Vegans make a positive impact in the world every time they sit down to eat, but sometimes the simple choice of choosing a portabello over a beef burger can seem like a frustratingly small step in the face of such a global issue as animal agriculture. For those who are itching to do more, this is the perfect time of year to take action and further promote a compassionate and sustainable lifestyle. Pick one or more of these five activities and you’ll instantly up your vegan game.
1. Sign Up to Volunteer (And Go Through With It)
One of the deepest ways to connect to a cause is to volunteer. Those who have been vegan for a while can sometimes lose touch with their reasons; the lifestyle becomes so habitual, like brushing your teeth, you just do it. Reconnect with your reason for going vegan by volunteering (when possible to do s) for a local animal shelter, farm sanctuary, or humane non-profit organization. Even a few hours a month can make a tremendous difference. Tasks can range from walking dogs, mucking out stalls, feeding animals, staffing info booths, or making calls. Determine your strengths, find an organization you want to support, and lend a hand.
Pro Tip: Make a commitment so you’ll actually show up. Many volunteer programs, like those at municipal animal shelters, require volunteers to go through a training process first (we’re fans of the volunteer action team from Best Friends Animal Society). Don’t let the training deter you—embrace it!
2. Give and You Shall Receive: Make a Donation
Think about donating some spare change to a vegan-friendly cause. You can also get a bit more out of your donation beyond a tax-deduction and a warm-fuzzy feeling of doing something for others. Visit the organization’s online shop and buy some swag—such as clothing, a calendar, or a reusable water bottle. Donations (or products that support nonprofits) also make great gifts. Give on behalf of a friend or family member, or wrap up that cute mug and let them know the proceeds from your purchase went directly toward a pro-vegan cause.
Pro Tip: Overwhelmed by the number of worthy causes? Try Mercy for Animals or the Good Food Institute to start. Both are reputable nonprofits that have made measurable and significant impacts in the name of animal welfare.
3. Share Those Vegan Donuts and Rock Your Vegan Tee
Sometimes, we dial back our identity as vegans for fear of rocking the boat or offending others who aren’t quite there yet. This year, don’t be afraid to let your vegan pride show amongst a mixed company of eaters. Wear a fun t-shirt that promotes plant-based living, or bring a homemade vegan dish to a potluck or the office kitchen. No need to label it “vegan” upfront; it’s just good food. Very few people will turn down a tantalizing box of donuts in an office setting. When mere crumbs are left, subtly mention where you purchased them, and throw in that they happen to be vegan. For those a bit more receptive to your lifestyle choice, suggest some documentaries you find powerful, or a handful of helpful resources such as recipe blogs, magazines, and cookbooks.
Pro Tip: Want some pro-vegan apparel that isn’t too confrontational? Vegetaryn makes fun, comfy, compliment-worthy clothing for both men and women. For those who looking for a bit more edge, check out BeetxBeet styles.
4. Let Your Voice Be Heard (Beyond Social Media)
Want to see more vegan options at your local coffee shop? Still waiting on your closest grocery store to carry that new vegan ice cream you’ve been dying to try? Let them know. Successful companies listen to what their customers have to say, and many are receptive to requests or suggestions. Write an email or fill out a customer comment card and let your voice be heard. Even national businesses are fair game. Customer inquiries helped spark the massive vegan ice cream movement; people asked Ben & Jerry’s for vegan options, and they listened. Other companies, such as McConnell’s and Halo Top, followed suit once they became flooded with similar requests. Ask, and over time, you may receive!
Pro Tip: For local and independently owned establishments, your opinion may carry a bit more weight if you’re a regular customer. It also helps to provide examples of other similar restaurants or markets that have already stocked the product you’re asking for.
5. Support Each Other (Seriously: Prioritize This!)
Be a conscious consumer and support vegan businesses. Become a loyalty member at a nearby vegan restaurant, and bring friends when you dine there. Snap a photo of a vegan cupcake and praise the bakery on Instagram. Seek out completely vegan stores, from apparel to grocers, and shop often! For those who may not live near all-vegan restaurants, frequent vegan-friendly places and tell the staff you appreciate the vegan option. Online stores, particularly small businesses, are also in need of some customer support. And of course, there is a growing library of stellar vegan cookbooks to not only purchase for oneself but to give to a friend. Free online recipes are great, but you can do a bit more for a vegan author and chef by investing in their tangible work. It’s all about growing the community, welcoming others, and spreading the vegan movement any small way we can.
Pro Tip: Become a “regular” at your favorite vegan (or vegan-friendly) coffee shop, eatery, or store (the VegNews staff is obsessed with Herbivore Clothing Company, and consider ourselves “virtual” regulars!). Get to know the staff and the owner, and not only will you make new friends, but they might just toss some extra avocado slices your way, be more open to your order modifications, or even name a menu item after you. Here’s to the [Insert Your Name] Special!
Tanya Flink is a Digital Editor at VegNews as well as a writer and runner living in Orange County, CA.
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