I spoke these words
I was invited to talk (by Kim Stallwood) as part of a panel at VegfestUK London this weekend just passed.
The topic I was invited to talk about? What’s the most effective way to campaign for living as a vegan and make vegan values mainstream?
This is a rough version of what I said. It has been transcribed from the notes I took into the talk, meaning it doesn’t include all of the ad-libbing I did such as saying hello every time I saw one of my friends in the audience or any of my hilarious (!) of-the-moment wisecracks.
I am Sean from the blog Fat Gay Vegan.
How I got the name: I knew I needed the name to be attention grabbing to draw people to my blog, but I wanted it to also be political.
Fat Gay Vegan represents three of the different ways I have been seen as outsider, but none of these struggles stand in isolation and they need to be recognised and resisted all at once. It is my way of saying I am here for improving outcomes for animals, but I also stand for human struggles at the same time.
What I do for the vegan community
– blog daily
– help small businesses
– use humour to engage people
– create large scale social events to help people feel valued and celebrated in their choice to go and stay vegan
– build community/social capital for people who work hard for animals. People matter too in the fight for animals
The obvious successes that come from my vegan campaigning are the social events I run, with the biggest example being London Vegan Beer Fest. This event works on many levels as a form of activism.
It supports independent breweries including vegan owned and run beer makers. It raises the profile of veganism in the mainstream by being featured on news and listing sites. Many attendees are non-vegans who are accessing the vegan message under the guise of fun. All of this contributes to the struggle of improving outcomes for animals by placing veganism in a mainstream context. People are exposed to veganism while they are enjoying themselves.
I work hard to create social media buzz around veganism and vegan issues.
I work to infiltrate the mainstream.
We all live on Vegan Island and we often need to cross the bridge to the non-vegan mainland and entice people back to our island with the promise of excitement, fun and human interaction. Some of these visitors to Vegan Island like it so much, they stay!
Just as I do with non-vegans and vegan social settings, I work to make non-vegan companies more aware of vegan issues and see the value in promoting accidentally-vegan products in mainstream settings.
Inclusion is the underpinning value of all of my campaigning. I reject the use of language and imagery that could make someone feel targeted or rejected. I don’t insult or ridicule people who are not yet vegan. I speak up against sexist behaviour at my events and I always reject body shaming.
The struggle to improve outcomes for animals shouldn’t be the place to employ other forms of violence or social injustice.
Make everyone feel valued and safe, and your campaigns, whether they be a beer festival or a demo outside a circus, will be more effective and will attract even more valuable participants. Happy activists and campaigners are powerful activists and campaigners.
Visitors will want to party on Vegan Island with us all the time if we make them feel safe, valued and welcome.