How to be the best vegan advocate that you can be
Karin Ridgers shares her thoughts on spreading the word and being a great vegan advocate
Everyone is different, and this goes for vegans, too – and there are many ways that different vegans advocate.
Personally, I have always found that being myself works well. Whether I am coaching journalists on how to become vegan, giving school talks or running my Essex-based campaign group.
When we are promoting veganism, at times, we are likely to feel frustrated, angry, upset and confused with the rest of the planet. When this happens, I try to put myself to one side, and remember that it’s better to turn people on, rather than put them off – if you know what I mean. I try to keep upbeat and focus on everything wonderful about being vegan.
Whilst many people lament absences of vegan options, I like to focus on the abundance of veganism, and I’ve been doing this for over 20 years – even back then there was a vegan version of almost everything! And I focus on this when giving radio interviews about veganism, too.
When veganism wasn’t as ‘mainstream’, it would have been easy to have moaned when asking for soya milk hundreds of times in eateries that I knew didn’t offer it. But, instead, I would always make the effort to reply that it was a shame (with a smile) and comment that they were missing out on extra revenue. Leave people with something positive! Here are some more ideas on positive advocatism.
Read and Learn
I love personal development, and this has helped me through life’s challenges. I am still a work-in-progress (aren’t we all!), however, reading books like The Secret and following the advice of teachers, like my great friends, Dr Rohan Weerasinghe and Sue Stone, has inspired me over the years. This all means that I can be the best advocate for veganism that I possibly can be. I highly recommend checking out American peak performance coach, Tony Robbins.
When sharing veganism, it is always handy to have a few practiced soundbites up your sleeve. These can be handy answers to annoying or inquisitive questions from strangers, or even friends and family. Remember short, snappy responses that show you do know what you are talking about (unless someone is being a bully and what they are doing or saying is unacceptable, then laughing off what they are saying in a non-sarcastic way is fine, too!).
Sharing vegan issues and videos on your social media will also help to get the word out there. But, if sharing the gorier content isn’t for you, then sharing links to vegan festivals like VegfestUK, publications like Vegan Life magazine or your local vegan café, would be easier. Why not even share my website, VeggieVision TV?!
Write, Blog or Podcast
If you like writing or talking, starting your own vegan blog or podcast might appeal to you – it’s a great way to advocate veganism and be in control of the content (if you do this let me know, as I would love to share it!). Another similar avenue that might interest you, is becoming a regular on your local radio station or writing for your local paper or magazine – there’s no harm in asking!
If you are not a fan of inviting confrontation, use food to advocate. Taking in a box of vegan cookies or cakes for work colleagues is a brilliant way to start a conversation and is a more subtle approach. Or, invite friends’ round for dinner, and veganise an old favourite of theirs. Food is the key to many people’s hearts – and mindsets.
Connect with other vegans
Connecting with fellow vegans is vital, too, and there are lots of ways to do so. When following groups on Facebook, make sure they are aligned with your values and do not get wrapped up in arguments – they are a huge timewaster that do nothing for veganism.
Join a local vegan group – and if there isn’t one near you, if you have time, then why not set one up yourself? Back in the day, the group I ran had regular meetings, went to demos, trained others to give school talks, attended pub quiz’s wearing vegan T-shirts and we all empowered one another.
Advocate Through Your Career
Another way is to spread awareness through your career choice, or by starting your own plant-based business. Andrea Harvey, ‘the vegan hairdresser’ and owner of Essex-based Earth Vegan Salon (earthvegansalon.com) advocates constantly through her vegan hairdressers and beauty salon.
Andrea says: “When you are vegan for the animals, it goes much deeper than just not consuming meat and animal produce, it is a lifestyle that incorporates every part of your being – from beauty products to cleaning goods – and the longer you are vegan, the stronger your belief becomes. It is a passion that stays your whole life. Share it.”
Annie Connolly is a passionate activist and former international athlete who is against any form of speciesism. She says: “My vegan advocacy means everything to me, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. When I am training clients in the gym, we chat about plant-based eating. I think it is about being positive and encouraging others. Be the best role model you can, because it is for the animals. I know a lot of fellow professional sportspeople from my athlete days and am seeing more and more embracing veganism. Do what you can – and then some!”
Ultimately, do what feels right for you and your preferred advocating style. There is no correct way to spread awareness. Some people are happy to make viral videos and ‘vox pops’ people on the street, others would prefer something more subtle, like sharing videos or tasty vegan bakes.
Words by Karin Ridgers, veggievision.tv