The health and environmental benefits of veganism–a diet that excludes meat, dairy, fish, eggs, and animal-derived ingredients–are being touted more and more by doctors, scientific studies, and even celebrities. However, even with the awareness growing, many places are still not accommodating to the vegan lifestyle.
If you live in a town or city that has precious few veg-friendly businesses, don’t worry. Many people are becoming more open to healthier ways of eating, both because of the growth of veganism and awareness of the rising occurrence of chronic diseases. Sometimes all it takes to bring veganism home is friendly sharing of information.
Invite Friends to Dinner
The easiest way to give people an understanding of a vegan diet is to share it with them! Your friends and family may be so used to vegetables as a wilted, overcooked side dish that they’ve never considered how fresh and vibrant plant-based eating can be. Why not take the opportunity to show them by inviting a group over for dinner and blowing their minds with a vegan feast?
Many vegan cookbooks made-over versions of common favorites to please even the pickiest of omnivores, including comfort foods like meatloaf and macaroni and cheese. Books like Viva Vegan!, The Mediterranean Vegan Kitchen, Vegan Italiano, and The 30-Minute Vegan’s Taste of the East offer more eclectic, regional recipes. And, of course, what’s a vegan meal without a delicious vegan dessert? Cake, cookies, pie, and even cheesecake can be veganized with amazing results. With all these great options, you won’t need to explain why you’re vegan; the food will do the talking for you.
Contact Local Restaurants
Many towns are still populated by traditional “bar & grill” restaurants, burger joints, and “greasy spoon” cafes. Good vegan restaurants are beginning to appear, but in far-flung areas these can be few and far between.
If you want to see more veggie options on local menus, don’t hesitate to contact area eateries. Talk to the owners or managers about your vegan lifestyle and explain the benefits of having plant-based options. Let them know that there is a growing demand for vegetarian and vegan food, and that they can greatly expand their customer base by offering even a few good animal-free dishes. Be sure to have some information on hand to show them if they’re interested in pursuing the idea further.
Write to Local Papers
Despite the growth of the Internet, people do still read and obtain a great deal of information from newspapers. Both small local publications and larger regional papers print opinion pieces and letters to the editor, and you can take advantage of this to bring veganism into the public eye. Write a letter to your local paper or papers about the benefits of a plant-based diet. If there’s a certain issue that is causing concern in your area, such as a rise in disease rates or the threat of environmental problems, consider referring to this as a basis for your letter. Use hard facts and statistics to support your position.
Host an Informative Event
Chances are you’re not the only person in your town or city interested in plant-based foods. Vegans, vegetarians, and curious omnivores abound, and they may be just as interested in finding like-minded people as you are. So why not bring veganism to them by hosting a local vegan event?
Local venues like libraries, conference centers, and even cafes may be open to allowing you to utilize a room or two for such an event. Organizations like In Defense of Animals, Mercy For Animals, and Vegan Outreach all have informative literature that can be obtained for a small donation, or even printed for free from their websites. Consider having some of this information available at your event. You may also wish to give a talk or presentation on the basics and benefits of veganism or offer vegan refreshments. If there are any local vegan or vegan-friendly establishments, contact them to see if they would be willing to contribute something to the event in exchange for free publicity.
If you’re unable to host an event of your own, consider getting a table at an existing local event and offering informative booklets, fact sheets, and suggested further reading.
Society continues to have a “seeing is believing” attitude, especially when it comes to choices or lifestyles that seem radical. Sometimes the best way to show others the benefits of veganism is to be a living example. Showing your friends, family, and community that your choice to go vegan has made you healthier and happier can do more to convince them than any amount of statistics. If people ask you how you stay so healthy, or why you have so much energy, don’t hesitate to talk about your vegan lifestyle. Everyday conversations about food, eating, and cooking are also great opportunities to talk about plant-based food options, even if you just mention the amazing dinner you had last night.
Being an advocate for veganism in your community can help bring more awareness to a plant-based lifestyle. Getting out there and getting involved can make changes happen. You may be pleasantly surprised by what can be done with a few words, a few letters, and a setting a good example. So don’t hesitate to bring veganism home!