Volunteering for farmed animals seems likely to produce the biggest gains for animals. We discuss the impact of leafleting, an easy and cost-effective way to conduct outreach, as an example of how many animals you can spare from a lifetime of suffering. However, as not all advocates want to leaflet, we note some examples of other tactics commonly used by volunteers to help farmed animals below. We take accessibility into account in our discussion below, so there are many other examples of activities that we do not list on this page (such as lobbying politicians or conducting corporate outreach) because they might not be attainable by the average individual.
As shown through a Farm Sanctuary study, leafleting seems to be a particularly effective method of advocating for animals. ACE's own leafleting study lends support to some of these findings. As we continue to consider how the effects of leafleting compare to those of other interventions, it seems likely that leafleting will remain a recommended volunteering activity, as it is a low-cost method of distributing information that can easily be engaged in by any advocate regardless of skill level.
How do I leaflet?
Leafleting can be as simple as ordering some booklets and venturing outside. Some organizations will even provide you with some complimentary booklets to get you started. Once you’ve received your literature, you just need to decide on the location. While any high-traffic area can work, college campuses tend to provide an ideal demographic with high reception rates.
If you choose a campus, it is important to consider both the numbers and whether or not someone else has recently leafleted that location. The Vegan Outreach “Adopt A College” website is a valuable source of information, as they have lists of schools by state along with good leafleting locations, the number of students, whether a school is public or private, and the last time someone leafleted the school. Checking this site is a great way to increase effectiveness by ensuring that you’re not duplicating someone else’s efforts.
So as not to duplicate other efforts to provide tips on leafleting, we highly suggest visiting the AAC “Tips” page for valuable information on being effective.
Lastly, it’s important to have additional resources available, as interested members of the public will sometimes want more information. We recommend using either a Guide to Cruelty-Free Eating from Vegan Outreach or a Vegetarian Starter Kit from Mercy For Animals.
PPV events are a form of video outreach where activists pay the public $1 to view a four-minute video of undercover investigation footage. These events are usually arranged with viewing stations where individuals from the public view the video in isolation from others on a laptop with headphones, thus immersing them in the experience. Resources and sign up sheets are provided after the experience.While we don’t have significant research data showing that PPV events are successful, ACE plans on studying these efforts because we believe they have high potential. FARM has published the results of a study on their 10 Billion Lives Tour, analyzing their campaign that involved driving around the country in van with video screens conducting PPV sessions. The study shows that 58% of those surveyed after being exposed to their 10 Billion Lives video reported reduction or elimination of their consumption of animal products. While this is extremely encouraging, we would like to see it supported by more rigorously designed studies.
How do I set up a Pay-Per-View event?
PPV events can be organized in conjunction with tabling at festivals or tabling at colleges. Either way you will need to make sure that you have access to at least two (preferably three) laptops or tablets to be used for showing the video, along with some headphones for each media device. You will also need viewing stations, which can be as simple as pieces of cardboard folded in a U-shape around each laptop. As this outreach involves paying the public for viewing the video, you will need many single dollar bills. Lastly, you need resources for those who are interested in learning more after watching. While this may seem like a lot of resources, the good news is that you can reuse most of them for subsequent events.
It is also recommended to have a signup sheet for either a campus group or related organization so that you can follow-up with individuals who have seen the video.
Vegfund has a useful guide for this form of outreach, and activists can even apply for a grant to cover the cost of $1 payments to viewers. We highly recommend watching the video at the previous link before moving forward with planning a PPV event. Once you’ve developed a plan for your PPV event, fill out their application to see if you qualify for funding.
Online veg ads involve advertising on FB to entice people to click on an ad, which then takes them to an external website created by an individual or organization. This website features an undercover investigation video with footage from factory farms, and contains a variety of links to helpful resources, including a vegetarian starter kit link. These seem to be a valuable use of time and money, as activists can reach a very large number of individuals from their computer for a very small amount of effort. As you can see from our spreadsheet, a single $100 investment can result in (our best estimate of) 742 animals spared. However, there are important startup costs to this. Volunteers need to network with groups already running ads so they can learn from their mistakes. Ads then need to be generated and monitored. If you plan on reaching a large number of people through the use of multiple ads, funding can become an issue. Still, we believe there is high potential for gains, as shown in a previous study. More research is currently taking place to examine the effectiveness of this intervention.
How do I conduct online veg ad campaigns?
The simplest way to support this type of outreach is to donate to an organization that is already running these ads. Because they already have experience running ads, they will have a better idea of what works and what doesn’t. Two of our top recommended charities, The Humane League and Mercy For Animals, run these ads, and they even test different ads to see which ones perform well.
If you prefer running the ads yourself, we still highly recommend starting a conversation with an organization that is already running them. This will cut down on performance costs that will undoubtedly occur as you learn the best methods for this intervention.
Humane education requires public speaking skills, and opportunities are not plentiful for the newcomer wishing to engage in this activity. However, if you are willing to invest time in pursuing speaking opportunities and have the necessary experience, this is another way to advocate for farmed animals. An important consideration is the size of the audience; this type of intervention may be substantially more effective if you organize larger, auditorium-style presentations rather than individual classroom lectures.
We conducted a study on humane education and published the results in 2014.
How do I start providing humane education?
If you are a skilled presenter, you can consider giving talks on factory farming to the public. This can be done either through public talks that you host, through applying for and speaking at appropriate events, or through contacting teachers to speak in their classroom. In colleges, philosophy and ethics classes seem to be an ideal target, and many of the topics discussed in those classes are related to the choices we make with regards to how we treat other animals.Some states have laws requiring some form of humane education, and calling attention to this need will help encourage teachers to allow you to speak in their classroom.
Whenever talking about these issues, it is good to frame the presentation as more of a discussion as opposed to a lecture. People tend to remember stories about individuals much more than statistics, so a general rule is to frame your ideas in that manner.
We could continue providing point by point tips, but instead we strongly recommend networking with another organization that engages in humane education. As with online veg ads, this will help you develop a strategy for being effective. For example, one program called Ethical Choices gives hundreds of presentations each year; they are much more likely to understand the most effective techniques than someone who is considering giving presentation for the first time. Additionally, the Institute for Humane Education provides classes to develop your skills in this area and even a degree, but note that factory farming is just one topic of many on the curriculum.
Writing letters to the editor can be a great way to advocate for animals, as for a minimal time commitment you can reach tens of thousands of readers. It is also something that can be done on your own free time, and without the need for assistance from others. However, it is easy to do a disservice to the cause you represent if you are not careful with the message that you present, so it is important to receive peer review before submitting, and remain as professional as possible in your writing. Another option is to write your political representatives on certain issues. In this situation, it may be preferable to call your politician's office in person, as that results in a shorter expenditure of time and ensures that your voice gets heard.
How do I start writing letters, or know when to contact politicians?
Writing letters to the editor is incredibly simple, and anyone can do it at any time. Some general advice is to make sure that you stay professional in your communication with the editors of the paper and especially in the content of your letter. It’s important to realize that a letter can do more harm than good if it portrays animal activists in an unfavorable light, so be sure to remain courteous regardless of the issue. You can contact many different papers with the same letter, and be published in multiple sources, but make sure to send separate emails to each paper—you will be less likely to be published if you’re seen as blitzing the news media with your writings.
Make sure to be concise throughout your communication. State your point, offer supporting evidence, rebuff alternative arguments, and thank the reader for their consideration.
Writing to politicians requires a further level of professionalism. Many organizations offer alerts when issues related to animals can be voted on by your representatives (some even offer texts), so that can be a good way to keep abreast of new developments. However, while there is some value in sending an email, we highly recommend calling your representative in that situation. Because they get many fewer calls than email signatures on a petition, they are more inclined to judge those responses as representative of the constituency as a whole.
Protests are of unknown value to animal advocates. In many cases, it has been shown that they are ineffective at directly causing change in public opinion. However, they may help create a climate where change is possible by increasing public awareness of the range and prevalence of anti-speciesist views and allowing animal advocates engaged in other forms of action to position themselves as more moderate than they would otherwise be able to do.
How do I stage a protest?
Staging a protest can be a very complicated process, so it is best again to consult and learn from other organizations that conduct protests more regularly. You need to make sure that you acquire the appropriate permissions from your city for organizing in a particularly place and time. Depending on the style of the protest, you may need to construct signs and/or acquire various props. It is important to coach everyone in attendance at the beginning of the protest so that they are on the same page about how to act in accordance with everyone else. In this way you will make sure that your message is consistent and taken more seriously.
Another way to inform the public is by providing free food samples. Many people are unaware of the vast library of vegan meats and cheeses, and are shocked to find out that they actually taste good. Volunteers at these events also offer an array of resources that can help people make dietary changes.
How do I host a food sampling event?
Like Pay-Per-View, you can choose to set this up at a public event/festival or on a college campus. You will need to attain proper permission to assemble, and make sure that food distribution is allowed at that location. You will need vegan food, sampling supplies, literature and resources, and possibly a signup sheet. Paying for these events can be expensive for the casual activist; we recommend contacting Vegfund and applying for a food sampling grant. However, be sure to first watch their video on how to conduct a food sampling event, and take your time to diligently fill out their application. This, alongside their related content on food sampling events, provides a good background to help you host a successful event.