December 3, 2019
Guest Ria Rehberg, Veganuary
Hosted by Jamie Harris, Sentience Institute
Ria Rehberg of Veganuary on driving institutional change through online campaigns.
I see the pledge program a lot as a means to an end to get institutional change to happen… We're spending about 40% of our staff time and resources on corporate engagement and institutional change. While the marketing side of things is also there to sort of make the corporate side happen… [Veganuary’s place in the movement is] using the idea of the pledge program and driving a corporate change with it.
Veganuary focuses primarily on its online vegan pledge program. But how can this online commitment be harnessed to encourage wider societal change? Can this strategy play a role in bringing change in neglected areas and underrepresented demographics?
Ria Rehberg became executive director of Veganuary in 2019, having previously worked in leadership roles for Animal Equality and the Million Dollar Vegan campaign.
Topics discussed in the episode:
- How Veganuary’s pledge program fits into the wider movement to drive behavior change (1:54)
- The numbers and research behind Veganuary’s claims to have caused a reduction of more than 1.2 million kilograms of animal products purchased between January and June 2019 (7:15)
- Variations in marketing that affect the cost-effectiveness of Veganuary’s online pledge program (15:05)
- How Veganuary encourages companies to improve their provision of animal-free foods and decrease their provision of conventional animal products (16:36)
- How Veganuary works with other animal advocacy organizations (24:39)
- The extent to which nonprofits should specialize in a single intervention and how Veganuary’s pledge program relates to their corporate outreach work (28:24)
- Whether the farmed animal movement should prioritize tactics focused on influencing institutions or individuals (31:13)
- Whether the farmed animal movement should emphasize reducetarianism or veganism (36:42)
- The importance of marketing experience for Veganuary’s employees (40:59)
- Marketing experience, the relative use of for-profit and nonprofit career experience, and how to develop expertise without experience (42:10)
- Developing leadership skills (45:53)
- Funding constraints and how these issues compare to other bottlenecks on Veganuary’s impact (1:01:18)
- Veganuary’s work outside the UK, prioritizing between different locations to expand into, and the challenges of its expansion into different countries (1:19:52)
- Short-term cost-efficiency vs. diversity in outreach and social marketing (1:38:26)
Resources discussed in the episode:
Resources by or about Veganuary:
Resources for using this podcast for a discussion group:
Transcript (Automated, imperfect, timestamps ahead by ~4 min starting at 00:19:02)
Music: 00:00:10 [Inaudible]
Jamie Harris: 00:00:10 Welcome to the Sentience Institute podcast where we interview activists, entrepreneurs, and researchers about the most effective strategies to expand to auntie's moral circle with a focus on expanding the circle to farm Danimals. I'm Jamie Harris, researcher at sentience Institute. Welcome to our third episode of the podcast. On the first episode I briefly outlined some of the strategies we're using to make this the most useful podcast. It can be, so check back to the episode if you're interested. I was excited to have Ria Rehberg from Veganuary as a guest on the podcast because Veganuary is a unique and exciting organization in a number of ways compared to some other farmed animal advocacy groups that operate a large number of interventions. Veganuary is a fairly targeted group focusing primarily on its vegan online pledge program. Although as you'll hear in the episode, corporate campaigns are an increasing focus of the group.
Jamie Harris: 00:00:58 The campaign encourages participants to sign up, to try veganism for a month, usually in January. Then supports them to try out and hopefully stay vegan through online content and emails. The organization presents a more positive, happy go lucky image than some other advocacy groups and has become well known in the United Kingdom. When the organization was founded. I was also keen to ask Maria about her personal career experience given that she has had leadership roles in several different organizations on our website. We have a transcript of this episode as well as timestamps for particular topics. We also have suggested questions and resources that can be used to run an event around this podcast and your local animal advocacy or effective altruism group. Please feel free to get in touch with us if you have questions about this and we would be happy to help. Our guest today is Ria Rehberg. After completing her degree, Ria was the executive director of animal quality Germany and then the country manager in Germany for the million dollar vegan campaign. She's now the CEO of Veganuary. Welcome to the podcast Ria.
Ria Rehberg: 00:01:51 Thanks for having me, Jamie.
Jamie Harris: 00:01:53 I've always thought that Veganuary has taken up the low hanging fruit of the advocacy. It reaches people who are already pretty open to the idea of veganism or already considering trying it and gives them the opportunity and some motivation to actually give it a go. My guess is that there are very few people who have never really considered going vegan before, but hear about the campaign or see an advert and then spontaneously decided to take the punch. I'm just wondering if this matches up to your own thinking about the organization's role.
Ria Rehberg: 00:02:16 I think that's generally true for sort of any major behavior change such as diet change for to be something that you know very few people do for the first time that ever hear about it. I think there's a theory that says someone needs to hear a message seven times a more until they really put it into practice, and I think that's true for many of us. Even though we might sort of remember one particular event that triggered the change very often it's a process of getting more and more information and letting that sink in and then needing the right message and sort of incentive to actually give it a go. It's of course true that Veganuary, you know, the idea of just trying a plan by side for month. There's a new year's resolution in January. It gives you the sort of perfect timeframe and push to do it.
Ria Rehberg: 00:02:56 But at the same time I think Veganuary does much more than that. So we have over half a million social media followers and all of our platforms combined what we should have videos with our ambassadors or genuinely sort of content that's aimed at inspiring people to give veganism ago. And we share information and graphics and so on, basically all year round and hopefully making a lot of people reconsider how they see animals, you know, the impact I want to have on the environment and tips on how to eat and, and they've healthier. And then the other aspect I want to mention is and even though I'm sure we'll speak about it more a little bit later doing during this podcast is Veganuary in my eyes is not really simply a pledge program. So the heart of the campaign of course is the idea of inspiring as many people as possible.
Ria Rehberg: 00:03:39 To take collective action and try vegan for months, but the impact of the campaign is much greater. Then the sort of half a million people that signed up through our website and gave it a go over the last couple of years. And I actually experienced this myself for the first time this January and back then I wasn't yet working at Veganuary but you know, more or less as a coincidence, I was in London for a few days in January. To tell you the truth, I've never really experienced anything like it before. It was like pure vegan madness. So I was like walking down the highest treat with all the main restaurants and you have signs outside saying, you know, it's began, you know, we try on new plant based options and I'd go into, Sainsbury's would just say one of the major supermarket chains and they had a huge Veganuary aisles with all the new vegan products they'd launched.
Ria Rehberg: 00:04:26 And I turn on the TV and have, you know, piers Morgan on a morning TV discussed the new vegan sausage roll, which was like turned out to be Gregg's best selling product and not an forever. So it really was sort of everywhere and it had a really direct impact on what was landing on people's plates. And that's sort of what really gets me excited about the potential of Veganuary. It's sort of the perfect marketing opportunity for businesses to put a lot of money behind telling everyone how amazing plant based eating is and asking people to try, you know, they have vegan options and they're vegan ranges and plant-based offerings. And we are of course a very sort of small nonprofit and we'd never have the advertising budget to reach this many people, but a lot of multinationals do. And many of them put a huge amount of money behind advertising veganism behind advertising plant-based options because they know they'll sell more vegan food if, if they do.
Ria Rehberg: 00:05:21 And I think in January this year, so in the 2019 campaign, over 500 companies promoting Veganuary and plant based eating. During the campaign, over 200 new vegan products and menus were launched and you know, millions were spent on advertising budget. Speaking about plant-based teaching by big companies such as Quorn for example, put a million behind a TV ad and mentioning Veganuary and sort of this for me is where the real change begins. So when you know somebody walks into a supermarket and next to their favorite piece of meat, they have the same need just made out of plans with a huge saying no, try this now. It's better for you and it's saving the planet and that's, that's what I want to be. And I think that's where it began. Your plays, its most important role and sort of bringing about the institutional change but using the pledge program as a means to get there, if that makes sense.
Jamie Harris: 00:06:15 Certainly makes sense. I'm glad to hear you're talking about those aspects because they're also, I'd say the aspects of Veganuary that I'm most excited about, the kind of indirect effects on the companies and also just the kind of general social norms. Yeah. The point about London definitely stands true. As somebody who's been living in London for the past few years, seeing those, seeing that kind of hype increase each January. I've, I've certainly had the same impression. I want to focus a bit on the pledge program itself first of all, just cause that's the bit that people are most familiar with probably. But as a quick aside, you mentioned the stuff about the website. Did you see the, the website is substantial part of the Veganuary's impact? Because my thinking was that the people who see the website is probably mostly either existing vegans or the same people who take the pledge.
Ria Rehberg: 00:06:55 Yeah, I think the website is a really important part because it's where people can sign up and where we can actually then send them emails so they, when once somebody decides they want to take part in Veganuary, they sign up on our website and they get 31 emails. So one email for every single day in January. That really helps them with the transition. And there's lots of recipes and, and interesting information for them. But we know from a lot of market research companies that about 10 times more people actually participate in Veganuary than sign up through the website. So even though of course we will prefer for everyone to come to the website and sign up and get all the information because we just think they're more likely to really stick to the diet if they are, they have somebody basically like taking them by the hand and helping them out. And you know, we have a community in a group where people can join as well and ask questions and, and sort of interact with each other. But at the same time we also can't expect for everyone to sign up through the website. So it is an important part, but we are of course happy for everyone who, who wants to give it a go and take part, be it through our website or not.
Jamie Harris: 00:07:56 Yeah. That's interesting about the the 10 times figure you gave, is that market research specific to Veganuary or is this kind of indirect inferences you're taking from something
Ria Rehberg: 00:08:04 That's specific to began years? So there's been a few companies that have said that such as Mintel and we've very recently commissioned some research from Kantar as well who came to a very similar conclusion. So it was about 10 times as many people that they said reduced their like wind plant-based, I wanted to go plan based in January. Then the amount of people that actually signed up through our website.
Jamie Harris: 00:08:26 Cool. Are either of those links public.
Ria Rehberg: 00:08:28 So the Kantar we are going to actually publish in a few weeks because we're currently calculating the numbers that they gave us into lives of animals saved, which we think is just a nice add on to be able to state. So it'll definitely be public in a couple of weeks and the Mintel should definitely be public already. Yeah.
Jamie Harris: 00:08:47 Cool. Great. Well we'll have to try and get those links up on the website then so people can see them. So in January this year, 2019 Veganuary's campaign had two and 50,000 participants. We'll slightly over that. A post on your website claims that 47% of those participants will stay vegan after January ends. Are you able to talk me through that figure? How does [inaudible] you actually estimate how many people will stay vegan?
Ria Rehberg: 00:09:07 Yeah, sure. So that figure actually comes through the surveys. So we send you know, surveys before and after people take part in Veganuary and then six months after taking part and we ask people whether they intend to stay vegan and we also ask them what they eat. And the last survey in 2019 about 18,000 people answered and of them 47% said that they stay vegan after January. So it was the intention to do it. We don't know if they actually did, but they definitely said they wanted to.
Jamie Harris: 00:09:34 Do you have any data on people's diets prior to joining Veganuary beyond broad categories like vegetarian pescatarian or omnivore? So do you know how frequently the omnivores who sign up actually eat animal products and how that compares to national averages? So yeah, there's this concern I guess is, is maybe that the people who sign up to Veganuary are people who would have gone vegan or tried vegan anyway. And that may be the pledge isn't adding as much value as it might initially seem. So by comparison, there's a paper on surveys of participants in the dry January campaigns, which is a UK based campaign to I encourage people to avoid drinking alcohol for January. And that notes that multivariate analysis revealed that success during dry January was best predicted by lower frequency of drunkenness in the month prior to dry dry January. So one implication of that is that those people who succeed at a month long behavioral pledges are those whose participation in undesired behavior is actually already below average.
Ria Rehberg: 00:10:27 Yeah. So through our survey we found out that 17% of the people that have signed up to the website are already vegan and the rest each animal product. So that either a vegetarian pescatarian or omnivore, we, well, I personally at least don't have any information about sort of comparing to national averages at this point. So we might need to check in with our analyst about that. But yeah, we do sort of pre pledge surveys asking people how much of which meat they aid. So that's probably something that we can, we can find out. And one thing that might actually be interesting to speak about a little bit more here, which we've just mentioned before, is the Kantar research. So there are actually some interesting findings about this. Do you just want me to talk you through some of the main results that we currently have from that research?
Jamie Harris: 00:11:14 Yeah, great. Let's go for that.
Ria Rehberg: 00:11:15 So Kantar, who is a market research company, they sort of scan people shopping. So they have like several households, about 15,000 signed up and these people, you know, when they go to a supermarket and afterwards they go home, they scan the shopping. So content knows exactly what they bought and how much of which, and we were able to look at that information and then kind of also surveyed the households in the database, ask them questions about, began urea and about the consumption. And one of the main findings was that we had, you know, with Veganuary had about a hundred thousand people sign up through our website in the UK year. But then according to Kantar 366,000 actually said that they went plant-based in January because of Veganuary. And in total 1.3 million people gave up animal products in the UK in January. So I think that was about 4.7% or so of the total UK population.
Ria Rehberg: 00:12:16 And that is again about 10 times the number of signups that we got through the began your website ourselves. And after we have gotten these numbers, we want to understand the actual impact that began your had on sort of purchasing behavior and therefore on the amount of animal live saved. And we found out that between January and June, the total impact of Veganuary purchasing was mine is 1.2 million kilograms of animal products purchased. And this figure I mean it sounds massive. We're really, really happy to, to hear about, you know, the, the really amount of animal products less purchased because people said they were doing Veganuary and this number is extrapolated from the 366,000 people that said they gave up animal products because of, again, URI. So this number, the 1.2 million kilograms consumed less will actually even be higher because this is just about supermarket shopping and it's just about entire product.
Ria Rehberg: 00:13:19 So they haven't scanned on measured products containing some milk or some animal products. But this is just about the, the full milk package, so to say that's either scanned or not scanned because people buy it or not. So some of the sort of more detailed data that we got was that yeah, 260,000 kilogram pork was less purchased than the year before because of Veganuary 300, I think 20 kilogram of poultry, 320,000 kilogram of poultry and a hundred thousand kilogram of fish. So we're very excited about these numbers. We're very excited about seeing the actual effect that a pledge campaign can have on consumer decisions in the supermarkets. And hopefully soon we'll sort of have the actual amount of animal lives saved and we're currently getting some advice from ACE and some experts in how to best calculate it and make that number sort of as reliable as possible. But that's sort of how, how much we can say until he, and then hopefully we'll have some more information that we can share with you later on.
Jamie Harris: 00:14:21 Cool. Yeah, that's all sounds really exciting. Looking forward to reading the full report to kind of get my head around some of those numbers a bit more specifically, I guess you mentioned ACE, are you being reviewed by animal charity evaluators again this year?
Jamie Harris: 00:19:02 Again, who uses a lot of mass media kind of intervention, so things like adverts on the London underground and another public transport systems. Do you have any data on what sort of traction those are getting and if they're actually helping drive attention to the page? Much so I recall Matthew Glover, who's the cofounder of Veganuary saying to me that they make up a really small proportion of the signups to the program itself. I don't know, I can't remember where he got that data from.
Ria Rehberg: 00:19:26 Yeah, and I'm sure that's true. I haven't seen any particular data on it either, but I think it's, it's quite obvious that it's always going to be more cost effective running online advertising than billboards if the only and main objective is going to be to get people to sign up on your website for something. By the beginning it has been budget on offline advertising and we're actually going down that route again this year. So this year we're producing the first ever of again URI TV ad with one of our, you know, the best creative agencies in Germany that called [inaudible] and they're producing it and a lot of people, they are donating their time pro bono. And what we're doing is we're looking at sort of very highly reduced prices for slots on TV and for billboards in some of the countries we're launching in this year. So even though we need to always keep in mind that as a charity we usually get things a lot more cost effective than if we were a business or a lot of conversion data out there.
Ria Rehberg: 00:20:19 Of course just compares usual prices for businesses, whether they run something online or offline. So the price per conversion per signups is of course even for us, much higher for, for offline advertising and would always be higher than digital, which is why most of our resources are going into online campaigning. But I think there's a lot of reasons for doing offline as well. So one is you mentioned is the public perception. So reaching a broader group people and not just the very low hanging fruit. So the people that are most likely to go vegan, reaching people through different channels, you know, and we also get a lot of free media stories around things such as a TV ad or billboards. We can get influencers involved in them. So there's, I think there's many reasons you always need to ask yourself why am I doing something?
Ria Rehberg: 00:21:06 And usually it's not just one main objective that you can easily measure, but it's a range of other things that need to be taken into account. And also as you know, sort of one of the approaches is our approaches with again yours to make the campaign like very big and omnipresent. And this is sort of what is going to be appealing to a lot of companies to jump on board with a campaign and put hopefully the advertising budget behind speaking about veganism and plant based eating, which is what we want to achieve because we very much believe that that's going to be something that's very impactful for animals.
Jamie Harris: 00:21:40 Yeah, sure. So this brings onto those those kind of wider implications and wider effects of, of Veganuary campaign that we've, that we mentioned earlier. And one way that I see this, and we've kind of hinted at this, is Veganuary's involvement in sort of court for outreach. So encouraging companies to actively prioritize improving their provision of animal free foods and deprioritize animal products, whether that's just more market research are actually replacing what they're selling in shops, that sort of thing. So I know that Matthew Glover was doing some of this in sort of 2017 2018 and Veganuary was getting contacted directly by companies like Unilever asking to share their ideas and talk through marketing decisions. But last year I think Veganuary hired somebody to work part time on corporate outreach. And I'd love to know if you have any way of kind of evaluating the impact that all these sorts of things have had so far.
Ria Rehberg: 00:22:30 Yeah, so what we're doing in terms of corporate engagement as we've set up a corporate tracker this year we also got some info from ACE on how to measure this best. So the, the corporate tracker that we have is really like a huge Excel sheet, which has information about each of the companies we're working with. You know, how many animal products are they selling, what kind of product are they substituting when they, for example, launch a new, began your product. How close has the contact been? Are they specifically launching this because of and with Veganuary or is this something that they would have done anyway? So we're trying to get as much information as possible and hopefully after this year's campaign we'll be able to share a lot of information on this. And yeah, we're just, we're, we're putting a lot more budget and resources behind a corporate engagement this year.
Ria Rehberg: 00:23:22 So at the moment we have two part time people working on corporate outreach in the U K and then one part time for international and one full term for Germany and all of our competitors and the different countries all focus like a large portion of their time on a two including me. So it's really sort of moved into the focus of our work. Ed began urea I would say. And yeah, I, I think this is one of the most important that we can do. And what we know about last year is that, you know, 500 companies promoted veganism in January. Some examples will be in our pizza had launched three new vegan pizzas for Veganuary or Sainsbury's had huge aisles and Veganuary stickers on them and launched 25 new vegan products or corn, had, you know, a TV ad that mentioned Veganuary. So it's it's really something that I think works quite well and that is something that as began here, we should put a lot more resources behind.
Jamie Harris: 00:24:19 Cool. Yeah, that's really interesting to hear. That was substantially, so if larger proportion of your resources being focused on that then I, my previous impression was, so that's interesting to hear. So for corporate outreach to have a substantial counterfactual impact beyond sort of speeding up changes that were likely to happen anyway, I'd guess the advocates conducting cold outreach have to have, have to really sort of incentivize companies to change their behavior. So this could either be done by providing useful resources to the companies and offerings to their partners or by offering some sort of negative consequences if companies don't comply. I would expect that Veganuary is much better placed to offer the support and positive reinforcement the sort of carrot rather than the stick. What are those kinds of carrots and incentives that Veganuary can offer to food companies?
Ria Rehberg: 00:25:01 Yes. I think that's like very, very true. So companies take part because they know they will, you know, sell more vegan products if they do and it gives them an ideal opportunity [inaudible] Christmas to create a month long campaign activation and focus on vegan food. So it's definitely the the carrot approach with Vigenere and I mean just that, that's sort of why I like the so much because it's just this idea of giving all of these companies possibility of wanting to speak about veganism and wanting to speak about all of the amazing reasons of why people should be eating vegan products. So imagine like somebody would have come up with the months of meat in January and that would have become a thing that media speak about and the people participate in and excited about. And then all of these company will probably, companies will probably be putting all their money behind advertising them meat dishes, but instead Matthew Glover and Jane land, like five years ago, had that year of just saying, no, we'll make, you know, January about eating vegan food.
Ria Rehberg: 00:26:00 And it's just, it sort of took off. And companies of course are taking part because they know they're gonna experience an increase in sales if they participate and speak about their amazing plant based foods. So, and I mean we both know this to own really many counter arguments against the plant based diet. It just makes sense to do it and companies are starting to see that it works and that people are getting more and more information and that ones, the products are out there and they're test tasty and they're, you know, not much more expensive than than the alternative than people are going to buy it. And especially if they have smart marketing campaigns behind it, they'll see that it makes it, it just makes sense to invest into plant based eating in the future.
Jamie Harris: 00:26:42 Sure. I'm wondering if there's kind of specific to Veganuary that they can, not that you guys can offer as well. So whether there's any kind of do you have sort of like aggregated market research data or your own data? You mentioned the research you are conducting with Kantar. Do you have any of that sort of thing that you're just able to share with companies that they just would otherwise struggle to access do you think?
Ria Rehberg: 00:27:01 Yeah, so what we're doing this, he actually is, we have made a, what we call business toolkit, which we've sent around to a hundreds of companies that we're in touch with, with a lot of useful information for them. We give them all of our assets and tools. Everybody can basically take part in began you're a free of charge. They can use our logo, they can be part of the campaign. We give a lot of tips and information on what kind of products are going to work this year and what kind of PR stunts make sense. We have a lot of, like since April, I think we've just been constantly meeting with companies in the UK, in U S a in, in Germany and really trying to get everybody as excited about joining in as possible and giving them, as you say, you know, a lot of information about it, but then also just the opportunity of joining in, which is something that a lot of companies are as sometimes I'm surprised about I would say. Because usually if you're a part in a campaign you need to pay a lot of money to be a part. But with Veganuary it's free. So we just want as many companies as possible to take part to speak about veganism and yeah. To, to really put budget behind the plant based products.
Jamie Harris: 00:28:07 Cool. And is that business toolkit public or the companies have to get in touch with you to get access to all those goodies?
Ria Rehberg: 00:28:13 So it's going to be on our website that we're launching very soon and we have so many contexts of companies that we've sent this to. So it's really been hundreds already. And then we're working with a lot of amazing partner organizations behind the scenes as well who are doing a lot of institutional change. And many of them have passed that onto their company contacts as well. So yeah, I think many companies will already have it and anybody can always get in touch with us of course and ask about receiving it as well.
Jamie Harris: 00:28:42 Oh, that's something I was planning to talk about later. But you mentioned working with other organizations did, did the kind of behind the scenes stuff, how, how does that relationship work?
Ria Rehberg: 00:28:52 So one of our main objectives for this year's campaign is to internationalize a lot more because I think the began your concept works so well and I was so surprised by how, you know, institutional change and diet change can work so well together. How basically die change program can lead to so much institution institutional change. And in the UK it's almost becomes something automatic, I would say. So we have so many companies getting in touch with us and just sometimes even launching vegan products using our logo without even telling us. But it's a concept and system that hasn't been established in other countries yet, even though, again, it was always been an international campaign. So a lot of people from, you know, I think 170 countries or so have signed up and taken part. It's never really reached the mainstream in any other country.
Ria Rehberg: 00:29:44 So I'm, one of the big objectives for this year's campaign is to have, Veganuary campaigns in several more countries. So we're launching in the U S this year, we're launching in Germany, in Latin America, more specifically Chile and in South Africa. So that's where we have our own campaigners on the ground and we'll really get sort of the campaign started and we're in touch with a lot of companies and getting the marketing campaign ready. But at the same time, we're working with dozens of partner organizations in some of the countries that we're launching in ourselves or in the UK, but then also in other countries like let's say Australia for example, when we have amazing partners that use the Veganuary challenge and idea and sort of drive all of this movement themselves. And that's something that we're really looking forward to just doing a lot more and just giving the idea of the challenge a little bit of weight to other organizations so they can use it as it suits them best.
Ria Rehberg: 00:30:39 And at the same time, we're also sort of working with some organizations in a more unofficial capacity. So, you know, speaking about companies that we can approach or if for example, we pass on our business toolkit to, to another organization and they have a meeting with a major retailer, let's say in Germany, then they can say, well, if I'm, you know, Veganuary is coming to Germany in January, if you're interested, get in touch with them. And on the other hand, we, if we have these discussions with companies and there's very, I don't know, they need very detailed specific data about the German market where we are currently not very well set up. We'll then send them over to two other organizations that just have a lot more information and know how and can sort of advise and consult on the actual how to, you know, produce or develop the best new vegan option for their range.
Ria Rehberg: 00:31:33 So it's, it's something we work on in like several capacities. And I think one of the things that gets most excited about the animal movement or the effective altruism movement is how much collaboration there is and how open many, many organizations aren't really working together and really looking at the bigger picture of we really all one achieve the same thing. And even though our tactics might differ or even though we might have disagreements about certain things that we do, we are all like very open to collaborating into looking at how we can benefit each other and how we can get to our objective of, you know, having a, a vegan world essentially, I'm a lot faster. So it's one of the things that we're putting a lot of focus on and that I'm super excited about this year.
Jamie Harris: 00:32:15 Cool. Yeah, that is exciting. And I'll definitely want to dive in some more into the kind of international aspects in a, in a bit just to kind of close off the discussion of the pledge program compared to the other interventions that have began or is involved in when Veganuary was reviewed by an animal charity evaluators in 2016 that report from ACE actually notes that Veganuary spends 95% of their budget on the pledge program. I'm guessing that's no anywhere near accurate. And this kind of brings onto a more general question about the extent to which animal advocacy organizations and nonprofits should specialize and focus on one or two interventions that they do really well or take on multiple interconnected intervention types. And so Veganuary is a kind of interesting test case of this question. Given that kind of real specialism, it's hard with the pledge program, but also lots of opportunities that open up to it in kind of interconnected issues. What's your kind of overall view on that question?
Ria Rehberg: 00:33:08 Yeah, so I definitely don't see it again, you're spending sort of 95% on the pledge program. And again, I see the pledge program a lot as a means to an end to get institutional change to happen. So I'm, we will probably need to calculate this and I'm sure we'll do it after this year's campaign, but I would probably think that we're spending about 40% of our staff time and resources on corporate engagement and institutional change. While the marketing side of things is also there to sort of make the corporate side happen. I still think that there's things that began you should not be doing. So we, for example, decided to not be involved in investigations. So going into farms and documenting the conditions there, that's definitely something we can hear is not going to be doing any more. I do think there's a place for each organization and the movement and Veganuary, it's definitely just using the idea of the pledge program and driving a corporate change with it.
Ria Rehberg: 00:34:07 So I agree that it makes sense to do like some specialization and focusing on one or two interventions. But it all basically comes down to what do you want to achieve and if you want to achieve I dunno as much change in terms of more plant based foods that are there and the, the biggest amount of animal lives saved. You need to have a theory of change that brings you there and you need to have arguments of why you're choosing to do what you do. So I personally, for example, I wouldn't be happy if again, he was not doing any corporate engagement. If it was just a pledge program, I probably wouldn't have come to work with again Veganuary, right. It's the whole theory of change in terms of the pledge program then influencing corporate change and that again, influencing more people to become part of. Again, you're in, try vegan in January and sticking with it. And so it sort of all comes together for me and as something that works very, very well, but at the same time, I think each organization needs to ask themselves the same question, what, what are we trying to achieve? What's our role in the movement? And I think specializing on some aspects that you're really, really good at is usually a the smart strategy.
Jamie Harris: 00:35:15 Cool. Really kind of touches on this question of how the movement overrule as well. We should be using its resources between these kinds of individual focused and institutional focus tactics that we've been mentioning. I'm wondering what your overall view on that question is for the movement more widely beyond Vigenere cause it sounds like you, you, you are quite keen on those institutional changes as coexisting. The individual changes. This is one of the foundational questions in effective an advocacy that we've summarized some of the evidence for and against on our website. It's also one of the, I'd say one of the questions that Sentience Institute tends to have a kind of a stronger view on that the, and an advocacy movement so far has neglected institutional change compared to individual change and there's various types of evidence to support this conclusion that institutional change is really important.
Jamie Harris: 00:36:03 There's also a really interesting post by animal charity evaluators on their website, which I think it was conducted in 2018 might have been this year. Summarizing the percentage of resource division between sort of public facing campaigns between implements industry in the farmed animal movement? Generally in charities they've evaluated specifically and for each of the different groups they evaluate focused on individuals takes up somewhere shy of 50% whereas influencing industry is kind of closer to, I might be getting their figures slightly wrong off the top of my head, but I think it was sort of somewhere around 30% for the farmed animal advocacy movement generally and slightly larger figure for the charities that they'd reviewed specifically. Do you think that the farmed animal movement needs to be moving more towards institutional changes overall or are you kind of happy with the balance as it is? It sounds like you think for Veganuary specific they're shifting towards institutional, but what about the movement more widely?
Ria Rehberg: 00:37:02 I'm not sure I have really enough information on the movement as a whole. I mean, of course I'm, I'm sort of part of of the discussions around, you know, typical diet change versus institutional change debate and I very much agree that we should be spending a lot more resources on institutional change. I'm not entirely sure on how much each organization at the moment is switching over. I know a lot of organizations of course are spending now a bigger parts of the budget on institution to change, which I believe makes a lot of sense. But I think it all again comes down to what are you trying to achieve and how do you think you're going to get there. So before I joined Veganuary, my more, more or less, I would say limited view was it's either die change or it's institutional change, right? So I didn't really think that that was a pledge program that could actually have the potential of driving this massive institutional change that I have been witnessed myself in in January when I was in London.
Ria Rehberg: 00:37:59 So of course you might say some of that change that's happening might happen anyway or would have happened, you know, another time of the year instead. And I think that's correct, but at the same time you sort of see that, you know, the UK has just become the world leader in plant based product launches and a lot of sort of media attribute at that, at least in part to began [inaudible]. So I think we do see that there is definitely some effect of a pledge program in terms of institutional change. So I think as a movement we need all sorts of strategies and ideally, you know, working together and really we need to strengthen the mindset to question why we do what we do. So what's, what's the immediate effect of what we're doing? And this might seem very obvious when we speak about it now, but my experience is that in a lot of organizations it's actually not as clear as you think it should be.
Ria Rehberg: 00:38:46 So for Veganuary, of course we want to reduce animal suffering and we want to create a vegan world where, you know, food production doesn't decimate forest or pollute rivers and oceans and exacerbate climate change and you know, drive wild animal pollutions to extinction. And obviously most importantly, what were no animals being slaughtered or locked up because we think it's acceptable to eat their flesh. And I don't really care if we get there through individual change or through companies driving it because it's more cost effective for them to switch to plant based options. And my feeling is we definitely need both and we can't just look at as if it's black and white and the two things can be closely related and actually drive each other. But again, there needs to be a sort of theory of change behind it. So if you think what you want to do is a, a pledge program and you think that's the most effective thing that you can do, then you should have a reasoning as to why you think that's, that's the case. And for me, with Veganuary, I think it makes sense because it drives a lot of institutional change. But yeah, I think it's, it, it's very hard to generalize with something so complicated as this debate. But I would say a long answer short, I think institutional change is what's going to push us over the edge. But we will still need, you know, people to want to buy these products that out there and we still need the buzz and excitement around a campaign to drive institutional change.
Jamie Harris: 00:40:03 Sure. I don't think anybody would really deny that both are needed, but we could still have different views about say whether it should be a 50, 50 split, a 60, 40 or 70 30. Do you have any kind of ballpark thoughts on that sort of split?
Ria Rehberg: 00:40:16 Oh, that's very, very hard for me to say. I'm sorry. I really can. I mean with Veganuary kind of, I can, I can sort of speak about the work that we do well with think, you know, it's probably a 40, 60 or something where we do need the pledge program and we need to put a lot of resources behind making it big. But then really a lot of resources need to be spent on actually getting corporates to change. And maybe it could be similar for the movement and you could extrapolate that, but it's, yeah, it's very hard to actually put a finger to it.
Jamie Harris: 00:40:45 Sure. Another question, which is kind of often debated in the [inaudible] community in which people have kind of really strong intuitions about but don't necessarily have a clear grasp of the evidence on is the debate of the vegan versus reducetarian issue. Who, which should we be promoting? Should we promote it, be promoting both? That sort of question. So we've, again, we've summarized some of the evidence for and against that question on our website, on the foundational questions summary page, but Veganuary, obviously vegan is in the name of the organization and it would be hard to get away with that without a kind of sort of comprehensive rebranding or whatever. What'd you think about, again, reflecting the movement more widely? Should both a vegan and a reducetarian ask co-exist within the movement or are you particularly confident that national international campaign should use a vegan framing?
Ria Rehberg: 00:41:33 That's a really good question. I definitely think that reducetarian outreach is one of the most, an impact, like most important and impactful things that we can do as a movement or as organizations. And I think depending on how you look at it, you could say that Veganuary is a reduced Attarian campaign because you, you know, you basically reduce the animal product consumption four months out of the year. So it's not really asking people to stick to I don't know to, to do a change now forever. Of course we do ask them to stick to their diets after the first month, but as you know, about 50% of people just do it for months. So whether, I dunno, you speak about meatless Mondays where you ask people to, you know, not eat meat for one day a week or whether you ask them to not eat animal products four months out of a year, it can be seen as a sort of similar approach.
Ria Rehberg: 00:42:25 But of course began. URI does sound a lot more controversial and a lot more absolute because it does actually ask people to give up everything from months. So I have very much agreed on that way. So I think the wave, again your works though, it's sort of about creating a buzz and media attention and marketing activities around the idea of taking a pledge. And for that I think you need sort of a pretty bold asks. So something that's you know, quite a bit controversial and new and catchy. And I think for that you need to use the word vegan. And I know that Matthew and Jane are the founders. I'm off again, you know, they back in the day when they were thinking about starting the organization, they actually thought about asking people to try vegetarian when they first launched the campaign. And I think they were actually spot on when they then decided that for campaigns such as Veganuary, you need to be a bit more bold and in your face.
Ria Rehberg: 00:43:20 And I think it really paid off. So from all the countries I've been in since I went vegan about 10 years ago, the UK is the only country where I would say the word vegans seems to be more or less accepted now in the mainstream. So a company's use it openly to market their products on, you know, subway had huge vegan ads on buses and things like that. And you know, Germany where I live, that's still not the case in the U S in my opinion either. So I think sometimes it can be a good idea to just sort of go with an approach that's a bit more controversial if that's the way you want to set your campaign up and you think it'll have benefits to overall mission. And yeah, again, as, as a marketing campaign, you need to, you need to have some boldness in it and it needs to be something that media want to talk about and that are, I don't know that that just sort of sparks a higher interest or that seems like something that's not as straight forward as some other asks that you could have. So I think for big annual it makes sense, but that doesn't mean that it would make sense for any other organization. Again, I'm a big, big fan of reducetarian outreach and I think it's one of the most important things that we need in the movement. Sure. Yeah. It's interesting you mentioned the idea of the kind of bold claims cause it's literally something I looking at here today
Jamie Harris: 00:44:32 Is from the, again from the health behavior literature, there is some evidence to suggest that actually bolder goals lead to sort of greater achievement for the people actually making those commitments as well. So that would be a point in favor of the kind of the in ask even if it's only for a temporary period type thing. I'm referencing referencing here a paper called goal setting as a health behavior change strategy in overweight and obese adults. A systematic literature review, which I'll stick up a link to in case anyone's interested in that. But you mentioned as well that idea of Veganuary being about, it's almost, it's almost this marketing aspect and social marketing is definitely a big part of what Veganuary is doing with the pledge program. I'm interested about the kind of backgrounds of the employees of Veganuary. What proportion of, if Veganuary, employees would you say have marketing backgrounds?
Ria Rehberg: 00:45:22 So I would say probably 40% of our team is working on comms then marketing activities and have a background in either of those. I would say I think two of our full time staff actually come from, from sort of for-profit marketing background and others are from more the animal protection movement. But I've worked in comms also the campaigning marketing strategies. So yes, I agree that that marketing is important and what we did this year as well as we got a consultant on board who has a lot of experience with marketing and is also the vegan and part of them animal protection movement and yeah, has a really, really strong marketing background and he's supporting us this year as well. So agreed that that's something that for Veganuary is yeah, very needed a skill.
Jamie Harris: 00:46:13 Cool. It might be hard to generalize here, but would you prefer for a job applicant to have had several years marketing experience? Are high quality, prestigious for profit company or a potentially less well known vegan company such as one setting innovative plant based foods or in a nonprofit?
Ria Rehberg: 00:46:30 Hmm. I think it's very hard to say and it probably depends mostly on the person. So for me it will be, you know, about how driven are they, how much do they believe in the same mission, how much do they think sort of outside the box and able to find complex solutions. And also how, how good are they at finding ways to learn more from others and find information to teach themselves. I don't think you need to have sort of worked in the for profit world to get the necessary insights to run good campaigns, for example. It might be useful and other instances like fundraising maybe to have worked in other big organizations when you're thinking about I no joining a small organization that doesn't have much experience there. But yeah, generally I would think that instead of sort of going out and finding as much information as possible is probably the best way for it. So if I needed to decide a probably go with in the nonprofit world, but it really depends on the person.
Jamie Harris: 00:47:30 Sorry. Can you clarify what you mean about going out and finding as much information?
Ria Rehberg: 00:47:34 Yeah, so I think that's one of the things I would feel something that you can do rather than actually working in a for profit company is, you know, going to trainings speaking with people from other organizations I'm doing online courses and training. So I think there's a lot of information out there that you can get to increase your skills and to learn. And you don't necessarily need to spend, you know, three years in a company looking at how they do things because processes are probably going to be quite easy to understand. And you might not have, you know, an overview of everything that they do there. But if you, for example, want to become I don't know, a great campaigner, you might, I'm need to find though, the inflammations that you need to become better and keep learning outside while working in an NGO rather than, you know, maybe possibly more or less wasting three years in, in the for profit world and learning something that you could have also gotten in a three day course. And we also through conversations with leaders from, from other organizations, if that makes sense.
Jamie Harris: 00:48:40 Yeah, definitely makes sense; really exciting. Something that the, there's a new organization called animal advocacy careers, which is thinking about implementing trainings as well. And this is something I've been thinking about is how doable that is and how much difference it actually makes it kind of condensing that knowledge in a short period of time. Presumably there are some skills which are more trainable and marketing sort of technical abilities might be one of those things that can just be trained in quite a short period of time.
Ria Rehberg: 00:49:03 Yeah. Yeah, I think so. I mean there's this definitely things that you can also get outside consultants in and help you with, you know, rather than looking for staff that have, you know, spend years working somewhere. If you're thinking about a career and you're thinking about, well, what should I do in, how should I work in marketing for five years? And then I'll have all the necessary skills and then I'll finally go to an organization and do what I wanted to do in the first place or going to an organization. I'm doing the work. Then just getting a, a consultant to, to help you with specific things that you can figure out yourself. So of course it's very, very different from department to department and as well it depends a lot on the size of the organization and what the organization does. But I think a lot of things are quite easy to teach yourself or to get information in nowadays world now rather than actually having to have worked in the for profit world and, and learned how to do it.
Jamie Harris: 00:49:56 Yeah. So speaking about careers let's move on to speaking about your own personal career and I'm wondering how your career developed. So you went straight from your degree into working as the national coordinator for animal quality in Germany, I think. How did that come about?
Ria Rehberg: 00:50:09 Yes. Whereas national coordinator sounds a lot more fancy than it was. So when, Animal Equality started in Germany, it really was sort of a bunch of activists, you know, living in a, in, in, in the living room all together and having a little office there. And we all worked out butts off to make difference and, you know, grow the organization. So at that time we didn't really have, you know, much skills in any relevant department or experience, you know, be it campaigning or fundraising or anything like that. And we needed to learn all the skills and information on the run. And it definitely didn't feel like a sort of leadership position in the beginning, but rather they know, group of activists find to be as effective as possible. And then of course we, we started growing and we were able to employee team members and, and you know, have offices and grow the organization. And then you do all of a sudden find like, wow, like there's, there's a lot more to it than just a few friends doing something together. And it becomes a lot more complicated than that. But in the beginning it wasn't, you know, it wasn't like I was giving, given a certain position in an organization that existed before, but it was, you know, a few people that, that started the group in Germany and I joined them shortly after they did.
Jamie Harris: 00:51:21 Cool. So was that full time or was that unpaid or what was the situation when you started doing that?
Ria Rehberg: 00:51:25 Yeah, we all started, you know, without being paid for it, and we really just sort of hoped that it was gonna work out and we were so passionate about it and obviously still are, but yeah, it was, it was really something that we did in our free time. So some of us did some jobs at the side to be able to yeah, make a living, but it wasn't a thing until a year and a half or so until I was actually the first person that got a little bit of money, which was 200 euros and yeah. Then then from that I went a went upwards I would say, and we were able to actually hire people and sort of employ ourselves as well. But yeah, everybody started without being paid. And it's sort of like an activist project.
Jamie Harris: 00:52:10 I'm wondering what some of the kind of early and most important lessons that you learn about leadership and animal advocacy in those first few months and years were,
Ria Rehberg: 00:52:17 If you can cast your mind back. Sure. Yeah. So I think it's probably not just leadership and generally it's, it's like all areas where I would say it's sort of important to question everything that you do and to remain very flexible and your opinions and approaches, you know, like making mistakes, learning from them, constantly seeking to learn more, be it through reading or trainings or workshops around meetups, you know, exchanging information and conferences for me has been really, really important. So I think everything can be learned if you know what, why you're doing it and you're sort of really internally in, well, truly altruistically motivated to, to getting things done. So that will be my main I would say lesson. Yeah [inaudible] just, just to, to keep learning and, and I think, yeah, not a lot of things can be learned. So even if right now you'd feel like, wow, I need to have this huge career and I need to do, I don't know, all of this work in, in all different sectors of society to be then able to, to work at an animal advocacy organization. I don't think that's necessarily true if you have the right mindset and you're willing to learn quickly.
Jamie Harris: 00:53:28 Cool. But were there any particular career experiences or skills that you wish you'd developed more authority before jumping into that sort of role? Or was it all, are you just confident that these can all just be picked up on the job basically?
Ria Rehberg: 00:53:39 Oh, there's definitely a lot. Wow. I was thinking, wow, I wish I had more knowledge about this. Things, you know, like fundraising and a lot of other areas. So definitely. I mean even though of course there are a lot of things that you can, that you can teach yourself, there's a lot of other things where you'd think, wow, it would just have been amazing to have somebody to ask about this. And that's why I'm a huge fan of sort of mentorship programs as well. And I wish I would have participated in some of them earlier in my career, so to say, because nothing is going to help you more than a person that is not a friend and that, you know, is from the same walk of life that you go, but just more experienced that can actually put an hour per week or two hours a month aside and guide you through the most difficult questions that you have or share their network with you. So that will be one of the things that I think could have been very, very impactful. And then I would advise anyone to, that's I'm interested in, I'm building a Korean and animal protection or effective altruism.
Jamie Harris: 00:54:46 Sure. Are there formal mentorship programs that you're thinking of here or are you just encouraging people to reach out to each other and ask if they can have a chat every now and again?
Ria Rehberg: 00:54:53 So there's definitely formal programs. I'm not sure about the U S I'm currently a mentor in a program for, for women in Germany, which I can recommend, which is called mentor me. For the I'm sure it could be either, right? It could be either joining an official program that offers something like that. Or if you know, there's somebody who you think will be your perfect mentor, maybe just you know, having the courage and reaching out and making a good case of why you think it will be very well invest the time from their side to, to spend, I don't know, two hours a month or so on, on mentoring you. And that could also be an approach. So I think both works. But it should probably be someone with a similar mindset and in a similar area. So ideally if you want to be in, you know, the animal protection movement, it will be somebody from the movement. I would advise doesn't necessarily have to be, would probably be of use.
Jamie Harris: 00:55:49 Yeah. Just a couple of things related to this that might help listeners. You mentioned a program specific specifically for women. There is a mentorship program in America specifically for people of color organized by the group Encompass. Hopefully you'll be able to stick a link up on the blog about that. Also in terms of reaching out to people, obviously people go to conferences, that sort of thing. But also if people go on the effective animal advocacy discussion, Facebook group, there is a directory on there to encourage people to reach out and have these one to one conversations. So you can just see which roles people are in and see if there's anything relevant and you can just send them an email or a message or a LinkedIn message, whatever it is. So yeah, I think there's, there's definitely resources out there to help make that sort of thing happen.
Ria Rehberg: 00:56:28 Well, thank you so much for sharing that. That's really interesting. Yeah.
Jamie Harris: 00:56:31 Yeah. So I think that in terms of management and leadership experience specifically, this is maybe an area that the animal advocacy movement is struggling with, with not enough people with those groups of backgrounds or experience. We've talked about sort of jumping into roles, mentorship, doing training programs alongside or those sorts of things. Do you have any other comments on that sort of skill set specifically? For instance, is it important that somebody say runs a national campaigns team before they, sorry, runs a campaigns team before they run the national branch of an organization. Should people sort of incrementally do this sort of thing within organizations? Or do you have any other recommendations about how people could build up these skills generally?
Ria Rehberg: 00:57:09 Yeah, that's a really good question and I really do think it very much depends on the kind of job and role. I think. Yeah, it probably makes a lot of sense to be able to have, you know, mentors or leaders that you look up to and then you can learn from in an organization. So as you say, you know, running national chapter first before you run an international one or something like that. So that's definitely, I think, good, good processes in place. Yeah, I dunno. I think it's really, really hard to generalize because it's so, so different depending on the area. Yeah,
Jamie Harris: 00:57:40 Sure. So personally, you've had a, you've had leadership roles at animal equality, million-dollar vegan campaign, and now Veganuary and all these organizations fulfill relatively different roles or some overlap, obviously within the animal advocacy movement. I'm wondering if the requirements for you as an individual were quite different in those different contexts or if there was a lot of overlap?
Ria Rehberg: 00:57:59 I would say it, it is very different, but at the same time a lot of the same main skills are required from my side. So the typical like, you know, working hard and focusing on the bigger picture and, and evaluating your effectiveness project managing, things like that. But there's definitely a, a lot of differences as well. So it's obviously completely different organizations, different setups with million dollar vegan for example, where I was just running the German side of things. It was just me in Germany, right? I did everything myself from running the social media to, to doing the press outreach to translating the website and so on. So it's a, it was definitely a, a very different experience. Then for example, I Veganuary now where it's a UK charity. It's not it's not a German charity anymore, but it's an international team.
Ria Rehberg: 00:58:49 So it all comes with its sort of own benefits and challenges. But yeah, I think, and this is actually quite something that is a very recent learning for me as well because I've been with animal equality for so many years before moving over to million dollar vegan and I Veganuary and I think it's actually an amazing thing to be able to work at different organizations and seeing how they do things differently. And it's really, really opened my eyes to a lot of things as well. So I learn so much. $1 million vegan with you know, really, really amazing team of international campaigners and a lot of I can now bring to Veganuary. So one of my main learnings I would say is that I don't think people would necessarily need to have the mindset of, you know, staying with one organization forever, but that it can actually be beneficial for the movement if you work in different organizations and if organizations are open to you know, and, and not taking it personally, if people switch over to another organization after a couple of years because in the end, I think all of the organizations are going to benefit from having people with different backgrounds and having experienced different situations and some organizations might just be more of a fit for some people and, and less for others.
Ria Rehberg: 01:00:00 So this is something that I would really encourage people and organizations to be able to, to work in different areas to work in different organizations and to bring the best learnings sort of combined together to, to make more of an impact in the long run.
Jamie Harris: 01:00:16 Cool. Yeah, definitely beneficial for building up skills and experience, that sort of thing. Although there's also obviously to some extent a cost with the organizations themselves having transition periods. You know, even you mentioning earlier that it, for instance, might've contributed to the delay of you being able to take on an ACE review cause there's that sort of ongoing changing or redirection of strategy or that sort of thing. Where to when a leader changes, is there, I don't know, is there a sort of rough guideline for sort of happy medium of how regularly leaders and organizers should change organizations or, I mean, I'm guessing, I'm going to say it depends on the situation.
Ria Rehberg: 01:00:50 Yeah, a little bit of course. But yeah, I mean, of course everything is to be taken with a grain of salt. So I'm not saying, you know, each organization should change their, I don't know, CEO once a year. I mean, that would just be be madness and not efficient in the long run. But I dunno, it's hard to say. For me, it's been, I think I was with animal equality six years and it's it's definitely be been an incredible learning. And then I've only been with million dollar vegan for the first campaign for six months and I've learned so much there as well. And it was actually quite fast to jump into all the new processes. So there, and of course I was doing something that I already knew how to do. So it wasn't like I was learning a lot of new skills.
Ria Rehberg: 01:01:27 I was more of and seeing how other people work differently, which was quite interesting, but it didn't feel that I needed a lot of time to get into the new role, so to say. So I think it depends on the role of course a lot. And I'm not trying to encourage people to work a year here and work two years there. That's definitely not enough time to really make an impact in an organization. But I think something like, I don't know, five or six years in one organization and then then moving over to the other can be of great benefit for the movement as such.
Jamie Harris: 01:01:56 Sure. Are there any sort of specific things that, I mean, yeah, you've talked about the experience as being useful to you. Are there any specific things that you could recommend as like a particular lesson that you learned that you wouldn't necessarily have had otherwise that you think is important for animal advocates generally or so? Developing managers to have to be aware of?
Ria Rehberg: 01:02:17 So you mean a lesson in terms of effectiveness or lesson in terms of leadership in general?
Jamie Harris: 01:02:25 Yeah. Anything. Just if there's any like particular sort of nuggets of information you've got [inaudible]
Ria Rehberg: 01:02:30 Yeah. My, my big main learning is definitely to always stay flexible because sometimes you know, you're so convinced about something and you want to speak about it so much. And I do this a lot and actually saying that this is, this is going to be the one thing that's really gonna make a difference. And you're so convinced because you've seen the studies and it just makes sense. And you know, two years afterwards, all of a sudden studies come out that show the opposite and, and you do want to stay flexible and you do want to be able to change your mind if you think that that is what's gonna help animals the most. So I think just keeping an open mind about that and that we always need to keep learning and we need to keep questioning ourselves. And we definitely should always communicate in a way that allows us to change our opinion later on.
Ria Rehberg: 01:03:13 Because otherwise you might just be stuck in some sort of way of campaigning just because we've, we've become so personally invested in it. And I think that should never have been. We should always look at what do we believe right now is the best thing to do and then we should go for it. And we should be quick and being able to change and adapt if there's good reasons to and if there's reliable studies that show us that we shouldn't be changing our approach. So that will, that's, that's I think my, my biggest learning.
Jamie Harris: 01:03:43 Sure. Are there specific resources that you'd read or anything in particular that you'd recommend to the other, the other people should look at as well if they're trying to build similar skills to the ones that you've been working on?
Ria Rehberg: 01:03:54 Yeah, I think there's a lot of sort of the typical management books that allow of like, you know, leaders eat last, I'm managing to change the world or books on, on effectiveness such as the seven habits or getting things done and stuff like that. That just sort of the, I think the basics of often of building an impactful and effective organization and something that I would encourage everyone to read for sure.
Jamie Harris: 01:04:20 Okay. Do you, do you feel confident implementing the advice of those sort of books? Because I guess a problem I have with these sorts of books is that I read them and I just think, well, where this come from, this is just one person has sort of personally decided that this was useful for them and I'm just not confident that actually going and implementing the, the advice is going to actually improve whatever it is I'm trying to improve. Do you sort of test things out? Would you have a particular system for doing that? Or do you just kind of read lots and take it all in and then just sort of see what, whatever sort of pans out naturally and
Ria Rehberg: 01:04:51 Yeah, that's a really, really good point. And I actually, what I would never do a thing, it's just sort of take advice that it says something. Just, you know, I'm applying it to a situation that I'm currently in, so I obviously think this is, that's all supposed to be inspiration. It's not really supposed to be a guide that you follow word by word or otherwise. You know, you're not going to be authentic. You're not going to be yourself and you're not gonna really critically ask yourself of this is what makes most sense. But I think very often you read something, you're like, wow, this makes so much sense. How could I have not thought of this myself? And then those are probably the things that you would want to implement. Whereas if you read something you're like, that really doesn't apply to me, then I would probably ignore the advice and go with what my gut feeling says.
Jamie Harris: 01:05:34 Sure. Makes sense. Okay, cool. Well, let's move on to talking about the bottlenecks preventing Veganuary or the farmed animal movement more generally having even greater impact than it currently does. So to what extent is Veganuary funding constrained at the moment?
Ria Rehberg: 01:05:50 So far began here, it's actually quite difficult to fundraise because we do work that people don't necessarily see happens throughout the whole year. So we get the question a lot that is like, okay, so you do this January challenge. What, what do you do the rest of the hearing? And I understand the question, but I think a lot of people don't understand how much work actually goes into getting everything prepared. So for example, we've been starting meeting with companies in April, right, to get them now to launch a new product in January or sometimes, obviously it takes, it takes even longer than a year to get something like that done. There's things like the social media channels we run, the videos we produce and things like that. That is all happening throughout the whole year. And a lot of people see Veganuary as this thing that happens once a year that's free to do so people can do it anyway.
Ria Rehberg: 01:06:38 Like what, what is the organization even therefore? And, and that definitely doesn't help in terms of mobilizing a large group of people to give small amounts of money, which is probably the most secure way of fundraising if you have a large, large donor base. So we're very reliant on a lot of major donors that understand the concept and the believe in us and that are, you know and have the same vision than we do. And have very sort of effectiveness minded. But it's also a less secure form of fundraising. So yes, we're definitely funding constraint. It's difficult for us to fundraise and it's absolutely difficult to fundraise in a sustainable manner. There's of course other things that we can do. So what we have as we run a program that's called vegan cycle India where people go on a, a cycling trip in India and they fundraise for it. And again your gets I'm sort of part of the, the money that these people fundraise to be able to take parts are those all things that, you know, people are excited about because they are part of a community. And that's sort of all what began your, is about as well. But the general ways of fundraising are more difficult for Veganuary then for other charities where I've worked at or where I have friends and some internal insights for sure.
Jamie Harris: 01:07:49 Yeah, I could definitely see that there's various difficulties for Veganuary. Another one may be just the idea that it's actually a charity as opposed to some sort of sort of marketing campaign, that sort of thing. On the other hand, in some ways Veganuary may be really well placed to tap into some funding sources that other organizations just don't have access to. Maybe just because there's less of a clear association with animal advocacy per se. Obviously veganism touches on health and environmental issues, that sort of thing.
Ria Rehberg: 01:08:19 And, and even,
Jamie Harris: 01:08:20 Especially on the health angle in the UK, for instance, the Stoptober campaign to I get people to stop smoking on October, I believe that's funded pretty much directly by the UK government. So I'm wondering whether in the future, if not now that there might even be opportunity for that sort of public funding for what is essentially a campaign that will, you know, even if it's not the primary motivation, have positive impacts on health.
Ria Rehberg: 01:08:43 Yeah, you're definitely right that there's lots of other ways that began your can can go after. I think one of the main concerns is remaining independent. So that's probably why we haven't gone after certain ways of fundraising. But another area for example that's quite interesting is of course corporate fundraising. So we do you know, a lot of free publicity basically for the companies that we're very excited about because we think it's, it's amazing what they're doing and other organization organizations or charities would probably charge a lot of money for doing that. So those are questions where we need to weigh between how much can we do with an added amount of money. And at the same time, making sure that we still always do what we think is the most effective for animals and we remain as independent as possible as, as a charity. But yes, you're absolutely right. There are other ways of a fundraising forum for began new than there are maybe for a typical animal rights organization.
Jamie Harris: 01:09:40 Yeah. And has Veganuary sort of tapped into those alternative streams of fundraising so far much or is that just kind of a potential for the future?
Ria Rehberg: 01:09:48 So began your had two sponsors last year. I believe at the moment we're sort of reevaluating if that's a route we want to go down to and if so under which circumstances sort of for the reasons that I mentioned before. But yes, it's definitely something that Veganuary has some experience with and where we're looking at ways of possibly doing a bit more.
Jamie Harris: 01:10:09 Cool. So if you see yourselves as funding constrained at the moment, what would be the priority for a further donation or further income stream? So say if you received another, you know, million dollars or whatever that figure is you want, you want to think of what would be the top priority for what that money needs to be spent on next.
Ria Rehberg: 01:10:26 So it would definitely be a part of our current theory of change and our current strategic plan. So what we're doing this year and what our focus is, is first internationalization. So, as we spoke about a little bit and you know, apart from the UK and establishing the campaign there and hopefully trying to get it into the mainstream as much as possible, we want to see that in other countries as well. So we want to see that in the U S and Germany, which our two new flagship countries this year we're launching it. And then we're also launching in, in Chile and in South Africa. And we also want to sort of establish the campaign there and at the same time working with lots of partner organizations all over the world. So one of the big, our big focuses over the coming years is definitely going to be using the idea of the and how well it works and seeing in which other countries it makes sense to establish.
Ria Rehberg: 01:11:17 And then working with a lot of organizations and groups in those countries to make sure we sort of get the best out of both worlds. And then at the same time, obviously a lot more focus on corporate engagement. So in those countries and with those partner organizations, making sure that Veganuary is not just a pledge campaign so to say, but is actually there to drive corporate engagement. So that's definitely something that can be scaled up quite well. And we're again taking four additional countries on board this year and with more funding we'd hopefully be able to, to make that a much bigger endeavor than before. And then yes, just hopefully making it more of a sort of worldwide phenomenon and, and being able to have processes in place that allow us to do that as cost effectively as possible. Because I think just now that Veganuary is so established in the U K that's already something that we can speak about.
Ria Rehberg: 01:12:11 So in the UK it was probably around five years or so that when needed to make it a big of a bit of a thing. Whereas now when we go and speak with companies in Germany or we speak with, you know, influencers and celebrities that we're hoping to support us in Germany, they already know how well it worked in the UK. So it's already something that doesn't need so much convincing. So I feel now whereas in the U K are just needed, it's time to grow organically and, and to become a thing we can now you said idea and much easier establish it in other countries and hopefully see a very similar successes there even sooner than we did in the UK.
Jamie Harris: 01:12:49 Sounds good. Yeah. Again, we've, we've touched on the international stuff. I'll come back to it in a second. I just want to carry on focusing in specifically on this kind of the bottleneck stuff for a second sort of and how that trait, I'm interested in how the, so funding bottleneck trades off against other potential problems that Veganuary faces or might face. So to kind of narrow this down a bit more specifically, would you be able to put an estimate of the sort of number of dollars that you'd be ambivalent between receiving that money as a donation and going with this second best candidate in a job search?
Ria Rehberg: 01:13:22 Ah, yeah, that's a really good question. I mean, I guess it depends on how second best is the candidate. I think, I think people, I was so, so, so important. And I mean we have, we have an incredible team at the moment. I am mind blown every single day to be honest by the amount of skills that we have in the team and how, by how hardworking and just inspiring. They are. So really I think the team is probably what I would invest most in because they're not, that's just not something that you can really buy like a good person that is good at what they do. And that is you have really sort of mission aligned. It's just something that is, yeah. Is the most important. But then of course, if you'd say, you know, the second best candidate, what does it mean? Are they just a tiny bit less good? Then yes, maybe you will take, you know, I don't know, 10,000 euros instead and hire the second best candidate. So it depends on a lot of things. But generally I would, I would always want to invest in people that I believe in and that have proven to do a good job and bring the, the organization forward.
Jamie Harris: 01:14:28 Sure. Maybe you haven't actually been at Veganuary specifically for long enough to, for this to be a particularly fair question, but is there a substantial difference between the very best candidates and the nit and this sort of near best candidates? Or are you quite frequently receiving lots of really talented applicants that you're just struggling to choose between?
Ria Rehberg: 01:14:44 I must say that the, the people we hired have, or some of the people we've very recently hired have really just been so outstanding that there was like no question of, of getting them on board. But then in, in some other areas, of course you have, especially when it's not very high leadership roles, you do have a lot of applicants where it's really hard to, to even say I would, I think after, you know an interview process of who really is the right fit. And sometimes it just takes a couple of weeks of working with somebody or a couple of months to, to really understand how they work and what are their strengths and, and possibly weaknesses. So in some areas I would say in leadership positions it's really hard to find amazing people and we've been really, really lucky to have been able to do that. And then in other more maybe low level positions, it, it's just always a challenge of really, really finding out how much of a fit is that person. And usually you have of course a lot of applicants to choose from and then the yeah, you just need to make sure that you find the right one and the best fit.
Jamie Harris: 01:15:53 Yeah. With the kind of a hypothetical, really talented young person who was really excited to and likely to be equally successful, let's say working for Veganuary or in seeking to maximize their income and just donate as much of it as they could to Veganuary, which would you prefer? Which would you recommend?
Ria Rehberg: 01:16:09 If I was really in need of a certain position to be filled, then I would definitely rather have the person. If it's a really good person that drives the impact of the organization forward, then that's probably going to be donors that are going to see our success and are going to believe in our vision and in what way achieving and that are going to you know, be willing to give us extra money to, to fund that person. If it was a position that we didn't necessarily need to fill at the moment, then obviously I would think it's, it's a, it makes more sense for the person to donate.
Jamie Harris: 01:16:47 Beyond funding then, what would you say is the biggest or some of the biggest constraints that Veganuary faces between having greater impact than it currently does?
Ria Rehberg: 01:16:57 I think just because everything is so new at the moment and we really need to find ourselves and you know, if we've just built a strategic plan and a structure and what I'm really hoping for for, for the next year, just more being able to plan more and calm down a little bit. And not, you know, jump into this crazy campaign sort of getting our feet wet at the same time while we were doing all the work. So hopefully that's something that's, I'm just going to be a little bit less crazy than it is this year. And yeah, I don't know. I think that's, that's probably the main thing that I'm hoping for.
Jamie Harris: 01:17:32 Sure. So is there anything specific that can be done to address that or is that just a really an inevitable part of the rate of which organize organizations expand? So I'm thinking, for instance, is that related to particular skill sets that would be great to be able to hire a, is it related to funding or is it really just a completely unavoidable inevitable aspect of organizational growth?
Ria Rehberg: 01:17:52 At the moment I think it was kind of inevitable because January is not something that you can move around. It just happens when it happens. And you know, I came on board and at the end of April, and even though that seems like a lot of time, it really isn't to to get everything in place and, and restructure the campaign and get to know everybody. So it's really been a little bit inevitable that this year of course has been quite stressful and then a little bit chaotic, but at the same time so convinced of the team and it's really, really incredible. All the things that they've been able to pull together. So I think it is very clear that things are going to be more, even more structured next year and I'm going gonna make more sense after we've sort of gone through the campaign together for one year as it always does.
Ria Rehberg: 01:18:41 You know, if you do something for the first time, there's a lot of learnings and then hopefully the next year we'll be able to learn from, from these and become even better. And at the same time, of course, funding is always, always a huge problem, especially for Veganuary because it's so difficult to fundraise. So that's, that's probably the main thing that I'm hoping for that we'll have. You know, after this year's campaign, we'll have donors that believe in, in what we believe in and they believe that our mission can work and, and once to sort of help us. Yeah, grow and bring, began your two and two more countries than, than before. So hopefully that'll happen.
Jamie Harris: 01:19:17 Cool. Are there specific skill sets that you think Veganuary is in need of, for further hires in the future or kind of now, I guess? Yeah. Does anything jump to mind?
Ria Rehberg: 01:19:28 I feel quite well set up because we have amazing people in communications, amazing people in fundraising, amazing people in corporate engagement. But of course, I mean we're, we're always happy in getting, if we have the funding and getting people on board that bring extra skills at the moment from the work that we're doing. I'm really, really happy with the team set up. So I wouldn't be able to say this like one specific thing that we're missing. And also we have, for example, a campaign analyst that has just so much experience and, and know so much about everything that we're doing because he's been with us for a while now. So I feel like we're really well set up. And then there's things like, for example, now we're with this
Ria Rehberg: 01:20:08 Creative agency in Germany and just being able to get sort of pro bono advice from so many people and organizations and agencies that have a lot of skills in different areas is always something that can fill a bit of a gap as well. If we feel, you know, we, we might not have the perfect solution for problem than being able to, to speak to other people in other organizations or get consultants on board to, to help with that is always something that I'd recommend.
Jamie Harris: 01:20:33 All right. So it sounds like a fairly resounding message that funding is the real constraint that thVeganuary is facing most of the moment. What about in the animal advocacy movement more generally say from your experience, Animal Equality. Are there particular skill sets that you feel that the movement is lacking?
Ria Rehberg: 01:20:50 Hmm, that's a good question. I think I need to think about it a bit more. I feel like the animal protection movement has grown so much over the last five years or so and it's really incredible to see how big some organizations have become an M in some ways, maybe even a little bit too fast. I'm not sure. But there's definitely so much skill there and I think as long as we as a movement really think about us as one thing and not all of like different organizations working against each other. But as long as we use all the skills that are there and are willing to share expertise and learnings with each other, I'm sure we have all the skills that we need to make this work. We just you know, need to collaborate more. Maybe.
Jamie Harris: 01:21:34 It sounds like you're saying that kind of coordination and maintaining links with other organizations, making sure that our relationships work well together. [inaudible] Is a priority for the movement generally. And I've heard a similar suggestion made before, but it's quite hard to think specifically how that could actually be encouraged or address. Like do we need more conferences? Do we need there to be more of a particular thing which doesn't exist or is this just something that is important for individuals to bear in mind as they go forwards?
Ria Rehberg: 01:22:02 I think it's something that leaders of organizations can definitely encourage and it's probably also way of how you speak about other organizations and how you relate to people from other organizations. So I think it's, it, it can definitely be encouraged from a leadership perspective, but then also everybody in an organization can, you know, be open minded about working with a person in a similar department in another organization. So I think it's definitely something that as an organization we can, we can try to do more. And then conferences of course help a lot also meetings between different people in different departments. I think here, for example, in Germany, this is really amazing because we have so many organizations here in Berlin, like a ProVeg for example and Albert Schweitzer Foundation and they really make a huge effort in, in bringing people together and being really open about sharing expertise.
Ria Rehberg: 01:22:53 So I, for example, I work from home like everybody began, you're in. Sometimes I just go to the ProVeg office and I work from there because they say, well, we have a table here, you can be here whenever you want. And I think just having this of mindset is something that we need in the movement a lot more and more generally and I'm really happy to see that it happens a lot already in just looking back over the last five years, there's so much coalition work happening, there's so many amazing successes achieved because organizations work together and there's just something that we need to do more going forward as well.
Jamie Harris: 01:23:26 Cool. Yeah, I'd like to give another shout out to that directory that I mentioned via the effect of an IFC discussion Facebook group because I think again, people can, if people are interested, they can just reach out to individuals and lots of people are really receptive to this kind of discussion between people work in similar situations. It's not necessarily something that people think of doing, but when those conversations happen can be really fruitful for people in whether it's in different countries or different organizations or there's all these sorts of opportunities for sort of directly reaching out to people and building those, those connections and potentially also for people to actually organize kind of regular calls between organizations or that sort of thing. If people are just willing to actually step up and so organize that themselves and I think there's plenty of opportunity for that.
Ria Rehberg: 01:24:07 Yeah, 100% agreed.
Jamie Harris: 01:24:09 Yeah. So you mentioned various countries that you are planning to expand into and focus on. You mentioned Chile, you mentioned South America. Are there particular, well, I guess what are the criteria that you're using to think about where you need to expand into where you need to look at next? There's a recent report by charity entrepreneurship that uses a number of different criteria, including the number of animals in that country, the existing funding for animal advocacy organizations in that country, governmental regulation of organizations and just attitudes towards farmed animals in that country. And they make different recommendations for whether the organization would be focused on consumption of animal products focused on production or undifferentiated and actually for organizations focused on consumption, which is is partly vegan reload as we've been speaking with cold outreach, not exclusively. They recommended focusing on Australia or Lithuania. Any thoughts on like the criteria to use?
Ria Rehberg: 01:24:59 Yeah, that's very interesting and actually a love to read that and definitely look it up after this call. So we, we've taken into account a lot of the criteria that you mentioned. So we, for example, analyzed quite a lot the number of animals killed per country. You know, how far advanced the veganism is in a country. How many multinationals are headquartered there. I don't know how many vegan influencers, celebrities are in a country, what's the cost per signup for advertising and so on. So we've really looked at what, how does began your work and what do we need for Veganuary to work in a country or to be more likely to work. And then of course there's a lot of internal reasons as well, such as if we know of an amazing campaigner that has a lot of connections in one particular country, and we see the country as, as one of the countries that is most impactful to be in, and we don't have somebody more or less ready to start in another country, then there could also be a reason for, for going for one country first. So do you want to learn a little bit more about sort of generally why we decided on us in Germany as our next flagship countries?
Jamie Harris: 01:26:03 Yeah, I'd be interested in that. I specifically, I guess I'm with, whenever I hear about organizations spanning into either the U S or the UK, I kind of think, Oh, there's so many organizations in these places, shouldn't we be prioritizing elsewhere? And it's just a kind of a broad heuristic. So yeah, I'd be interested in the U S especially as,
Ria Rehberg: 01:26:21 Yeah, absolutely. So the, the reason why we chose these two is that we believe both countries have massive industries, but at the same time, they're both very advanced in terms of veganism compared to some other countries in Europe and in America. So the structure there and so the, the structure is sort of there, right. And with the campaign like Veganuary, we can tip veganism and plant based eating into the mainstream more easily than another countries. And hopefully it will be a similar example than what we're seeing in the UK right now, where both countries could serve as leading examples of worldwide and then influence other countries and policies as well. So I would say the basic idea is getting countries that are already vegan friendly to majority vegan and then getting veganism as established as possible in the mainstream. So basically, you know, that the tipping point in the U S in Germany is very close.
Ria Rehberg: 01:27:12 But from my experience, I would say the UK is still a little bit ahead. And as we spoke about before, it sounded the board lead plant-based product launches and things like that. So hopefully, and, and you're very right when you say, you know, there's so many organizations they were ready. And I think this is actually a plus point for Veganuary because we are always going to be like a small charity. We're always going to be a small team. So we need other organizations to see the benefit that something like began. We can bring to them and make it something that people want to participate in. Like, it's not going to be just a few people from the beginning, every team that are gonna, you know, take the U S by storm. Now this needs to be something that's beneficial for the whole movement because it brings something new that everyone can use in all of the amazing things that they're already doing.
Ria Rehberg: 01:27:57 So that's why, you know, we're partnering with a lot of organizations in the U S this here when we're launching. And we've actually had an amazing sort of reception from, from all of these organizations that we're talking to that all say yes, you know, we love, again, you're to come here. It's really something that we can use in our efforts, be it, you know, in, in, in corporate engagement or just making sure that we engage people once, once per year in giving this diet change thing a try. So that, that's definitely been some of the reasoning behind picking the U S and Germany. And then in terms of corporate outreach, of course, I mean, it's huge industry, you know, it's, it's companies with international reach. So if you get a multinational in the U S to commit you, I dunno, I'm launching a new vegan burger, they're more likely to, to use those learnings and do it in other countries as well.
Ria Rehberg: 01:28:47 Then an in terms of media, all of these countries are very established in terms of speaking about veganism and being able to really bring the message out there. There's many vegans, sort of worldwide known influencers and celebrities in both countries that can be utilized. So this year, for example, we have like a huge Hollywood celebrity that is supporting Veganuary and where of course we're already seeing how that's being. A great asset for our work in Germany as well. So it because it's somebody that's internationally very well known, that's information that, you know, companies in Germany I love to hear because they know that person as well. So it's it's just really something that helps the expansion and other countries as well. If some, if the campaign is successful in the U S and then of course in terms of network, so, so many organizations can utilize, we can, you're in sort of this passion buzz and it then creates for their work.
Ria Rehberg: 01:29:43 So there's some internal reasons of course as well. So I'm, I'm German, I have a network here. It's easy for me to coordinate. So that was one of the reasons also why I was saying, well, let's, let's give this a try in Germany and see how well it works. In the U S we have Seth Tibbott, the, the founder of Tofurky on board as one of our trustees, which is amazing. He has amazing connections to, you know, retailers and supermarkets and has been a wonderful support to our U S director. So those are all things that we feel make us able to, to launch in, in, in these two huge markets and countries as well. And then the other countries that we've been speaking about, so Chile but also some other Latin American countries where we're running the campaign in a little bit, Spanish speaking and then South Africa that's more planned a soft launches or really see how it goes.
Ria Rehberg: 01:30:35 You know, we're adapting the content to, to the languages then just trying to get the foot in the door and yeah, hopefully add some of these countries as future flagship countries if we feel the, the system works and people are excited about it and it's, it's taking off. So as some countries we definitely do want to focus on more as you know, Brazil going forward. We've had a little bit of a campaign in India already, which is something that we, we'd be very interested in looking into maybe them following year. Again, South Africa has really interesting markets and we're really hopeful that the campaign is going to go well there. So we'll, we'll see. Those are sort of the reasons behind it at the moment. But then of course, right now everything's a little bit in the air, so we'll just have to wait and see how the first campaign goes and then evaluate and see if we were right about these assumptions or not.
Jamie Harris: 01:31:26 Yeah. All makes sense and sounds like a perfectly sensible approach. I'm wondering though well it's interesting the idea that actually maybe Veganuary is especially well suited to sort of coordinate. So collaboration with other organizations or maybe the, the benefit of going to a country where there are existing organizations is actually greater for, Veganuary than it might be for some other organizations. But presumably there will be, there'll still be some instances of overlap. Even I think literally animal equality Germany does some sort of vegan pledge program, which is in ways presumably comparable to what Veganuary does, for example.
Ria Rehberg: 01:32:01 Yeah, absolutely. So the, the animal equality program is called lovage and it's a, yeah, it's an amazing diet change program. I've looked at a lot of data on how, you know, people change the diet and it is aimed at at being a diet change program. So I think from, from lovage there's never been any sort of corporate collaborations, but that's also not how it was set up to be.
Jamie Harris: 01:32:25 Do you see opportunity for collaboration or would you just see these as kind of different, sort of some somewhat overlapping but also different sorts of interventions which would run simultaneously or do, would do you think that that would just say enable animal quality to shift their focus themselves?
Ria Rehberg: 01:32:41 So we're working with a lot of organizations that we're partnering with at the moment, have their own day change programs, but they still, many of them feel they can collaborate because began here is so specifically around January that it just makes sense as an add on to the work that they're doing. So when, let's say for example, he in Germany, we're partnering with ProVeg and Albert Schweitzer Foundation and a few other organizations and they all have their own diet change programs, which are amazing in which we're also linking to through our resources that we give people. But at the same time they feel it makes sense for their followers to know that specifically in January something is happening is, you know, the, the new year's resolution idea works really well. And then they get a lot of people excited about that, but they can lay to contact the same people that took part in, began your way through, you know, their landing page. So we're offering all of our partner organizations to own, began your landing page and all of the people that, you know they've, they've been able to motivate 'em to take part in, began you, they can later on then motivate to keep with it with the own day change programs and all of the resources that they're offering. So I think it's really something complimentary that a lot of organizations can use and we're, you know, happy for everyone who thinks it's a resource for them.
Jamie Harris: 01:33:53 Sounds good. You mentioned previously the idea of Spanish speaking countries and obviously these countries you're talking about don't all speak the same language. So I couldn't see anything on the website that explicitly linked to different language versions of the page or they maybe I just missed that when I looked at, for instance, the challenge trends to program, which is another vegan pledge program that notes explicitly that the program is available in English, Israeli and Spanish. Is it available in all these languages already or are you kind of focusing on the English stuff or how's that work?
Ria Rehberg: 01:34:22 So we're launching now one with the launching the campaign in the beginning of December, we're launching a new website with lots of different language versions. So it is actually already available at least the pledge. So the 31 emails and a few languages. But this year we'll have our websites, all of the resources on the website adapted to different country contexts. So there's even an English. So for example, there's a page for South Africa and one for the U S and one for the UK and one for India, right on one for Australia because obviously you know, different food is being eaten in different country context and sometimes language differences in, in English and the different countries, words being spoken. So we'll have different versions of English and we'll have German, of course we'll have Spanish, of course we'll have a Portuguese. So that's all going to be sort of versions on the website.
Ria Rehberg: 01:35:12 And then when people sign up to that website, then they'll get the emails. I'm also localized and translated of course into that context. And then we also have email programs in Swedish in Oh, let me think about this. There's several different languages that we have Japanese. We have a version for the Philippines, I believe. So there's different other versions that partners of ours have translated and that have helped us have helped us with Italian as well. We'll have with the set on E Molly. So yeah, lots of, lots of different languages and lots of different ways of participating. But of course it's still limited. It's still, you know, a few, a few languages even though it's in some of the most spoken ones. But hopefully in the future we'll be able to offer a lot more localized contents of, you know, there's somebody in Lithuania they'll, they'll have specific information for them and their country.
Jamie Harris: 01:36:08 I think Veganuary is quite well placed to come across as a kind of friendly first step for developing dietary change campaigns in countries. So, so far they don't have much of that sort of outreach, especially since it has a kind of less activist impression and some other campaigns. But the concept of Veganuary is actually in some ways based on a Christian Western and specifically even British tradition and precedent. There's the, there's been various single month long pledges in the UK specifically I'm thinking of Stoptober, Dry January, even Movember where people grow mustaches to raise awareness and money to challenge prostate cancer. The focus on January is partly encouraged by the health drive that many people will take part in following new year's resolutions. And that's kind of stemming from the idea of having a kind of like headiness stick Christmas period, which is then followed by this slightly more stripped back aesthetic style or a health kick or whatever. And even the name of Veganuary is based on a wordplay in English language. So I'm, I'm wondering how, whether you've experienced difficulties in translating these concepts into other countries so far or if there are any sort of, yeah, just these kinds of cultural challenges that might come with just the nature of the organization itself.
Ria Rehberg: 01:37:19 Yeah, it's a really good question. I think we probably will only have a real answer after this year'scampaign, but for now I've been quite surprised, especially when we speak, you know, with, with German companies or other organizations here, it seems like a lot of them have already heard of a January and they actually very often pronounce it correctly, which funny enough in the English speaking context that doesn't happen that often. There'll be all sorts of weird pronunciation. For some reason the Germans a roll with it a lot more. So I th I, I get the point of course that, you know, it's, it might not be as obvious for a German speaking person or a Spanish person that Veganuary comes from being vegan in January, but then it's probably also not hyper obvious for somebody who does speak English. It always sort of meets this explanation and we give this explanation anyway.
Ria Rehberg: 01:38:06 So we have, you know, slogan that explains what began here is about, so I'm not too worried about the name and the concept of such, especially because the world is so globalized now in so many companies, you know, have their, their names in English. Yeah. It's a, it's a different question in terms of how well the concept is going to work in other countries and you're making a really, really good point in terms of the UK is for use to challenges that go a month long. Whereas some other countries might not. We've been told in the U S it's, it's a thing as well, but there might be some countries where what we're seeing that it's going to be more difficult establishing something like that. And that's just going to be learning. And of course we can, we can look at these things beforehand and we have, but in the end it's probably a a means of just trying it out and seeing if it catches on.
Jamie Harris: 01:38:54 Yeah. Are there any specific countries where Veganuary has made some initial steps and you've noticed this being a problem so far? Or is it too early steps in those countries? For instance, I, I believe that Veganuary had some participants in China. But then obviously China has lots of cultural differences, you know, talking about those, those kinds of Christian aspects, all those sorts of things might be stripped away. So, yeah. Any thoughts on experiences so far? Whether it has, you've got sort of some sort of tentative evidence that these cultural differences might have hindered Veganuary's progress.
Ria Rehberg: 01:39:23 So I know that there's been sort of compaigns launched by a partner organization, so people that have helped us out in a few countries where we didn't actually get a lot of people to sign up in the end. So it was maybe just 200 or 300 people signing up and then it does seem like, well maybe that wasn't worth, you know, the effort of translating everything into a, into a language. But that doesn't, it doesn't need to be the case that that's because of cultural differences. It might just be the case that, you know, we, the approach there should have been thought through more. They did a lot of other things as well. So in India for example, there's this amazing group that has run like so many events and, and things in the streets. And even though not a lot of people have signed up through the pledge in India, I believe it's still been like a huge thing.
Ria Rehberg: 01:40:07 And so many people heard about, began here because of all of the events they were running. So I think there's a lot of things to take into account. And, and one of the reasons why we're now actually having our own people on the ground in some countries is that we have of course a little bit more oversight over how we think things should be set up and how we can track what works and what doesn't. But I, from my experience, and I will need to ask the team as well, but I don't think that we've ever found that there's been huge cultural differences. So would have been impossible to implement something like, again, every then it will be hard for me to imagine that there's a country that will be like, Oh no, this is definitely something that nobody's interested in here. But who knows, maybe we'll, we'll find the country and then I'll be have to tell you more.
Jamie Harris: 01:40:51 Well, let's hope not. W which country saw the biggest group in 2019 compared to the previous year in terms of participation in the pledge?
Ria Rehberg: 01:40:59 So in terms of growth it was South Africa, so South Africa grew over 600 something percent between the 2017, 18 and then the 20 1819 campaigns. And it was definitely the biggest sort of growing major country. Then mainland Europe also saw significant growth. So Spain, Portugal, Germany well between sort of 200 and a hundred percent growth. The U S of course had I think 50,000 people signing up last year. So that was quite quite successful. And then, yeah, I think it's, so just generally in terms of people that have signed up, not necessarily growth compared to the previous year was most people signed up in the UK, so about a hundred thousand, then USA, about 50,000 in India, Canada, Australia, South Africa, Philippines islands, all of the sort of English speaking countries. And then we had Sweden and Argentina, which were quite quite successful as well.
Ria Rehberg: 01:42:02 So that's sort of been there, the the signups for last year. And that of course depends a lot on where we put the money as well. Right? So where we run ads, so we can necessarily say, well, this is just the country that works so well. If we have actually decided to prioritize a certain country or a certain region, but I still think it's, it's interesting to see that the USA has already been so successful without that ever having been like a vegan, a person on the ground in the U S but it's all sort of been online and just coordinated from the UK. So hopefully that is a good sign that this year, and again here is gonna be a big success in the U S as well
Jamie Harris: 01:42:42 Thinking in terms of successful groups and areas that have had sort of unexpectedly high success or whatever, Veganuary has had far more success at getting participation for women then from men. And I've, so I've seen data from both January, 2016 and January, 2019 showing that about 87% of Veganuary participants were female. I think this is a fairly common problem with well if you choose to see it as a problem, a fairly common occurrence with the pledge programs. So there's a report on 1,500 participants from seven other vegan or reducetarian pledge programs that found that 80% of the participants identified as female. This difference is substantially greater though than the likely gender difference in veganism rates in society. I think that the figure is, is probably even higher than the proportion of current vegetarians and vegans who are female. For example, one us survey from Faunalytics from 2014 found that 74% were female, which is admittedly not a very, very large difference. Do you think there's reasons for this gap or is it, does it just reflect the, yeah, I mean, are there reasons for this gap between literally the, the signup rates of Veganuary and the existing [inaudible]
Ria Rehberg: 01:43:58 Within countries? It's a really good question. I'm really not sure. I would have to guess to be honest. I mean we do, again, we target our ads so it's probably also a matter of us targeting the people that are most likely to want to take the pledge to make it as cost effective as possible. And I still kind of feel like even if it was only women going vegan or eating more plant based, they'll probably try to convince their partners that at some points. And hopefully, you know, get a lot of men on board as well. But yeah, I, I'm, I'm not sure to be honest, but it must probably be because of I'm targeting from our side.
Jamie Harris: 01:44:39 Yeah. The targeting thing is interesting because there's always a bit of a trade off between reaching the kind of lowest hanging fruit of interests in an area and then expanding extra resources to reach out to underrepresented demographics. The form was obviously more cost effective on short term time frames, but it could possibly be less cost-effective, longer term if you're concerned about veganism or animal advocacy being sort of segregated within particular demographics. Yeah. Are you concerned about the risks of exacerbating gender divides?
Ria Rehberg: 01:45:07 Hm, yeah. I'm not sure to be honest. I mean I'm, I'm super excited about, you know, documentaries such as the game changers that came out that targets specifically you know, athletes or almost specifically men. And I think that's definitely needed and great. I'm not sure if we should change our targeting on social media ads too. Try to appeal to men more if it was significantly more expenses expensive to do so. So it would probably be a question of really looking at how much more expensive and what's, what's the downsides and what's the benefits?
Jamie Harris: 01:45:47 Yeah, sure. And another question, difficult question, admittedly with substantial pros and cons on either side. Is the idea of targeting ads, sorry, not targeting, tailoring it to different personalities, characteristics, that sort of thing. Do you differentiate your ads online by gender at all?
Ria Rehberg: 01:46:03 I know we differentiate by based on interests, so something like animal welfare, health and definitely some demographics probably, yeah. Gender or you know the typical under under 40 person that's liberal, that's more likely to go. I have vegan or try plant based products. But what we also do a lot is running ads that we basically let Facebook decide of who they want to show it to. Just because the algorithm works so well that usually Facebook knows a lot better than, than we who's going to be the person that's most interested in a post. So we do a little bit of both and I know there's been an immense amount of testing that has gone into, you know, getting the, the cost per signup, but at the same time that usually comes with some disadvantages as well as you. Very well said.
Ria Rehberg: 01:46:54 So what we found as well as the last year, a lot of people signed up for health reasons and those are of course people that are less likely to stick with a diet rather than people that sign up for a forum. You know, the animals basically. So it's, it's always there's always many different strategies and many different things to, to take into account. But yes, we definitely use a lot of targeted ads and we look at many different ways to, to segment and try to find the best how to know line between getting cost-effective sign-ups, but at the same time having obviously signups that make sense and that are high quality signups that really want to stick with a diet and that are going to be the ones that help animals and the planet in the long run because they're gonna do a bigger behavior change than somebody just, you know, wanting, wanting to get a cookbook that they get when they sign up or something like that.
Jamie Harris: 01:47:49 Yeah, sure. The, I mean these things are always trade offs. There's always going to be tough to know where the, the, you know, the, the optimum allocation is between those kinds of harder to reach demographics. As another example, there is a party, there's a kind of one theory discussed in several health behavior reviews, posits that interventions that require individuals to use a high level of agency in order to make behavioral changes. So that would include things that are through support, through improved knowledge. And skills as opposed to through structural or financial changes, which is admittedly also something Veganuary is engaged in a though concerned that those kinds of interventions will widen inequalities and health outcomes by having a lower effect on disadvantaged groups such as ethnic minorities and those on lower income. It's not a very clear cut finding, but there is, and there might be small differences, but there is some empirical evidence for that and it's a bit of a concern. Do you have any thoughts about how to address this or, or, or would you prefer to say overinvest in trying to reach those groups compared to how you otherwise might do? Or is this just something that needs to be addressed too? Other sorts of interventions basically?
Ria Rehberg: 01:48:54 Yeah, that's, that's a very, very interesting question. And one I definitely don't have a finite answer to. I think a balance of both makes sense. Generally and diversifying obviously always make sense and not just going for the one, you know most cost effective signup. I think diversifying, you know in terms of online, offline as well. So what we spoke about early and the reasons for why we do billboard ads or TV ads as well as just because we reach a different audience there and even though that of course is a lot less cost effective, it does have a lot of other benefits and you reach a broad audience of people as well. For social media of course our general posts will but reach a different audience as well. Then through targeted Facebook posts. I think it's a really good point to make and something to, to definitely be mindful and aware of
Jamie Harris: 01:49:44 Tough and no clear answers. Just wanted to get your thoughts. I think it's important that organizations at least engage in thinking about these sorts of trade offs because I think it's quite easy to fall into the default of targeting the most cost effective or whatever without necessarily, you know, having a strong view over what or where those trade off should be. But yeah, it sounds like you're engaging with those questions and would encourage others to do so as well. But thanks so much for joining me on the podcast. I'm going to call it a day. So I'm not pestering you hours into the, into the late, into the evening. But yeah, thank you very much for joining me on the podcast.
Ria Rehberg: 01:50:15 Thank you for having me and thanks for sharing all your insights. It was very informative for me also. Thanks for that.
Jamie Harris: 01:50:20 Cool. Was there any particular place that people should go to to find out how to support Veganuary? And so we have a website where, you know, people can sign up and all the information as they are, which is [inaudible] dot com and yes, so we do encourage everyone to have a look in and let us know what they think. Great. Thanks again. Thank you. Thanks for listening. I hope you enjoyed this episode. You can subscribe to the sentience Institute podcast in iTunes, Stitcher,
Jamie Harris: 01:50:45 Or other podcast apps.