John Oberg is an animal advocate, influencer, and social media professional working to make the world a kinder place for animals by utilizing social media.
When did you become vegan and what led you to become a vegan activist?
I became vegan in 2009 at the age of 22. I went vegan because I finally made the connection that the compassion I have for animals I’ve had a close connection with, like the cats, dogs, and turtles I grew up with, should be equally applied to the animals I’ve been eating me entire life — chickens, pigs, and cows. I went vegetarian on principle and then once I learned how farm animals are treated — essentially as objects who are forced to endure long periods of intense suffering — I knew I had to become a vegan activist to encourage others to choose compassion.
What are your top tips for utilizing social media to help make the world a more compassionate place?
I have a few top tips I have for animal activists who want to use social media to help animals. For one, despite the urge to judge everyone and their mother for the fact that they’re eating animals, take a step back and reflect. You likely were in their shoes at some point some months or years (or maybe even decades) ago. For that fact, be kind in how you approach them. Funnel the outrage you may have that people are actively harming animals with their food choices into productive, kind conversation that raises awareness and inspires change. Additionally, don’t spend your time attacking other vegans. Something I’ve learned in my 11 years of vegan advocacy is that no two vegans agree on everything — whether that’s effective vegan strategy or politics. So, don’t let our minor — or even major — differences be so distracting. Focus on reaching the general public; after all, they’re the ones who are actively making choices on a daily basis that harm animals. Lastly, understand that you are largely going to be unaware of the impact you make on social media. It’s pretty rare that someone will tell you that they went vegan because of something you posted, but I promise you that you are making that kind of impact, and making it often. Additionally, not everyone is going to go vegan overnight because of your activism on social media. What will happen, however, is that you’ll have nslwo chipped away at the walls that people have and planted seeds that will likely one day sprout into people moving in the direction of veganism.
Do you think activists should focus their efforts on the farming industry or the consumers?
Change comes from the bottom up, not the top down. So, we shouldn’t look to the Meat Industry or politicians to be the arbiters of change. Without consumers demanding change, nothing will happen. There are certain campaigns that are worth doing that put pressure on the higher-ups, but for the average animal activist who wants to use social media to help animals, inspiring non-vegans to become more vegan is where you’ll make the biggest impact.
Many people have a fear of public speaking but you seem to do it with such ease! What are your top tips for people who struggle with public speaking?
When doing public speaking, it’s better to sound natural and not perfect than it is to sound like a robot and sound like you’re reading from a script. People want to hear someone who is relatable. Additionally, don’t get too in the weeds to overwhelm people, but also don’t speak so broadly/vaguely that you fail to give practical advice. Lastly, understand that people aren’t expecting you to be perfect or comfortable on stage and if you mess up, they do not care. So don’t put too much pressure on yourself.
What types of activism are there and what is your advice for new activists?
The types of activism one could get involved with are essentially limitless. Which is good news to potential animal activists who may think that the only option they have are to do things that might make them uncomfortable (i.e. protesting or even cooking vegan food for people). The key is to find your niche and to run with it. Determine where your skills and interests overlap with the needs of the vegan community. Figure out how your passion can be utilized to speak up for animals. And no matter what niche you fall into, using social media to amplify your efforts is an incredibly powerful tool.
How can people follow you and support your work?
People can follow my work on Twitter and Instagram at @johnoberg and on Facebook at @JohnObergOfficial. People who’d like to support my work for animals can become monthly patrons for even $5/month by signing up at Patreon.com/JohnOberg.