Lessons learned from appearing on non-vegan podcasts as a vegan
I would have titled this blog post “Want to convince more people to go vegan? Focus on women, not podcasts,” but that would have been too long. But really, this results from a pattern I experienced as a guest on general podcasts after launching my second book.
Being invited to more vegan-related than non-vegan podcasts was no surprise to me, and most general/business/author-related podcasts on which I was a guest didn’t find my vegan lifestyle or values an issue in the conversation.
There are 3 podcasts that stand out that were oddly similar and I noticed patterns among the conversations I had. Primarily, there were two co-hosts, one man and one woman. On two of the three, the male host took the lead in asking questions, while the female host was secondary.
I came up with three highlights that I think would be beneficial for vegans to know who want to be guests on general podcasts or featured in media.
This might also be beneficial information for male podcast hosts to know when they are interviewing women.
1. Female hosts are more open.
First, let’s talk about the amount of women hosting podcasts. Even though the amount of women listening to podcasts has increased, 29% of podcast creators in the US identified as women compared with 69% of men; 2% of those surveyed identified as non-binary.
I noticed that on the female-hosted podcasts that interviewed me, being a vegan almost wasn’t an issue. I don’t think any of them even asked how I went vegan, because it wasn’t the focus of the conversation. Some were more business related and focused on that instead. One female host cut a clip from our interview that focused on how we can make corporations and governments more socially responsible, so she was obviously driven by our common values.
Most of the male-led general podcasts I was on were good listeners, engaged, and we had a good conversation, but the few that come to mind that were the most disruptive (i.e. they attempted to interrupt me while I was mid-sentence) were white men. If you encounter this and you’re a woman, KEEP TALKING. Don’t let them interrupt you because they disagree with something you say, especially if you are talking about an issue related to veganism. Expect this as a vegan.
No female hosts who interviewed me ever did this. Women are generally better listeners in my experience.
On one podcast with a female host and male co-host, she asked me whether we need more women leading businesses, so female leadership was more important to her than going vegan or running a vegan business. If you sense that you’re speaking with a feminist, you might bring up the link between animals and feminism and how dairy cows are bred, impregnated (i.e. raped), and kept in captivity to produce cow’s milk and are separated from their calves.
On this podcast, we recorded on Zoom. The female host and I were primarily visible, but twice, the male co-host/producer appeared to make his opinion known. Expect this if you are a woman.
Vegan Women Summit founder Jennifer Stojkovic has said that women control the spending in most households (where they are married, with kids, etc.) and I’ve heard this stat many times: 85% of household spending is done by women, not men. This is why I support Vegan Women Summit, which focuses its efforts on women (also female-owned Green Queen to an extent). The more vegan women we have, the more vegan men will likely follow.
Women are statistically given fewer opportunities to speak, but they listen more. I’d choose to be a guest on a female-hosted podcast with 10 downloads vs. being interviewed by Piers Morgan and seen by millions, because I’m not even going to get a word in there anyway.
2. The grazing cow fantasy and the demand for source information
Two male podcast hosts said that they want to or “only” support small-scale or grass-fed cow farms whose farmers that treat their animals well from birth to death. I imagine this is a common conception of most omnivores who think that most beef cows, pigs, and chickens get to graze on farms, eat grass or seed, and then we eat their meat when they’ve lived a long and happy life.
I was only given the chance on one of these podcasts to say that small-scale farms comprise about 5% (and I was being generous) of what most farms look like globally. The majority are factory farms where animals are caged or cramped by the thousands (some on top of each other, in the case of chickens). We breed them specifically for food (so they don’t live a happy wild life) and die much earlier than they would in the wild. When I mentioned this, the host said he needed to do more research on this because he didn’t believe this was the case globally, and that’s fine.
We aren’t shown nearly enough how our food is made, and I think this should be school curriculum at an elementary (grade) school level. (Let’s save the slaughter part for high schoolers).
Unless you’re an expert in agriculture or have done a lot of research into this, you won’t all know the stats (I don’t), but one thing you can say to challenge this is that you can produce almost 100x more plant-based food in the same amount of land as meat (from Cowspiracy) and that even if we wanted to breed farm animals in a kinder way, we don’t have the amount of land we would need to feed 8 billion people.
Another issue most pod hosts don’t understand is the environmental impact of animal agriculture. I’ve been challenged about nut production several times (“do you know how much water it takes to grow almonds for almond milk?” etc.) but if you come across that, you can bring up that:
- We use FAR more water and resources for animal production than nut (or plant food) production
- We feed much of the world’s grain and soy to animals for food than to the 800 million people still starving each year
- Factory farming and methane from cows contribute a significant amount to GHGs, more than all transportation sources combined
- Animal ag and the fishing industry cause the most amount of water pollution and the decline of marine life in our world’s oceans
If that’s all too much to remember, just tell them to watch Cowspiracy.
When I’m challenged on the health benefits, I usually mention Dr. Neal Barnard of PCRM, Dr. Michael Greger of NutritionFacts.org, and Dr. T. Colin Campbell, author of The China Study. (We really need more FEMALE plant-based doctors out there, like Dr. Angie Sadeghi.)
The End of Medicine is a good doc that addresses shifting to veganism to avoid future pandemics and fight antibiotic resistance.
For social injustice and impacts on communities of colour, there are the docs The Invisible Vegan and They’re Trying to Kill Us, and soon, The Smell of Money. Food Empowerment Project recently launched gotcolonization.org too.
Folks don’t always believe documentaries, but at this point, it’s easier to mention these until we have the experts and easy-to-remember websites with the credible info that will get hosts to nod their heads like we want them to.
Photo: Atlas Monroe, maker of vegan fried chicken and winner of the 2018 National Fried Chicken Festival
3. “It’s too hard” / “Meat tastes too good”
On one podcast, I hung up the phone and the male & female co-hosts continued to record themselves for a few minutes afterward, saying that they could never go vegan, one reason being that chicken tastes too good. And I get it!
My journey took 11 years and it would have been sooner if I had more access to the great-tasting plant-based alternatives available in the last 7 years and a solid seafood alternative or the amount of vegan sushi I have access to now.
I’ve said that some people have gone vegan overnight, but I don’t personally know anyone who has. If that describes you, you can share how you did it and appease the complaint about going vegan being a hard thing to do.
I wish these hosts had been brave enough to say what they said before closing the interview, because this is a common reason most people don’t want to transition away from animal foods. They’re under the impression that if one doesn’t eat animals, we’re just eating raw fruits and veggies and other grains and strange plant-based foods. Not the case!
I would have mentioned the fact that if most people knew how animal-based foods are made, they would stop eating meat or seafood today. They eat animals for taste (and perhaps because they think it’s a health food), so it’s hard to make the change. That’s where I’d say there are equally tasty plant-based alternatives on the market (or at restaurants) you can enjoy to help them make the switch.
I am not a fan of raw veggies! If anything, I can only eat them with hummus or another kind of dip. The key is knowing how to cook plant foods and season them to make them taste good.
Most vegans will say when they have gone long enough without animal products, we no longer crave them, and that’s been true for me. It’s just hard for your average person to believe that, including podcast hosts. So be empathetic about that.
Finally, you won’t get to say everything you want in a podcast interview. I’d need an hour for that—and most of the effective lectures take that amount of time without someone prompting questions. But hopefully these points will help you focus on where you want to create more influence and change, or how to pack more of a punch when you have these conversations with non-vegans. I’m still learning and improving on all of my interviews.