Promoting Veganism with Free Food Fairs and other Food Events
Offering free vegan food can be an incredibly effective way to promote
veganism. If you get it right the effect is immediate because you are able to
directly demonstrate that it is possible to go vegan and still eat delicious
food. People often have stereotypes about vegan food and you can remove these
in the time it takes to munch a chocolate cake or nibble a mini-quiche.
Giving the food away free also draws people’s interest. Because you are
giving something away free, people are more prepared to give back some of their
time to investigate your cause.
There are many ways of introducing food into an event that you have
arranged yourself. Some of these are listed below.
- invite some non-vegan friends around for a vegan meal
- vegan stall with food giveaway
- free vegan food fair: explained in detail below
- veggie burger giveaway
- cafe night with video/food/speaker
- vegan food tasting evening. This could include a speaker, video, cookery demo or all three
- open meeting where you lay on vegan food plus a video or talk on veganism
- cookery demo showing how to make vegan cakes
When organising any event which involves food preparation it is
important to be aware of food hygiene regulations. See the Food Hygiene section
below for more details.
Free vegan food fairs
Vegan food fairs (like most food-based events) provide a relaxed social
setting in which to discuss vegan food and impart information about veganism.
By offering your guests free vegan food you enable them to indulge in the most
basic of human pleasures and needs, eating, without any sense of guilt,
conscious or unconscious. The question “what do vegans eat?” is automatically answered, and the variety of foods
available that are suitable for those on a vegan diet will come as a welcome
surprise to many.
Get enough people to run
Make sure that there is someone responsible for organising the main
areas of the event: e.g. food donations, food to be cooked, information stalls,
coordinating volunteers on the day, publicity.
Find volunteers to cook food, drive food to the event and undertake general
tasks on the day including cooking, serving food and leafleting before and on
the day. Make sure that you allocate tasks in advance so that volunteers know
where they will be on the day.
Ensure you can cover costs
Do some fundraising in advance, in case costs are not covered by
donations. E.g. Street stalls or stalls at events.
Book the venue
If possible choose a venue on a busy street as this will be very useful
for bringing in passing trade. The venue should also be near a residential area
because door-to-door leafleting is very effective at bringing in more people.
Look for good cooking facilities e.g. check the ovens, amount of fridge
space, and availability of a microwave (these can be invaluable for heating
food quickly). Also check if the venue
has tables, if not find some folding ones.
Decide what food that you
want to have on your free buffet.
Here are a few considerations:
Think about how much hot food you will serve, if
any. Cold buffets are easier, but including some hot food will give you a
bigger variety of dishes to select from and serve.
Variety is very important. Don’t just serve stodgy
main course food; include salads and simple side dishes as well.
Make sure there are wheat and sugar free options.
It is all too easy to end up with a buffet which predominantly offers wheat-based savouries
and sugar-filled desserts.
The two major items people say they would miss if
they went vegan are cheese and chocolate, so consider putting together special
sections for vegan cheese and chocolate.
It is vital that your buffet is delicious and
provides the best possible introduction to vegan food so don’t settle for
second best on any of your food items!
Possible Menu items:
Vegetable stews and soups
Salads of various types e.g. rice, salad, pasta,
Sandwiches with different vegan sheese or fake meat
Sausages on sticks (possibly donated)
Burger in a bun (possibly donated)
Mini Kebabs (some ingredients possibly donated)
Samosas (possibly donated)
Falafel (possibly donated)
Cakes (chocolate, sugar-free fruit cake, lemon and
Tofu cheese cakes
Trifle (although this can get pretty messy!)
Ice-cream if summer (possibly donated)
Sugar-free energy balls
Chocolates (possibly donated)
Be prepared to set up a table by the door with stall with your own
information on it. Decide what literature and merchandise you want on the stall
and get it from the relevant groups/companies well in advance. If you have
space in the hall for other stalls contact any potential stall holders, e.g.
food sponsors or animal rights groups
Ask companies and local
restaurants for donations
It’s surprising how many of them will donate. Give potential sponsors
the incentive of their details being on the flier and other publicity. Think carefully about what food you want
donated or you may end up with a pile of crackers and tasteless flapjacks that
you don’t want to use!
Produce a poster and flier
and publicise widely
Make sure it is clear on the flyer that free food is on offer. Publicity
could include door-to-door leafleting, websites, health food shops, green shops/groups,
colleges, universities and libraries. It is important to avoid animal rights or
vegan lists (otherwise there will be an influx of vegans).
Make A1 boards to signpost
people into the event
Press release to local
Do this about 2 weeks before the event. Also encourage people to write
to the local letters page with details of the event, there is a high chance
that a letter will be published.
Consider selling cold
and/or hot drinks
This could help cover your costs and people are usually more than happy
to pay for a drink with all the free food they get in the bargain.
Equipment check list
Make sure you have all the equipment you need for preparation in the
kitchen and to serve the food. For example have enough cutlery and crockery
(400 plates, knives, forks and spoons to be on the safe side). Bring extra
kitchen equipment as required.
Find out about parking in
Make a recipe booklet based
on the food at the event
See http://www.vegancampaigns.org.uk/resources/factsheets for examples.
Design an evaluation form
Key questions to ask are whether people are vegan, vegetarian or meat
eaters, where they found out about the event, whether their diet will change as
a result of the fair, what food they liked best, and if they have any other
Set up a local group
If you wish, the fair can be used to set up a veggie and vegan group in
your area, or get interest for your current group. Create a section on your
evaluation form for fair-goers to sign up.
ON THE DAY
- Arrive at
least 3 hours before the event starts to set the room and food up.
- Set up a
stall just inside the entrance to the hall and give your recipe booklet, a
feedback form and a Why Vegan leaflet by The Vegan Society (or similar) to
every person that goes into the hall.
- Make sure
donation tins are visible.
- Set up your
own information stall inside the venue.
advertising boards outside the venue.
- Put posters
up around the room (not gory ones, the fair should be a positive event).
- Allocate a
couple of volunteers to leaflet outside to pull people in – save back some
event leaflets for this purpose. They could hold trays of free food. Don’t
leaflet outside until after the event has started!
AFTER THE EVENT
Write an evaluation report to help you improve future events. Also write
a short press release about the event and send this to local papers, letting
them know that photos are available. They may not have anyone available to
attend the event but if you make it easy for them with a ready-written report
including quotes and photos they may well cover your event.
When dealing with
food there are certain hygiene issues that you should be aware of. For vegan
food the main hygiene issues are that everyone should wash their hands, tie
their hair back, and that food should only be out for a limited time. Hot water
should be available (a flask of hot water is acceptable if you are doing an
outdoor stall), as well as antibacterial spray for surfaces. The limitations
are stricter on hot food.
For full details see
the following website: http://www.food.gov.uk/foodindustry/regulation/hygleg/
You may also find it
beneficial for one of more of your group to get a food hygiene certificate.
This may reassure the public and venues that you hire from. Your local council
should be able to tell you about local food hygiene courses.
For catering packs, restaurant feedback cards, information on getting
vegan food in hospitals, schools and colleges and much more contact The Vegan
Society on 0121 523 1730 or email firstname.lastname@example.org We can also provide Why Vegan? and other
literature to give out, see http://www.vegansociety.com/resources/downloads.aspx