guest post #1 : trying to spread the vegan word.

a couple of weeks ago, vikki otero (fellow vegan & chicagoan, woo!) reached out to me about doing a few guest blog posts for a school assignment.

of course, i said yes … and off she went to start writing! we’ve got a few installments of vikki’s posts coming up … one per week for the next five weeks (holla!).

i’m sure she’d appreciate feedback (as would i!), so feel free to let us know what you think! enjoy!!

one activist's attempts...

I admit it: I thought my idea was so great that I just had to suggest it and my targets would fall over with glee, slapping their heads at how obviously extraordinary my suggestion was...  

I’d had the idea to be a vegan consultant about a year ago. The plan was to approach restaurants with an offer to, for a small fee, review their menus and inform them of good vegan dishes they could make with what they already had, and suggest a few changes they could make in order to service vegans even more effectively. Of course, this would be sold to restaurants as something they could and should do to expand their market, not as something they should do because of the ethical issues involved. Being in law school at the moment, I haven’t had a lot of time to actually contact anyone, though I had handed out my card once or twice to people in the industry, usually after several drinks.

This semester, I took a class regarding movements and change. One of the requirements of the class was to work with an organization or organizations, legal or non-legal, engaged in some kind of movement toward social change. In addition to one project I did with an organization working to provide earlier counsel to arrestees, I worked with a vegan organization called Mercy For Animals, who, it turns out, has a restaurant outreach effort. I was very excited to finally start doing some of the work I’d been hoping to do, and in furtherance of course credit to boot!

mercy for animals :

And here is where my misapprehension regarding the enthusiasm of my restaurant targets came into play. I really had thought that all I had to do was basically say, “Hey, you should have more vegan stuff! And I can help you!” and restaurant owners or managers would fall at my feet to accept the opportunity. By now surely you’ve figured out that that was not the case.

I’d decided to reach out primarily to breakfast and brunch places in the Lincoln Park area, since that’s where I live, and my partner and I have found that the options for vegan breakfast and brunch in the area are somewhat limited. 

(this is a vegan donut from fritz pastry in lincoln park ... the perfect example of a place that does cater to both vegan & non-vegan folk.)

I targeted places where I could cobble something together from the menu in a pinch, but where the addition of, say, tofu would transform their menu from something that I can make work as a vegan to something I would look forward to as a vegan. Moreover, I wanted to help restaurants understand that with a few simple tweaks, they could become someplace that I would actively take my friends, because I felt that it was a place that included me and cared about satisfying me.

I walked into one place, called two places, and electronically contacted three more places (since I still intend to try to work with these places, I won’t mention them so that there’s no appearance of throwing them under the bus).

I haven’t given up hope that outreach like this can be effective...

stand by for more in the coming weeks!!