Not everyone has the chutzpah to set up a table on the street and recruit vegans. To those of you who are willing, it can be incredibly empowering to find people do actually stop and listen, and some come back to find out more information. Try setting up a table at a place that is likely to garner you some interest, such as a local farmer’s market or street fair. If it seems intimidating, take a friend along with you. Most such events have a wide variety of people with a wider still variety of viewpoints. It only takes one person’s interest to make the whole day worthwhile.
If you prefer working behind the scenes, you can write letters to the editor, to your elected officials, and to store and shop owners, promoting a pro-vegan stance. Use your letter to the editor to educate people about the cost of animal agriculture, the positive impacts of veganism, or address a pertinent issue with your representative. To business owners, request the type of food (be specific) you would like to see them carry, refer to a recent experience either positive or negative regarding their business.
There are articles filled with misinformation about veganism and abolitionists. If you are so inclined, go onto those articles posted and leave comments. Each person that reads another positive, peaceful vegan comment may be educated a bit more about what veganism really means.
Go onto vegetarian or vegan forums and do the same; see who is struggling, has received misinformation, or feels becoming vegan is a daunting task. Reaching out may be just the ticket to helping that person make the commitment to change.
Responding kindly to challenges helps keeps veganism part of the peace movement. While it may be difficult at times, it is usually more productive for the person challenging you to find a relaxed, confident, happy person overflowing with health and goodwill rather than a snarky, judgmental person overflowing with frustration. Not fair, I know, but there it is.
Opportunities to discuss veganism abound – When I go to the market, I invariably get comments from the checker or bag person about how healthy my purchases are, noting that they are all or nearly all produce. I always smile broadly and say, “Yes, and look at how much food I get for very little money. Not only that, my cholesterol went down 100 points, and my conscience is lighter, too.” If the person says, “Oh I would love to do that but it is too hard,” I offer a different perspective and suggest they just go vegan one meal at a time. One meal does not seem overwhelming, and it opens them up to possibilities.
Even a casual walk around the neighborhood or an outing to the park is an opportunity to mention your happy, healthy dogs. When someone comments on how well they appear or all the energy they have, that is an invitation to let them know how well they are doing on a vegan diet, too.
Challenge corporations – Recently, some omni-subs (meat substitutions) began to add egg whites into formerly vegan products, while another company got rid of eggs, turning their vegetarian products into vegan products. I frequently write to companies to applaud or bemoan these types of changes and often write to others to request vegan recipes or vegan products, particularly if the product is near vegan and would be a hit with fellow vegans. I usually receive generous and thoughtful responses. When I find a product labeled “vegan” in traditional markets, I usually will respond by saying “Thank You!” to the company for the labeling and the product.
Challenge schools – the public schools are not the healthiest place for children to eat and sadly receive some of the worst of the animal products in the world. Our local schools and preschools do allow children to abstain from the usual mandatory milk by drinking water or juice. I have spoken to the owners and administrators at the local private preschool and I found out from the County officials that a vegan preschool is acceptable as long as it meets the State nutritional guidelines.
Display at the library – If you are creative and prefer a quiet advocacy, speak to your local library about putting up a pro-animal or pro-vegan display. Many libraries have glassed cases that they allow people to use just for this purpose. I have done several on overpopulation and the environment, the impact on animals and habitats, and population projections. Contact your local library and see what is possible if this type of advocacy interests you.
Wear vegan tee shirts - After recently purchasing a bright turquoise shirt that reads, “Life is Better Vegan!” I found that I need to order more such tees! These shirts can often get people talking just as I go about doing my weekly chores, shopping, or saying hello to neighbors. It is a quiet advocacy, because it gives visibility to veganism, keeps it in people’s minds, and often prompts further dialogue.
Think of yourself as a Vegan Ambassador. It will make it easier to maintain civility, open dialogue, and remind yourself that you are from another culture, another world. By showing sensitivity and being available, you just might find someone reaching out. Clear, consistent vegan education is one of the best things any of us can do to help liberate animals from commodification.