - if you believe in the importance of a human child receiving their mother's milk, it's difficult to support an industry which is based around animal babies being torn from their mothers and denied her milk, for the same milk only to be sold to another species(for whom it is not even nutritionally designed). We rightly show huge concern for human mothers who suffer from breastfeeding related complications such as mastitis, for example - yet turn our faces away from the fact that dairy cows regular suffer this painful complication.

My point in this post, however, is that recently I've seen some pretty extreme stuff on social media from breastfeeding 'advocates' and militant vegans. Stuff like comparing formula milk to shit and sneering at formula feeders for being lazy and not loving their babies enough (Alpha Parent, I'm looking at you), or the delightful picture below. Or a post on a vegan website denigrating mothers who give their children ice cream as 'despicable'. You get the picture.

This kind of stuff helps no one and only serves to entrench those who it's aimed at further in their own stance. The psychology of behavioural change tells us that people do not respond well to threats and shock tactics and are far more likely to change their behaviour by modelling it on positive examples. If I came to your house and thrust some pictures of dead animals from a factory farm in front of your nose, I doubt very much you'd be persuaded to try veganism. You'd just feel pissed off at me. But if I came to your house and cooked you a delicious vegan meal and showed you how healthy and happy I feel as a vegan, I bet you'd be far more likely to try it.

Same goes for breastfeeding. Talking down formula milk and suggesting that you're a sub standard mother for using it is never going to go down well, and is actually a dangerous tactic - it could be the trigger for an already depressed mum, who feels a failure after not being able to breastfeed, to develop fully fledged PND. Talking openly about breastfeeding and showing pregnant mums how great you feel about breastfeeding and how happy and healthy your breastfed baby is, is far more likely to open people's minds to it.

Extremism will never win hearts and minds - these people can do as much damage to their cause as the formula milk companies or the meat and dairy industries themselves. Instead of ranting and flinging insults and judgement around, maybe these militants should try positively promoting their cause and trying to offer support who those who want to give breastfeeding or veganism (or both!) a go.

So if you'd like me to come and cook you a vegan meal or talk to you about breastfeeding - you know where I am!

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