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

Happy New Year from VegFund!

Last chance to make your resolutions for 2017.

How about…

Resolve to organize or participate in a vegan outreach event!

VegFund is here to help.

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

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

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

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

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

Host a Documentary Film Screening

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

FMVeg Minnesota - Cowspiracy Screening 2016

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

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

  • local church facilities
  • town halls
  • college campuses

The documentaries most commonly screened by our grantees are:

  • Cowspiracy
  • Vegucated
  • Peaceable Kingdom
  • Forks Over Knives

Find out more about hosting a screening here.

Before the event:

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

The day of the event:

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

Host a Food Sampling Table at a Local Fair

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

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

Kindred Spirits Care Farm - Food Day LA 2016

Kindred Spirits Care Farm – Food Day LA 2016

Our grantees typically set up food sampling tables at:

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

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

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

The day of the event!

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

VegFund’s suggested sources for literature to hand out:

Learn more about food sampling events here.

What other outreach ideas does VegFund consider?

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

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

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

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

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

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

- The VegFund Team

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

(Part 6 of 6)

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

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

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

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

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

You can read full details here.

So what did we learn?

Selecting the ideal venue for your outreach event

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

Compassionate Action for Animals – 2015 Vegfest

Evaluating the impact of your outreach activity

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

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

  • quantifying outreach
  • gathering anecdotal information on quality

Grantees typically use the following information for assessment:

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

Californian Activists
– Campus Food Sampling Event in 2016

What are the barriers in your outreach efforts?

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

  • more time
  • more financial support
  • more volunteer support

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

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

What resources do you need to support your outreach efforts?

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

where they feel they could use more training or knowledge:

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

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

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

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

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

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Activist Spotlight: GW Animal Advocates, Washington DC

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

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GW Animal Advocates, Washington DC
Vegan Ice Cream Giveaway

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What Resources Do You Need to Support Your Outreach Efforts?

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

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

Figure 1

Figure 1

These resources fall into three general categories:

  • interactional,
  • organizational, and
  • technical

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

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

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

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

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

What Are the Barriers in Your Outreach Efforts?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Figure 1

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

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

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!

 

 

 

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.