When beginning on the adventure of animal rights and the quest for equality for all sentient beings, it is common for people to believe that people need to be encouraged to take baby steps. Often when they say this, they are referring to encouraging people to go vegetarian first and hoping they will go vegan later.
I understand this thought process for two reasons. Firstly, I understand that telling people they need to go vegan to stop animal suffering is no easy task. But when I consider the alternative for the animals, I force myself to think very careful about what information and options I present to others. This brings me to my second reason and that is, I was a vegetarian for 12 years before I finally went vegan. So, when I first think about the idea of vegetarian first, vegan second, the idea makes sense. But when I think about it again I realize that the one thing, the one thing, that made me go vegan was very simply just being given the information. Information: BOOM! I was vegan! That was it! End of story! End of me saying, "I'm just vegetarian, but I could never be vegan!" I use to say that! And so I say with love, respect, empathy, and knowledge that while I understand where all you, "Go Veg!" people are coming from, I think you couldn't be more wrong. Yes, people should make baby steps but the first step should be veganism.
To illustrate my idea and to go along with the cliche baby steps, I will use potty-training. Imagine you're potty training a child. The point of this training, is so you don't have to clean up shit anymore, no? (Of course, it's good for the kid, as well.) You wouldn't teach the kid to shit on the rim of the seat first, and then, eventually the toilet, would you? Of course not, because you would still be cleaning up shit. In the same token, you wouldn't teach the kid to sometimes go in the toilet but other times, maybe when he/she is out of the home, enjoying a meal with friends, relieve him/herself wherever they may want. This would be ridiculous. As long as you are working on potty-training lessons, you work on it with them until the child gets it, and until they get it right. Once kids are properly potty-trained, it's no trouble or sacrifice. They only want to use the toilet anyway.
Teaching people about animal rights is more or less the same. While you have people's attention, talk to them about how to take animal rights seriously from the get-go. Just like using a diaper or the rim of the toilet creates the same mess, vegetarianism does not solve any of the problems inherent with animal use anymore than being an omnivore does. If you are vegan, you know that milk, eggs, and all other animal products cause the same suffering and death that you once thought only meat was responsible for. This knowledge is why you went vegan in the first place! So pass it on! The majority of people will want to go vegan if they have the knowledge. "What about the people who won't?" you ask? Don't worry about them. They shouldn't be the ones who get to frame our campaign.