PYP 147: Vlad Chituc on How (Not) to Change Hearts and Minds

vlad-chitucVlad Chituc is a behavioral economics researcher at Duke University. He works with Dan Ariely at the Center for Advanced Hindsight, and focuses on issues of ethics, morality, and decision-making.

When we chatted briefly a few weeks ago about his veganism and his commitment to reduce animal suffering, I was struck by his contrarian views and the really cool research behind them.

What he advocates is powerful, controversial, and, I believe, extremely important for those of us in the plant-based movement to consider.

Vlad gets excited when he talks about these issues, and then two things happen:

  1. He talks really fast
  2. He uses “salty” language

You'll get used to the speed of his speech pretty quickly. I did. If you get offended by colorful language, or typically play this podcast to children, you may want to exercise caution for this episode.

I thought about bleeping out the curse words, but when I compared the value of that task to saving the world (which is what I secretly believe I'm doing with this podcast and my consulting practice ;)…

It was close, but saving the world won by a hair 😉

Vlad and I covered:

  • why he tells people he's “mostly vegan”
  • the embarrassing truth about his conversion to vegetarianism in college
  • why beef is far more compassionate than chicken or eggs
  • an economist's “suffering sale” for animal agriculture
  • why “theory of mind” is so dangerous
  • what Dan Ariely's work on dishonesty tells us about why people don't always act according to their values
  • “everyone wants to believe they're a good person”
  • how vegan (and other moral) advocacy backfires
  • The 1954 UFO doomsday  cult and the power of cognitive dissonance
  • The “meat paradox” – why we eat chickens and pet dogs
  • Why drunk vegetarians eat meat – the shocking USDA study
  • the real reasons for behavior change: water flowing downhill
  • the stories we tell ourselves about our own journeys, and why they make us less effective advocates
  • behavior change and boiling kettles
  • “3 words to describe vegetarians” and fear of moral judgment
  • the rejection of “moral rebels”
  • why the health argument for plant-based eating is much more effective than the moral argument
  • are vegans “winning”?
  • the significance of Waka Flocka Flame's vegan blueberry muffins
  • the uses and misuses of shame
  • why equating veganism with the abolition of slavery weakens the movement
  • the heartwarming story of Toad the dog
  • and much more…

Enjoy, add your voice (kindly!) to the conversation via the comment box below, and please share – that's how we spread our message and spread our roots.


The Müller-Lyer Line Illusion


Waka Flocka Flame Makes Vegan Blueberry Muffins (NSFW, depending on where you W)


Vlad Chituc's website:

“Why Drunk Vegetarians Eat Meat” – Vlad's article in The Daily Beast

The Center for Advanced Hindsight at Duke University

Compassion, by the Pound: The Economics of Farm Animal Welfare, by F. Bailey Norwood  and Jayson L. Lusk

When Prophesy Fails, by Leon Festinger

Telling More Than We Can Know, by Richard Nisbett and Timothy DeCamp Wilson – free PDF

Do-Gooder Derogation: Disparaging Morally-Motivated Minorities To Defuse Anticipated Reproach, by Julia A. Minson and Benoît Monin – free PDF

The rejection of moral rebels: resenting those who do the right thing, by Monin, Sawyer, and Marquez – abstract

Mindless Eating, by Brian Wansink

Is Shame Necessary?: New Uses for an Old Tool, by Jennifer Jacquet

Moral Saints, by Susan Wolf – free PDF

Email Vlad at

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Big thanks to Plant Yourself Podcast Patrons Kim Harrison, Lynn McLellan, Anthony Dissen, Amy Good, and Brittany Porter.


Check out my online TV show, Triangle Be Well. This week I talk about protein, and probiotics.

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The Plant Yourself Podcast theme music, “Dance of Peace (Sabali Don),” is generously provided by Will Ridenour, a kora player from North Carolina who has trained with top Senegalese musicians.

It can be found on his first CD, titled Will Ridenour.

You can learn about Will, listen to more tracks, and buy music on his website,


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2 Responses to “PYP 147: Vlad Chituc on How (Not) to Change Hearts and Minds”

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  1. Thank You says:

    Thank You, for another information packed podcast.

  2. Angela W. says:

    I loved this guy… “salty” language and all. Wow, he gave us SO MUCH information, so many great things to think about, and so many “ah ha” moments. I think I need to listen to it twice to absorb just a bit more!

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