By Brenda Sanders, VO Community Engagement Coordinator
A few weekends ago, I ventured out into the 90+ degree weather to attend Artscape—Baltimore, Maryland’s largest free arts festival—to engage with other attendees about the benefits of veganism.
Artscape brings out more that 350,000 people over the course of three days, and I’m pretty sure I talked to at least half of those people. Okay, I didn’t talk to nearly that many people, the unrelenting heat just made it feel like I did.
I actually spoke with a couple hundred people over the course of the day, and with very few exceptions I got extremely positive responses from folks!
I was pleasantly surprised by the interactions I had during the festival. First off, every single person I spoke to had heard of veganism. That was certainly not the case just a few years ago. I can remember a time when I had to give a long introduction about what veganism meant before I could even talk to people about the benefits of the lifestyle.
This time, however, when I asked the question, “Have you ever heard of veganism?” people were genuinely happy to talk about what they thought it was —“That’s the one where you don’t eat anything, right?” For the most part folks were pretty well-informed.
A few people seemed concerned that I was about to take them on a guilt trip, but once they realized I just wanted to discuss how awesome veganism is, they relaxed and enjoyed the conversation.
I was also encouraged to find that about one third of the people I spoke to were already seriously considering going vegan. This is such a huge thing! The fact that I met so many people in one day who had learned enough about veganism to be considering making such an important life change was just amazing.
Even the folks who hadn’t considered going vegan were very open to receiving information about how veganism can benefit their health, the earth, and the animals with which we share the planet.
After only a brief conversation, the majority of the people I talked to expressed a definite interest in learning how they could start making kinder, healthier choices in their everyday lives.
The Compassionate Athlete booklet was a huge hit—shout-out to David Carter, Seba Johnson, and all the other amazing athletes who were featured—and a lot of the people I met expressed a desire to connect with the growing vegan community in Baltimore.
Overall, I would say that, despite the irrationally hot temperatures, my day of outreach at Artscape was a roaring success!
I’m especially thankful to Vegan Outreach for being so supportive of community-based projects that are aimed at engaging people in marginalized communities. Baltimore has a strong base of local groups and activists. If it weren’t for this kind of support from groups like VO, we wouldn’t be able to reach so many people with such vital, life-saving information.