Saturday, January 8, 2011

Getting Involved: Top 5 Types of Vegetarian Activism

No matter what reason you go vegetarian-to help animals, the environment, or your own health-you probably feel that the world would be a better place if more people went vegetarian. Think of just the health care costs our country could save if everyone stopped eating red meat!

Most people are afraid of advocating lifestyle changes because they don’t want to feel like they are “preaching” or infringing on someone’s rights to live how they want. One way to refute that is to remember that people don’t have the right to destruction, such as murder, rape, or even in some cases throwing away something that can be recycled. So we do have a case for converting meat-eaters. But these tips are meant to help you convert people without being controlling, so that you will not turn them off from the lifestyle:

* Pass out leaflets in a place with a lot of foot traffic, such as a mall, school cafeteria or courtyard, or busy street corner. According to Vegan Outreach, leafleting to young people is the single most effective way to promote a lifestyle change like going vegan. You can get free leaflets (and tips) from them or Farm Sanctuary, the sanctuary and advocacy organization for farm animals. PETA (and peta2, their youth division) will send various materials to you, but bear in mind that many people have an aversion to them. The Humane Society of the United States also have some good materials. You can also just create your own if you have the resources and skills!

* Host an information and/or food sampling table. This is good because, as people read the leaflets or try the food, they will come back and ask you questions, so know the issues! See the previous bullet for how to get informational materials. Many companies will donate free food for a worthy event, so ask anyone you would like. You can also ask for a small grant from VegFund to buy or cook your own food.

* Have discussions with friends, family members, or groups you’re involved with. If you need help starting the discussion, try taking them to a farm sanctuary (or merely sending them an article about one), making them an amazing vegan meal, or use leaflets as an introduction. The way to be most effective is to be as informative as possible, but admit when you’re not sure of something and do not personally criticize people for eating meat.

* Make a lot of food. Even if you don’t have a discussion with them, anyone who gets to enjoy many delicious vegan meals and treats will become more open to the lifestyle. If you don’t know how to cook, take the time to learn! It is good for your health and wallet as well as your advocacy. There are many great, free, vegan recipes online. As I have said, is my favorite as it is the most comprehensive. Try hosting dinner parties, bringing dishes to other people’s parties, and giving baked goods as gifts.

* Start something, but don’t reinvent the wheel! The world does not need more large scale vegetarian advocacy organizations competing for donations. If that is your interest, start hosting some fundraisers for the existing organizations aforementioned. But every community and school could use a vegetarian club. And maybe once you understand how the main organizations work, you will perceive a gap and get an idea for another kind of group. Just have the courage to take a leadership position. Just by being one of the early adopters of a vegan diet, you are already a leader!

Those are my favorite suggestions. I have had experience with all of them if you have any questions. But I would love to hear other people’s suggestions for the best kinds of vegetarian advocacy as well!

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