Volunteer Story: The Power of Pay-Per-View

David Smith volunteering

“It was life-changing!” “I’ll never eat meat again.”  “Thank you so much for showing me this.”  “I had no idea!”

As a volunteer for Compassionate Action for Animals, I often hear these comments from people who’ve just watched “Farm to Fridge,” a five-minute video revealing the ugly side of factory farming. Facilitating pay-per-view outreach, I invite passersby to watch the short movie in exchange for a dollar. I’m always gratified to see how they are moved by the video and then consider making changes in their own lives to help animals in need.

I’ve always had a soft spot for those in need, but it wasn’t until college that I learned what happens to animals on factory farms. I was assigned to give an “informative and persuasive” speech, and I chose factory farming as the subject. Though the topic was difficult to research and deliver, I felt a compelled to let people know about the plight of these animals. Ultimately, the process of giving an “informative and persuasive” speech served to inform and persuade, of all people, myself. I instantly began eating more ethically. Since then, I’ve been vegetarian or vegan, or what I like to call “Plant Strong.”

In the years following my college experience, I didn’t feel like I was able to be an effective advocate for animals through conversation alone. When discussing the topic with others, I often felt discouraged, like my words didn’t have an impact. Then, I was introduced to pay-per-view.

Using this type of outreach, I saw people change before my eyes. People who seemed indifferent to the lives of farmed animals suddenly showed deep concern for these animals in the film. Some people were disgusted, angry, or saddened by the cruelties exposed. Most viewers were speechless, unable to make another excuse for eating animals. They realized the undeniable truth that eating animals causes unnecessary suffering and that each one of us can choose not to contribute to that suffering. Often after seeing the film, viewers wanted to know how to help and were open to the idea of eating a more plant-based diet. They happily accepted the “Guide to Cruelty-Free Eating,” a free brochure that shows how healthy and delicious a plant-based diet can be.

Seeing this transformation, I felt a surge of enthusiasm and hope. I thought of how research has reported that ninety-four percent of Americans believe that animals on farms should not suffer. The pay-per-view experience helps people confront that suffering. They begin to understand how their daily actions do or don’t reflect their values. Then, with the right resources and positive encouragement, they can take steps to align their choices with their values.

If you are interested in volunteering with pay-per-view but are feeling unsure, don’t worry. You’ll work beside experienced volunteers. After a little pay-per-view experience, you too will see the value of this form of outreach advocacy and you’ll feel confident in your ability to make a positive change for animals.

The next pay-per-view tabling event is happening at the Pride Festival in Loring Park on Saturday, June 18 and Sunday, June 29, 2014. If you’d like to volunteer for this or another outreach event, contact outreach coordinator Grace Van Susteren at grace.vansusteren@exploreveg.org.

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