The Powerful Impact of College Leafleting (Part 1)

By Nick Cooney

January 15, 2013

Leafleting — passing out information about factory farming and vegan eating — is one of the most common ways that animal advocates promote vegan eating in the United States.

The group Vegan Outreach, which pioneered and popularized vegan leafleting, passed out almost 3 million leaflets last year, and other groups chipped in millions more. Compassionate Communities volunteers have been distributing our Something Better leaflet, which shares the Farm Sanctuary experience, the realities of factory farming, and info on meat-free eating, to hundreds of thousands of people.

But just how effective is leafleting? How many readers actually change their diet, and how many animals are spared a lifetime of misery? Should volunteers prioritize leafleting over other forms of animal advocacy?

For the first time ever, we have answers to those questions! In the fall of 2012, Compassionate Communities teamed up with The Humane League to measure the true impact of leafleting on a college campus.

How It Was Done

Early in the fall semester, staffers from The Humane League visited the main campuses of two large state schools on the East Coast, the University of Delaware and the University of Maryland. They distributed thousands of leaflets outside the dining halls of each school. The leaflets distributed were an equal mixture of Farm Sanctuary’s Something Better leaflet and Vegan Outreach’s popular Compassionate Choices leaflet.

About two months later, they returned to campus with surveys to see how much students’ diets had changed. They stood outside the dining halls and asked students passing by if they would take a survey. Students did not know what the survey was about prior to stopping and agreeing to take the survey. After agreeing, only those who actually received a leaflet earlier that semester were allowed to take the survey. Nearly 500 surveys were completed.

 

Key Results

Quite simply, the results were phenomenal. About 1 out of every 50 students who received a leaflet indicated they became vegetarian or pescatarian as a result. Just as importantly, 7% of students (1 in 14) said they now eat “a lot less” chicken, a lot fewer eggs, and a lot less dairy as a result of getting the leaflet. 6% eat a lot less fish, and 12% eat a lot less red meat.

Furthermore, about 1 in 5 students said they shared the leaflet with someone else who then began to eat less meat.

What does all this mean for animals? After accounting for social desirability bias (people over reporting changes in their diet), the results suggest that for every 100 leaflets you distribute on a college campus, you’ll spare, by a conservative calculation, a minimum of 50 animals a year a lifetime of misery. That’s one animal spared for every two leaflets you distribute!

And that’s just in the first year. The number of farm animals spared grows much larger once you factor in the number of years that people maintain their diet. It also grows larger once you count the ripple effects of people persuading their friends and family to change. And we haven’t even begun to count the many hundreds of wild fish who will also be spared.

The bottom line is this: With each hour you spend leafleting on a college campus, you will truly spare hundreds of farm animals from a lifetime of daily misery. The data is in. The facts are there. College leafleting is an absurdly effective activity for individuals and for organizations who want to make their community a more compassionate one.

For more details on the study, including additional findings, charts, and how social desirability bias was calculated, scroll down to the supplementary blog post below or click here.

To order Something Better leaflets today and get started leafleting in your community, email us at activist@farmsanctuary.org.

 

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