Start a Vegan Social Group
While some people have a lot of vegan friends, others (especially those who are new to vegetarian eating) might not know anyone else who makes the same compassionate choices as they do. Creating a vegan social group with a regularly scheduled restaurant outing, bar outing, or potluck dinner is a good way to create a sense of community among veg eaters and to help prevent people from sliding back into eating meat.
Before You Start: Look Around!
It is entirely possible that there is already a group in your area! A simple Google search (e.g., [your town] vegetarian group) might turn up several options to check out. You can specifically search Meetup to look around your area, too. There are sections for vegetarian Meetups and vegan Meetups.
Step 1. Spread the word
Create a name for your new social group and start inviting others to join. Form a page for your group on Meetup.com. While there is a $12 per month charge to run a group on Meetup, it is one of the best places to meet other vegans and animal advocates. Next, create a Facebook group and promote it to your friends. Put up flyers for your group with tear-off tabs in vegan-friendly restaurants, coffee shops, and health food stores. Attend events hosted by similar groups in your area (animal rights groups, environmental groups, even cat and dog rescue groups) and let their members know about your social group. Be patient, and expect to start small — Farm Sanctuary started with just two people, and look where it is today!
Step 2. Hold your first event
Ready for your restaurant outing, bar outing, or potluck event? Pick a day and time for the event when most people will be free, then start promoting it through your Meetup page, Facebook group, and personal contacts. If you’re holding a potluck, make sure guests know that they’re expected to bring a vegan dish. If you’re doing a restaurant or bar outing, you’ll obviously want to book space at a vegan-friendly restaurant or bar — consider choosing a location that most people wouldn’t expect to have vegan offerings. Be sure to be friendly, and talk to every guest who comes out!
Step 3. Keep it going, keep it personal
Social groups (and small groups in general) thrive on friendships and personal connections. Try to get the email addresses of everyone who comes out to the event so that you can personally invite them to the next one. Bring name tag stickers and pens to each event. Thank people personally for coming out. Keep in touch with members and build friendships with them. Also, be sure to keep your event happening on a regularly scheduled basis (for example, having a Vegan Drinks bar outing at 7 p.m. the last Thursday of every month at the same location). People appreciate consistency. Too many social groups fizzle out after a few months — pace yourself so that you can have events for months to come, and make sure that the events are personally enjoyable to you!
For more great advice on creating a vegan social group, click through to page two by using the numbered boxes at the bottom of the page.