Friday, November 27, 2009

Cheap & Easy! Creative vegan education that is...

A lot has been written about how we can reach out and educate people about veganism so I’m going to try not to repeat what I’ve already read. It’s out there and it’s easy to find online.

What I would like to do is share a few things that my friends and I have done (and do) to speak up for animal justice. Activism doesn’t have to take a lot of time or cost a lot of money. And the great thing about it is that we’re only limited by our imaginations!

Bumper stickers are great, especially the magnetic kind, but a friend of mine has gone one step further and spray-painted GO VEGAN on the hood of his car. All it took was a can of spray paint and some masking tape and viola! A mobile billboard.

T-shirts with messages on the back are also effective, if you consider how much time we spend in lines (at the bank, the grocery store, the movies, concerts, coffee shops, and the DMV) and because it’s on the back, you aren’t confronting someone directly. Instead, they’re able to read your shirt without getting all defensive.

Buttons are also useful. I have a number of buttons on my backpack that I wear when I go hiking with my outdoors club. Which brings me to another great way to raise awareness: join a club!

As a member of a club, you’ll be able to interact with people and influence the way the club operates. I joined a hiking club last year and I manage to work veganism into the conversation on almost every hike. In the spring I was able to steer a conversation about the smell of wildflowers to veganism and sure enough, people started questioning me on what I eat. The club now serves veggie burgers and veggie dogs at their barbecues and vegan pizza at their fundraisers.

You can also turn the conversation to veganism in restaurants, on the bus, at the coffeemaker at work (discussing news, entertainment or about what you did on the weekend) or even at the dentist’s office, which I was able to do by talking about my vegan toothpaste.

The health food section of the grocery store is also a good place to strike up a conversation with other shoppers, or you can ask the manager to carry more vegan products and why.

If you’re adventurous, you can also attend environmental events and hand out leaflets about veganism, explaining that a plant-based diet is not only good for the animals, it’s good for your health and the planet too. Last summer I “crashed” a Green Party meet-and-greet where they were cooking up animals on the grill, and since then they’ve invited me to table at two of their events by promoting veganism, with the last one featuring a vegetarian potluck (it’s a start).

Library displays are another good way to educate the public about veganism. Most libraries will provide you with a table and let you set up for a week or even a month, depending on the branch. This is where you can let your creative juices flow, or if you choose, you can rely on literature and posters from some of the bigger animal rights organizations.

Hosting a vegan potluck (whether on your own at your house or through your animal rights group) is another fantastic way to really impress upon people that going vegan isn’t difficult and that vegan food CAN taste great! Potlucks are also useful for networking with others, sharing recipes and providing support for people either making the transition or those who feel alienated from family and friends because of their beliefs.

Writing letters to the editor of your local newspaper is a free and easy way to reach a lot of people about veganism (and a lot of newspapers now offer an online comments section too). Whether it’s in response to a story, an ad promoting animal exploitation (a circus, rodeo, fish fry or even a sale on turkeys), or about someone else's letter to the editor, you can let people know how you feel on the issues.

Finally, keeping brochures in your backpack, in your car or in your desk at work is a great idea too. You never know when the opportunity will arise and it’s always good to be prepared.

Two great places to download and print your own vegan brochures are Gary Francione’s Abolitionist Approach website:

http://www.abolitionistapproach.com/media/pdf/ARAA_Pamphlet.pdf

and Peaceful Prairie Sanctuary:

http://www.peacefulprairie.org/prairiePress.html

The Boston Vegan Association also has a wonderful, free, full colour brochure for qualifying activists:

http://bostonvegan.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=354&Itemid=126

Good Luck and Happy Educating!

4 comments:

Luella said...

Great post! I always keep vegan starter guides and/or restaurant guides in my backpack, which I carry everywhere. People find it amusing for some reason when we're talking about veganism and I suddenly pull pamphlets out.

Attending environmental events - I will try that out. Even just going to a feminists' party, I found out an acquaintance had become vegetarian.

Daniel K. Vegan said...

Thanks Luella! I try to attend any and every event where people might be receptive to veganism. Peace festivals, music events, etc. I try to stay away from things like food festivals, rib & wing fests or barbecues because some people are just going to get defensive and angry, especially when they're shoving a piece of dead animal in their mouth.

MFG said...

Hi Great article - just wondering where you can buy that t-shirt

Daniel K. Vegan said...

Hi MFG! Thanks for your kind words. The shirts are exclusive to the Vegan Party of Canada and you can go to our store page for more info: http://veganpartyofcanada.blogspot.com/search/label/Store

If you email me your name, address with postal/zip code and what size you need, I can send you one. You can use PayPal or send a cheque. I'll tell you more in the email.
Bye for now! In peace, Dan