Rachel Elizabeth talks about how Vegan Outreach makes conversations happen within the Leicester Vegan Community.
For a long time I had avoided getting involved in vegan outreach purely because I was afraid of the backlash and negativity. I assumed it would be a continuous tirade of abuse from defensive carnivores and the only saving grace would be the random stranger who is polite and inspired. I was wrong. And I’m now looking forward to reaching out again to the people of Leicester, spreading awareness of animal free food and living. I have good examples to follow; the Leicester Vegan Community has been doing it for years.
Last year I contributed my writing skills to the promotion of their first big event – the Leicester Vegan Market. It was a massive success and all down to a small team ‘of local vegan volunteers who are passionate about promoting the vegan message.’ However it wasn’t until recently that I realised how important their work was. All their markets and fairs are free, meaning they are going to reach as many people as possible and not just vegans willing to pay to buy vegan stuff. It is about veganism at a grassroots community level, helping local businesses and charities with a vegan ethos to thrive. Their aim is certainly not profit making. Many of the group, which changes yearly, have been vegan for years and are not just jumping on the band wagon to get the vegan pound. I saw the importance of this this weekend when I finally volunteered to help on their stall at a small non-vegan event.
Arriving at 11am I found that the marquee for our area at the Braunstone Bonanza was up but wobbly in the blustery wind. Despite our attempts to keep it in place, within ten minutes it was down. However our spirits were not blown away and we giggled through; the people of Braunstone would get to try vegan hotdogs today. And try them they did. I was nervous about coming away from the safe area behind our cooking table, but next to another volunteer I was happy to approach people offering them a vegan cheese puff or a piece of hot dog. Those who tried were mostly impressed, especially the younger generation. However, there was one older lady, who for me is the reason I now believe in outreach, who was so impressed with the taste of the hot dog that she brought her whole family over to try some. She had clearly never thought to try non meat sausages before but I get the feeling it won’t be her last and that all her friends will be told about her new taste experience.
Other highlights included talking to two vegetarian teenage girls about future events. Maybe one day they’ll be doing vegan outreach of their own. Also I enjoyed seeing the smile of a veggie lady when she realised she was able to eat at this very traditional summer fair. And lastly the father who bought his two kids a hot dog each because they liked the sample so much and talking to him about the rubbish that goes in a ‘real’ hot dog. Was the penny dropping? Possibly not but I know that it may never have been possible if we hadn’t been there.
Vegan outreach is about making conversations happen. It doesn’t have to be about an immediate change. It’s planting seeds. And I look forward to planting more around Leicester. And beyond.
Upcoming free events organised by the Leicester Vegan Community (2017):
- Leicester Vegan Market September 3rd (11-3pm) at Leicester Outdoor Market, City Centre.
- Leicester Vegan Fair November 18th (10.30-4pm) at Fullhurst Community College, Imperial Avenue, LE3 1AH.
For more information or to get involved please email firstname.lastname@example.org or find us on Facebook: Leicester Vegan Community.