Why would anyone do vegan tabling?
Guest Post by Vanda Kadas
“Are you coming from a show?” I was asked on the way home from our weekly vegan tabling yesterday. I was pulling our collapsible table (securely put away in its case), carrying three lightish backpacks and an aluminum stand. So yeah, I could easily be mistaken for a street performer, I guess.
But I had nothing to do with that kind of artform. I was practicing what we may call an art of persuasion, if anything. I was heading to my car after having completed the last weekly vegan tabling of an entire year.
But why on Earth would one be spending one’s days on the street talking with strangers about veganism?
Who cares anyway? I mean, the big animal organisations take care of all that, right? Well, not exactly…I’m afraid. Thanks to the big animal organisations there is so much confusion out there, including the fact that some people think veganism has anything to do with a vegetarian diet. The big animal organisations promote yelling at people and handing out leaflets, rather than talking to people in order to educate them.
But creative, nonviolent vegan education is easy for people to relate to and it is highly effective. It also allows others to see vegans who are approachable, neighbourly and eager to educate others without judging them personally.
It has been a year now since I started our weekly vegan tabling event, usually with another Abolitionist Approach vegan. We are grassroots educators; we have educated ourselves with the rational and logical animal rights theory of esteemed long-term vegan educator Professor Gary L. Francione of the Abolitionist Approach to Animal Rights. And we are after justice for the animals.
We most often end up setting up in front of one of the San Francisco South Bay area’s public libraries, which usually have a free-speech zone. We take full advantage of the myriad of free vegan advocacy resources from Professor Francione’s Facebook page and HowdoIGoVegan.com.
We are powered by laminated memes, Francione & Charlton books, a plant-based nutrition guide, and several cookbooks.
We designed bright green vegan advocacy pens that have HowdoIGoVegan.com written on them. This URL takes readers to a site that contains all we need to know about veganism as a moral baseline.
We use our Vegan Trivia Cards which work like charm with children of all ages. Great conversation opener questions. It was Christian’s original idea to create these vegan cards, and we developed them together by adding a question such as “What is veganism?” and three multiple choice answers. We make it fun and engaging by asking the young children to choose their favourite colors among the bright, laminated cards. We provide them with an opportunity to read aloud or have us read them the questions. There are three possible answers and we elaborate on those most often via a question-based advocacy style. Most children choose at least two cards and nobody leaves without being educated that veganism is the least we can do if we agree that animals are not things.
One of the things I realised during our first year of unequivocal vegan abolitionist education event that people are ready to hear the truth.
As Gary L. Francione maintains, “most of us agree with the predicate to veganism: it is wrong to cause unnecessary suffering and death to animals.” Indeed, we have spoken with hundreds of people during the entire year, each and every week. Nobody disagreed with the predicate to veganism. Nobody ever did. It is an airtight way of engaging others in a dialogue that inevitably helps them realize that they already agree with vegan morality.
It feels good to say it as it is, but, most importantly, it is the right thing to do. I cannot count how many times people thought that being a vegetarian is almost as “good” as being a vegan. Nobody ever educated them on the life and death difference. Nobody ever engaged them respectfully yet firmly and clearly on the fact that animal exploitation is all wrong regardless how “nicely” it may happen. That there is no right way to do the wrong thing, and all animal use has to go. “If we agree that animals are not things we can’t eat them, wear them or use them in any other way”, as Francione wrote.
So no, I did not come from any show. There is nothing glamorous or financially beneficial about vegan tabling. It was yet another of our weekly events when friendly neighborhood chat took place about a life and death issue: animal exploitation. Just regular people engaging with each other and inspiring others to change paradigms.
Just regular people who took a bit of their time to educate themselves first then got out to educate others.
Tabling works. The animals need us to amplify their voices. They don’t need a “show” of any sort. They don’t need glamour or any other fascinations. They need unequivocal, unapologetic, friendly voices of reason and clarity. They need us to get out there and make a change.
You can be the next vegan educator. You’ve got to be the next because the animals don’t need our excuses. They need our voices in the form of creative, nonviolent vegan education.
Please, be there for them and you will realize how rewarding it feels to help others who cannot help themselves: the innocent victims of animal exploitation.
They just want to live. We can help them. We. Must
I’d like to thank my fellow local tablers, Christian Sanchez and Mariana Landeros Corona, and all our other comrades worldwide.
The proceeds for writing this article will be donated towards local TNR projects