Social movements have traditionally viewed free-riders as a problem for effective mobilization, but under the influence of the nonprofit industrial complex, it is possible that movements actively facilitate their presence. Free-riders become an economic resource to professionalized movements seeking to increase wealth and visibility in the crowded social movement space by discouraging meaningful attitude or behavior change from their audiences and concentrating power among movement elites. Actively cultivated free-riding is exemplified by the professionalized Nonhuman Animal rights movement which promotes flexitarianism over ethical veganism despite its goal of nonhuman liberation. Major social-psychological theories of persuasion in addition to 44 studies on vegan and vegetarian motivation are examined to illustrate how free-rider flexitarianism is at odds with stated goals, thereby suggesting an alternative utility in flexitarianism as a means of facilitating a disengaged public.
Jasper and Poulsen () have long argued that moral shocks are critical for recruitment in the nonhuman animal rights movement. Building on this, Decoux () argues that the abolitionist faction of the nonhuman animal rights movement fails to recruit members because it does not effectively utilize descriptions of suffering. However, the effectiveness of moral shocks and subsequent emotional reactions has been questioned. This article reviews the literature surrounding the use of moral shocks in social movements. Based on this review, it is suggested that the exploitation of emotional reactions to depictions of suffering can sometimes prove beneficial to recruitment, but successful use is contextually rooted in preexisting frameworks, ideology, and identity. It is concluded that a reliance on images and narratives might be misconstrued in a society dominated by nonhuman animal welfare ideology.