Before you get started, it’s good to figure out what you hope to achieve with this event.
Who Is the Target Audience?
The first question you need to answer is who the Veg Fest is targeting. We encourage you to target people who are currently eating animal products, especially omnivores. A festival is a great chance to introduce them to delicious vegan foods and information about animal agriculture in a non-threatening, fun setting.
We also encourage you to target a younger audience, inasmuch as this is possible. Young people are much more likely than older people to make a change in their diet.
It’s also important to be welcoming to people who are already vegan or moving towards veganism. These people are going to be the most enthusiastic group for you event, and they are very likely to bring their omnivore friends with them!
What is the Goal?
If you’re targeting omnivores, your main goal is for attendees to try vegan foods they may not have tried before and for them to learn something about how animals are treated on factory farms. Your event can be the first step on their path towards a vegan lifestyle.
Your secondary goal should be to showcase and support the animal-friendly community in your region. A vibrant, welcoming community makes it easier for people to become and stay vegan.
Knowing your target audience should influence your advertising, your programming, the exhibitors you invite, and everything else about the event. You might want to come up with a mission or strategy statement that summarizes this.
Here is the strategy statement Compassionate Action for Animals came up with before our first Veg Fest:
This event has the potential to introduce new vegan food and information about factory farming and veganism to a large audience. A similar event in Madison, WI in Summer 2011 attracted over 1,000 people.
The exhibitors room is focused on providing information about animal-related organizations and lots of vegan food. Many of the exhibitors will be giving away vegan food samples, and some will also be selling more substantial servings of vegan food. Most attendees will visit the exhibitors.
The speakers will provide information about factory farming, vegan nutrition, vegan cooking, and other related topics. This provides a strong education and outreach component.
Finally, the event also serves to build community. Some small portion of the attendees will already be committed to animal advocacy and/or veganism, and will come to meet other like-minded people. In order to facilitate this, we want to make sure that there is plenty of space for people to socialize.
Compassionate Action for Animals’ Mission
Our mission at CAA is to encourage people to cultivate empathy for animals and move towards a plant-based diet. As an organization, we focus exclusively on factory farming and diet change. When we talk about these issues, we do so in the context of animal suffering and compassion. We do not attempt to persuade people to change their diet for environmental or health reasons. However, we do want people who change their diet to know how they can stay healthy. One of our organizational core values is integrity, and that means we will not use poor information to further our cause.
This strongly influences our choice of speakers, exhibitors, and other aspects of the festival. When it comes to speakers, we want people who will focus on animal cruelty as the reason for people to change their diet. On scientific topics such as nutrition, it’s important to us that our speakers be experts in their field and only cite credible peer-reviewed scientific research.
The same considerations apply to exhibitors who will address these topics, particularly other advocacy organizations. Many of our exhibitors are simply merchants sampling food, selling products, or selling services. Of course, these products must be 100% vegan (no animal ingredients, testing, etc.). Finally, we want the festival to be fun and diverse, so we will accept exhibitors that are unrelated to animal issues and vegan products. For example, in the past we’ve had a biking advocacy organization, a non-profit car sharing service, and photographers selling pictures as well as photo sessions.