Recently, myself and a fellow animal rights activist decided to organize vegan outreach events centered upon moral education and discussion in our hometown, Boulder, Colorado. These outreach events differ from typical “leafleting” events, as our focus is on having quality conversations about animal liberation, as opposed to focusing on handing out a high quantity of leaflets. Our concern is that, with events focused only on leafletting, leaflets are often discarded without having ever been read. We are having tremendous success with our “tabling events” and would love to share some tips with the public, so that more activists in other cities will consider pursuing this form of highly effective activism.
#1 Find a location and, if necessary, obtain an “Advocacy Permit”
When identifying a location, you ought to find an outreach spot where there is a high volume of traffic. Downtown areas where there is a pedestrian street with no traffic or college campuses tend to be the best places to host outreach events. You should also look into whether or not you need to obtain an “Advocacy Permit.” Some cities require you to obtain a permit to set up a table in public spaces (although you will never need a permit just to leaflet or hold up signs in public spaces). In Boulder, we set up our table in the downtown “mall” area, but we must obtain an “advocacy permit” first. These “advocacy permits” are free and are very easy to request.
*I suggest that you begin conducting table activism without a permit until you are informed by an officer of the law that you need one. We conducted table outreach in Boulder for about a month without a permit, before we were finally told that we needed a permit to conduct table-advocacy. You can obtain the information about where to get a permit from the city official/police officer who informs you of the permit requirement, if there is one.
#2 Obtain and/or create literature for distribution
Above: Animal Rights activist Brian Carroll conducts vegan outreach at the 3rd Street Promenade in Santa Monica, California.
As a rule of thumb, you should always have a large stack of leaflets and “vegan starter kits” to distribute. Many of the established animal liberation organizations will send as many leaflets and starter kits as you need, free of charge. Here are the e-mail addresses of the “Outreach Coordinators” of some of the established animal protection organizations, from whom you can request leaflets and/or veg starter kits:
- Mercy for Animals: MikaelN@MercyForAnimals.org
- PETA: EricD@peta.org
- Vegan Outreach: info@VeganOutreach.org
In addition, you might consider making or finding handouts that address the following:
- A local guide to veganism that includes information about local Facebook pages to follow, local restaurants with vegan options, and local grocery stores with vegan options. Include your contact information so you can stay in touch with those who express interest in helping out at your outreach events; I’ve recruited a number of activists this way! Here is our “BoulderVeganGuide“; feel free to copy our format. To find local vegan restaurants, visit Yodish.
- The Humane Meat Myth (ask PETA for these OR download and print this tri-fold handout OR create your own).
- Why Vegetarianism is not enough (check out Peaceful Prairie’s “Milk Comes from a Grieving Mother” flyer).
- STICKERS! Offering free stickers is a great way to encourage people to stop by your table. PETA will send stacks of stickers at your request.
#3 Make signs/posters for your event
I think it’s very important to display graphic imagery of animal suffering at outreach events. Displaying these pictures forces every single person who walks by to confront the issue of animal exploitation, even if they refuse to take a leaflet or if they ignore what you have to say. At our outreach events, we hang signs from our table and it engenders a considerable amount of attention, usually positive. Moreover, I hold these signs as I leaflet, and I use the signs as a conversation starter. For instance, I might say:
“Do you want information about helping suffering animals, just like my friend here in this photo?”
“Are you aware that 10, billion animals are abused and ruthlessly killed for food every year in the U.S., just like the pig in this photo?”
You can make your own posters and have them printed at Kinkos or your local printing office. You can also print off Peaceful Prairie’s posters (available in high resolution printing) if you don’t have time to create your own. Here is one of my favorite PPS posters:
#4 Make a *public* event page
As a rule of thumb: the more activists you can recruit, the better. Having a large number of activists present at these events sends the message to the public that there is something of moral importance to be said about raising and killing animals for food. Moreover, when you have more people in attendance, you can reach more people, whether it be by assigning volunteers to stop people to ask them a question or if it’s assigning volunteers to leaflet those who say they are “too busy to stop.” Also, when you create public event pages, these events might pop up in the Newsfeed of other activists in your area, which will create more public awareness of your events. Click here to view one of our event pages; feel free to use this as a model!
#5 Create a Facebook page for your cause (optional)
I created a Facebook page, called The Boulder Vegan, and I use this page to create outreach events and to post photos. Creating a separate Facebook page for your cause is helpful for two reasons:
(1) More people may come across your page and follow it, thereby seeing all future outreach events you share, and
(2) If your “page” is the host of the event, as opposed to just you yourself, more people (especially those who aren’t friends with you on Facebook) may be more inclined to come, as they will view the event as open to the public, rather than as a private event that is organized by an individual.
*If you create a Facebook page for your cause, make sure to include the name of the Facebook page on your “local guide to veganism,” discussed under point #2, so that interested persons/current vegans can stay in touch.
#6 Post pictures of your event
Always share photos of your event on your Facebook page. Also, when you post these pictures, make sure you make them public so that they show up in the Newsfeed of the friends of your friends who like or comment on these pictures. The goal is to show others how easy it is to engage the public in moral discourse about animal exploitation. Many of my Facebook friends joined our outreach efforts as a result of their seeing the photos I posted after every outreach event, which all illustrate our continual outreach success.
**Apply for a Pay-Per-View grant from VegFund **
The following information is for those who want to host a “Pay-Per-View” (PPV) event, which involves offering people $1 to watch a 4 minute film on industrial animal agriculture. Getting funding from VegFund for a “Pay-Per-View” (PPV) event is simple.
- Step One: Create an Event Page (you will need to post a link to the event page on your VegFund grant application).
- Step Two: Apply for a VegFund PPV grant 2 weeks before the event (this takes 10-15 minutes).
- Step Three: Host the event as scheduled and take photos.
- You should have at least two laptops/headphone sets for this event; make sure the computers are fully charged incase there are no outlets at your pay-per-view event.
- You should download one of the VegFund approved four minute film onto your computer BEFORE your event. Don’t rely on the internet to show this video. You can download any youtube video, such as Farm to Fridge, onto your computer through KeepVid.
- If you do not have a table to use for a PPV event, you might consider bringing Ipad stands. Activists in Colorado Springs have conducted successfully PPVs this way.
- Step Four: Complete the PPV reimbursement form through VegFund’s grant portal and report how much money you actually payed out (this takes 10-15 minutes).