Connecting with other vegans joining in with the vegan community in some way can offer emotional support, inspiration, the sharing of ideas and the potential of working together on different forms of activism.
If you’re just starting out, there are many ways to connect. Facebook is like one big conversation. Fellow vegans are happy to accept friend requests from anyone as most of them use their page to spread the vegan message. Joining in with conversations on Facebook you’ll soon make friends.
Going to demonstrations. Contact your national or local animal rights groups in whichever country you are in, soon enough you’ll find a mailing list to put yourself on which will tell you of national demonstrations. Going along to these you’ll find vegan activists are friendly open and welcoming.
Then there is www.meetup.com, the international website which advertises groups in your local area. Just put your postcode in and the word vegan or animal rights and up will come a list of all groups local to you.
You can go along with Mercy For Animals to one of their campaign stands or go do some leafletting at local colleges with Vegan Outreach in US. Animal Aid in UK have all kinds of events throughout the year. In many other countries PETA or VIVA will be holding regular demonstrations.
Or you could start a group yourself. A vegan support group. A regular vegan potluck meal where everyone brings a vegan dish. A vegan reading group maybe where you pick a book, read a chapter each week and discuss. You can advertise your group on the www.meetup.com or if you’re in a more rural area you may have to work a bit harder at getting people involved or aware of your group. Holding a film screening in your own home with a few friends, watching Earthlings together could be a start.
If you have access to a printer you can design and print your own, or if you contact the animal charities they will often send you a batch of leaflets out for you to distribute. You can either have a stall, or hand out to passers by or just leave in places people are likely to notice and read them like waiting rooms. I leave them on bus or train seats just wherever I can along the way.
Animal rights groups often hold stalls at public events or in the street, and you can join with others already distributing information this way, or set up your own group, or work alone.
Below are a couple of the charities to connect with and support in their campaigns or gain resource materials to distribute.
Mercy For Animals
Animal Aid uk
Writing to businesses and government representatives can be highly effective. Corporations and politicians have a vested interest in hearing public or consumer opinion, they take what you say into account and will effect changes once they receive a number of requests from their voters or customers on that subject. Last year some of us wrote to different supermarkets asking for more vegan products, to restaurant chains asking for more vegan options and already are seeing results. You’d be surprised how effective just one letter/email can be.
You may want to write to;
Supermarket chains asking them to stock more vegan products…clearer vegan labeling on their products
Healthcare professionals or support groups for people with diabetes, heart disease, cancer offering information about the health benefits of a vegan diet and asking them to bring this to public awareness…
Environmental groups asking are they also promoting veganism as this is the most effective simplest thing any of us can do to begin healing and cooling our planet….
You will find a few template letters if you wish to use on Facebook community page called ‘Vegan Seeds – Animal Activist Resources’. Its a new page not much on there as yet, but please do use what’s there.
If you write your own template letters and would like to leave them on the Vegan Seeds page for other activists to use please post them here.
A guide to writing to newspaper editors
A guide to avoiding Libel
Campaigning online is an effective way of sharing information and educating people about the plight of animals. The free media network offers an unprecedented opportunity to contribute to the group mind the collective consciousness, where ideas, videos, images, can spread at the speed of thought, at the click of a button.
Online we can access so much information and educate ourselves via animal rights groups or more experienced advocates blogs and web pages, and through websites, Facebook and Youtube we can create our own portal into this online world and share what we have learnt, contributing to the online conversation as others wake up to what is happening and seek to connect and share, learn and educate too.
Facebook – Start a community page, takes a couple of minutes to set up, just follow the step by step instructions in the link below. Then just source images and words and post them on your page. I can help you build your fan base by sharing your posts on pages I work on which will help grow your page so just connect with me through Vegan From The Heart Facebook page and I’ll explain more.
Blog – There are many free blogs you can use which offer all kinds of templates to choose from. The best that I know of is WordPress, and they also offer to host a website and simple instructions as to how to build your own website.
Holding a campaign stall is a great way to bring the vegan message to the public, to share information and raise awareness of the suffering and offer cruelty free lifestyle alternatives.
Depending on where you have a stall you will have to apply for permission either from the shop owner or the local council. Usually local council’s require you to apply for a permit which may take some weeks to come through so plan in advance.
You can buy a campaign stand for around $70 or less. I’d go for the lightest weight possible as lugging it around can take some strength if you get too heavy a table. Just google ‘Market Stall Tables’ and lots of links will come up.
Campaign stalls can be useful for many things, carrying a variety of vegan leaflets, some about the suffering of animals, others about how to go vegan, recipes, nutrition etc. Also you can use a stall as a focus to draw people’s attention, draping a colorful eye catching cloth banner so that it drops down from the front table edge.
Vegfund are an organization who offer to pay people $1 to view four minutes footage of what happens to animals in the meat and dairy industry. So if you can get together a couple of laptops, and organize a stall indoors or somewhere you can plug your computers in and will have cover and security. Shopping centers, Libraries, all kinds of venues where people walking by may stop to take part are good for this. Then you pay the people a $1 and Vegfund will reimburse you… I think is how it works.
The link to their page giving more information and clear instructions on how to set this up, is below. Vegfund are happy to provide literature advice and support.
Vegfund will also reimburse you for the costs of having a vegan food taster stall. If you buy or make vegan products they will refund you for the cost of ingredients.
BEING THE VOICE FOR THE VOICELESS
After we wake up vegan, then begin to want to speak out and help the animals any way we can, we want to talk about it all the time, to everyone we meet, and increasingly feel the desire to vegan activism.
There’s an awful lot of hoo ha in the vegan community about angry vegans. There is a school of thought, those who think we should always present the vegan message calmly, always be polite, educate, inspire, but keep our anger to ourselves.
However when you wake up out of speciesism and open your heart to the animals, as the recognition of the sentience of these sweet gentle animals dawns in your conscience, it is agonizingly painful to see the horrific brutality and cruelty being inflicted onto them. Then, when you try to speak out for them and are met so often with a brick wall of denial, callous cold disregard and even mocking, jeering and bullying from your fellow humans, its appropriate to get angry. Its best to try to find an outlet for that anger, turning that energy into determination, into construction activism, but sometimes its natural you’re going to express that anger to the people around you who are abusing animals horrifically and just don’t care.
Forgive yourself. Blaming angry vegans for not communicating the vegan message ‘‘nicely’’ enough, is just one more excuse non vegans use to continue torturing and killing animals for the pleasures of their palates. Which is as ridiculous as saying… ‘Well I would stop torturing children… but you didn’t ask me nicely enough… so I’m just going to carry on.’ If you’re angry, talk to your vegan friends, get support, turn that anger into passionate constructive activism…but don’t let the non vegans damn and shame you for being angry.
The first step in this arduous couldn’t be more painful job, is to research what is happening to each animal. You can find some information in the ANIMALS section of this blog, but it is invaluable to do further reading (see book recommendations below) and see some of the footage yourself (see links in ANIMALS section of blog). Painful though it is, we need to gather enough information to inform ourselves of all the hideous details of just what each of the animals is going through so we can best speak out on their behalf.
Listening to other more experienced activists, reading their books, is a great basic education, it can give you tips and clues of ways to be an activist and can bring you hope and inspiration to hear the testimonies and wisdom of those who have been working for decades to help animals. To see all they have achieved and connect with networks of other activists is invaluable support as when there are still 98% of people around us completely unwilling to take their blindfolds off, open their hearts and stop torturing and killing animals, its easy to feel isolated and alone.
The most useful thing I did in my activist training was a course called The World Peace Diet Facilitator Training. I never went on to become a WPD trainer, though you can and the course will help you to set up a local WPD study group in your area. What this course offered though, was the most beautiful gentle energy and support at a time I was just waking to all this and was deeply traumatized by it. Will Tuttle, author of the bestselling book The World Peace Diet, has been a Zen monk and meditated for many years, he comes from a very gentle soothing space and holds that space for others.
The course itself is so rich in wisdom that you could almost stop to digest the full beauty of one sentence it before going onto the next. Its an 8 week online training course, there’s also a 4 week starter course you can do as a taster first. You get the course through your email and complete it in your own time.
Whether you choose to become a WPD facilitator or not, the information in the course is so comprehensive about all aspects and levels of the effects of a non vegan diet on animals, on the earth, on our own psychology, on our relationships with one another, our perspective of life itself and goes right back to the start to look at the roots in our history of violent oppression. Its an awakening in consciousness to just hear what Will Tuttle has to say, but its also filled with useful activist resource information. He invites a speaker on vegan nutrition for instance, a subject which usually bores me rigid, but the woman he invited to speak on the subject made it really enjoyable and interesting. Other speakers explained how to best use the internet for campaigning giving advice on setting up your own blog or website and how to network and market your site etc.
You will find more information about the World Peace Diet Facilitator Training here;