By Nina Lehr and Tisha Bhat, VRG Interns
If you’re a student, one of the best ways you can advocate
for vegetarianism is by starting a club or organization at your school. From
documentary screenings to sharing fun meal ideas, the opportunities for fun and
engaging club activities are endless! Starting an organization will also allow
you to gain confidence with public speaking and learn valuable leadership
skills. With hard work and dedication, you can make a difference in your
community and introduce your peers to a rewarding new lifestyle. Here are some
tips that may help you in running your own vegan/vegetarian club.
Tip #1 Create a strong leadership team
Running a club requires a lot of planning, so make sure you
find other like-minded peers who can help you with this process. You could go
about this in many different ways. For instance, you could advertise that your
club is seeking student leaders on a school bulletin board or announcement
page, or maybe ask your friends if they know people who would be interested.
Once you find several leaders, make sure everyone has clearly defined roles, so
that there isn’t confusion over who is in charge of each task. Brainstorm and
discuss everyone’s interests and skill sets when deciding on roles. For
instance, if someone is great at writing, they can be in charge of email
communication. Someone with an interest in graphic design can design the club
materials, such as PowerPoints and club merchandise. One challenge I sometimes
faced when leading my club was trying to take on too many responsibilities.
Thus, it’s helpful to try not to overestimate the amount of time you can
dedicate to your club. Factor in homework, other extracurricular activities,
and other commitments when you decide on which tasks you perform and which
tasks you delegate. It’s also important to maintain strong, open communication.
This can be done in a variety of ways, and technology is often very helpful in
facilitating this. Try using Remind, Google Classroom, group chats, and similar
platforms. Make sure to hold officer meetings frequently, and update your plans
as needed. If your school assigns you a club advisor, be sure to maintain a
good relationship with them. In my case, the club advisor was really helpful
and a great help when it came to planning meetings and events. If you are open
and willing to collaborate with yours, it can be very beneficial.
Tip #2 Have good vegan food at your meetings!
Providing delicious vegan food at each meeting is a great
way to get people interested in your club. If you have an Instagram account for
your group, post a picture of food you’ll be giving out as a way to promote
your next meeting! This was one way that I was able to attract a substantial
number of peers to my club! Try having a taste testing activity– this will not
only be fun, but also show participants that vegetarian food can be tasty and
full of variety! Around different holidays, provide attendees with seasonal
goodies (for example, you could have a vegan Halloween cookie decorating event
in October). Bringing plates, napkins, and utensils is a good idea. Ask your
club advisor (or the person in charge of organizing clubs at your school) about
a budget for your club. Typically, schools will allocate a specific amount of
funds you can use towards club materials and activities. Using some of this
money towards food, utensils, and similar items can be very helpful! Another
important tip is to be very careful about allergies! Be sure to disclose any
possible allergens (gluten, nuts, etc.) that are present in your food.
Tip #3 Be open to questions and collaboration
Making your club members feel welcome and valued is very
important! Tell participants that they can feel free to ask any questions about
veganism/vegetarianism, no matter how silly or basic they may seem. Be friendly
and open to clarifying any questions they may have. If you appear to have a
judgmental attitude towards non-vegetarians, this may deter people from both
your club and considering eating more veggie food! Also, be open to hearing
their ideas for future club meetings and events. You might get some great
suggestions to use later on! One tool that I used was an anonymous google
survey for suggestions and feedback. I would put it in the emails I sent out to
members so that they could have another way to provide input to the club
Tip #4 Have guest speakers
Inviting guest speakers from other vegetarian-related
organizations is a great way to engage with the greater vegetarian community!
It also can attract new members to your club and be a way to add variety to
your meetings. Try reaching out to organizations that have led meatless
movements! Some ideas are Peta and I’m Not Lovin’ It. You could also host the
leaders of vegetarian clubs at other schools near you. This is a fun way to
collaborate with other like-minded students and hear their ideas.
Tip #5 Screen Documentaries
This is often a great way to introduce people to veganism/vegetarianism
and spur discussions about important topics. Generally, it is advisable to
avoid graphic documentaries, as some people may not be able to tolerate viewing
such material. This could deter people from coming to your club and seeking out
information about the cause. Thus, try to stick to informative, engaging, and
non-graphic videos. If you want to recommend a more graphic documentary, maybe
provide information about it in your club’s mailing list, or simply mention it
at a club meeting.
For more organizing ideas, see: