The We Animals Archive — changing the world for animals, one photograph at a time

Last month, photojournalist, author, and educator Jo-Anne McArthur launched the We Animals Archive,* a free archive of photography depicting our relationships with animals around the globe.

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Creator of the We Animals project, author of two books (We Animals and Captive, due for release this summer), and subject of the critically acclaimed documentary Ghosts in Our Machine, McArthur has been documenting the plight of animals for more than a decade, telling their individual stories with her thought-provoking and moving imagery.

McArthur’s photography evokes a spectrum of emotion —  from heart-wrenching and haunting to joyful and beautiful.

Jo-Anne McArthur / We Animals

Jo-Anne McArthur / We Animals

Jo-Anne McArthur / We Animals

Jo-Anne McArthur / We Animals

The We Animals Archive is a collection of hundreds of images and videos of animals in the human environment, many of which have never been seen before — animals we use for food, clothing, research, experimentation, work, entertainment, and companionship.

Some words from the photographer:

“I’m thrilled to be releasing the We Animals Archive into the world. My work has shown me that, so often, the animals languishing in cages on fur farms, suffering at the end of a rope, or even resting peacefully in the arms of their rescuers, are invisible to so many of us. I want these images to be used in the hope that people truly see the way animals currently exist in our society.” – Jo-Anne

The archive is a free resource for individuals, organizations, and media outlets around the world who are working to help animals. To date, the We Animals images have been used widely on social media, for banners and posters, in slide shows, newsletters, and even on book covers and for billboard campaigns. Browse the We Animals images and start planning how you might use them to educate and enlighten!

Find out more about this wonderful archive and the simple steps required to request photos in  this short video by McArthur herself:

VegFund highly recommends that you take advantage of this great resource in your outreach efforts. And please share widely with your activist buddies!

Support this project: weanimals.org/support

*The We Animals Archive is free to use for animal rights groups, not-for-profit and charity organizations, and educational organizations. The archive is also available on a commercial basis to commercial and media organizations. View Terms of Use.

Provoke, Inspire, Educate: Five Vegan-Related Documentary Films to Consider for Film Screenings

So you want to host a documentary film screening but you’re not sure where to start or what to screen? You’ve come to the right place. We’d like to point you to five noteworthy documentaries that have proved popular and thought-provoking among audiences on topics related to vegan living.

Documentaries as tools for social change

Documentaries can be powerful tools for social change. Great documentaries engage the viewer emotionally through compelling stories of real lives and events while conveying information or perspectives that are often obscured from the public eye. The viewer becomes a participant, an insider privy to these truths. Documentaries have the potential to involve the audience emotionally and shift their awareness or change their assumptions about an issue. And, importantly, documentaries (most often) offer the possibility of change.

As vegan activists, we’re working to connect people emotionally with the hard realities of lives of animals raised for food and convey the profound impact that vegan living has on animals, the environment, world hunger, health, and nutrition.

Recommended vegan-related films

Lucky for us, we have a number of fascinating vegan-related documentaries to choose from. Our feedback* from VegFund grantees points to a few films that have been particularly successful with general audiences. Many of you are already familiar with these films, but for those of you who aren’t:

  • Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret  – A feature-length documentary that follows filmmaker Kip Andersen as he explores the devastating effects of animal agriculture on deforestation, water consumption, pollution, greenhouse gases, rainforest destruction, species extinction, habitat loss, topsoil erosion, ocean dead zones, and more. Anderson investigates the world’s leading environmental organizations and uncovers what appears to be an intentional refusal to discuss the issues of animal agriculture. Read the Screening guidelines for this documentary.

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  •  VegucatedThis entertaining documentary profiles the personal journeys of three New York meat-lovers who agree to adopt a vegan diet for six weeks. The film follows their evolution as they explore the world of vegan living and its effects on personal health — and as they take their first glimpse into the world of animal agriculture. The film doesn’t shy away from presenting the challenges as well as benefits of vegan living. This film offers an often-humorous take on transitioning to a vegan diet. Read the Screening guidelines for this documentary.

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  •  Forks Over KnivesForks Over Knives investigates the potential role of a “whole foods, plant-based” diet in avoiding, controlling, or reversing chronic diseases, such as diabetes, coronary artery disease, obesity, and cancer. The film advocates removing animal-based foods, including dairy, as well as highly processed foods from our diets. The film follows the journeys of pioneering researchers, Dr. T. Colin Campbell, nutritional scientist at Cornell, and Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, surgeon and head of the Breast Cancer Task Force at the Cleveland Clinic, whose experiences led them to take a close look at the role of animal-based foods in degenerative diseases. Read the Screening guidelines for this documentary.

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  •  Peaceable Kingdom: The Journey Home – An engaging story of personal transformation , Peaceable Kingdom: The Journey Home portrays the stories of seven people who grew up in traditional farming culture as they re-examine their relationship with animals. The film follows, among others, a humane police officer whose conscience is in conflict with the laws she upholds and farmers who begin to question their way of life in light of their connections with the animals they care for. This heart-warming film enlightens us about the factors that open people’s hearts to animals and depicts the rich lives and personalities of farm animals. Read the Screening guidelines for this documentary.

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  • Speciesism: The Movie – The term “speciesism” refers to a “prejudice in favor of the interests of members of one’s own species over members of another species.” This concept manifests as the idea of human superiority over non-human animals and, at its extreme, that animals exist for our use. Director Mark Devries examines the questions around speciesism through conversations with a variety of people including anti-factory farming activists, a member of the American Nazi Party, a vivisectionist, and known personalities such as Peter Singer, Temple Grandin, and Richard Dawkins. The film is a provocative foray into the moral questions regarding species. Read the Screening guidelines for this documentary.

speciesism

Customize your vegan film-screening event

Documentary screenings are ripe for your creative vision. Screenings can be held publically in theaters, libraries, schools, churches — or privately as a house party. Combine screenings with vegan potlucks or food sampling. Consider including a Q&A session or inviting subject experts to speak or lead the discussion. Use the event to encourage an action such as try veg, sign up, donate.

On the websites of most documentaries, you’ll find a section on hosting a screening. Requirements vary, but a reasonably-priced film purchase (with license) is usually needed. On many sites, you’ll find supplementary material, such as designs for promotional materials and topics for discussion. The Screenings section of the VegFund website guides you through planning your screening event and submitting a request for funding assistance.

We recommend that you view the documentary in advance to ensure its suitability for your audience. Some films, for example, have graphic images that may not be suitable for children. Some films have the option for subtitles, which may be important for some audiences.

Check out our new film-screening partnership program

More extensive lists of animal rights/vegan films can be found through a quick Internet search. Look for new films too. As the pace of awareness grows, more and more inspiring documentaries emerge.

We are particularly excited about two newly released documentaries The Last Pig and Eating You Alive. VegFund is experimenting with a new partnership model to help our activists screen these new and important films. We are inviting you to partner with VegFund to use the power of these films to reach your communities and build networks of activists to energize local connections for vegan outreach.

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How to apply for a partnership screening grant:

  •  Apply to VegFund for a grant through our Screenings program and indicate your interest in screening The Last Pig and Eating you Alive  in your community and the date(s) you hope to screen the film(s). Both films will be available to screen beginning in June 2017. Within your application, you can provide ideas of how you might incorporate food sampling, literature, or speakers from your community into the event to make it all the more interesting and informative for the audience.
  •  VegFund will locate and book a screening venue in your city, pay for the venue directly, and then pay the film license fee directly to the distributor.
  • Once VegFund has selected and booked the venue, we will turn the event back over to you, the applicant activist, to complete the event organization and host the film. That means 1) recruiting your friends, family, and community to attend the film, 2) organizing food sampling, local area speakers, etc., as approved by VegFund, 3) attending the film to introduce it to the audience and tell them why you are hosting the film, and 4) raising awareness of VegFund’s grant opportunities.

If this new partnership model shows promise, VegFund will develop a screening toolkit in the near future to make the process as effortless as possible!

Choose a film. Take action!

You can still apply for traditional screening grants through our standard process for any film that may be of interest to your community, including The Last Pig or Eating You Alive. But, if you’re interested in hosting a larger public screening at an independent theater of one of these new documentary films and need support finding a venue and working with the distributor (and having those items paid for by VegFund in advance), we are here to help!

As a vegan activist, you are at the core of VegFund’s vision to create a compassionate vegan world. So, what are you waiting for? Educate and entertain the public. Change the world. Apply to host a screening in your area!

Stay in touch — tell us about your next screening event!

*relative to popularity, most effective, and recommended.

Activist Spotlight: Rutgers Veg Society Inspires with Farm to Fridge PPV

In 2016, members of the Rutgers Veg Society held an engaging “pay-per-view (PPV)” video event on their college campus to inform students about the plight of animals in the industrial farming system.

Rutgers Veg Society

For those of you who may not be familiar with “PPV,” it’s a form of outreach where advocates ask the public to view short, informative videos in exchange for a small incentive, such as $1 or $2 or a vegan treat. Vegan activists use PPV as a way to introduce the public to the hard realities of factory farming and related issues in bearable doses (if there is such a thing) that can have a major impact with a minimal investment of their time.

Farm to Fridge

The Rutgers group showed the video, “Farm to Fridge” and enlightened students with information and guidance on becoming vegan — and they were delighted with the response to the event. Rutgers Veg Society was founded in 1970 to provide university students — vegan or vegetarian or those interested in learning more — with a supportive meeting place on campus. The society celebrates the many reasons for vegan living, from animal rights, personal health, environmental impact, and other issues, through regular meetings and community outreach activities. Activities include leafleting, lectures, movie screenings, potlucks, and visits to animal sanctuaries. VegFund interviewed activists, Ngoc Kim and Quadri Lasisi to find out more about this pay-per-view event and Rutgers Veg Society’s other campus outreach activities.

Rutgers Veg Society PPV Event on Campus - 2016

Rutgers Veg Society PPV Event on Campus – 2016

VF: What inspired you to get involved in vegan outreach?

Ngoc: The internet works wonders when you’re looking for individuals who have similar interests. I went vegan after watching a 4-minute video via Facebook titled “Farm to Fridge.” From this point on I started connecting with animal activists and became inspired by a few particular strong women — Kimberly Spiegel from PETA, Amy Horowitz from NJ Farm Animal Save, and Rachel Atcheson from The Humane League. I remember seeing photos of their activism on Facebook and admired how they put their passion into action. I asked, “How do I get started?” Rachel was kind enough to meet me by The Humane League’s office. I lived close by, and she simply asked, “How many leaflets would you like?” She was so generous and handed me leaflets by the boxes so I could get started during my first semester at Rutgers. Over time, I began making the connections of how veganism is not just about animal rights, but also environmental impact and health. I started joining Earth Day marches, climate marches, and joint events with other organizations. Rutgers Veg Society members, events, and alliances continue to grow bigger and stronger!

VF: What other activism or vegan events have you been involved in?

Ngoc: Most of my activism is involved with Rutgers Veg Society. We’ve been involved with numerous organizations on campus and outside the university working with 10 Billion Lives, PETA, Jewish Veg, The Humane League, Meatless Monday, HSUS, NJ Farm Animal Save, Hampton Creek, Gardein. We’ve also gained a relationship with the dining services at Rutgers to help promote Meatless Monday and add more vegan options on campus. To me, veganism is the core — and when I began seeing how it relates to the treatment of animals, environmental issues, and health … it got me thinking about how I should apply my new skill of activism to other causes. I got interested in other forms of activism such as Fossil Fuel Divestment protests and climate change marches, and I’m also looking forward to getting active with Rutgers United Students Against Sweatshops and the LGBTQ community.

VF: What were some of the responses or discussions you had during this event?

Ngoc: During the Rutgers Day event, a common response I heard was, “I didn’t know this happened. I’m shocked.” Usually, people are speechless because the short video footage disturbs them. Sometimes I don’t know what to say to them but can only sympathize as if I was them watching the video for the first time. I guide them through the photos in Vegan Starter Kits about where to get plant-based foods, how delicious they are, and how much more nutritious, too.

VF: What was the highlight of this event for you?

Ngoc: There were many highlights of this event. One — the many members and my officers in my organization who came to help set up the event and talk to the many participants about veganism. We had lines throughout the day, and if I didn’t have volunteers, I would’ve been so exhausted, and we wouldn’t have been able to reach out to many individuals in such a highly active event. Two — not only did we reach out to a high number of viewers but we were able to have one-to-one conversations about veganism. We had quantity and quality.

Quadri: In particular, when we paid people to watch Farm to Fridge, many commented on my physique because they were simply astonished that a vegan could build a sizable amount of muscle. I used this as an opportunity to discuss the health benefits of a vegan diet and lifestyle. Many pledged to either consume less meat or stop consuming meat entirely.

VF: What barriers did you face during the hosting of this event?

Ngoc: Because there are strict rules about tabling at Rutgers, we are not able to have vegan meat on display, which would have been a great way for viewers to get a taste that when you’re vegan, you’re not missing a thing.

VF: Do you have any quotes from attendees at your event or anecdotes that may be of interest to other activists?

Ngoc: A quote that was passed to me that I now use when attendees can’t seem to grasp the concept of veganism is “You wouldn’t hurt an animal unnecessarily, would you?” Another suggestion is to sympathize and understand how the attendee feels. If they’re sad, understand that and talk to them as if you were sad and watching the gruesome videos for the first time.

Quadri: Yes! A person I met during an event the Rutgers Veg Society and PETA held here at Rutgers went vegan after reading the leaflet that we handed to him. I took down his contact info, and he has since informed me that since he went vegan he has gotten stronger, leaner, and has much more energy throughout the day, definitely a reassuring anecdote. We’d like to thank both Ngoc and Quadri for taking the time to be interviewed! You can follow Rutger’s Veg Society on Facebook to stay up-to-date on their latest news.

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There are many ways to inspire people with your outreach efforts, and VegFund would love to help you. If you want to host an event similar to this one within your local community or on your college campus, we may be able to offer you some funding. Please read our Programs Overview for information on the types of grants we offer and how to apply.

Make a Resolution to Be a Voice For Animals In 2017!

Happy New Year from VegFund!

Last chance to make your resolutions for 2017.

How about…

Resolve to organize or participate in a vegan outreach event!

VegFund is here to help.

If you’re new to vegan advocacy, find local vegan groups in your area. A few good places to look:

  • Meetup groups
  • Search social media (Facebook and Twitter, especially) for groups near you
  • Ask at your local veg restaurant
  • Join the planning team of a local VegFest

Find out what events they have on the calendar for 2017 — and volunteer! If they don’t have outreach events planned, suggest a food-sampling event, a documentary screening, leafleting, or video pay-per-view — and make sure they know that VegFund can help with grant-based support.

Or, start your own group! If there aren’t vegan groups in your area, get one going. Expanding vegan living into new areas is a fabulous goal for the new year.

If you’re a veteran activist, start the new year with some creative outreach planning. We have a few suggestions for you based on our 2016 survey of our grantees. Here’s what worked for them:

Host a Documentary Film Screening

Educate and entertain the public with a screening of one of the many excellent documentaries relating to animal agriculture. With an ever-growing choice of documentaries in this area, you’re sure to find something suitable whether you want to engage people on topics of animal rights, the environment, or health and nutrition.

FMVeg Minnesota - Cowspiracy Screening 2016

“The reception was fantastic, with one of the viewers wanting to host his own viewing, with my (and your) help!” – FMVeg, Minnesota – Cowspiracy Screening 2015

VegFund grantees use a variety of venues for film screenings. The three most common are:

  • local church facilities
  • town halls
  • college campuses

The documentaries most commonly screened by our grantees are:

  • Cowspiracy
  • Vegucated
  • Peaceable Kingdom
  • Forks Over Knives

Find out more about hosting a screening here.

Before the event:

  • Set up a Facebook event for the screening and invite your connections! About one month before the event should suffice. List the event venue, date and time, and any other important details. Include a blurb about the documentary film — and note if you’re including a Q&A session.
  • Post the event page within veg groups and other relevant groups on a regular basis in the weeks before the event.
  • Put up posters at the venue and other strategic locations in run-up to the event. Local print shops are usually happy to offer help or guidelines in setting up and printing your materials.

The day of the event:

  • Find out in advance what time you can gain access to the venue to start your preparations.
  • Plan to be at the venue 1–2 hours before the event to give you time to arrange the room, put out chairs, set up the projector, and lay out additional materials such as educational literature and food samples.
  • Leave the venue as you found it. Settle up any outstanding fees with the venue.

Host a Food Sampling Table at a Local Fair

Food sampling is a simple but effective form of outreach. Just book a stall at a suitable event, plan and prepare your food items, and turn up on the day with some volunteer support.

“AWESOME! Thanksliving went so much better than I could have ever hoped!! I had so many wonderful helpers and we gave out all the samples two hours sooner than I had expected! We got nothing but positive responses. We literally ran out of vegan fliers to hand out. Everyone LOVED the food.” – Students for Animal Rights Thanksliving event

Kindred Spirits Care Farm - Food Day LA 2016

Kindred Spirits Care Farm – Food Day LA 2016

Our grantees typically set up food sampling tables at:

  • local community fairs and markets
  • green festivals
  • health fairs
  • college campuses

The most popular types of vegan food samples handed out are:

  • mock meat products, such as Tofurky and Gardein products
  • plant milks – offer a variety such as soy, almond, and coconut
  • homemade cookies and cupcakes

The day of the event!

  • Set up before the event starts and be sure to keep your table tidy and sample trays full.
  • Dress smart-casual and have a smile on your face. Presentation is key to enticing people to stop for a taste.
  • Rotate your staff if you have volunteers. Prepare a schedule in advance to ensure everyone gets a break during the day.
  • Check out our blog on effective communication for tips on engaging with people about vegan living.
  • If you’re part of a vegan group, have a clipboard for sign-ups.

VegFund’s suggested sources for literature to hand out:

Learn more about food sampling events here.

What other outreach ideas does VegFund consider?

We provide grant support for a whole variety of vegan outreach activities, and we’re always interested in new and creative ideas — online campaigns, vegan fashion shows, speakers, vegfests, and more. See the Merit Awards section of the VegFund website for guidelines on funding innovative projects that promote veganism. Some examples from the past year:

Slovensko vegansko društvo (Slovenian Vegan Society) hosted Vegafest 2016. More than 10,000 people were reached by the event, with an estimate of 7,000 non-veg people visiting the festival itself.

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Dzīvnieku brīvība in Latvia held a Vegan Summer Solstice celebration where they served vegan cheese samples to attendees and distributed educational literature. Activists engaged in some really positive discussions, with many people showing an interest in making steps towards vegan living.

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This type of outreach is funded through VegFund’s Merit Awards program.

Learn more about our program guidelines and apply for a grant today!

Wishing you the very best of luck with your outreach in 2017.

- The VegFund Team

A Summary of VegFund’s Findings from a Dialogue with Our Grantees

(Part 6 of 6)

In our final blog of 2016, we summarize the findings we’ve reported over the past five months based on feedback from VegFund’s dedicated grantees. This summary consolidates information we gathered from an online survey and from focus groups we held during 2016. These findings will guide VegFund in 2017 as we enhance and diversify the resources we offer to our grantees.

From our survey, we gathered a general profile of VegFund grantees, including:

  • their occupations
  • the types of outreach they’re involved in
  • audiences they reach
  • their current levels of activist skills
  • resources they’d like to see from VegFund

The areas that we investigated relating to our grantee’s outreach work included:

  • aspects of vegan outreach that are of particular interest to VegFund grantees
  • barriers they face in their outreach activities
  • areas where they could use more support
  • level of comfort with event planning and preparation
  • how they evaluate the effectiveness of their outreach

You can read full details here.

So what did we learn?

Selecting the ideal venue for your outreach event

  • Campus activists have easy access to free venues, but other activists find it more challenging to locate low-cost venues.
  • Having some level of personal involvement with groups and institutions is a significant advantage when it comes to accessing certain types of venues (such as churches and cinemas).
  • Leafleting is free and permitted in most public places, but the impact of this form of outreach is difficult to measure.
  • Weather conditions, volume of pedestrian traffic, and volunteer availability are all important factors to consider when selecting an event venue.
Compassionate Action for Animals - 2015 Vegfest

Compassionate Action for Animals – 2015 Vegfest

Evaluating the impact of your outreach activity

In response to the question “Do you currently conduct any type of evaluation with your audiences to determine your success?,” our findings suggested that less than 50% of VegFund grantees use event evaluation to gauge the effectiveness of their outreach. Activists who are not currently evaluating their activities do have an interest in beginning to. The following information that we gathered may be a helpful start in assessing the impact of your outreach:

Many of our grantees who do evaluate their outreach take a two-step approach to evaluating their efforts:

  • quantifying outreach
  • gathering anecdotal information on quality

Grantees typically use the following information for assessment:

  • consumption of materials: numbers of leaflets distributed, numbers of food samples handed out, types of short videos and documentaries watched, discussion attendance
  • direct feedback: response on social media, attendee comments, signups (email/pledges)
Californian Activists - Campus Food Sampling Event

Californian Activists
– Campus Food Sampling Event in 2016

What are the barriers in your outreach efforts?

When we asked “What would encourage you to reach out to new audiences in your activism?”, a majority of activists reported:

  • more time
  • more financial support
  • more volunteer support

Activists also reported a need to enhance their activism skills — from expanding their presentation abilities to learning how to produce effective outreach content and materials on a budget.

Our grantees note an “above average” confidence in event organization, food preparation, and one-on-one conversations, but a large percentage of grantees felt a lack of skill (below average) in using technology in their outreach and producing materials and content (for example, writing, marketing, videography, graphic design).

What resources do you need to support your outreach efforts?

We asked our grantees what specific skills they feel would be most useful to them in interacting with the public, organizing events, and production/preparation of materials. They noted the following areas

where they feel they could use more training or knowledge:

  • assistance with tailoring messages and approaching the general public
  • coordination and leadership support
  • training in media use/production
  • training in food preparation
  • tips on burnout

We also investigated what mechanisms are of interest to activists to receive this support. The top suggestions were:

  • opportunities for collaboration and exchange information and ideas, such as an online forum
  • an online portal or library: templates of documents such as publicity  flyers, informational brochures, ads; organizational resources; lessons learned and best practices
  • training/workshops on effective activism

Thanks to all our grantees who took part in the online survey and focus groups. Your information is helping us shape the future of VegFund! We look forward to bolstering our support in 2017 based on the information you so generously provided. Keep an eye out for more to come!

You can also help support our vegan activists by making a year-end tax-deductible donation to VegFund.

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Activist Spotlight: GW Animal Advocates, Washington DC

Earlier this year, GW Animal Advocates held a Vegan Ice Cream Sampling event in Washington DC and reached 150 people! Activists served Ben and Jerry’s Non-Dairy Ice cream and handed out lots of educational literature. VegFund interviewed Susanna Israelsson of GW Animal Advocates to find out more about the event and their other outreach.

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GW Animal Advocates, Washington DC
Vegan Ice Cream Giveaway

VF: What inspired you to get involved in vegan outreach?

GW: I never really truly understood the horrors of the dairy industry until recently.  I think that people don’t realize the amount of abuse that these poor animals undergo, but when I read an op-ed on the subject, that was pretty much the only incentive I needed.  I think of it as a duty to encourage vegan alternatives to help relieve these animals of the abuse.

VF: What other activism and/or vegan events have you been involved in?

GW: Well, I’m a member of my University’s Animal Advocacy group, so I’ve participated in vegan activism at any chance that I get.  We have given out free coffee on campus with soy milk, vegan valentine’s day chocolates and host many other vegan-food themed events to encourage vegan alternatives.  We have a close relationship with Peta2 which helps a ton with funding and literature for these events.

VF: What were some of the common responses and/or discussions you had during this event?

GW: Well, the event was a free giveaway of the new dairy-free Ben and Jerry’s flavors, so a lot of the common discussions revolved around the taste of the ice cream.  This really drew in a big crowd, and people are content and willing to talk about this issue while they’re eating free ice cream- so I found it quite easy.  Mostly I found that people were surprised at how good the alternatives tasted and I also found that people were more willing to talk about veganism if I suggest that they just make a simple change from dairy to non-dairy ice cream instead of urging them to change their entire diets.

 

VF: What was the highlight of this event for you?

GW: The highlight of the event for me was when I was able to talk with a student who had been considering veganism but was afraid of how hard it was.  After tasting the ice cream and talking with me and some other friends working the event, she left with the commitment to try veganism for the summer.

VF: What barriers did you face during the hosting of this event?

GW: I often find that getting people to try vegan food is the biggest issue.  Once they try it, they are much more willing to have a discussion, but up until then they’re afraid that it will taste gross and healthy.  There is such a stigma against veganism- people think it’s elitist and pretentious, but it’s easy and simple and humane, so it’s important to break the stereotypes.

VF: Do you have any quotes / paraphrases from attendees at your event or anecdotes that may be of interest to other activists?

GW: It was just really nice to see everyone so open to trying and sticking with vegan alternatives.  Most people don’t want to hurt animals, so once we introduce them to easy cruelty-free alternatives, it’s all the push they need to cut out certain things from their diet.  I always encourage people to start slow, go with soy milk and dairy-free ice cream first, and then cut out eggs and build from there.  It’s encouraging to see people who never really considered veganism to open up to the idea of vegan alternatives.

We’d like to thank Susanna Israelsson for taking the time to be interviewed. You can also follow GW Animal Advocates on Facebook to keep up-to-date with their latest news!

There are so many ways to inspire people with your outreach efforts, and VegFund would love to help you! If you want to host an event similar to this one within your local community, we may be able to offer you some funding. Please read our Programs Overview for information on the types of grants we offer and how to apply.

What Resources Do You Need to Support Your Outreach Efforts?

Findings from a VegFund Dialogue with its Current and Past Activists (Part 5 of 6)

Last month, we discussed what VegFund grantees see as the main barriers they face in their activist efforts. Our always-helpful grantees assisted us in defining the types of support, training, and resources that would be most beneficial in overcoming these hurdles and in spurring their work in vegan outreach. This month, we discuss the types and form of support suggested by our grantees and VegFund’s work-in-progress developing a resource center for activists. Figure 1 shows a breakdown of the general types of resources of interest to grantees (respondents indicated one or more area of interest).

Figure 1

Figure 1

These resources fall into three general categories:

  • interactional,
  • organizational, and
  • technical

We dug deeper in our conversations with grantees to find out what specific skills within these categories would be most useful to them. These skills included:

  • assistance with tailoring messages and approaching the general public (interactional)
  • coordination and leadership support (organizational)
  • training in media use and production and food preparation (technical)
  • tips on burnout

We also investigated what mechanisms were of interest to activists to receive support. Top suggestions included:

  • An online forum for activists to exchange information and ideas
  • Online portal/library: templates of documents such as publicity flyers, informational brochures, ads; organizational resources (calendars/volunteer coordination); lessons learned and best practices

Our grantees’ input has been instrumental in guiding us as we hone our grant programs and develop a compendium of resources and training modules, which we hope will become a hub for vegan activists in the near future. Your suggestions for training topics, tools, and other resources are always appreciated. Join us next month in the sixth and final part of this outreach-focused blog series where we will summarize our findings from the online survey and introduce you to the VegFund Activist Resource Center.

What Are the Barriers in Your Outreach Efforts?

Findings from a VegFund Dialogue with its Current and Past Activists (Part 4 of 6)

This month, we’re discussing obstacles our grantees face in their work reaching out to new audiences with vegan messages. Identifying these barriers is a good starting point for proactively finding solutions and improving the effectiveness of our outreach.

In a 2016 survey of VegFund grantees, we asked the question “What would encourage you to reach out to new audiences in your activism?” Not surprisingly, a majority of activists report time, financial limitations, and the need for more volunteer support to participate in more outreach.

Importantly, activists also reported their need for enhanced activism skills — from expanding their presentation abilities to learning how to produce effective outreach content and materials at a reasonable cost (for example, learning or improving writing, marketing, videography, graphic design skills).

Regarding activists’ self-rating of their confidence in their existing skills for a variety of areas involved in vegan outreach activities, the results shown in Figure 1 indicate an “above average” confidence in event organization, food preparation, and one-on-one conversations, whereas a large percentage feels a lack of skill (below average) in technology and producing materials and content.

In the area of speeches and presentations, activists were more evenly divided between high and low ratings, with about 31% expressing an expert level of skill and 23% rating themselves as not skilled or below average. But, the survey results also show a fairly wide distribution of skill-confidence in all areas.

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Figure 1

Apart from this survey, grantees have also noted self-presentation, tailoring messaging to a given audience/individual, and managing volunteer support efficiently as areas in which they’d like to improve.

VegFund has been gathering this type of information from our grantees — who have been very generous with their feedback — as part of our planning strategy to provide a robust training and resource center for activists.

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Earlier this month, VegFund held the first in a series of activist training sessions — a webinar titled “Learn to Tell Stories That Ignite Change,” by Elizabeth Sell. The webinar recording and written summary of key points will be made available to VegFund grantees very soon, so watch this space!

Our goal is to supplement the financial support VegFund offers with the training and resources that activists can use both to enhance their influence and to make outreach a low-stress and enjoyable activity.

Stay tuned for more information of VegFund’s activist training and resources in the months to come — and join us in finding ever-better ways to persuasively convey the benefits of a vegan lifestyle.

Join us next month for part 5 of 6 in this blog series where we will be looking at what resources could be helpful for VegFund grantees based on these findings.

Evaluating the Impact of Your Outreach Activity

Findings from a VegFund Dialogue with its Current and Past Activists (Part 3 of 6)

This month, we’re sharing our grantee’s feedback on how they evaluate the effectiveness of their outreach activities. We hope this information offers you some helpful advice and resources for improving your future outreach activities.

Activists all too often overlook the valuable exercise of evaluating the effectiveness of their work. Making sure that we, as activists, maximize the impact of our outreach efforts is as important as hosting our next event if we are to move closer to our goal — improving the world for animals.

Caryn Ginsberg examines the importance of assessing our effectiveness when carrying out outreach activities in her article Are You Getting the Results You Deserve — a worthwhile read. Ginsberg has also written a book, Animal Impact: Secrets Proven to Achieve Results and Move the World — a great tool for understanding and improving the effectiveness of our advocacy work.

Our Findings

In our online survey, we asked grantees the question: “Do you currently conduct any type of evaluation with your audiences to determine your success?” Our findings suggest that less than 50% of VegFund grantees are currently using some form of event evaluation to gauge the effectiveness of their outreach activities (Figure 1).

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Grantees who DO currently evaluate their outreach use the following information to assess their efforts:

  •  Consumption of materials: leaflets distributed, food samples consumed, videos watched, discussion attendance
  • Direct feedback: response on social media, attendee comments, signups (email/pledges)

More than 75% of VegFund grantees who responded to our survey do not currently use an evaluation process but indicated an interest in doing so.

Many of our grantees take a two-step approach to evaluating their efforts:

  •  Quantifying outreach
  • Gathering anecdotal information on quality

Few, however, think of event evaluation in terms of systematically assessing activities and applying the results as a means of increasing outreach effectiveness. VegFund is working to create more awareness of the importance of outreach evaluation and develop tools to help activists assess their efforts. Learning what works — and to what degree — and what doesn’t will help the movement as a whole move closer to the ultimate goal of quantifying how many people actually become vegan or reduce their consumption of animal-derived food as a direct result of outreach efforts.

Useful Online Resources

Valuable free resources are available online from various organizations on this topic. Vegan Outreach offers helpful advice on effective outreach, including tips on constructive outreach and suggestions for tabling. The Effective Animal Advocacy Research Library also has interesting research on this topic.

Join us next month when we share feedback from grantees on the barriers they face in their outreach efforts.

Send us your thoughts on and experiences of event evaluation. We’d love to hear from you!

 

 

 

Selecting the Ideal Venue for your Outreach Event

Findings from a VegFund Dialogue with its Current and Past Activists (Part 2 of 6)

This month, we’re sharing our grantee’s feedback on the criteria they use when selecting a venue for their vegan outreach events. We hope this information offers you some helpful tips for finding the best location for your outreach event.

Our grantees select a variety of venues for their outreach — college campuses, schools, churches, theaters, vegfests, health fairs, sporting events, and many others. The grantees who responded to our survey conducted different types of outreach, including food sampling, pay-per-view video booths, vegfests, and documentary film screenings.

Each type of outreach, of course, has special location considerations relative to the nature of the event, but the responses to our survey reflect the top-level factors activists consider in their venue choices. In our online survey, we asked the question, “What criteria do you use to decide where to conduct an event?” A summary of the survey responses is shown in Figure 1.

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Figure 1

Our grantees highlighted other valuable criteria to consider when hosting an event based on their experiences: The most important criterion for the activists surveyed is selecting a venue that attracts a high number of passersby. The second most important factor is hosting events in non-veg-focused settings — for example, health fairs or music festivals. We were delighted to see the weight activists place on these factors because they are essential in conveying our message to new audiences. Selecting venues that don’t require licences, permits, or fees also rated high in importance to our grantees. Strategizing to get the most impact for your dollar is always an important consideration.

  • Campus activists have easy access to free venues, but other activists may find it more challenging to locate low-cost venues.
  • Access to some types of venues, such as churches/religious facilities or public schools, is easier to obtain if you or your group has some personal involvement with the group or institution.
  • Leafleting can be done in most public places for free, but the impact can be hard to measure.
  • Weather conditions (for outdoor events), volume of pedestrian traffic, and volunteer availability are all important factors to consider when selecting an event venue.

Keep these factors in mind when researching the best location for your event.

Speak Out For Species, University of Georgia - Gene Baur Book Launch Talk and Food Sampling Event 2015

Speak Out For Species, University of Georgia:
Gene Baur Book Launch Talk & Vegan Food Sampling Event

VegFund provides a number of online resources to assist in answering activist’s questions relating to their outreach events, including a list of recommended educational literature, FAQ on documentary film screenings and screenings checklist, and food safety guidelines and food sampling checklist. These resources should help to make the event planning process that little bit simpler, offering useful tips and advice along the way! Join us next month when we share our findings on how activists evaluate the effectiveness of their outreach activities.

Send us your thoughts and experiences as a vegan activist.

We’d love to hear from you!