Raw Data: Attitudes Relevant to Our Efforts for Animals

Last year, my friend Peg, who owns / runs the local vegan restaurant, was reading The Accidental Activist. It inspired her to contact different departments at the University of Arizona here in Tucson, with the question if anyone would be interested in doing research into vegetarianism. Professor Merrie Brucks got back to her — she teaches a marketing class in the MBA program there. Every semester, the new class takes on a “client” for whom the class does marketing research. So I’m the client this year (on behalf of VegFund and, ultimately, of course, farmed animals).

I gave a presentation the first week of classes, and answered questions (the class is 1:15 long, and Professor Brucks had to stop the conversation after we had gone way over). The class was subsequently divided into four groups, and the different groups have been meeting with me to discuss their ideas, research, etc.

VegFund has pledged some money to allow the class to do larger, national surveys with their final questions. This way, we can maximally leverage the efforts of the class, to get the most useful data to allow us to help animals better. Here is my report from being with the class again last Wednesday:

The four groups are doing their exploratory research — more in-depth interviews and surveys of individuals that are intended to both utilize the research techniques they are learning in class, as well as to inform the design of their larger final survey. Professor Brucks, the class, and I asked questions and gave feedback.

There were several universal findings:

1. Everyone views veganism as much much harder than vegetarianism, and views vegans negatively (angry, fanatics, judgmental).
2. Everyone views chicken as healthy. Everyone who talked about health ate a lot of chicken.

I have pages of notes. As you might guess, some groups were further along. It was interesting to learn about the different research methods intended to get at people’s true motivations / opinions, rather than their rationalizations or desired view of themselves. Here are just a few items in addition to the above:

Group 1: Food Choice Motivations (general, not veg-specific)

When we met a few weeks ago, two of the people in this group had very different views on what they should be doing.
Looking to separate out what people think they should do vs what they actually do.
Motivations run into so far (in order of prevalence): health (chicken), religion, animal issues, environment

Group 2: Social Norms and Stigmas

One aspect is looking at people’s perceptions of the ladder, meat lover à omnivore à meat-reducer à vegetarian à vegan (a general theme of the class).

Most interesting here was their word association. Words like “meat” and “steak” and “chicken” all had positive associations, but “Tyson chicken” and “factory farming” had negative. “Tofu” was neutral, “faux meat” bad (“disgusting”).

They asked what a person would choose as their last meal (steak, surf-and-turf), and asked what one food they would eat for the rest of their life (chicken, because it is healthy). One of the team members was interviewing another team member’s roommate, and asked when the last time the roommate had had a meatless meal. “Oh, I can’t remember. Has been ages.” But they had just had vegetarian pad thai the night before.

Group 3: Vegetarian Products and Restaurants

People don’t see vegetarian products as healthier than eating chicken; think eating healthier means replacing red meat with chicken.

People can imagine eating veg for breakfast and lunch, but not dinner. Need to have meat to be satisfied. (Discussion of Bittman’s “Vegan Before Six” idea.)

Group 4: Animal Suffering

Very hard to discuss; people immediately defensive.

Cognitive dissonance.

People think cows, pigs, and chickens are all treated the same.

Rationalizations (in order of prevalence): Top of food chain, religion, just how it is, healthy to eat meat.

People say it is worse in other countries (China).

That’s all for now,
-Matt (cross-posted at my blog)

Starting a Campus Animal Rights Group

By Leslie Brefeld, 2014 Winter Intern

Vassar Animal Rights Coalition (VARC) distributes hundreds of vegan food samples and brochures at their college's activities fair.

College campuses are an ideal place to start an animal rights group. Not only are the students open to new ideas, but it gives those involved a great way to creatively express their passions.

AR groups allow you to meet with other like-minded people, to get experience as an activist, to inform, and maybe even inspire, many others.

Even though the number and diversity of animal rights groups is growing, there are still many schools and colleges that don’t have an animal rights/vegan group. If you’ve ever thought about starting a group at your school, but didn’t know where to start, we’re here to help! In this blog, we’ll be listing five tips to starting a group at your college or university, and you’ll get expert advice from current college students who have started, or are a part of, an animal rights group. Creating a vegan or animal rights group doesn’t have to be hard, but it will definitely be rewarding!

1. REGISTER YOUR GROUP

If you want to be affiliated with your college, which means use of their resources, like rooms to meet in, faculty help and greater exposure, sign up to be a school organization. Find out what is needed to get that accomplished through your school’s student affairs or student life office.

Expert Tip: Oxy VegHeads founder at Occidental College in California, Brandi Tebo, described this first step: “So one of the first things I did when I got to college was found veg club. I started by going into the office of student life, sitting down with a coordinator, and asking what I needed to do to get it rolling! Then I filled out the necessary paperwork, and started advertising! I made up these cute little flyers and posted them everywhere around campus, then spent a lot of time planning the first meeting and never looked back!”

2. GET TOGETHER

Set up an informational meeting. Hold it in a public place, maybe in the student lounge or veg-friendly campus food court, so random people aren’t showing up at your house or dorm. During the meeting, find out what people’s interests are and what they would like to do through the group. Make sure to get everyone’s contact information, and if necessary, take up a small donation to cover any costs you incurred by hosting the meeting or to help cover costs for the next meeting. Take notes. You can help newcomers get up to speed by recapping the last meeting’s notes at the beginning of the next meeting. You may also want to think about assigning each other roles so everyone has a clear idea of what their part is.

Resource: Check out the UK Vegan Society’s How to Start a Vegan Group.

Expert Tip: Kitty Jones of the Berkeley Organization for Animal Advocacy described her experience in a college group, after having started a group in high school. “I’m now one of the leaders of Berkeley Organization for Animal Advocacy (BOAA) and am trying to use what I learned from high school in managing this group. BOAA was founded in 1999 at UC Berkeley. BOAA also has no set hierarchy, however there are definitely a few members that are particularly involved. I think that having member roles/hierarchy would make the group work more smoothly and efficiently though.”

Kitty Jones of BOAA gives out samples of vegan ice cream3. DECIDE WHAT YOU’RE ALL ABOUT

Think of what excites you. Leafleting? Tabling? Making meals to share? Creating an animal rights film festival? Starting a vegan mentor program? You can also find inspiration by looking at other student-run vegan and animal rights groups’ websites to see how they are structured and what the various tones/styles of the groups are.

Resources: Check out “Plant Peace Daily” by Jim Corcoran and Rae Sikora. This book includes tons of ideas for activism that can be done alone or with a group. Other great resources are major vegan and animal rights organizations. Look to their websites for information, activist activities, funding and general support. Some of the biggies are Vegan Outreach (for leaflets and tips), and of course VegFund, for resources and funding.

4. MEET WITH REGULARITY

Make sure you give your group a chance. If you don’t have a lot of people at your meetings, don’t be discouraged. Give it some time and think of new ways to bring people in.

Expert Tip: “Whether this is a weekly dinner, bi-weekly movie-screening, etc., make sure that there are certain regular events in place that people enjoy coming to and they know they can rely on. This is the backbone of your organization,” Tebo wrote in an email.

5. MINGLE

Once you are a solid group, don’t be afraid to get out there and network. Keep an eye out for how other groups and yours might have things in common or would just like to do something together. You many never have the opportunity to be around as many people willing and wanting to get together as you do in college.

Expert Tip: According to Alessandra Seiter, co-president of the Vassar Animal Rights Coalition at Vassar College in New York, working together with other groups is valuable. “For every event we host, we reach out to other student organizations and academic departments who we think would be interested in co-sponsoring an event. For example, six other campus groups–such as the Food Committee and French Club–co-sponsored our recent Vegan “Wyne” & Cheese Tasting because their missions related to our event,” Seiter wrote. “The most important piece of advice I can give is to network. Having a strong community of driven individuals is indispensable in making a large impact with activist work.”

Good luck and have fun!

Are you part of a campus AR/Vegan group? If so, we’d love to hear about your experience. Please leave a comment below.

Interview with the Executive President of AnimaNaturalis Peru

 By Kimberly Dreher, VegFund Program Director

AnimaNaturalis Peru recently organized a cooking demonstration to show low-income, Lima residents how to make healthy vegan lunches for their children. Approximately 60 parents attended, and because everyone had so much interest in the topic, the event, which was originally scheduled to last only 1 hour, ended up going for 2.5 hours! VegFund recently caught up with Maru Vigo, Executive President of AnimaNaturalis Peru, to learn more about this exciting program.

VF: Would you please tell us a little bit about AnimaNaturalis? 

MV: AnimaNaturalis started in Spain in 2003 and now has supporters in 7 Spanish speaking countries in Latin America. Its mission is to fight against all kinds of abuse towards animals: experimentation, entertainment, food, clothing, etc. AnimaNaturalis aims to educate the public about the plight of animals and motivates them to be an active part of the solution to all these problems. The major animal issues in Latin America are the overpopulation of domestic animals, the fight against cruel spectacles like bullfighting and cockfighting, and the promotion of healthier choices in the public’s diet.

VF: How did you get involved with the organization?

MV: I got involved with them in 2003 when I heard about their anti-bullfighting campaign in Lima, but I am a longtime animal advocate. I have been fighting for animal rights since 1980. I collaborate with many local and international organizations like PETA, Grey2K USA, FARM and A Well Fed World, among others.

VF: How did AnimaNaturalis come up with the idea for the Healthy Lunchboxes program?

MV: All the credit goes to my team in Lima. They are the ones who thought about it. To celebrate Meat Out Day, they wanted to do something different and special; so they thought about a project that included education, social outreach, the promotion of good healthy habits, especially for children, use of native Peruvian super foods and a delicious sampling of vegan alternatives. It was a perfect plan because we developed it in a low income area where people do not have a lot of access to information about their health options. 

VF: Can you tell us more about the communities in Lima?

MV: Lima is a cosmopolitan city of extremes. The wealthy have all kinds of information and mainly, they have access to better food options. The middle class also has access to all this, but the low income people do not. Considering the vast richness of produce, fruits and vegetables that Peru has, everyone should be vegan! Low income families need to realize that they can have much better lives by using our native power foods like kiwicha, maca, quinoa, cacao, and all sorts of delicious vegetables and exotic fruits. All people need is to receive information, ideas, recipes and suggestions to “veganize” typical Peruvian dishes. All that is possible and it is one of the ideas for our future projects. The standard Peruvian cuisine is one of the most important in the world; therefore, the new Vegan Peruvian cuisine we are trying to implement should be out of this world!

VF: Did you anticipate that the program would be such a huge success?

MV: To tell you the truth, I was a little concerned about the reaction of the people in that particular area in Lima. In San Martin de Porres (the area where the project took place) people mostly eat traditional Peruvian dishes based on meat, fast food, and lots of sugar. They feed their children the same type of food. Probably most of them had never heard the word “vegan” in their entire lives, so I was a little concerned about their trust and engagement in the project we were going to present. We promoted the event with flyers, personal letters and messages written daily in the students’ planners. We told the parents that they could not miss the opportunity to learn how to keep their kids healthy. Their response was overwhelming. They stayed for an extra hour just asking good questions to our representatives and our vegan chef. Everyone enjoyed the food samples and they asked us to return soon with new vegan recipes they could use at home.

VF: Given the overwhelming positive response, do you plan to expand the program?

MV: We did a follow up and saw that the students are actually bringing the garbanzo and quinoa sandwiches that our vegan chef taught their parents to prepare. They are also bringing many more fruits and have asked us to prepare and serve our recipe of almond milk during recess. Their parents received a free recipe book with all these recipes. We would like to offer new classes on how to veganize typical Peruvian dishes and have a food festival for the community, too.

VF: What advice do you have for activists who are interested in starting similar programs in their communities?

MV: Find low income communities where they can execute similar programs. It is also important to work around the typical dishes eaten in a particular community and offer alternatives that match their income. It is vital to offer delicious vegan food that will break the myth of vegan food being boring and tasteless and also make sure that everyone goes home with plenty of recipes, suggestions, general information about veganism, and replacements to animal based foods.

VF: If activists are interested in getting involved with AnimaNaturalis, whom should they contact?

MV: We have a general email for contacts, but they should contact me at Maruv [at] animanaturalis [dot] org or at animalialatina [at] gmail [dot] com. I am happy to answer questions, give ideas, etc.

VegFund loves supporting programs that are bringing healthy vegan food options and education to low-income communities around the world. If you’re interested in starting a program in your community, VegFund may be help to help! Check out our Food Sampling and Merit Awards grant programs, or email: events [at] vegfund [dot] org.

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.

Part 3: Putting it All Together

The first two posts in our vegan mentoring series provided an introduction to mentoring and profiled several successful programs. It’s clear from our exploration that many people who are receptive to veganism benefit from one-on-one guidance and support. So, let’s now put all our learning together and look at some guidelines, tips, and resources for starting a successful program in your community!

STEPS FOR STARTING A MENTOR PROGRAM

1) Learn about existing mentor programs. As you familiarize yourself with existing mentor programs, you can get a better sense of what’s involved, understand the options for organizing a program, and have a network of support available.

2) Define your program. Mentoring doesn’t need to be complex. Informally mentoring a family member, friend, or coworker interested in veganism is a great way to get started. Alternatively, you may be able to connect with someone via Facebook, at an outreach event, or in person elsewhere and offer your support. If you’re interested in initiating a formal program, more planning and advertising are necessary. In considering the kind of program you’d like to develop, ask yourself the following questions to help organize your thoughts:

  1. Do you want the program to be structured around a time-limited pledge or will it be ongoing?
  2. Will you:
    • Develop a custom menu of various events, programs, and workshops to support matches (e.g., nutrition workshops, cooking demos, film screenings, potlucks, restaurant outings, field trips, discussion groups, book clubs, and/or market tours)?
    • Tap into already existing programs to support matches?
    • Provide extensive suggestions and guidelines to mentors?
    • Create a program based on a combination of any or all of the above?
  3. Will mentors need to meet certain requirements?
  4. Will mentors and mentees be required to attend certain programs or events?
  5. How will mentors be supported by the program organizer(s)?

3) Reach out for support. Once you’ve decided on the kind of program you’d like to initiate, reach out to other mentor programs with any specific questions. If you aren’t already affiliated with an organization, you may want to contact a local group (Meetup.com is a great resource) about your idea to see if a partner can help get the program off the ground. If you wish to structure your program around a vegan pledge, consider contacting the Peace Advocacy Network. They have a successful program model, offer extensive materials, provide guidance, and are looking to expand the pledge to other cities.

4) Plan and organize the program. Meet with one or more volunteers or staff to discuss how the program will work. Create a program outline with all of the agreed upon policies so you can have everything in writing to use as a reference. This document will also help you develop marketing materials and communicate with volunteer mentors. If events and workshops need to be planned to support a monthly pledge or ongoing mentor program, develop a calendar of events and an action plan.

5) Develop program materials. You’ll need mentor and mentee application forms. If you are conducting a vegan pledge, you’ll also want to have a vegan pledge sign up form. See the Resources section below for samples. We also recommend developing evaluation forms for mentees so you can gauge the success of the program.

6) Create outreach materials. To attract mentors and mentees, consider creating various tools such as a flyer, brochure, website, Meetup.com group, or a Facebook page that advertises the program.

7) Spread the word. Advertise the mentor program to the vegan community and recruit mentors/ other volunteers to support the program via social media platforms, Meetup.com, meetings, email, local organizations, etc.

8) Recruit mentees. Conduct outreach to potential mentees through the above publicity suggestions, at events, and through other advertising strategies.

9) Seek funding to support the program. Consider applying to VegFund’s Merit Awards Program for assistance with specific costs.

MENTORING GUIDELINES & TIPS

There are numerous ways a vegan mentor, also referred to as a coach or buddy, can provide meaningful guidance to someone interested in vegan living. Some key mentoring principles to keep in mind are:

1) Begin wherever someone is on the vegan journey. If a person is not participating in a vegan pledge and is initially only willing to give up meat but not dairy, focus on helping him or her do that. As the person meets with success and has a positive experience, he or she will typically become more receptive to expanding and sustaining changes in their food choices.

2) Offer general support and resources. As a mentor, your role is to answer questions as they arise, point your mentee toward online and community resources as needed, inform your mentee about relevant events that may be of interest, and be there consistently for guidance and to acknowledge success.

3) Get to know your mentee. In order to connect with your match, it’s critical that you take some time to understand their interests. Does your match like to read, cook, or spend time on the computer? Once you understand their interests, you can suggest activities to do together or encourage your mentee to pursue independently. For example, if your mentee likes to cook, suggest one or two cookbooks they may wish to purchase or check out at the library. If he or she enjoys spending time on the computer, you can share some popular vegan blogs, recipe sites, chat forums, or cooking videos. VegFund’s VegVids has an expansive video library that might appeal to your match.

4) Respect preferences and boundaries. Your mentee will most likely have preferences about the kind of support they want and how they wish to connect. It’s important to respect these boundaries. For example, if your mentee loves to go out to eat but doesn’t like big crowds, be on the lookout for smaller vegan dining out gatherings or intimate potlucks. It’s always best to discuss your mentee’s preferred method of communication and your availability so that your mentee can have realistic expectations for your support. If your mentee prefers to ask questions or share concerns via email, then respect that and don’t call him or her on the phone to check in regularly. On the other hand, your mentee may like to talk on the phone rather than connect via the computer if he or she has a question.

5) Respond appropriately to specific challenges and concerns. Perhaps your mentee is overwhelmed by animal suffering and doesn’t understand why his or her family doesn’t care. Maybe your mentee tried a vegan meat product for the first time, didn’t like it, and now feels discouraged. Another person may be worried about not being able to have favorite foods any longer. And another may not know their way around a kitchen and gets intimidated by the thought of cooking. There are various ways a mentor can support each of these challenges and we encourage you to consider the next section for options.

SPECIFIC WAYS TO SUPPORT YOUR MENTEE:

As you remain cognizant of the principles above as well as your mentee’s schedule, availability, interests, and level of preferred engagement, there are many additional ways to provide support. Whether you are mentoring informally or plan to develop a formal program, consider the following:

  • Meet with your mentee in person to discuss their goal, the kind of support they are looking for, what you can offer, and develop an initial plan for working together. It’s a good idea to plan something (market tour and shopping, restaurant outing, etc.) at this first meeting to get your mentee started.
  • Share your own journey toward vegan living to help build a connection. Discuss the benefits and any challenges that you faced and how you coped.
  • Establish a scheduled check-in weekly/monthly by phone, email, or in person.
  • For a mentee who doesn’t enjoy cooking, focus your support on vegan friendly dining out options, a grocery tour with a focus on convenience foods, and simple meals to prepare at home with ready-made products.
  • Recommend one new product a week for him or her to try with some easy preparation suggestions (e.g., coconut milk ice cream, Vegenaise-based dip, Daiya cheese pizza, etc.).
  • Meet at the market to show your mentee products and go on a market tour.
  • Join other mentors and mentees for available support and discussion circles. If none exist and there’s an interest, establish one with other active matches.
  • Read an animal rights related book and discuss chapters or join a vegan book club.
  • Share an activity together that you both enjoy like walking, a trip to a museum, etc. as an opportunity to discuss how things are going.
  • Watch an animal rights related film together and talk about it.
  • Invite your mentee to vegan Meetup or local organizational activities, restaurant outings, vegan nutrition workshops, etc.
  • Help your mentee veganize favorite recipes or cook together to discover new foods.
  • Attend a vegan food festival or potluck together.
  • Visit or volunteer at an animal sanctuary.

RESOURCES TO GET YOU STARTED

1) Sample Forms and Materials 

2) Advertising

3) Funding

4) Existing Mentor Programs

We hope you are now inspired to think about the possibilities for vegan mentoring in your community and have the tools to get started. We look forward to hearing about your experiences and wish you much success!

Animal Place Veganic Farm: Summer and Fall 2012 Update from Dr. Greg Litus

Thanks to support from VegFund, Animal Place Veganic Farm has truly thrived this season. The micro-farm experiment evolved into a definitive farm with the sale of produce to visitors and vegan restaurants. Efforts in community outreach and education have expanded to include public workshops, farm tours, elementary school connections and a live-in farm internship program.

Farm to School

Farm to School is a USDA funded program in Nevada County that promotes healthy eating through partnerships with local small farms. As a partner farm with a local elementary school, Animal Place stocks an after-school garden cart with fresh, veganic produce. The cart makes healthy eating accessible for student and their families and promotes veganism through the Animal Place brochures and newsletters that are displayed with the cart.

Third grade and sixth grade students will visit the sanctuary this autumn and next spring as an educational field trip, meeting all of the resident animal ambassadors, helping with age-appropriate activities in the veganic farm, and completing program lesson plans on plant anatomy and insects found on the farm.

Restaurants

The veganic farm has generated income for the sanctuary with the sale of vegetables to two vegan restaurants in the Sacramento area and one vegetarian café in Nevada City. Selling to vegan and vegetarian businesses has opened up a new channel of promotion for Animal Place, while spreading the message of compassion to an audience that may have originally patronized the restaurant for health reasons. The partnership with businesses also allows us to sustain the farm financially while offering restaurants and their customers the choice to go veganic.

This season we have sold tomatoes, basil, green beans, kale, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, pumpkins, cucumbers and eggplant, and in the process have learned the logistics necessary for restaurant customers – pricing, a certified scale, packaging, delivery and the estimation of crop availability.

Farm Stand Fundraising

Animal Place debuted the veganic farm stand at the annual fundraiser, Music in the Meadow, on September 22nd.  Hand-painted signs welcomed over 400 visitors with phrases like “Peace Love Veg!”, inciting the curious to ask about the definition of veganic, the purpose of the model farm at Animal Place and the ethics and how-to’s of food production. The veganic farm generated an additional $800 in produce sales and donations for the sanctuary.

 

 

 

Visitors

Animal Place is open to the public for both guided and self-guided tours on Tuesdays through Saturdays. Visitors are welcome to roam the wide aisles of the veganic farm and marvel over the bounty and luster of our crops. Many visitors are surprised to learn about the option of veganic agriculture, and ask questions to our staff and volunteer farm team. Guided sanctuary tours now include an overview of the veganic farm, sometimes stopping for awhile to pick sweet, cruelty-free strawberries. This summer we also hosted a tour and Q&A for the Master Gardeners group of Sacramento.

Internships and Volunteers

This year Animal Place introduced a live-in internship program for activists to learn and contribute to programs in animal care, advocacy and the vegan farm. Three consecutive interns joined the veganic farm team during the busy months of June to September. Interns were an invaluable addition in the field, and without their help the expansion of the farm would not have been possible. Interns also tabled at outreach events, engaged in organized discussions about animal rights with Animal Place staff and visited other sanctuaries. One intern has gone on to work as a caretaker at the House Rabbit Society in Richmond, CA, where she applies her new skills by growing bunny food in their backyard garden.

The veganic farm also attracts all kinds of volunteers, including local gardeners, an animal rights advocate all the way from Australia and a team from Americorps.

Outreach and Education

 Staff horticulturist Greg Litus presented a workshop on veganic farming at Eco-Life Festival in Grass Valley. The festival itself was not well attended, but Greg’s workshop drew in at least one dozen attendees. Greg’s account of the Turlock hen rescue and how it relates to feather meal used in many organic farms was particularly affecting to one local woman who, although not vegan, had come to the workshop to learn about soil inputs that did not originate from factory farms. Greg’s workshop, while hard-hitting on the cruel facts of animal-based inputs, hit on all the practical points of compassionate, plant-based farming and encouraged attendees to just go veganic.

 In June, Animal Place hosted a screening of the film Vegucated in Nevada City. Veganic lettuce, chard and kale were offered on a donation basis before and after the film, completely selling out after guest speaker Dr. Don Forrester answered audience questions about health and veganism.

 Future Seasons

 With the financial support from VegFund, we were able to accomplish all of this and still share much of our produce for free with the community; we have donated produce to a local homeless organization, supplemented the catering at Animal Place fundraising events and most importantly nourished our non-human animals at the sanctuary with food grown on the same land that they take refuge. Thank you, VegFund, for contributing to our success and giving us the experience and confidence to move forward with the veganic farm next season.

In 2013 we will continue with the outreach and sales markets established this year, with the restaurant, school and special events.  We are not yet financially self-sustaining, but that is our ultimate goal in proving that veganic agriculture is a viable option for other farmers.

Our goals for 2013 include:

  • Obtaining an organic certification,
  • Starting produce sales at farmer’s markets while educating the public about veganic agriculture,
  • Promoting veganic agriculture through increased outreach in local schools and events,
  • Establishing an on-site farm stand to draw more visitors to the sanctuary and
  • Expanding our offerings to additional vegan restaurants.