Persistence, Positivity, and Patience: The Influencing Factors of Behavior Change

The first, annual Reducetarian Summit

VegFund sponsored and attended the first-ever Reducetarian Summit last month, held in New York City, May 20 and 21. The Summit was organized by The Reducetarian Foundation and complemented the recently released book, The Reducetarian Solution, by Brian Kateman. The event brought together a global network of perspectives and technologies with the goal of exploring how to create a more equitable, compassionate, and sustainable food system.

Image Credit: Reducetarian Summit 2017

Image Credit: Reducetarian Summit 2017

Some 400 practitioners, students, and the interested public convened at the event. The central theme of the Summit was a call to collaborate to reduce global meat consumption on a significant scale as a fundamental step needed to effect positive and lasting changes in the areas of:

  • animal rights and welfare
  • food systems and food services
  • world hunger
  • the environment and resource use
  • climate change
  • human economic development and policy

A daunting task

Reducing meat consumption globally is a daunting and sobering task, to say the least. A reminder of the magnitude of the problems relating to meat consumption is worth restating. In the United States, we consume an estimated 275 pounds of meat per person per year, largely because meat is readily available and affordable due to the massive use of antibiotics, highly tuned genetics, factory farming, and feedlots. China consumes 25 percent of all meat produced today — double that of the United States. Export of the factory farming model to other countries is driving up meat production and consumption across the industrializing world. Animals consume an estimated 36 percent of all food crops grown as we face the possibility for simultaneous famines in the world at this time.

Those of us who promote a vegan lifestyle hope for zero percent animal consumption TODAY, but we operate within an environment in which much of the West has created a dietary and economic dependency on animals and on the marketing and subsidies that make animal products the easiest foods to access.

How do we tackle the problem systematically?

Unwinding this model will take long-term efforts to change not only consumer behavior but also agricultural and food policy, farming for food production, and dietary standards — to name just a few of the challenges we face.

Factory farming is pushing the world’s some 500 million small farmers off the land where their daily survival is tied to animal agriculture. This phenomenon and other harsh realities force us to examine simplistic approaches to behavior change in meat consumption and the use of animal products.

Image Credit: Reducetarian Summit 2017

Image Credit: Reducetarian Summit 2017

The key question of the two-day event was: “How do we as individuals, organizations, communities, and societies work to systematically decrease meat consumption?” Discussions covered a variety of important topics, including our broken food system, the politics of meat, the rise of conscious capitalism, innovations in food manufacturing, and more.

Persistence, positivity, and patience

Reducetarian panelists spoke about how we must not use ineffective tactics that demonize people for eating meat, but rather, as vegan activists, we should focus on the good a person is adding to his or her life and community when choosing to not consume an animal product. We need smart approaches to working with chefs, religious institutions, and community leaders as influencers and change-makers. We, as activists, need to act broadly across policy, legislation, and local and national politics. And, we need to work within the mind-boggling web of the supply and value chains that eventually lead to the products on our food plate. Above all, we must be persistent, positive, and patient — and take a deep breath for the long-haul!

Panelists repeatedly stressed the importance of collaboration. Whether vegan, vegetarian, flexitarian, or reducetarian, if we as activists are to make a dent in the mass scale of factory farming, we must work together; listen to the points of view of others, build relationships, and use the wealth of skills, passions and technology available to us.

Learn more

You can now view the full video recordings of the Summit presentations and panels, which we highly recommend. After the success of the 2017 event, the Summit returns in 2018 for another inspiring gathering of creative minds and timely topics! Register your interest now to receive further details and updates.

 

Food, Glorious Food!

“From Grant-Based Activism to a Plant-Based Career” – A webinar with a former VegFund grantee

As vegans, we celebrate plant-based foods as delicious, healthful, ethical, and compassionate. Plant-based foods are now one of the fastest-growing segments of the food-service industry. If you’ve ever entertained thoughts of working in the area of vegan food service, read on!

Last month, Liz Gary, founder of the New Options Food Group in San Diego and former VegFund grantee joined us to present our third activist training webinar “From Grant-Based Activism to a Plant-Based Career.” Liz shared her experience in the vegan food business along with her insider recommendations for finding or creating new career opportunities as plant-based foods professionals — whether full-time/career-track or part-time.

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We hope those of you who joined us found the topic inspiring. For those of you who were not able to attend, you can view the full presentation at VegFund’s  Activist Resource Center. Below is just a “taste” of the valuable information Liz conveyed in the webinar.

“Everywhere you go there is opportunity.” ~ Liz

Liz’s tips on getting started in the vegan food business and where to find or create jobs fell into the following categories:

  • Community engagement
  • Rewarding jobs in education
  • Representing plant-based foods manufacturers and consulting in the food service industry
  • Culinary travel and tourism
  • Special events and media

Community engagement

Get involved in the local community

  • Find out what events are happening near you — green fairs, cooking classes, food tastings, community markets, etc.
  • Better still — organize your own vegan food fair! You can apply for grant support from VegFund here.
  • Watch for paid and voluntary opportunities at nonprofit animal rights organizations such as The Humane League, Vegan Outreach, Farm Sanctuary, and FARM
  • And network, network, network!
Photograph courtesy of VegFest UK

Photograph courtesy of VegFest UK

 “Outreach and community engagement translate into growth in the plant-based foods economy.” ~ Liz

Rewarding jobs in education

Consider teaching or setting up a “vegan cook club” within your local community! The following venues offer great opportunities to educate and engage with your community:

  • Retail kitchen stores
  • Cooking schools
  • Local community colleges, high schools, your local public library
  • Hospitals
  • Test-kitchen Tuesdays (donation-based community classes)

table

Representing plant-based foods manufacturers and consulting in the food service industry

Offer your plant-based food expertise and consult with the main drivers of the food network:

  • Represent locally made plant-based products
  • Sell your products and services to your local hospitals
  • Consult with chefs
  • Get \on-board with popular political food days, such as Meatless Mondays and California Fresh Thursdays and use these as an opportunity to work more closely with your local schools
  • Work with food administrators and distributors at correctional institutions
Photograph Courtesy of Food Tank

Photograph Courtesy of Food Tank

 Culinary travel and tourism

Excite your local community with the offer of organized day trips to learn more about the benefits of plant-based foods. The following suggestions are popular options:

  • Vegan restaurant trips
  • Trips to Whole Foods Market
  • Visit an animal sanctuary
  • Vegan food and fashion shopping trips
  • Visit a nonprofit animal rights office
  • And more!
Moses the Pig (Photograph Courtesy of Catskill Animal Sanctuary)

Moses the Pig (Photograph Courtesy of Catskill Animal Sanctuary)

 Special events and media

Holiday-themed events are a great starting point for engaging your community, especially if they translate well into a great local story or news item.

  • Organize events around annual vegan holidays and national events, and get your community involved along the way; for example, Vegan Valentine’s Fun Run, Vegan Octoberfest, Cookie Bake-a-thon
  • Talk to news organizations (whether print or TV) about vegan food
  • Arrange lunch-time talks within local schools and workplaces
Kindred Spirits Care Farm Food Day LA 2015

Kindred Spirits Care Farm Food Day LA 2015

There are many opportunities waiting for you. Take the first steps today and build from there. Find out more about VegFund’s grant programs to support activists in their vegan outreach efforts.

The full webinar recording and slide show summary of key points are now available in our Activist Resource Center, where you can view all webinars from the training series so far. We also provide other online resources to support you in your animal advocacy.

If you have suggestions for resources you’d like to see featured on here send them our way for consideration. Email info@vegfund.org or tell us on social media. You can find us on Facebook and on Twitter. If you have specific questions for Liz on the content of this webinar, you can contact her directly via email: liz@newoptionsfoodgroup.com.

 

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.

z.Jo-Anne McArthur headshot_HR_LesleyMarino-003-2

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.

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.

stat_combined

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.

VegFund_PC-88

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!

 

 

 

Finding Connection In Our Communications

The first few words we communicate with another person are critical in the development of our future relationship with that person. The same is true when we, as activists, speak out for the voiceless with our message of compassion.

As animal advocates, we want to encourage people to start to think in new ways about their food and to be receptive to learning about the realities of animal agriculture. We must offer information in a way that doesn’t shut them off from us. The first stage of communication as activists is fragile. This applies both to on-the-ground outreach and online outreach. It’s worth spending some time honing your skills in effective communication.

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 Consider implementing some of the following tactics in your advocacy work:

  • Refer back to how you felt in your first conversations about animals used as food. When you were first learning out about the realities of the animal agriculture industry, you, no doubt, experienced a whirlwind of emotions. Try to remember how you felt and reacted at the time. Speaking with heartfelt empathy establishes a level ground and an understanding between you and the other person.
  • Avoid creating an “us vs. them” scenario. Passion for the cause can make it difficult for us to suppress our anger and frustration, but when we represent the movement, we should keep the animals foremost in our thoughts and remind ourselves that a calm and rational approach is likely to gain more ground than confrontation.
  • Use language that is understandable by the majority. Although academic language has its place when discussing an issue in depth, most of the time it’s best to stick with everyday language. Speaking naturally and conversationally helps ensure that our message will be understood.
  • Focus on drawing people into discussion and understanding, rather than presenting an all-or-nothing scenario. A strident or insistent approach is likely to alienate someone who is new to animal issues and may even shut them off entirely. Many people are receptive to considering a vegan lifestyle after a single informative conversation, so don’t scare them off before you’ve had a chance to find out if they are! Those who aren’t quite ready to make that step may still be open to taking the first steps — and each step matters.
  • Note that it’s perfectly okay to recognize the concerns of non-vegans – in fact, it usually helps to be understanding. Showing empathy for their concerns often helps open their minds to alternatives that will enable them to still make a difference.
  • The basics! Be positive, make eye contact; don’t just speak — listen.

Remember that animals rely on animal advocates. Don’t let ego, pride, or irritation get in the way when communicating your message. Help those who want to learn more feel comfortable doing so. The realities for animals are harsh. We need to take care of one another along the way as we discover and communicate these truths.

Moses the Pig (Photograph Courtesy of Catskill Animal Sanctuary)

Moses the Pig (Photograph Courtesy of Catskill Animal Sanctuary)

Change of Heart by Nick Cooney (Director of Education at Mercy For Animals and Founder of Humane League) is worth checking out if you want to delve into the psychology behind human behavior and the dynamics of communicating our message as activists. You can read a selection of excerpts from his book here.

We would love to hear useful tips from your own outreach experiences. Please share them with us in the comments section below.

References

Latest Vegan News (2015) Psychology Researcher Offers Tips for Positive, Effective Vegan Advocacy. [Online] Available from: http://latestvegannews.com/psychology-researcher-offers-tips-for-positive-effective-vegan-advocacy/#

The Humane League (no date) Change of Heart: What Psychology Can Teach Us About Spreading Social Change. [Online] Available from: http://www.thehumaneleague.com/changeofheart/excerpts.htm

VegFund Stretches Its Reach

shutterstock_255413671Human consumption of meat and animal products is forecast to increase exponentially in the developing world and to remain at current levels in the developed economies for years to come. What this means is that we’ll see an increase in the already staggering estimated 156 billion land and sea animals consumed every year worldwide.

In our aspirations to reverse these trends, VegFund is joining efforts with a broad global community of experts in climate change, social justice, natural resource use, technology, and food systems whose cooperation is instrumental in working toward sustainable and compassionate societies.

VegFund is collaborating with these groups in several conference partnerships in 2016. Our new initiatives, launched this April, include our support for and participation in three key conferences that cover diverse global food issues.

At the 2016 Food + Enterprise Summit (April 8–9, attended by 600 people) in New York City, VegFund supported a panel called Funding an Ethical Food Economy: Plant-based Ventures. A panel of experts — David Benzaquen of PlantBased Solutions, Bruce Friedrich of the Good Food Institute, Jody Rasch of VegInvest, and Leslie Barcus of VegFund — addressed the topics of why animal well-being and promoting a healthy environment are fundamental to ethical food systems and how the promise of lab-cultured meats and growth in animal product replacements are fueling private investment to push new vegan businesses and products into the consumer mainstream.

Photograph Courtesy of Clay Williams (© Clay Williams / claywilliamsphoto.com)

Photograph Courtesy of Clay Williams
(© Clay Williams / claywilliamsphoto.com)

From April 15–17, VegFund staff met many new vegans at the New York Green Festival. The Green Festival Expo is held in several cities throughout the United States and focuses on sustainability and green living. The New York event drew more than 250 exhibitors, partners, and sponsors including the team from the documentary, Cowspiracy. VegFund will participate in five Green Festival Events in 2016 as a means to recruit new activists.

Photograph Courtesy of New York Green Festival Expo 2016

Photograph Courtesy of
New York Green Festival Expo 2016

The third conference, the Food Tank Summit, took place in Washington, DC, April 20–21. VegFund partnered with Food Tank to serve 300 attendees excellent vegan lunches during the event, and VegFund Executive Director Leslie Barcus participated on a panel called Protein for the Planet. An estimated 30,000 people around the world listened in via live-stream to fascinating discussions about the dire need for changes in the global food system to feed a growing planet under stress.

Photograph Courtesy of Food Tank

Photograph Courtesy of Food Tank

VegFund continues its conversations at this time toward partnering with 10–12 more conferences in 2016 as a part of our new initiatives. We look forward to seeing old friends and meeting new people at the upcoming Animal Rights Conference in July 2016.

5 Top Tips for A Successful Pay-Per-View Video Event: Findings from VegFund’s Five-Year Retrospective Study (Part 4)

In this fourth and final part of our Effective Outreach series, we’re looking closer at Pay-Per-View (PPV) video events. In this form of outreach, individuals learn while they earn! VegFund pays viewers to watch a short clip exposing the truth behind the animal industry, from the cruelty of factory farming to environmental destruction.

Our grantees from the past five years have provided really valuable feedback for improving and developing the effectiveness of this type of outreach — and we want to share this information with you!

MFA volunteers, Mid West Northalsted Market Days, 2015

MFA volunteers
Mid West Northalsted Market Days, 2015

PPV inspires discussion! Use videos as an inroad to talk with people in more depth. PPV outreach usually evokes more emotional responses than food sampling or literature-focused events due to its visual element, and asking viewers about their response to a video is a natural way to initiate a conversation. PPV events are also a great way to attract media attention and get coverage about animal-welfare issues.

“I don’t think I’ll be able to eat meat for the rest of the day or ever. Something definitely needs to be done about this.” – PPV viewer response

During 2011–2015, VegFund-supported activists encouraged a total of 58,672 people to view videos on vegan and animal-agriculture-related topics. They also distributed 30,813 vegan food samples and 424,182 pieces of educational literature to event attendees.

The most popular short videos to show to date have been “Farm to Fridge” and “Meet Your Meat.”

The top 3 venues or types of event for activists to host PPV are:

1. University and college campuse

2. Festivals (green, community themes

3. Education days and spaces

5 Top Tips!

1. Event activities and attendance: Many activists favor combining PPV with food sampling and information booths. This combination appears to attract significantly larger crowds that include people who do not wish to watch the video footage. At information booths, some organizations included vegan starter packs or guides.

2. Video length: Four-minute video footage has been the most popular length to show, followed by 11 minutes. A short but informative video appeals to people because it doesn’t take up too much of their time.

3. Common questions to prepare for: Attendee questions often relate to organic meat, cage-free eggs, “free-range” food, current animal welfare laws, and how widespread animal cruelty is. Be prepared with informative answers and, if possible, have literature on hand for attendees to take with them.

4. Booth location: At veg fests, for maximum impact, select booths near companies that provide vegan food. Activists holding PPV events can then easily direct people who are interested in knowing more about food options and products to these nearby booths.

5. Effect of incentives: PPV incentives can be customized for your audience. Many activists have found success with a Cake-Per-View or Donut-Per-View event where full-portion, delicious food is provided instead of cash. When possible, offering the $1 and a food sample seems to work best!

“I enjoyed interacting with the people who volunteered to watch and had not seen footage like that previously because it reminded me of how eye-opening that first exposure to the gruesome truth was for me years ago.” – Compassionate Action For Animals volunteer, Twin Cities Veg Fest

MFA volunteers at USC, Long Beach College Campus, 2016

MFA volunteers at USC
Long Beach College Campus, 2016

Activists find that PPV is an effective tool for engaging people on the topic of farmed animals and prompting them to reflect on their own eating habits.

“Thank you for sharing; very informative.” – PPV Viewer response

“Where can I find vegan recipes?” – PPV Viewer response

If you’re ready to host a PPV event, take a look at VegFund’s Pay-Per-View instructional video and checklist!

We hope the tips offered in this blog series provide useful pointers for your vegan outreach efforts or help inspire new activists to get involved.

Current activists! Send us your success stories so that we can share your experience with others.

Our mission is to support YOUR fabulous work as vegan advocates. Take a look at our Facebook page to see what other VegFund-supported activists are doing. Get inspired to host your own event! We’d love to support you.

And, finally, from all at Vegfund, best of luck with your future outreach efforts. You inspire us.

5 Top Tips for A Successful Film Screening Event: Findings from VegFund’s Five-Year Retrospective Study (Part 3)

Next in our continuing series on tips for effective vegan activism, we bring you tips for holding successful film screenings. Our past grantees have offered excellent feedback from their experiences on how best to: encourage people to attend film-screening events, make your event enticing, and engage viewers on the topic of animal agriculture and veganism.

FMVeg, Minnesota 2015

FMVeg, Minnesota 2015

“It definitely challenged people’s understandings and perceptions of animal industries. I’ve even spoken to a few people who went vegan as a result of the film and subsequent discussion.”

- Compassionate and Sustainable Consuming, 2015: Cowspiracy Screening.

“Many picked up multiple literature booklets and several cried during the scenes of slaughter. … We had a couple approach us after saying they were going vegan, that this is what they needed to see to push them.”

- Vegan Society of P.E.A.C.E : Peaceable Kingdom Screening, 2012.

In the past five years, VegFund-supported activists reached approximately 10,600 people through film screenings. At these events, they also distributed 27,964 pieces of literature, and 20,211 vegan food samples.

5 Top Tips!

1. Films that are particularly effective at engaging their audiences are:

  • easy to grasp
  • include reliable data
  • moving, yet have minimal graphic footage.

2. Q&As after film screenings are popular, particularly those featuring film directors.

3. Events with a smaller number of viewers were reported to be more personal and engaging, with grantees having more conversations with attendees at these events. But, it’s always important to weigh the value of reaching more people versus having more one-on-one contact, and this will vary depending on the sort of event being held

4. Introductions to film screenings were well received and helpful for those who were unsure of what they would be viewing.

5. Attendees enjoy offers of vegan food samples, veg starter kits, and information on vegan living at these events. Veg starter kits appear to have been particularly popular among attendees.

Lean and Green Kinds 2015 – Ethical Eating Mini Film Festival

Lean and Green Kinds 2015
Ethical Eating Mini Film Festival

In the past five years of VegFund screening grants, documentaries that contain highly graphic content relating to animals are sometimes shown, but grantees have tended to steer away from these types of documentaries due to more negative responses from viewers.

Documentaries with content substantiated by facts and statistics were appreciated by grantees and attendees, as were films that appeal to both younger and older people. Of course, the films available and suitable for screenings have changed over the years, but some of the most popular films from 2011 to 2015 were:

“The film was very well-received and the students and others participating in the discussion said they learned a lot and were excited to make changes to their diets and contact national environmental groups to ask why they aren’t mentioning animal agriculture as a huge contributing cause to climate change.” – VegBoone’s screening of Cowspiracy in 2015.

“Audience commented that they enjoyed the film more so than other animal rights films they had seen, because it presented the issues in an easier-to-grasp light.” – Moncavage’s screening of Vegucated in 2012

“We had many people with questions afterward and even a guy looking for support because he just went vegetarian two weeks ago after his son showed him Forks Over Knives.” – Daytona Beach Vegetarian Society’s screening of Forks Over Knives in 2011.

Peaceable Kingdom, Speciesism, and Ghosts In Our Machine have also been popular choices. Many activists reported that viewers consider these films to be accessible to all ages and have fewer graphic scenes than they would have expected from animal-rights-themed documentaries.

“The Forks Over Knives screening was a HUGE success. We had 266 people RSVP on Facebook and another 25+ respond to us via email. The response was phenomenal. We gave out many VSR applications and all the literature was gone!” – Vegetarian Society of Richmond’s screening of Forks Over Knives, 2013.

As you can see here, activists are organizing film screenings as a tool to engage people on the topics of animal agriculture and the link between their dietary habits, and they’re receiving emotional and proactive responses! VegFund provides a film screening checklist on their website, along with various other resources to help your event be a hit!

Coming next: The final part of this series (part 4) offers tips for getting the most out of your Pay-Per-View video events. Don’t miss it!

8 Tips for Effective Animal Advocacy: Findings from VegFund’s Five-Year Retrospective Study (Part 1)

Our mission is to support YOUR fabulous work as vegan advocates.

We recently carried out a five-year retrospective study of our three main grant programs — Food Sampling, Film Screenings, and Pay-Per-View video events. In doing so, we consolidated valuable information supplied by our grantees in their feedback that could bolster the effectiveness of future outreach efforts of all vegan activists.

This installment is the first in our series of tips for effective animal advocacy. These tips will offer helpful pointers to maximize your effectiveness in communicating your message to as many non-vegan people as possible.

In this blog post, we’ve highlighted techniques commonly practiced by advocates that have received particularly positive responses.

Kindred Spirits Care Farm, Food Day LA 2015

Kindred Spirits Care Farm, Food Day LA 2015

Food Sampling

  • Food is always a brilliant conversation starter!
  • Food sampling events that coincide with another event, such as a vegan- or animal-welfare-themed film screening, festival, or conference have more impact and reach a higher number of people.
  • Offering literature to people who are sampling food gives them a handy takeaway. Recipe brochures are very popular.

Check out our blog Selecting Effective Outreach Materials —a helpful reference when selecting the literature to distribute at your event.

Film Screenings

  • Q&A formats are popular, particularly when they include film directors, activists, or people involved in the subject matter of the film.
  • Events advertised in advance via social media, in local cafes or community centers, on campuses, and through leafleting busy streets, have a higher turnout.

Pay-Per-View (PPV) Video Events

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Mercy For Animals, US
Atlanta Pride Fest 2015

  • PPV, where viewers are offered a small cash or food incentive to watch a video, is a fantastic discussion-raising form of outreach. Use it as an inroad to conversing with people in greater depth.
  • PPV incentives of 1) cake-per-view, 2) more than $1, or 3) $1 plus free food were far more popular than those offering only $1 incentives.
  • When PPVs are combined with food sampling and information booths, they attract larger crowds because not everyone wishes to watch the video footage.

Feedback from grantees on the success of their events using some of these tactics included comments such as:

“Many of them never before ate vegan food, and all of them loved it!”

“It definitely challenged people’s understandings and perceptions of animal industries …”

Comments from people who attended events held by VegFund-empowered activists included:

“I don’t think I’ll be able to eat meat for the rest of the day or ever. Something definitely needs to be done about this.”

“I’m definitely going to eat less meat now.”

Depending on your audience and venue, there are some especially effective ways to engage people with the animal rights and vegan message. Following this introductory blog, we will present in-depth information on proven techniques for each of VegFund’s grant programs based on feedback from activists around the globe, so stay tuned for lots of great information on food sampling, film screenings and pay-per-view outreach!

And lastly, thank you to all VegFund grantee activists who shared their event feedback with us. You have made this blog series possible.

Coming next: Part 2 of this series offers some great tips on making the most of your food sampling events.