Being the only vegan in a meat-eating world can feel 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. 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.
What if there is no group local to me?
Well then, perhaps it’s time to create your own! With today’s social media it really is easy to set up a group and we can show you how to get started!
Step 1 – Decide what you want your group to be
Some groups are social. They may meet once a month for a meal and to spend an evening together. Others have activism at their heart, and members may work together to set up a vegan fair or they may join in with other campaigns. Decide what you want your group to be so you can attract the right people.
Step 2 – Advertise your group as widely as possible
Social media is the best place to do this. Choose a name for your group that is easy for people to remember and to find on sites such as Facebook – the name of your town +vegans works well. So, Stevenage Vegans or Halifax Vegans, for example.
You can also ask about putting posters up in health food shops, vegetarian / vegan restaurants and libraries. And you can also 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. You can also register at 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 3 – 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 4 – 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 might invite a speaker in, hold a fundraiser or show a film. 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?
Step 5 – Consider pot lucks and picnics
Pot lucks and picnics in nice weather are a good way to include everyone regardless of their income. 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.
Step 6 – 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!
PAGE UPDATED JULY 2020