Staying the Course in Troubled Times

by Jack Norris, Executive Director

Throughout our history, Vegan Outreach has faced many tough situations challenging our ability to do public outreach—9/11, the Great Recession, and an onslaught of blizzards, hurricanes, and heatwaves. Through it all, VO has kept our focus on the end game–bringing about an end to killing animals for food.

In addition to these society-wide disruptions, there’s been an endless flow of urgent animal issues that could have consumed all of our time and resources. But we knew that the spread of veganism is critical to ending this flow of animal tragedies. So, literally, come snow, wind, or high water we’ve been on the front lines spreading animal-free eating and bringing new advocates into the animal rights movement.

Now the front lines are being disrupted again—we’re facing a global epidemic that is making public outreach challenging to say the least.

Our outreach staff has been courageous these last few weeks as they continue to speak for the animals on college campuses and at other events. But the situation on the ground is becoming more tenuous by the day. Colleges are rapidly moving to online classes and large public events are being canceled. This situation shows no sign of abating anytime soon and we might be facing obstacles for months, if not a year or more.

Vegan Outreach didn’t forget about farmed animals in 2001 or in 2008, and we won’t forget about farmed animals during these tough times—we’ll adapt our outreach.

We currently have a prolific, cost-effective online ad campaign for 10 Weeks to Vegan and Get Healthy guided challenges, and in recent months, we’ve expanded our online support for the thousands of people a month who sign up for these challenges.

Our surveys show that online 10 Weeks to Vegan outreach is extremely effective—based on people’s food intake, 10 Weeks to Vegan results in a 29.4% conversion of participants to vegetarian or vegan (see Impact of 10 Weeks to Vegan for more info).

As community and college outreach faces increasing challenges, we at Vegan Outreach are brainstorming effective ways to spread veganism while also protecting our staff.

We want our donors, who pay for everything we do, to know what we’re doing with their money and what’s going on behind the scenes. If you’re one of the wonderful people who has invested in Vegan Outreach—thank you. Your funds will continue creating new vegans every single day.

We’re still in the early stages of planning, but want you to know that we’ll be keeping you informed about how we’re adapting our tactics to this quickly-developing situation.

We hope that you are staying safe and healthy during this time.


Impact of 10 Weeks to Vegan

Background

10 Weeks to Vegan is a weekly email series from Vegan Outreach containing tips, recipes, and resources for those interested in learning more about animal-free eating. To assess the effectiveness of our program, we surveyed participants before and after they began the email series.

The pre-test was emailed to participants the same week they signed up for 10 Weeks to Vegan. We sent the post-test approximately two weeks after people finished the entire 10 Weeks to Vegan series. To encourage participation, we offered a $50 Amazon gift card to two randomly chosen participants per month.

We determined p-values using a McNemar test comparing non-vegans at pre-test to total conversions at post-test.

Response Rate

We first started sending out the U.S./Canada pre-test in September 2018. It went to 48,020 people. Of those, 3,337 participants completed the survey, for a response rate of 7%. We sent the post-test to those 3,337 people. Of those, 516 completed the survey, for a response rate of 15.5%.

Results

Below are the results from the 500 participants who received the U.S./Canada version of 10 Weeks to Vegan, took both the pre-test and the post-test, and reported reading at least one email.

We considered those who moved from being a meat-eater to vegetarian or vegan, or from being a vegetarian to vegan, as a positive change. We classified those who moved in the reverse direction (vegan to vegetarian or meat-eater, or vegetarian to meat-eater) as a negative change. We counted the net changes for our total conversion figures.

Self-Identification

At the time of the pre-test, 408 people self-identified as non-vegan (either meat-eater or vegetarian) and 92 self-identified as vegan. There was a net change of 115 people who became vegetarian or vegan at post-test, for a conversion rate of 28.2%.

As seen in the table above, a large number of people—20—went from vegetarian to meat-eater. It turns out that, according to the food intake data, 19 of those people were eating some meat at pre-test, so our best guess is that being exposed to 10 Weeks to Vegan made them aware of the definition of “vegetarian,” and so they answered the post-test accurately.

Food Intake

Although some participants identified a certain way (as described in the Self-Identification section above), their reported food intake didn’t always line up with those labels. The pre-test asks how often participants ate various animal products in the last month and the post-test asks how often in the last week.

Based on the participants’ reported diets, there were 422 non-vegans at pre-test. At post-test, a net 93 people had become vegetarian or vegan, for a conversion rate of 22%.

We further adjusted the results to reflect findings from the control group in our past Leafleting Effectiveness Study (LES). The LES asked the same food intake question as our 10 Weeks to Vegan surveys. We found that those in our control group had a conversion rate of 1.6%. Because we would have used this same methodology if we had a control group for our 10 Weeks to Vegan study, we subtracted the 1.6% rate from our net conversion rate to arrive at a final, adjusted rate of 20.4%.

Elimination of Categories of Animal Products

We also looked at how often people ate certain animal products when they started 10 Weeks to Vegan compared to after completing it. There were statistically significant reductions in all categories of animal products. The results were still meaningful when we looked at participants who did not go vegan by the end of the program. The data in this section excludes those who identified as vegan at the start and/or end of the program.

Results by Signup Source

We analyzed the results based on how we signed people up for the series (in-person outreach vs online ads). Of those who had completed the post-test survey, 263 people signed up online and 237 signed up in-person. Overall, those who signed up online showed greater change.

Self-Identification

There was a 41.6% conversion rate for online signups.


There was an 11.8% conversion rate for in-person signups.

Food Intake

There was a 29.4% conversion rate for online signups.

There was a 9.6% conversion rate for in-person signups.

Additionally, we broke down results by animal product consumption before and after completing 10 Weeks to Vegan and found the following:

Results from Other Guided Challenges

In addition to our U.S./Canada version, we have 10 Weeks to Vegan guided challenges tailored to Mexico, India, Kenya, Australia, and Peru. Get Healthy is another Vegan Outreach email series aimed at helping people transition to vegan, but over the course of 30 days and with a focus on preventing chronic disease.

So far, we have results for our Mexico 10 Weeks to Vegan (below), while we’re in the process of evaluating our India 10 Weeks to Vegan and Get Healthy.

Mexico 10 Weeks to Vegan

For our Mexico version of 10 Weeks to Vegan, 105 participants have completed the pre-test and post-test surveys.

At the time of the pre-test, 95 people self-identified as non-vegan (either meat-eater or vegetarian) and 10 self-identified as vegan. There was a net change of 20 people who became vegetarian or vegan, for a conversion rate of 21.1%.

Based on food intake, there were 92 non-vegans at pre-test. At post-test, a net total of 10 people had become vegetarian or vegan. After adjusting for the LES control rate, this gives us a total conversion rate of 8.8%.

Reasons For Signing Up

Participants cited various and often multiple reasons for signing up for 10 Weeks to Vegan. For most, their motivation behind signing up for the program fell into a few main categories:

  • Health
  • Help with transitioning to veganism
  • Recipes
  • Insight into veganism
  • Animal welfare
  • Environment
  • Reduce animal product consumption

Summary

This research indicates that Vegan Outreach’s 10 Weeks to Vegan series is having a great deal of success in motivating and helping people to become vegetarian and vegan.

While we want the highest conversion rate possible, it’s the absolute number of vegans that is the most important metric for us. When doing outreach, our tactic is normally to sign up anyone who’s willing, even if they haven’t been previously primed to be interested in going vegan, in hopes that this will start them down the road, even though it could hurt our “average conversion” numbers.


India News: Here’s How We Helped Animals in 2019

In 2019, we did this and more for animals in India:

  • Our team visited over 300 colleges collectively reaching over 450,000 students with the vegan message!
  • We helped over 21,000 people sign up for 10 Weeks to Vegan and get started with vegan eating.
  • 15 institutions implemented dairy- and meat-reduction food policies and increased vegan options in their cafeterias.


Outreach Highlights


Over 15,000 students experienced life on factory farms through virtual reality videos and 29,850 students attended classroom presentations.

Some of the best moments during outreach are when we meet students who’ve gone vegan after reading a Vegan Outreach leaflet or watching a video. Our team met many such students this year and some of them have started volunteering with us too!

Millions of Meals Veganized


In 2019, we launched Green Tuesday Initiative, a campaign to help institutions reduce their environmental footprint by making changes in the food they serve.

Here are some of our latest victories:

  • Gautam Buddha University, a large public university in Noida, reduced the use of paneer (cottage cheese) in their cafeteria by 66% and veganized 960,000 meals.
  • Several colleges and corporate offices, such as Vardhaman College of Engineering and Uneecops, implemented meatless days.
  • Read about our past victories here.


We need your help to keep the momentum going in 2020. Please donate today for animals in India!


Warmly,

Aneeha Patwardhan
Director of Programs, India


Outreach Coordinators Who Inspired Us This Fall

Our community outreach coordinators work tirelessly to engage and educate the public about veganism. At the time of this writing, they had signed up over 100,000 people to our 10 Weeks to Vegan in 2019 (in addition to over 40,000 more online)!

Their work is incredible—but tough! We’re happy to celebrate them and the message of compassion they spread. Below are our top 10 most prolific outreach coordinators as of early December. Let’s take a look at the great work they accomplished this fall!

Brian Chavez


Brian started doing outreach with Vegan Outreach in 2017 and has traveled all over the U.S. to spread veganism. He uses his unique style to have meaningful conversations with students about veganism, and as a result, obtained 5,597 10 Weeks to Vegan signups this fall. This semester, he set the US record for the number of signups in one day—348! He also handed out 13,354 booklets at 42 different campuses!

Saurabh Sonkar


Saurabh holds multiple outreach records. He holds the world record for virtual reality views in a single day and at a single event, and was this semester’s top leafleter in India, handing out 18,070 booklets! On top of that, he signed up 3,882 people for 10 Weeks to Vegan.

Miguel Marron


Miguel received a Vegan Outreach booklet at his college, then started an animal rights club, volunteered for Vegan Outreach, and is now an employee. He recently celebrated his 15th “veganniversary,” and we’re celebrating that he signed up 3,735 people for 10 Weeks to Vegan and handed out 11,014 booklets in the northwestern U.S. this semester!

Ethan Blake


Ethan’s past volunteering for Vegan Outreach led to several of Vegan Outreach’s biggest days showing virtual reality videos to students. Now employed as our Midwest Community Outreach Coordinator, Ethan continues to impress us with his dedication. This semester, he got 3,247 10 Weeks to Vegan signups and gave out 9,978 booklets at 53 different colleges!

Emmanuel Marquez


In addition to supporting outreach by numerous volunteers in Mexico, Emmanuel showed virtual reality videos to 653 people—bringing his total to more than 6,500 over the past two years! He also signed up 3,201 people for 10 Weeks to Vegan!

Perla Anerol


Perla reached more than 80,000 people in just her first year of working with Vegan Outreach. Now in her second year, she continues to engage thousands of students in central Mexico. This fall, she received 3,101 10 Weeks to Vegan signups and handed out 8,560 booklets.

Ben Gardner


Ben joined Vegan Outreach this semester and quickly wowed us with his hard work. His extensive experience in project management and community organizing makes it no surprise that he gave 5,593 booklets at 38 schools and got 3,019 10 Weeks to Vegan signups this semester!

Aravindan V


Aravindan has the second highest 10 Weeks to Vegan signups world record for a college campus in one day, giving four presentations to over 600 students and receiving 471 signups! In total this semester, he got 2,756 signups and gave out 8,207 booklets.

Ben Umholtz


Ben visited 36 colleges, among other events, this fall in the greater Ohio area, signing up 2,680 people for 10 Weeks to Vegan!

Sam Tucker


Active in various grassroots efforts from a young age, Sam massively ramped up our reach in Australia and New Zealand over the previous four years. He’s reached 400,000 students in his time with VO. As he’ll soon be returning to school, this was Sam’s final semester with Vegan Outreach—he distributed 9,355 booklets and received 2,477 10 Weeks to Vegan signups. We’ll greatly miss Sam and thank him for his incredible dedication!

A big thank you to all of Vegan Outreach’s supporters—who directly fuel our work—outreach coordinators, volunteers, and donors alike! Because of you, many animals will be spared a life of suffering.

If you want to honor these activists and see Vegan Outreach do even more for animals next year, please consider making a donation by December 31st. It will be matched dollar-for-dollar for twice the impact!


Vegan Advocacy in India



Since 2016, Vegan Outreach has been working to end violence toward farmed animals in India. With the demand for meat and dairy rising in the country, we’ve been working to educate the masses on more compassionate food choices.

Starting with an international expansion tour, the India team has now grown to 7 staff and a country-wide volunteer network. From outreach and education programs in colleges to institutional campaigns, read on to know more about how we’re helping animals in India.

Inspiring thousands of students to go vegan

Vegan Outreach’s dedicated staff and volunteers conduct outreach programs at over 300 colleges and high school campuses each year, as well as at festivals, fairs, and conventions in 18 states.

Our Adopt A College program involves interactive classroom presentations, showing virtual reality videos, and tabling with our persuasive booklets to raise awareness about the suffering of animals raised for food. We focus on reaching the people who are motivated enough to make changes now—of which there are always many in our target audience of college students.

Support for making changes

We conduct outreach with the aim of signing people up for our 10 Weeks to Vegan guided challenge. Everyone who signs up receives weekly emails or WhatsApp messages with easy recipes, product recommendations, nutrition information, and lots of motivation. The content is tailored for an Indian audience and available in both English and Hindi.

We also offer a free mentorship program for those who need one-on-one support in making the transition.

Institutional dairy and meat reduction campaigns

In addition to in-person outreach, Vegan Outreach also runs the Green Tuesday Initiative, a campaign to help companies, universities, schools, and hostels reduce their environmental footprint by making small changes in the food they serve.

So far, we’ve helped 12 educational institutions and corporate offices in India implement more sustainable food policies and reduce large quantities of animal products from their menus. Some of our recent victories include Gautam Buddha University reducing its use of dairy by 66% and Zostel, Asia’s largest branded chain of backpacker’s hostels, adding vegan menus at 8 locations in India and Nepal.

Read more about our latest campaign successes here.

Our impact in numbers

By steadily increasing the number of vegans we’re laying the groundwork to more quickly reach a tipping point. Here’s our success in numbers:

  • 601 colleges and high schools visited in 18 states.
  • 52,496 students attended classroom presentations.
  • 17,114 people watched virtual reality videos.
  • 1,368,580 people reached with informative vegan leaflets.
  • 12 universities, corporate offices, and hostels joined the Green Tuesday Initiative.

Excited to join the movement? Here’s how.

Our work is possible because of generous supporters. Make a donation today to help animals in India!

We also need dedicated volunteers to help us reach more students and community members to spare more animals from suffering. With just a few hours of your time, you can change several dozen students’ lives forever. Sign up via our Volunteer Form.


India News: Inspiring Students to Try Vegan

We’re wrapping up a great semester of college outreach in India and I’m excited to share some of the highlights with you.

Students Choosing Compassion


So far in 2019, we’ve reached over 400,000 students with the message of veganism!

We’ve shown virtual reality videos to over 11,000 students this year. Students are often moved to tears after watching the videos and tell us that they want to go vegan right away. Our humane education program is also changing hearts and minds across the country, with nearly 22,000 students attending classroom presentations in 2019!

All our outreach is aimed at signing up thousands of people for our 10 Weeks to Vegan program, so they receive information and motivation to make the switch to vegan eating. So far in 2019, we’ve signed up 13,000 people in India!


I love hearing from people who complete the 10-week program and I want to share some of the responses with you:

“It’s amazing to know about all the non-dairy products! I thought I would have to forget all those tasty dishes made from milk, but it seems like I don’t have to!”
— Radhika, Bhopal

“Thank you for adding me to this program. My family and I have been vegan for the last five days.”
— Shailendra, Lucknow


Exciting Campaign Successes


Green Tuesday Initiative is a new campaign to help institutions in India reduce their environmental footprint by making small changes in the food they serve.

Here are some of the exciting victories we’ve had in the last few months:


Lives You’re Changing


Meet Ranik, a student whose life was changed by Vegan Outreach.

Richa Mehta writes from Agra: “Ranik attended my humane education presentation and asked for more information after the session. A few days later, he got in touch with me and told me that he had stopped eating animals that day.

“Ranik has been vegan for two months now with the help of 10 Weeks to Vegan and he regularly volunteers with me. Witnessing this impact is truly motivating!”

Help us inspire more students like Ranik by donating today!


Warmly,

Aneeha Patwardhan
Director of Programs, India


Hyderabad Trekking Club Goes Vegan to Reduce Environmental Footprint

Starting in September, Hyderabad Trekking Club (HTC), one of the most popular trekking and travel companies in India, will only provide vegan food during their treks to reduce their environmental footprint. The company organizes over 220 treks across India for nearly 8,000 people every year.

We initiated a partnership with HTC as part of our Green Tuesday campaign, which aims to help institutions reduce animal-based foods in favor of vegan options. Animal agriculture is one of the largest contributors of human-made greenhouse gas emissions, deforestation, water pollution, and air pollution. Worldwide, meat and dairy production uses 83% of farmland and produces 60% of agriculture’s greenhouse gas emissions.

“While connecting people to the wonderful nature, we try to reduce our carbon footprint as much as possible,” said Srikanth M, cofounder of HTC. “Going vegan is one of the best ways to reduce our environmental impact on the planet!”

“Globally and in India, institutions are reducing their use of animal products and choosing plant-based foods to fight climate change,” said Richa Mehta, India Campaigns Manager for Vegan Outreach. “This initiative by HTC will encourage people to think about the impact of their food choices on the environment.”

About the Green Tuesday campaign
Green Tuesday Initiative is a new campaign by Vegan Outreach to help institutions reduce their environmental footprint by making small changes in the food they serve. So far, we’ve collaborated with ten institutions in India.


Outreach Coordinators Who Wowed Us This Spring

The spring semester was full of exciting change and success. Along with continuing to leaflet and show virtual reality videos, we shifted our focus to signing people up for our 10 Weeks to Vegan program which our surveys have shown to be very impactful.

The dedicated community outreach coordinators below inspire us with their incredible work for animals. They’ve spread a message of compassion to hundreds of thousands of people, making a huge impact in bringing us closer to a vegan world.

Let’s take a look at the great work they accomplished this past spring!

Brian Chavez


Brian [above, middle] started leafleting with Vegan Outreach in Southern California and has traveled all over the U.S. to spread veganism. Brian uses his unique style to have meaningful conversations with students about veganism, and as a result, obtained a whopping 8,907 10 Weeks to Vegan signups this spring semester. On top of that, he also handed out 20,996 leaflets and showed 228 virtual reality videos at 43 different campuses!

Miguel Marron


Miguel received a Vegan Outreach leaflet at his college, then started an animal rights club, volunteered for Vegan Outreach, and is now an employee. While he’s busy celebrating his quickly approaching 15th “veganniversary,” we’re celebrating that he signed up 3,888 people for 10 Weeks to Vegan, handed out 33,965 leaflets, and showed 329 virtual reality videos in the northwestern U.S.!

Perla Anerol


Perla reached more than 80,000 people in just her first year of working with Vegan Outreach. Now in her second year, she continues to engage thousands of students in central Mexico. This spring, she received 3,734 10 Weeks to Vegan signups, handed out 18,231 leaflets, and did 488 virtual reality showings.

Saurabh Sonkar


Saurabh has a talent for getting volunteers from outside of the animal rights movement involved in our work in India. He was this semester’s top leafleter, handing out 72,118 leaflets! He also did 2,361 virtual reality showings and signed 3,305 people up for 10 Weeks to Vegan.

Nzinga Young


Nzinga believes a vegan lifestyle has countless benefits for human and nonhuman animals and works to promote these benefits to people from different backgrounds. For example, this spring she tabled at an event for artists in New York where everyone was so blown away by the Impossible Burger that everyone who tried it signed up for 10 Weeks to Vegan! Those were just a few of her total of 2,714 signups this spring.

Stacy Shepanek


Stacy does it all—from leafleting, virtual reality showings, coordinating community events, and presenting to hundreds about veganism throughout South Carolina, North Carolina, and Tennessee. This spring she leafleted to 8,728 people, did 235 virtual reality showings, and got 1,762 10 Weeks to Vegan signups.

Jackie Va


Jackie [right] does outreach in California through organizing a variety of engaging events to provide information and encourage others to adopt a vegan lifestyle. Her enthusiasm and knack for engaging people helped her sign up 1,553 people for 10 Weeks to Vegan and hand out 3,661 leaflets this spring.

Emmanuel Marquez


In addition to supporting outreach by numerous volunteers in Mexico, Emmanuel Marquez showed virtual reality videos to 867 people—bringing his total to more than 5,000 over the past two years! He also handed leaflets to 27,375 people and got 1,527 10 Weeks to Vegan signups.

Ben Umholtz

Ben volunteered with Vegan Outreach in the past and became an official employee at the start of this spring semester. He already made a huge impact in the greater Ohio area during his first semester with VO, signing up 1,452 people for 10 Weeks to Vegan and distributing 29,125 leaflets.

Victor Flores


While managing our Community Events department, Victor also did his own outreach in New Mexico and Texas. He handed out 2,997 leaflets and signed up 1,363 people for 10 Weeks to Vegan. In addition to this, he also organizes community meals, feeds vegan food to those in need, holds restaurant events, and has convinced some businesses to add vegan items to their menu.

Steve Erlsten


This list wouldn’t be complete without mentioning our GOAT—Greatest of All-Time—Steve Erlsten! Steve began leafleting in an official capacity for Vegan Outreach in the fall of 2013—and he hasn’t stopped since! He became VO’s greatest leafleter this past spring semester, having personally handed out over one million pro-veg leaflets and adding 19,275 to his total this spring. Congratulations, Steve, and thank you for your dedication!

These activists’ work is far from flashy—they wake up early, lug heavy boxes, and remain on their feet for hours at a time. We’re happy to be able to celebrate them any chance we get. Thank you for helping us do so! And thank you, of course, to the donors whose generosity made this work possible!


Hostel Chain Zostel to Launch Vegan Options at Eight Locations in India and Nepal

Zostel

Zostel, one of the largest hostel chains in Asia, will serve vegan food options at cafeterias in eight of its locations: Agra, Jodhpur, Rishikesh, Udaipur and Varanasi in India, and Kathmandu and Pokhara in Nepal.

We initiated a partnership with Zostel as part of our Green Tuesday campaign, which aims to help institutions reduce animal-based foods in favor of vegan options. Expanding on the success of Zostel’s November 2018 launch of vegan options in its cafeteria in Agra, the initiative aids people with varied food choices.

“Zostel has always been about letting individuals make their choices and follow their hearts,” said Dharmaveer Chauhan, Co-founder and CEO of Zostel. Chauhan continued, “With the help of Vegan Outreach, we provided our chefs and the community with information about vegan food and its preparation. Being able to offer such options to travelers from all over the world would never have been possible without the Vegan Outreach team. We are thrilled for this initiative and look forward to continuing this campaign towards sustainable travel while unlocking the world for everyone to experience as they desire, freely and fearlessly.”

This menu change at Zostel’s eight locations will result in more plant-based foods being accessible to thousands of people.

“Globally and in India, people are adopting a vegan diet as a healthy and sustainable alternative for themselves and the environment,” said Richa Mehta, India Campaigns Manager for Vegan Outreach. “This initiative by Zostel will not only cater to numerous vegan tourists travelling in India, but also set a milestone for the inclusive and sustainable hospitality industry.”


Top Indian University to reduce milk usage by 14% in cafeterias

LPU

Students at Lovely Professional University, Jalandhar—one of the largest private universities in India—worked with Vegan Outreach and the school administration to change the cafeteria menu. The new menu will introduce two non-dairy beverages and reduce the use of dairy milk by 14.3% in the next six months!

This change will not only make a big impact by reducing the suffering of dairy cows in India but also help the environment and make afternoon tea more enjoyable for the residential students. The students approached Vegan Outreach to bring its Green Tuesday Initiative to the campus in Jalandhar which has the world’s largest residential capacity with over 30,000 students.

The Green Tuesday Initiative is a new campaign by Vegan Outreach to help institutions in India reduce their environmental footprint by making small changes in the food they serve. So far, Vegan Outreach has collaborated with six educational institutions in North India. Help us reach even more institutions by making a donation by May 31st—it will be matched dollar-for-dollar for twice the impact!

If you’re a student or a working professional in India, please write to us at [email protected] to bring the Green Tuesday Initiative to your campus or company.