Will You Take the Vegan Chalk Challenge?
Being an effective activist comes in a number of forms. A new project has come into the public, and it’s just as creative as you want it to be: The Vegan Chalk Challenge. Started in Raleigh, North Carolina, the VCC is a leaderless movement that was kicked off by North Carolina based activist, James DeAlto. “All anyone needs is a few pieces of chalk and some pavement,” he says, speaking to its grassroots base, “There’s no need to organize. Anyone can do it anytime and anywhere they want.” The Vegan Chalk Challenge is a small artistic movement that tells vegans to get out in public spaces and create pro-vegan messages, all using sidewalk chalk. It’s a low-cost, low-time investment, but is able to carry a message as passionate as the artist wants to make while reaching tons of people, weather permitting!
For those in the animal rights movement who need some inspiration, DeAlto gives us just that with his practical means of disrupting people’s everyday activities while inspiring them to make a compassionate change in their lives. “I’ve always felt like I could be doing more to help animals. In considering ways I could incorporate activism into my daily routine, it occurred to me that I walk my dogs every day on a paved greenway where there’s quite a few walkers, runners and bikers. I figured it would be simple enough to write a vegan message on the pavement. So, I bought a box of chalk and did just that…When over 1,200 people signed up, I knew I had struck on something that really resonated with people.” And that it has! Chalking support isn’t limited to his corner of the American South, as folks from Australia, New Zealand, Germany, India, Mexico, and Canada have taken the challenge and posted their own street art.
So, how do future vegans react when coming across chalkings? From DeAlto’s experience in Raleigh, which isn’t normally hailed as a vegan haven, observers have been quite supportive. “People I regularly see on my walks tell me they take pictures and love the positive, creative messages I leave. I’ve started filming reactions from people who pass by. Last weekend I was out with a couple friends and we had at least 10 people stop to tell us they loved our messages. None of them were vegans, but they all appreciated the message and said they would give more thought to veganism.” Even his Donald Trump supporting neighbor loves it, and is always asking when the next neighborhood chalking will go up.
The love that DeAlto has for the vegan lifestyle is radiant, and it’s obvious that participants in the VCC are just as excited as he is. “I think normalizing veganism by getting the word out there as often as possible into public spaces and associating it with things people already believe in, could go a long way toward reducing the stigma many vegans still feel in wearing the label. Being vegan is something to be proud of.” And proud we are.