Celebrate World Vegan Day – Screen The Last Pig in your Community!

Looking for outreach ideas to mark World Vegan Day? Why not host a screening of The Last Pig? World Vegan Day, November 1st is an ideal time to raise AR awareness in your community (or any time in November). VegFund is eager to support animal rights activists like you in sharing this powerful film in communities across the globe! The film has just finished screening at independent theaters and on the festival circuit and is now available for community screenings. Read on to find out more about the film and how you can host a screening.

“THE LAST PIG is a lyrical meditation on what it means to be a sentient creature with the power to kill. Deeply immersive, the film follows a pig farmer through his final year of slaughtering pigs. Through sparse, intimate musings, the farmer reveals the growing conflict of a life spent ‘peddling in death.’ ”

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About The Last Pig

This intimate and deeply moving film asks its audience to understand the sanctity of life, with the goal of expanding our capacity for compassion. The Last Pig documents the journey of farmer Bob Comis’ final year farming pigs, with a soul-bearing and honest narrative about the ghosts that will haunt him forever and the struggles he faces to reinvent his life. Comis has been chronicling his life as a pig farmer via HuffPost and his personal blog for the past ten years.

The pace of the film is unhurried and meditative, enabling the viewers to absorb life on the farm and in the slaughterhouse. With stunning cinematography and a beautiful backdrop, Argo documents the life of this small-scale livestock farmer in meticulous detail. Her work illuminates the reality of this industry on a most humane level — from the always entertaining and unique nature of pigs, to the unsettling sounds of the slaughterhouse where their lives draw to a close.

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This feature-length documentary will move your audience and inspire them to question the role of farm animals in our lives. Interested in hosting a screening? Read on for some recommended steps to get started!

Host A Screening

  • Review Screening Guidelines:

Review our screenings guidelines and consider whether you’d like to plan a screening event on your own or in partnership with a local vegan or animal rights group. Also consider what kind of venue you’d choose to screen the film. VegFund is able to cover some of the costs associated with renting a space as well as vegan food samples for audience members.

  • Apply for a grant!

Once you decide you are ready to host a screening, please visit VegFund’s grant application portal to apply for grant funding to cover the film’s license as well as certain event-related costs.

We’ve already heard from activists across the globe expressing their interest in hosting a screening of this film. Join them and play a part in changing hearts and minds. If you have questions, please do not hesitate to contact us via conferences@vegfund.org. We look forward to hearing from you!

For the pigs.

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About The Filmmakers

The Last Pig Director/Producer, Allison Argo of Argo Films:

Allison Argo is a six-time Emmy-winning filmmaker and noted animal advocate. Her inspiring films, all broadcast by PBS and National Geographic, have won more than 80 awards internationally and have reached audiences worldwide. Argo has worked on the frontline for over 20 years, fighting for the just treatment of nonhuman beings. She is known for her emotionally-charged and meaningful films, particularly her intimate portraits of endangered and abused animals.

The Last Pig Producer/Cinematographer, Joseph Brunette:

Producer and Director of Photography, Joseph Brunette, is an award-winning cinematographer whose work has appeared on National Geographic, CNN, PBS, NOVA, Nature, Discovery, and History. Brunette has an ability to capture the essence of even the most poignant moments, and his sensitive work behind the camera enables a level of intimacy and honesty that reveals the vulnerable heart of any story. The Last Pig holds special meaning for Brunette, who has long been an advocate for animal welfare and the environment.

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.

VegFund Ventures to UK Veg Fests!

VegFund attended London VegFest and the Northern Vegan Festival in Manchester this October to meet with vegan activists from around the globe.

Find out more about VegFund’s programs to support vegan activists across the globe, and help us reach out at more events like these during 2016 by donating to support our work.

Back to the UK Veg Fests… Amanda Riley, VegFund’s Operations Assistant based in the U.S., traveled across the pond to attend these events and spread the word about VegFund’s grant programs to support the work of grassroots activists.

Photograph courtesy of VegFest UK

Photograph Courtesy of VegFest UK

London VegFest, Europe’s largest vegan festival, attracted 12,000 attendees over the two days of the event. Along with information booths and tantalizing foods, the festival featured a Health Summit and an Activist Summit that offered attendees a diverse program of talks on vegan-related issues and topics. As part of the Activist Summit, Amanda presented a talk on cost-effective activism: “How a Little Money Can Make a Big Difference.”

This talk highlighted the value of focusing on a low cost per person as means of reaching as many people as possible within a budget. Amanda provided activists with helpful tips, among them:

  • Estimate your reach and don’t pay for more than you need.
  • Ask for donations and discounts for your expenses, such as literature and food samples. You might be surprised what organizations and businesses are open to offering you!
  • Do comparison shopping for the items needed for your event, ensuring you are getting the best price possible.
  • At your outreach events, provide people with follow-up opportunities to maximize your impact. For example, offer them a leaflet linking to a website.
  • Make use of VegFund’s online advertising program. Online advertising is a low-cost form of advocacy with the potential of reaching a large audience. For example, one of VegFund’s grantees reached more than 38 million people through their online ad, with more than one million of these requesting a vegan starter kit as a result!
  • For larger events, refine your strategy to make the most of your available budget.

Food Sampling Outreach:

  • Stick to small sample sizes.
  • Limit the number of types of food offered to a few good quality products.

Video Outreach:

  • Seek good-value venues that enable you to reach as many people as possible for a reasonable cost; for example, a $150 venue capable of holding 1,000 people.
  • Try to estimate your audience size accurately to ensure license costs are kept to a minimum — this can be a big savings point.
  • Promote your event! Don’t neglect this area, and keep in mind that lots of promotion can be done at zero cost via social media channels.

You can listen to Amanda’s full talk here.

The Northern Vegan Festival attracted 3,500 people over the course of the one-day event. Amanda presented a talk titled “Using Microgrants to Spread Veganism around the World” at this festival, providing an overview of VegFund’s international work supporting activists in their vegan outreach. Microgrants, as she emphasized, have the power to reach communities across the globe by funding events and projects that touch hundreds and thousands of individuals at the local level.

Amanda, with the help of volunteers, distributed more than 500 brochures at these festivals, and about 100 folks signed up to find out more about VegFund’s programs. The booths were active all day with truly inspiring conversations from both experienced and new activists who are making a positive change.

VegFund's Stall at London VegFest

VegFund’s Stall at London VegFest

Thank you to everyone who came by to say “Hi” and listened to our talks in the UK. We look forward to funding your activism in the future!

VegFund’s Research at NEVF – What Did We Find?

On April 26th at the New England VegFest, VegFund undertook research to gain insight into how effective our programs are in encouraging people to make positive changes to their dietary behaviors.

The focus of the research was a VegFund-sponsored screening of Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret, with the goal of understanding the effectiveness of documentaries in our advocacy efforts.

Viewers took a survey before and after the screening about their dietary habits and how the documentary made them feel. Information on their dietary habits was gathered again one month later. Both self-identification and Food Frequency Questionnaires (FFQ) were used.

111 people completed the intake survey but only 34 people completed the follow-up survey. 72% of the viewers who completed the survey were female, and 28% were male. The average age was 34 years old.

The data were analyzed, and here’s what we found…

Prior Veg Status

Participants were asked to self-identify their dietary habits prior to the documentary screening. As with many similar events, there was a strong element of preaching to the choir. For example, 42% identified themselves as vegan, but according to the FFQ, only 37% actually were vegan. Likewise, 31% identified themselves as vegetarian, but only 23% actually were vegetarian. For this reason we used the FFQ answers and not self-identification for the remainder of the analysis.

Behavior Change

The data that were gathered show that 37% of viewers were vegan before the event and 62% after; 23% were vegetarian before the event and 9% after; and 38% were neither vegetarian nor vegan before the screening, 26% after.

While these results don’t account for those who didn’t complete the follow-up survey, for those who did, the data indicate that a total of five people went vegan during the one-month period — that’s 15% of follow-up respondents. Two of these were previously vegetarian, and three were previously non-vegetarian. Three people also reported going back to consuming animal products. Note that these results may have been influenced by other aspects of the event.

A more reliable measure of changes to consumption of specific animal products compares before-and-after survey results. These data show that only a small number of respondents changed their behavior, as described in the table below.

Table 1:

Red Meat Poultry Seafood Eggs Dairy
1 eliminated 1 eliminated 3 eliminated 2 eliminated 5 eliminated
1 reduced 1 reduced 1 reduced 2 reduced 1 reduced
2 increased 4 increased 1 increased

Intentions

Intake Survey:

The following table shows how many people indicated that they were considering eliminating or reducing specific animal products after seeing the film.

Table 2:

Red Meat Poultry Seafood Eggs Dairy
14 eliminate 13 eliminate 19 eliminate 29 eliminate 36 eliminate
9 reduce 10 reduce 12 reduce 19 reduce 18 reduce

By comparing these data with the previous data, it’s clear that the actual outcome was that far fewer changed any aspect of their dietary behavior.

Follow-up Survey:

Although many participants have not followed through on their intended behavior changes, there is evidence that some people still intend to change.

The following table shows the number of participants who, one month later, still intended to eliminate or reduce a given animal product.

Table 3:

Red Meat Poultry Seafood Eggs Dairy
11 eliminate 10 eliminate 9 eliminate 6 eliminate 7 eliminate
1 reduce 1 reduce 4 reduce 7 reduce 8 reduce

[Please note that these figures are overstated. Some people said that they plan to reduce or eliminate an animal product despite previously saying that they were already vegan or vegetarian.]

One-fourth to one-third of follow-up survey respondents said they intend to eliminate red meat, poultry, and/or seafood. Moreover, one-fifth intend to eliminate dairy or eggs, and a further one-fifth of respondents intend to reduce their intake of these products.

92% of respondents also said they learned something new from the documentary screening and 45% of the initial respondents asked to be added to our e-newsletter mailing list. All steps in the right direction!

Overall, the sample size in this research was too small to confirm any trends and draw general conclusions, but the results do offer some insight into the potential of film screenings and provide data to build on.

In order to get a more accurate measure on just how effective film screenings really can be, we would need a much larger sample size.

Your 2014 Guide to Vegan Festivals and Events in the Midwest

By Leslie Brefeld, 2014 Winter Intern

Looking to get out and expand your vegan circle? One great way to meet like-minded folks who share your compassionate eating values is to attend a VegFest. With more and more vegan festivals popping up each year, even areas that aren’t known for being particularly “veg-friendly,” such as the Midwest, can now boast of several great events. Most festivals are free and offer a day (or two) of festival-atmosphere fun with music, educational speakers and activities for kids. Below are just some of the events that are taking place this year. If there are other vegan festivals in the Midwest that you enjoy, please keep the conversation going by posting the details in the comments section. Thanks!

VegFest, Vegan Tastefest and Expo

Date: April 13
Location: Novi, Michigan
Time: 10:30 am to 5 pm
Cost: $10 admission

The festival features speakers including Daryl Hannah on Turning Inspiration into Action, cooking demos, a food court, children’s activities and an expo with vegan, environmental and healthy products and services.

Chicago Veggie Pride Parade

Date: May 31
Location: Grant Park in Chicago, Illinois
Time: Parade is at noon, registration is at 11 am
Cost: Free admission

Join the parade to support local vegans and vegetarians, raise awareness about a plant-based diet, and socialize with like-minded people.

Mad City Vegan Fest

Date: June 7
Location: Madison, Wisconsin
Time: 10 am to 5 pm
Cost: Free admission

Madison is an awesome city, so any excuse to spend a nice summer day up there is a no-brainer. Check out http://madisonvegan.com/ if you want to hit up a vegan restaurant while in town. The festival features speakers including author Nick Cooney, cooking demos, exhibitors and free food.

Veggie Fest 2014

Date: August 9-10
Location: Naperville, Illinois
Time: 11 am to 8 pm
Cost: Free admission

Veggie Fest is the big one in Chicago. It’s named in VegNews magazine’s 2011 list of Must-Visit Summer Vegetarian Festivals. And according to their facebook page, Veggie Fest is one of the largest vegetarian festivals in the country. The festival features over two days of live bands, a Spirituality and Health Symposium, international food court, art show, food demos and family events.

Chicago Vegan Mania

Date: October 11
Location: Chicago, Illinois
Time: 10 am to 5 pm
Cost: Free admission

The festival features speakers, workshops, chef demos, live music with the Culture Cafe Entertainment, kids activities, a food court and exhibitors.

Also, if you’re into travelling, or not a Midwesterner, the Vegan Voice offers a great year-long calendar of worldwide vegan events.

Hope to see you out there! Leave us a comment if you attend to tell us about your experience.

Interview with Adrienne Lusk, Texas VegFest Organizer

By Kimberly Dreher, VegFund Program Director

Adrienne Lusk, director of the Texas VegFest and vice president of the Texas Veg Foundation, recently took time out of her busy schedule to chat with VegFund about the upcoming event. 

 

 

 

VF: With the festival just around the corner, we’re thrilled to have the chance to talk with you. Can you start by giving us a general overview?   

AL: We have a fantastic event planned for 2013! This year’s event will be held on Saturday April 6th from 11am-6pm at beautiful Fiesta Gardens, right off the lake. We are expecting 5,000 attendees for this event. With all of our activities, sponsors, vendors, speakers, demos, and of course great food and live music, Texas VegFest will be an event that you don’t want to miss!

VF: How did the Texas VegFest begin?

AL: It began as an idea that our now President, Angela Ramsammy, posted on the main vegan community forum of the area, Vegans Rock Austin. The idea was perfect timing for me as I was looking to do an event focusing on veganism but did not have a team. A group of us met in January of 2011 to begin going over the logistics, possible locations, and our ideas for this event. After several months of discussion and fine tuning the team, the foundation incorporated in July 2011, and the festival became an actuality.

VF: What inspired the Texas Veg Foundation to organize the event?

AL: Austin is a city that always has something going on. With such a vibrant scene and a welcoming–as well as rather large–veg community, it was hard to believe that something like this was not already going on in the city. In a sense, that was the inspiration. We wanted to create something good enough to be included in the city’s historic events, something that encompassed what the city represented and offered. The well-networked, plant-based community in central Texas needed to be showcased.

VF: Last year’s festival was a huge success. Did you expect it to be so popular?

AL: Absolutely not. Our staff was confident that the local vegan community would be there in support, but we did not expect the overwhelming support we received from attendees who were not vegan or vegetarian, who were there to learn more about cruelty-free lifestyles, or those who came from other states and counties. It was definitely a surprise, and I am so glad we could meet the expectations.

VF: What’s been the biggest hurdle?

AL: The biggest hurdle is always weather, but we won’t even go into that! During the planning process, the biggest challenge is fundraising and allocating the funds to be able to deliver the foundation’s mission effectively. Another stressor is making sure to provide the sponsors, vendors, speakers, demonstrators, volunteers, and attendees everything we promise and that all of these parties are communicating with each other.

VF: What do you enjoy most about running the VegFest?

AL: I actually enjoy the logistical aspects and networking of the planning portion. The people I network with are very passionate, and it is such a great feeling to see them be so supportive of Texas VegFest. I also get to learn a whole lot about how the city, county, state, and businesses run. However, THE most enjoyable part of planning Texas VegFest 2012 was during the peak time of the event around 3pm. The event seemed to take on its own form and ran on its own. I was finally able to take a step back and watch all of the months and months of planning at work in full swing. It was an amazing feeling.

VF: What advice do you have for an activist who is thinking of starting a VegFest in his or her community?

AL: Be organized! This cannot be stressed enough.

VF: If people want to volunteer for the Texas VegFest, whom should they contact? 

AL: There is still time to sign up to be a volunteer. Not only do volunteers get to work with a group of fantastic people, but they also get an official shirt designed by Herbivore Clothing Company, a special VIP swag bag, and a party in their honor where there will be some great prizes raffled, like a Vitamix 5200! Individuals interested in volunteering can complete the Volunteer form on our website. One of our volunteer coordinators will get in touch shortly. Or, potential volunteers can email us directly at: info[at]texasvegfest[dot]com.

VegFund is glad to be able to support the Texas VegFest and many other national and international vegan festivals that take place throughout the year. If you’re planning a VegFest, or considering starting one in your community, check out VegFund’s Merit Award program for resources and support.