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.

GWAAIceCreamEvent

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.

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).

Picture1Picture2

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!

Helping Us Help YOU

Findings from a VegFund Dialogue with its Current and Past Activists (Part 1 of 6)

Welcome to a new VegFund blog series!

VegFund recently dialogued with some of our current and past grantees about how you, as activists, can get the most from our grant programs and how we can best support your outreach efforts.

Activists engaging students

Activists engaging students

Starting with this blog as a part of a continued series, we’ll report what we learned from our grantees from an online survey and a series of focus groups we held around the country. We’d like to share with you what the survey revealed about:

  • aspects of vegan outreach that are of particular interest to VegFund grantees,
  • barriers they face in their outreach activities, and
  • areas where they could use more support.

We plan to bolster our support so that you can be as effective as possible in conveying the value of vegan living.

To introduce this series, let’s take a look at the methodology behind the research and examine a profile of the VegFund grantees who provided this useful data.

We emailed an online survey to our grantee contact list via Survey Monkey. Activists responded to questions relating to:

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

These questions helped us gather much-needed information to move forward with improving our activist support.

Following the online survey, VegFund invited grantees from some of the most active outreach regions in the United States to meet with our staff for a series of in-person focus group sessions. Twenty-two activists attended sessions in New York; Washington, DC; Chicago; San Francisco; and Los Angeles during the months of March and April 2016.

While these findings are based on feedback from a relatively small sample of VegFund grantees, they provide a helpful profile of the activists currently utilizing VegFund support and the audiences they’re targeting.

What We Learned

Our research into VegFund grantee profiles presented us with a mix of findings, some of which reaffirmed our initial expectations; others took us by surprise!

The age ranges of VegFund grantees who participated in our research are shown in Figure 1. Figure 2 reveals their gender distribution. Prior to carrying out this research, we expected the largest age range to be college-age (18–25) and 50-plus to be the smallest. However, our findings showed something quite different. As you can see, age range was well distributed overall, but college-age (18–25) comprised only 18% of grantees, whereas grantees in the 50-plus age range made up 27% of our respondents. The gender difference was not a surprise, but the magnitude of it was, with 81% of grantees identifying as female.

Figure 1

Figure 1

Figure 2

Figure 2

In our survey, we inquired whether respondents are employed by animal rights and animal welfare organizations (AR/AW), employed elsewhere, students, or retired (Figure 3). This data is close to what we expected it would be, with the largest proportion of grantees being employed outside of AR/AW.

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Figure 3

For some further insight into the employment status of our grantees, we also gathered data on the nature of their involvement in activist groups. The results are presented in Figure 4. Clearly, volunteers are a major force in vegan outreach efforts.

Figure 4

Figure 4

And finally, the types of audiences reached by our grantees through various forms of outreach are shown in Figure 5. The general public was by far the highest at 86%. We were please to see this result — a welcomed indication that our grantees are reaching new audiences!

Figure 5

Figure 5

This information generously provided by our grantees is invaluable in helping us understand how to better help YOU. Thanks to all who contributed!

In the next few articles, we’ll explore questions such as:

  • What criteria do you consider when seeking the perfect venue for an event?
  • How do you go about evaluating the impact of your outreach activity?
  • What are the main barriers in your outreach efforts?
  • What resources would be good in supporting your outreach?
  • What are your current perceptions of VegFund?

Send us your thoughts and experiences as a vegan activist, and be sure to check with us next month for more findings from this valuable research!

 

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!