Being the only vegan in a meat-eating world can be very isolating and lonely. You may find that you are unable to express your opinions and concerns as you know there will be little understanding from the people around you. There is also a fear of being alienated if you express these feelings. All of this can put pressure on you to turn your back on veganism, but that would be a shame as it is important to stand by your beliefs.
If you want to meet more vegan people then joining a local vegan social group is the way forward. There you can meet kindred spirits who share the same values. You will get a sense of belonging and enjoy the help and support that only other vegans can give.
- Make sure you have checked thoroughly for any local vegan groups by asking in all your local vegan eateries (if you have any) and by searching on social media.
- Once you are sure there are no local vegan social groups, then it’s time to create your own! With today’s social media and emailing facilities, as well as the traditional old methods, it really is easy to do and we can show you how to get started!
Step 1 – Advertise your group as widely as possible
Social media is the best place to advertise. Choose a name for your group that is easy for people to remember and to find on sites such as Facebook. You could use your nearest city with the word vegan such as ‘York Vegans’ or ‘Vegans of Manchester’ Use this on your posters and display in every free and legal place possible such as libraries, health food shops and health centres, vegan eateries – any place that you might find fellow vegans! Alternatively, write to the local papers and/or radio station. Remember to include an email address for people to contact you as not everyone has social media. Again, choose a simple email address such as ‘[email protected]‘.
If there is already a Facebook account set up but they do not have a social meeting element to their site, then write a status asking if it would be ok to organise one and if anyone in the group would like to help you manage this.
Remember, not everyone can make it to the first meeting, but they might still be interested in joining your group.
You can also set up a Twitter account or use websites such as ‘Meetup’.
Here are some links on how to get started on social media, networks and how to set up an e-mail account:
Step 2 – Choosing your target audience
The target audience, apart from the obvious local vegan population, should be anyone who is vegan curious. That is someone who would like to know more about being vegan, with a view to becoming vegan in the future.
We should always encourage more people to join us and to adopt a more compassionate, environmentally friendly and healthier lifestyle.
Vegetarians are naturally keen to join our groups, since they often share the same values. Many may not have made the connection yet to the cruelty of the egg and dairy industry or indeed just need that extra support and encouragement to make that last transition in eliminating these products to become a fully fledged vegan.
Step 3 – Organising the first meeting and suitable venues
If there is only a small number of you for the first meeting (let’s say under 10) then you should be able to meet in a local pub, bar or restaurant without the hassle of booking a room or big table. However, calling ahead to let the establishment know that you are coming is always a good idea just in case.
Choose somewhere central like a vegan eatery or a pub that serves vegan drinks. See if you can strike up a good deal such as a free or cheap mini vegan buffet in return for the business that you are bringing to their establishment. As your group grows in size, you could make it more interesting with a vegan cookery demonstration by the resident cook/chef. You could hire a vegan band, again for free or cheap, in return for the free publicity or you could play games with a vegan theme to break the ice. You could dress in fancy dress for a chosen local charity or organise a film to be shown. The possibilities are endless.
Gain the groups’ opinion on your ideas first, as they will not be everyone’s idea of fun! Make sure that whatever you organise, it is an optional part of the evening as you do not want to prevent anyone from coming along.
N.B Important things to consider! Is the venue easy for everyone to get to? Is public transport close by? Are there suitable and available parking facilities nearby? Is it accessible for wheelchairs/pushchairs? (if applicable)
Step 4 – Consider pot lucks and picnics
Pot lucks and picnics in nice weather are a good way to include everyone regardless of their income. If your group is based in a city, you are likely to attract students who will appreciate the event being kept as affordable as possible. Pot lucks cost very little. They’re simple: one member holds the meeting at their home whilst everyone else brings a vegan dish or drink to share. Picnics are even easier as they can be held in local parks, by a river or at the nearest beach. If travelling, groups can often get a discount on train journeys booked in advance. Alternatively, you can arrange car sharing.
Step 5- Choosing the dates, times, and how often to meet
Try to find a time that suits most of your group. There will always be people who cannot make it to all the meetings and a certain time will not suit everybody, but to make it fair you might want to try to alternate the day or evening for people with regular commitments on certain days/evenings. Avoid clashing with bank holidays as people might have previous arrangements with other friends or family. It also does not always have to be an evening: a Sunday lunch get-together can also be fun or Sunday morning breakfast.
It is best to start with monthly meetings, until you gain enough interest and then ask the group how often they would like to meet. If it seems to get overwhelming with too many requests from individual people, then a table of people’s preferences in terms of place, days and times is always a good, fair and transparent way to determine people’s individual preferences. Go with the majority votes and remember you can’t please everyone!
Now get started and have fun making new friends. Enjoy!
Best wishes from all at Friends of Veganuary