Tips for Abolitionist Letter Writing

Letter to the editorIt’s very common for mainstream media outlets to cover issues related to the treatment of animals. For example, you may see a story about a dog owner severely abusing his “pet” or an article reporting on a proposed bill which plans to modify how animals are treated on factory farms. While these stories deal with matters related to animal ethics, they typically focus narrowly on how animals are treated, and they almost never promote the idea that we should abolish animal use altogether.

These stories create great opportunities to introduce readers to the abolitionist approach.Writing a letter to the editor can be a powerful and effective form of abolitionist vegan advocacy.

IVA volunteers have had quite a lot of success in getting abolitionist letters published in recent years. We’ve found that, like anything else, there are strategies that tend to increase the chances of success (i.e., being published and stimulating fruitful discussions). Here are are few considerations to keep in mind while taking advantage of these opportunities. These tips are also applicable to comments you might write on social media sites and discussion boards like Reddit.

1. Respond quickly! The sooner you’re able to submit a letter or comment, the better your chances of having it published. Being one of the first to respond can also allow you to help frame the rest of the discussion.

2. Be pithy. Saying a lot in very few words can be hard, but doing it well will make your response stand out. By focusing on a fundamental flaw with the positioning of the piece, or highlighting a crucial consideration that was left out, you can direct others’ attention to the real issues at play.

3. Challenge the property paradigm. Since the stories discussed in the media often focus on the treatment of animals used for food, clothing or entertainment, change the conversation to focus on the fact that animals are morally relevant fellow beings who should not be used as resources, period.

4. Make connections. Where you can, leverage an article’s focus on the moral relevance of select animals (dolphins, dogs, chimps, etc.) to remind people that all animals share the basic traits that make them morally relevant.

5. Emphasize our obligations. Try to emphasize that we each have a moral obligation to live a vegan life, and stress that how we treat other beings is not a matter of personal opinion.

6. Avoid jargon and write in plain language. Refraining from using terminology that might not be familiar to the people reading your letter, and writing in a way that could be spoken out loud without sounding overly technical, will help to ensure your message is received clearly.

7. Work with a partner. You and an abolitionist friend can each write a letter, provide each other with some quick feedback, make a few revisions, and then submit your letters. Within 30 minutes, you can have two clear, edited letters submitted to a publication.