COK's Tips for Successful Vegan Leafleting
COK - Compassion Over Killing - http://www.cok.net/
As a movement, we don’t have advertising budgets
comparable to those of the industries that abuse animals. So, we have to find
cheap ways to get the animals’ message to the public. Most of us became vegan
after personal interactions with someone who was already vegan, and we can
create similar circumstances that will help bring others along as well.
Likewise, handing out literature and talking with people one-on-one is an
inexpensive and highly effective way to increase people’s interest in
veganism, and having information for them makes your job that much easier.
While we may not have funds at our disposal like the meat,
egg, and dairy industries do, we have a significant asset: people whose motive
is compassion, rather than profit. Indeed, there are hundreds of thousands of
compassionate people in the country dedicated to bringing about animal
liberation. Many of us are willing to spend at least a few hours each week on
animal advocacy in the streets, because we know there is no more effective way
of reaching people than by showing them a friendly, vegan face.
Where To Leaflet
The best places to leaflet are public spaces where you find
lots of people. Some great locations are outside of subway, train, or bus
stations (especially during rush hour); on college campuses (though if you’re
not a student, you may be asked to leave); near high schools around lunchtime or
just before or after school; and outside of major events like concerts,
exhibitions, and sports games (preferably as people are leaving).
When leafleting, it’s very helpful to recognize that not
everyone is equally likely to become vegetarian or vegan. Because of this, it
makes sense to focus greater effort on those you feel may be more receptive.
Typically, college and high school students—particularly females—seem to be
the most open-minded to the message of compassion. As well, younger people tend
to be much less set in their ways and more willing to question societal norms,
such as the idea that animals exist to serve humans. It’s also important to
recognize that younger people have an entire lifetime of eating meat, eggs, and
dairy products ahead of them, making it even more critical to expose them to the
cruelty suffered by farmed animals. Does
this mean that we should only leaflet young people? Of course not.
Usually, when you’re leafleting, you’ll be able to give leaflets to
hundreds of people, and you’re obviously not going to withhold a leaflet from
anyone. What it does mean, though,
is that we may want to pick leafleting areas that are often frequented by
younger people to maximize the effectiveness of our time and effort.
What To Leaflet
There are many wonderful vegan advocacy tools available for
you to distribute. It’s generally a good idea to have one brochure you will
pass out to everyone, and another more extensive publication to give to those
who seem especially interested in learning more about becoming vegan.
Some great materials designed for general leafleting
Some effective, more extensive materials for those
particularly receptive to exploring animal-friendly living:
What To Say
Since we want to make sure people won’t just throw away
the literature, it’s best to let passersby know what the brochure is about
before they take it. Simply saying, “Can I offer you a brochure about being
vegetarian?” seems to work well.
When talking with people about being vegan, make sure not
to complicate the issue, if you can avoid it. Most everyone already opposes
animal abuse, so it follows that we should focus on how factory farms and
slaughterhouses abuse animals, rather than construct an abstract argument about
violations of animals’ rights.
While you engage people in conversation about the intense
suffering of the animals we eat, be certain to tell each one how we can take a
stand against that cruelty by becoming vegan, effectively helping to make the
world a better place for all of us.
Simple and Effective Leafleting Tips
- Always look professional and clean-cut. Even if this
means dressing in a way you wouldn’t ordinarily dream of, it’s important
not to give passersby a reason to quickly dismiss you and the vegan message.
Advocating veganism sometimes requires sacrifice from each of us, and
changing our appearance for public outreach is a minor—but important—one
to make. Keep in mind that we’re trying to legitimize veganism and need to
appeal to the “average” person. So, activists have found that the
general public is much more receptive if we look as mainstream as our
message of compassion should be.
- While leafleting, try to be outgoing and friendly.
Many people may just walk past unless you approach them in a positive
and pleasant manner. A simple
smile can have a dramatic effect on how people perceive you and serve as an
encouraging invitation to take a brochure. If someone is wearing a team
shirt, commenting positively about their team is a quick ice breaker that
makes it hard for them to refuse your leaflet, and leaves them with the
impression, for example, “That animal rights person is an Orioles fan,
- If you have a conversation with someone make sure to
stay focused. It’s fine to have a quick conversation about the weather,
the football season, or some neutral topic to bond with the person with whom
you’re speaking. But avoid a spirited discussion of abortion, the death
penalty, or any topic other than animal abuse. Never lose sight of why
you’re there: to expose the misery endured by farmed animals and to
promote veganism as a solution.
- Don’t engage with hostile people. Be careful to pick
your battles. A good conversation with a person clearly interested in the
issues is worth having. A lengthy discussion with a person only interested
in hurling hypotheticals at you is not worth having. If someone yells at
you, speaks with you in a belittling manner, or tries to provoke you into a
heated debate, it is best to either ignore the person, if possible, or just
to say, “Thanks very much for your comments. I have to get back to my
leafleting now.” We know it’s tough to just turn away and ignore
someone, but trust us: If you talk with them, they will only become more
belligerent, and you will not change their minds. Additionally, no matter
how nice you are, the impression people passing by will get is one of you
being the instigator, since you’re the one asking people to change their
habits. The focus will be placed negatively on you, rather than on animal
- Be overly polite and make it easy for them to take the
literature. When we refer to people as “ma’am” or “sir” and say
“thank you” or “have a great day” to those who take literature, we
are seen as polite, well-meaning individuals concerned about the issue,
rather than “radical militants” who the public is all-too-eager to
dismiss. Also, try to place the leaflet directly in front of the passing
person’s stomach so it’s less effort for them to take the brochure from
you if they so choose.
You Are Making A Difference
More than 99 percent of the animals killed in the United
States die to be eaten. As others
have commented, http://veganoutreach.org/advocacy/path.html,
even if we were to completely abolish every other form of animal exploitation,
we would not have changed the lives of 1 percent of the animals in the country.
Needless to say, the interests of each individual animal—whether abused by
circuses, the fur industry, vivisection, factory farming, or any other
exploitative industry—are important, and we know that some people become vegan
after learning about rodeos, animal testing, or other non-farmed animal issues.
However, the numbers do speak loudly: By encouraging people to become vegan, we
help to alleviate far more suffering than by spending our time in any other way.
Perhaps more importantly, unlike other forms of animal
abuse—mainly the hunting, fur, vivisection, and animals in entertainment
industries—virtually everyone in the country is responsible for the suffering
of farmed animals. Advocating for farmed animals is not a case of stopping a
small minority of people (like hunters, vivisectors, or fur-wearers) from
treating animals cruelly. Rather, it is about transforming the views and habits
of nearly everyone.
As you consider the ways you can best help animals, make
sure to keep vegan leafleting high on your list. Even if you convince people to
eat less meat, dairy products, and eggs each week, that alone can have a
dramatic impact on the industry, if done by enough people. Never underestimate
the effect you can have.
If you find a busy enough area, you should be able to
easily pass out 400 brochures in an hour. Imagine if you leafleted for only one
hour per week (a small sacrifice to make): You will have exposed nearly 21,000
people to the message of veganism in just one year. Even if only 1 out of 300
people you leaflet actually becomes vegan, that’s still more than 70 new
vegans each year, thanks to your one-hour’s effort each week! And this
statistic isn't even counting the number of people who will either become
vegetarian or reduce their consumption of animal products. It’s hard to
imagine a better use of our time.
How many hours do you spend each week watching television,
going to the movies, or shopping? Why not take a couple of those hours and
commit to a weekly leafleting endeavor? You should be able to find friends to
help you, and, before you know it, you’ll have a small group of people out
every week, helping your community transition to becoming vegan.
Please don’t wait to get started … the animals need
your help now more than ever!