The vegan community is quickly growing and gaining popularity. Still, vegans are a minority group, and living a vegan lifestyle can be challenging in a world that is largely not. Challenges include not always finding vegan options at restaurants, being judged by others when they find out you’re vegan, and not being able to have a conversation with non-vegans about being vegan without it getting ugly.
This is why it is essential to build a vegan-friendly community while on your vegan journey. Not only can it help connect vegans with each other, but it can help incorporate other members of the community. This can help with awareness and education, even if you don’t get others to commit to a vegan lifestyle, you might get them to reduce their intake of animal products, or you might get people to campaign against animal cruelty in the food industry.
Here are some ways you can help build a vegan-friendly community.
Open Gardens A great first step is to create gardens that are open to the community. The concept of community gardens is to create a garden in an available space, with permission if it’s not your space, and plant fruits and vegetables in it.
Of course, gardens are difficult to take care of, and you won’t be able to do it all on your own. That’s when volunteers come into the mix. You can advertise in your community that people who come and volunteer to help with the garden can get free fruits and vegetables in return.
According to realty experts, open gardens can also increase the value of the surrounding neighborhood:
"We find that the opening of a community garden has a statistically significant positive impact on the sales prices of properties within 1,000 feet of the garden and that the impact increases over time… Higher-quality gardens have the greatest positive impact. We also find that gardens have the greatest impact in the most disadvantaged neighborhoods. Finally, a simple cost-benefit analysis suggests that the gain in tax revenue generated by community gardens in the 1,000-foot ring may be substantial."
Not only is an open garden a great way to encourage plant-based eating in your community, but it is also great for the financial value of your neighborhood.
Neighborhood Meals Once you have started your community garden with the help of volunteers, you can use the vegetables from your community garden to create neighborhood meals.This is a second way to connect with members of your community.
With neighborhood meals, you can use the vegetables, fruits, and herbs that you’ve grown to make vegan meals that everyone can enjoy. Again, the goal isn’t necessarily to convince others to become vegan but to show them the benefits and ease-of-access to being vegan. Even if you get them to eat more vegetables and fewer animal products, that’s a win.
When planning meals, use as much of your open-garden harvest as possible, and try to cook something everyone can enjoy. Hopefully, the pride of the volunteers who helped with the gardening will help them enjoy the meal even more.
Community Health Programs You can also use your community garden and neighborhood meals as an opportunity to educate others. You can do this by creating informational signs at the community garden for people to look at. You can have different topics every month, so that volunteers can learn more about the vegan lifestyle.
You can also incorporate informational talks at the beginning of volunteer sessions or before the community meals begin. You can provide resources for people looking to keep specific health goals while on a vegan diet, talk about environmental issues, and talk about health and eating right.
Possible topics you can bring up include:
- Giving examples of vegan recipes
- The good and bad about juicing
- How your diet can affect your cholesterol
- Ethically made vegan clothing
You can keep your ideas general at times, in order not to overwhelm those who are not vegan but also be specific other times to inform those that are considering it.
Hopefully, these will all help you build a vegan-friendly community. This will not only open up awareness and options for people with a vegan lifestyle, but it can create understanding and connections for those who don’t participate. And who knows, you might even inspire some people to become vegan.
Image credit: https://www.pexels.com/photo/group-of-people-sitting-on-dining-table-1267321/