03 May 2012

New Farm Sanctuary initiative aims to promote vegetarian diet through 'regular folks'

Farm Sanctuary, the Watkins Glen, New York-based animal rescue and advocacy organization, has launched a new initiative designed to help animals by enlisting its members and others to promote vegetarian diets through a variety of strategies.

 The Compassionate Communities Campaign is run by Nick Cooney, founder of The Humane League and author of the well-received 2010 book on psychological insights into activism, Change of Heart. The program appeals to a broad base of folks to spread the word about the benefits of plant-based eating through low-cost, grass roots approaches.

In its kickoff announcement in March 2012, Farm Sanctuary makes clear that “it doesn’t matter to us if you’re part of an animal protection group, or you’re just an individual who wants to help end the terrible cruelty done to farm animals. We just want to help you do the absolutely most effective things you can do to help farm animals.”

According to the organization, the best way for individuals to positively impact the lives of farm animals is to convince people to go vegan or vegetarian or just reduce their meat consumption. Farm Sanctuary acknowledges that it did not invent the advocacy strategies it is encouraging through the Compassionate Communities Campaign. In fact, other organizations like PETA and Vegan Outreach have been aggressively signing up volunteers to pass out pro-veg literature for years.

But what is unique about the new program is that it targets those who want to help animals but may not see themselves as activists, and provides easy access to resources and personal support -- a one-stop-shop -- to encourage and train them.

In addition to supplying Campaigners with leaflets and vegetarian starter kits to distribute in their local communities, the program provides guidance on strategies to help them build veg social groups and improve their advocacy skills in order to be more persuasive when communicating the “go veg” message.

The Compassionate Communities Campaign website features a number of helpful essays from noted animal activists, including Cooney himself, Farm Sanctuary’s Senior Director of Strategic Initiatives Bruce Friedrich, Vegan Outreach co-founder Matt Ball, vegan author and blogger Erik Marcus, and others, as well as suggested books.

 The website also has instructional videos, information on how to set up Facebook ads promoting veganism, and a variety of other easy, low-cost or free methods of getting out the message that vegan diets save animals and preserve the Earth.

A regularly updated blog on the site also helps keep participants focused, motivated and in touch with the Campaign’s staff. After the first month of the Campaign, the blog announced that more than 20,000 pieces of vegetarian literature had already been distributed by Compassionate Communities volunteers. But they need more help. If you can spare a little time, want to make a difference for farm animals, and are ready to learn from some of the most respected activists around - sign up today at www.farmsanctuary.org/compassionateCommunities.

Gillian Schiller
Massachusetts Gillian is a native Texan and mom of two daughters and one rescued hound living in suburban New England. Despite growing up in cattle country, she began her vegetarian journey at age 16 after reading Upton Sinclair's The Jungle, and now is a proud and joyful vegan. She enjoys creative cooking and learning as much as she can about animals and the remarkable people who fight for them everyday. One day she dreams of founding an animal sanctuary with special focus on donkeys. In her spare time she works as an insurance adjuster.

Photo credit:cc:flickr.com/photos/theotherdan