Vegan activism is something we’re incredibly passionate about here at The Minimalist Vegan, and it’s a big reason as to why we started this blog in the first place.
In a moment, I’m going to share some ideas of how you can get into vegan activism, but before I do that, what does vegan activism mean?
Vegan activism is a proactive approach to communicating and acting the idea in which all non-human animals are entitled to the possession of their own lives. Vegan activists merely present the truth in the many ways humans exploit animals and take away their freedom.
As we know, animals cannot communicate directly with humans, well at least not in our language. Therefore they don’t have a voice to stand up for themselves.
I believe you, and I have a responsibility to defend the defenceless.
While outreach campaigns for vegan activism have proven to be effective to spread awareness, it’s not a method that I personally respond well to. This goes for any form of activism, whether it’s animal rights, religion or gender equality.
There’s a time and place for in-your-face, aggressive messaging. Keep in mind that with fighting for the lives of innocent animals and being kind to them, we also need to remember that we need to be kind to each other.
Vegan or not. Most of us were there once, so we need to show compassion. But that’s not what this post is about.
Note: since publishing this article, we recorded a podcast episode challenging the stigma of vegan activism.
Instead, I’ve created a list of ideas to help the animal rights movement that is non-evasive, creative, fun, and effective.
How do I define effective activism? Well, it’s not necessarily converting people to veganism overnight. Everyone is on their own journey which is unique to them.
My goal with these ideas is to pique the curiosity of individuals so that they are inspired to independently research veganism in their own way.
I believe when people find answers to their own questions, they’re more likely to make changes that align with their values, and more importantly, they’ll make changes that are sustainable.
As we talk about at length in our book, once your “why” is strong, the “how” will effortlessly follow.
But the challenge remains, how do we get people to start asking questions about the animal rights movement? Check out the ideas below.
1. Get comfortable telling your transition story into veganism
As soon as someone discovers that you’re vegan, they usually want to know why. For many vegans, this situation can be a little daunting as you may be worried as to how others judge you for your reasons.
I see it differently. Curiosity in your reasoning for becoming vegan is a gift. It’s not every day people take an interest in talking about veganism, so seize the opportunity and run with it!
Distil your response down to one clear sentence. For example, when people ask me why I became vegan, I naturally respond by saying, “I became vegan overnight after watching a documentary called EARTHLINGS.” And I leave it at that.
If they want to know more, I tell them. Sometimes people are so intrigued that they watch the documentary.
Your sentence is likely different from mine. Here are some more examples:
“I became vegan gradually over six months after reading The China Study.”
“I experimented eating plant-based for a couple of weeks, and it improved my health, I later realized that the meat industry is the largest contributor to environmental destruction.”
Play around with your transition story. In fact, I suggest you even write it down. Actually, do me a favour and post your transition sentence in the comments of this blog post. That way we can all learn from each other.
2. Recommend documentaries about veganism
Many people get into vegan activism after watching a documentary, whether it’s Cowspiracy, Forks Over Knives, What The Health, EARTHLINGS, and many more.
Documentaries are credible (in most cases) and approachable source of content that most people are open to watching.
It doesn’t mean that they have to commit to becoming vegan straight after watching a documentary. But at least it could start to get them to think about the world differently.
Make sure you become familiar with a handful of documentaries and tailor it to the individual you’re talking to.
For example, if someone is particularly interested in the environment, recommend Cowspiracy. If they care about their health, suggest Forks Over Knives.
Cater to your audience, and you’ll have more people joining the animal rights movement in no time 🙂
3. Write articles on a blog
Starting a blog is yet another way to do vegan activism in an approachable way. Writing content about cruelty-free fashion, food, beauty or travel are all examples of how you can show easy alternatives to animal products.
Building a blog may be daunting to you, especially if you don’t have the technical know-how. Thankfully, it’s never been easier to start a blog, with platforms such as WordPress, Squarespace, and Medium, you can get up a design in a couple of hours, without the need to know any programming!
Just pick a template you like and away you go. It’s important to note that your blog design does not matter as much as you think. Pick a simple theme so you can focus on creating honest content using your authentic voice.
Once you have 5–10 posts published, start reaching out to other bloggers in your field to build relationships. Over time you can share each other’s content thus growing your audience at the same time.
For specific examples of vegan blogs check out 50+ High-Quality Vegan Blogs Worth Following.
4. Record educational video content on YouTube
YouTube and Netflix are taking over free to air television. The fact that we can watch content when we want and where we want, across multiple devices, make on-demand services incredibly convincing to get a message out.
However, unlike Netflix, you can start your own vegan television series on YouTube, for free! Starting an educational show on veganism would be a creative way to reach new audiences and grow the animal rights movement.
Like blogging, there’s a technical learning curve to making videos. With that said, there are ways to create content by using slides and voiceovers.
Also, don’t be overwhelmed by video equipment. Thankfully, most of us have access to all the equipment that is needed to get started, our smartphones.
You could also look to see if you could collaborate with your community. Perhaps you know someone studying film and video production? Approach videographers to work with you on your project for free, and in return, you help them build their portfolio and grow an audience.
See below examples of educational YouTube videos.
5. Interview inspiring vegans on a podcast show
As a society, we’re addicted to inspirational stories. We love hearing about how an underdog completely turned their life around.
There are countless examples of vegans who have incredible stories, whether its transformations, business, athletics, medical, education, and more.
What better way to tell these stories than a podcast. For those of you who don’t know what a podcast is, think of it as free on-demand radio.
Much like how anyone can start their own television network on YouTube, or how you can start your private publication company through blogging, anyone can start their own radio network through podcasting.
Like the other platforms I mentioned earlier, there’s a technical element to record and edit a podcast. However, here’s a great resource that walks you through step-by-step on how to launch your own podcast show.
Regarding getting guests, think about interviewing people in a particular niche. For example, Katrina Fox has a podcast where she only interviews vegan business owners.
While Matt Frazier from No Meat Athlete primarily interviews vegan athletes. Maybe you could start a show interviewing vegan mothers capturing their struggles with their non-vegan husbands and children?
6. Wear vegan apparel
Quick story—In 2017 we had the incredible opportunity to travel to the West Coast of North America. When we were in Los Angeles, we caught up with our friend Jacky Wasserman, founder of BEETxBEET, a vegan apparel company.
To support her business, Maša and I bought her t-shirts. Jacky only had a couple left with organic cotton. So I ended up getting the t-shirt below, “Plant Slayer.”
Up until this point, I didn’t wear t-shirts with strong messaging. I prefer plain t-shirts with limited to no writing.
Anyway, I tell you this story because this piece of apparel is now my favourite t-shirt! Not necessarily because of the style (although I love the style and quality) but because of the conversations, it starts.
Whenever I walk into my day job or go out to the supermarket, I’m surprised to see how many people are trying to make out what a “plant slayer” means.
For those that already know me, they often ask what my t-shirt is about and where I got it from.
Again, many of these ideas listed in this post a geared towards non-vegans coming to you, not you going to them. And vegan apparel is another fantastic way to lure people in for a conversation about animal rights.
There are lots of vegan apparel companies out there. Here’s a handful for you to get started:
7. Approach local cafes and restaurants to add vegan options to their menus
I got this idea from my former boss. He said, “why don’t you and Maša approach local cafes and restaurants and give them vegan recipes to add to their menu?”
Good idea Josh, I thought. But what made his suggestion great was his recommendation to only create recipes using ingredients that the restaurant already has. Brilliant!
A big pain point for the hospitality industry is waste. By providing recipe ideas based on their current ingredients eliminates this objection, thus increasing your chances of modifying their menu.
Another tip if you decide to implement this idea is to talk about how adding vegan options to a menu would increase sales. Leverage tools like local vegan Facebook Groups to spread awareness.
Stress the fact that vegans are passionate and will quickly share your business with others. Also being registered on Happy Cow will capture travellers who are looking for vegan options in your area.
8. Practice how you talk about veganism
The very fact that you’re vegan will open up doors to passionate conversations with non-vegans. It’s vital that you see these discussions not as an attack, but as an opportunity.
If done correctly, you could inspire someone to start their journey towards veganism. But you need to get good at these conversations and practice.
A great resource to help you is a free book written by Earthling Ed called 30 Non-Vegan Excuses & How To Respond To Them.
I highly recommend downloading this book and practising responses to common non-vegan excuses.
9. Start a vegan business
Being a business nerd myself, I love the idea of using commerce to shift the demand for ethical products in the world.
A hesitation for people to become vegan is the lack of vegan products. Of course, there has been exceptional progress in the last decade, but we still have lots of work to do.
If you consider yourself to be an entrepreneur, I put together a huge list of vegan business ideas you could start (plus many more ideas in the comments).
I’m becoming increasingly fond of vegan businesses that on the surface don’t look vegan at all. A prime example of this is a cafe called Timeless Coffee we went to in Oakland. Their value proposition first and foremost is great coffee, which is evident in the quality of their drinks, location, feel and menu.
But unless you’re looking for it, their whole menu is 100% vegan. This is incredibly powerful as this cafe attracts a ton of non-vegans thus taking interest away from non-vegan cafes in the area.
Also having a business like this makes it much easier for vegans to take their non-vegan friends out for coffee because of how approachable the business is. Then once they discover that it’s vegan, and it tastes amazing, it starts to shift the perception of what it’s like to be vegan.
Another example of this is a Pizzeria in Sydney called Gigi Pizzeria. This business attracts a good balance of vegans and non-vegans alike.
10. Be social amongst non-vegans
When I first became vegan, I tended to isolate myself. I was sensitive about my transition, and I didn’t have it in me to always explain myself to friends and family.
Especially when you consistently got responses like:
“Why did you have to become vegan?”
“Let me know when you start eating meat again”
“I understand why you don’t eat animals but, milk? Please explain!?”
There’s no doubt that being vegan comes with its social challenges. And you may very well want to stick to hanging out with people who are vegan and don’t spend their time questioning you.
However, I challenge you, as I challenged myself to be social amongst non-vegans. I’m now at a place of love for all people vegan or not. I wasn’t vegan for 26 years of my life, and I was one of those people that didn’t understand why you would do such a thing.
It’s not that non-vegans are bad people, but their actions are. Their actions cause the death and suffering of animals. And that’s why it’s important to stay close to all people, regardless of their value set.
It teaches you how to empathize with non-vegans. It also gives them a chance to empathize with you.
I found that the most powerful example of being social with non-vegans is to bring incredible plant-based food with you to work, barbecues, birthday parties and other social events.
The practice of making and bringing food with you is firstly, a kind gesture and secondly, if people enjoy your food, you’re again shifting the paradigm of veganism in peoples minds.
11. Become a vegan athlete
One of the biggest sources of social proof is how you look and perform. And it’s no different for veganism.
Being a vegan athlete acts as a proof of concept that a plant-based lifestyle works, and in many cases performs better than omnivore diets.
So whether you’re a powerlifter, a yogi, a cyclist or a soccer player, being a vegan athlete is a sure-fire way to get people in your field to start talking about optimizing health through a plant-based lifestyle.
12. Self-Publish a fiction book with vegan messages
For all of you creatives out there, publishing a sci-fi book or kids illustration with ethical messaging is a fantastic way to practice vegan activism.
Writing a book may seem overwhelming, and after writing one, I must admit that it’s not the easiest thing in the world.
Having said that, people are hungrier than ever for good quality books. And it’s never been easier to self-publish and reach an audience.
Amazons Kindle Direct Publishing platform enables you to publish both a paperback and e-book for free!
Here are what the steps to publishing a book on Amazon looks like:
- Write your manuscript in Microsoft Word, Pages, or Google Docs
- Hire an editor on Upwork to review your manuscript
- Decide on the size of your book and then format your manuscript
- Design a book cover
- Buy an ISBN (optional)
- Upload manuscript and book cover design to Kind Direct Publishing
- Complete book information (name, description, categories, keywords)
- Set pricing and hit publish!
The cool thing about self-publishing is that if you want to change the price, make edits, upload a new design, changes will be updated within a couple of days.
So if you have a book in you, share it with the world and help the animal rights movement!
How are you going to practice vegan activism?
As I stated earlier, we all have a responsibility to defend the defenceless. Some people do it more directly through activism, and others do it more indirectly using some of the ideas above.
Whatever your preference, the goal is the same, to protect and liberate animals.
So there’s my list of ideas you could implement to help the animal rights movement. Even as I write this sentence, I can think of many more ideas, but this post is starting to become very long, so I’ll leave the rest to you.
A couple of questions, I’d love for you to comment on below:
- Which of these ideas resonate with you?
- Are you already implementing any of them?
- What are some other ideas?