By Lori Stultz, Outreach Coordinator
Last week, in celebration of students’ return to school, the folks at Vegan Outreach offered a few helpful pointers for leafleting.
Today we wanted to discuss a similar form of activism: tabling. Like leafleting, tabling can be an effective way for students to educate others about factory farming and other animal abuse related issues. It provides a great platform to engage in conversation and offer information and advice on how others can most effectively help prevent animal suffering. That is, through reduction of their meat and dairy consumption.
Most often, tabling is done as a group activity (perhaps with an animal advocacy group on campus), but it can also be done solo. Before setting up a table on campus, though, you will need to check in with the campus student activities center to find out where and when you can table on campus. Many campuses have designated locations and times that are acceptable for tabling.
Whether you’re by yourself or with a group of animal-loving friends, your information will be more compelling if you keep these things in mind:
Appearance and Displays
- Personal appearance is crucial! Instead of dressing in counterculture attire, which may send the message to your audience that your worldview is radically different from theirs, dress conservatively. Be clean and well-groomed. This will prevent your audience from assuming that you’re not relatable.
- Make sure your visual displays clearly and simply relay your message. Think big pictures and big words—limit the amount of small text on your display.
- Limit your available materials to one or two issues. Don’t overwhelm your audience by offering literature on five or six different issues. And when laying literature out on the table, fan it in a straight row (instead of a semi-circle). This detail may seem insignificant, but it will drastically increase the rate at which your audience picks up the literature and reads it.
- Actively listen to your audience members. Acknowledge their valid points and observations and ask thought-provoking questions. Find issues that you agree on (common ground). They are much more likely to listen if you’re coming from a place of commonality instead of difference.
- If your audience says they are unable to make a lifestyle change (e.g., “I could never give up meat” or “I could never afford to go vegan/vegetarian”), offer your personal experience of the lifestyle changes they are concerned about. For example, if someone claims that he or she could never give up meat, you could respond by saying, “I used to feel the same way, and at first, I just cut back on meat. Now that I’m vegan, I’ve found that I really don’t miss meat. In fact, I feel good about my diet and am more at peace with the world around me.”
- Refrain from getting into an argument. Some audience members may try to start an argument by saying something rude or obnoxious. They are usually doing this because they are uncomfortable with their own emotions in relation to the topic. Therefore, rather than reacting hastily, simply smile and wish them a good day. Remember that you’re the spokesperson for the animals.
Keeping these points in mind will ensure a successful tabling experience! And be sure to visit the Vegan Outreach website to find accurate and useful information regarding animal-related issues and tips for how to go veg. You can also order literature to use at your table through our website!