This guide was written by Students Against Animal Cruelty, as part of a series of ‘How to’ guides. As the original link was broken we have located an archive copy to republish here, slightly updated to reflect the huge growth in interest in Vegan events.

Vegan food fairs, or any kind of cruelty-free fair for that matter, are an effective way of bringing your message to the people in a fun and non-condescending way. They can either be held on campus or in a privately rented hall nearby, but of course the latter will attract more than just students (good or bad, depending on how you look at it).

If you time your fair around a particular seasonal theme, like Christmas or Easter, it will really help people think about alternatives to animal products at a time when it is most relevant. With Christmas food fairs, serve up samples of meat alternatives, vegan sausages and other delicious roast staples, alongside leaflets about turkey factory farming.

At Easter, you could have samples of vegan chocolate and vegan Easter cakes, highlighting the suffering of the dairy cow and battery hen with leaflets on the table.

Without sugar coating this too much, it is a lot of hard work and you will need to enlist the help of your group members or friends. You might even consider making it a joint event with the local veggie/vegan group. But it is so worth it when you hear people saying that they never realised vegan food tasted good and they might consider going vegetarian or vegan.

If it is a general cruelty-free festival you want to organise, try to get samples or stall holders from a variety of companies, including food, cosmetics and toiletries, and even clothing. Many businesses will be happy to provide free (or very cheap) samples as it is excellent advertising for them.

Follow these steps and watch the magic unfold:

  1. Decide on what kind of fair/festival it is going to be and where you want to hold it.
  2. If you are going to have food tasting, decide what kinds of food you want. Make sure you have a good variety, and try to include some wheat- and sugar-free options.
  3. Approach a number of companies in the category you have chosen, explaining what you have planned and how it will benefit them (promotion) and the animals (conversion to cruelty-free). You could offer to put their details on the advertising for the event. Ask for a number of boxes of their products, so you can cook and chop it into small samples. A good starting place for food is Fry’s and V-Bites. They do great vegan faux meats and are willing to supply for these kind of events, just do them justice by displaying the boxes and telling people where it can be bought. It’s also worth asking local ethical shops and restaurants to take part, either by donating goods or by running their own stall. It’s quite surprising how many are happy to help out!
  4. If you want to hold it on campus, approach the union or reception to ask if this will be possible and what day/facilities are available. If you want to hold it in a private hall, this is a little trickier. Firstly look around the area for suitable venues then enquire as to how much it would cost and if you are allowed food inside.
  5. Get hold of some cheap plates and cutlery (re-usable to avoid waste, or compostable if you can’t face the washing up).
  6. Once the day and suppliers have been sorted, work on the promotion. This is key and not something to be taken lightly, as you don’t want to go through the hassle of ordering and preparing the food only to have no-one to try it! Advertise it on posters around campus, the uni/college radio station and press, and if it’s an external affair contact the local media too and give out flyers in the local area/shops.
  7. A note about local media: Alexia says, “My group at uni organised a very successful veggie food fair and I contacted the local newspaper to see if we could get a small mention. In the end, we received a double page spread, a video and coverage on their website! Aside from the fair itself, we had timed it to coincide with Animal Aid’s Veggie Month, so with the reporter we took to the streets with a tray full of vegan goodies and got random people to try it. Great fun and an amazing amount of coverage.”
  8. On the day, cook and prepare the food early on then take it to the venue, setting it out in a presentable fashion on a tablecloth preferably. Also make signs that point people in the right direction, making sure no-one misses it!
  9. If you have the facilities, and the uni/venue rules allow, consider selling hot and cold drinks to help cover your costs.
  10. Keep a smile on and offer friendly advice and information to those who request it, but be careful to not get into arguments with nitpickers, as it will impede your chances of talking to someone who is genuinely interested.
  11. When you have finished, normally about two hours later if on campus or three/four hours if in a hall, tidy everything away so you leave a good impression, don’t get into trouble or have money deducted from your deposit.

Remember, this is a great way to get students interested in compassionate living. They need to see that it is easy, enjoyable and cool. Please get in touch if you have any further questions. Go get ’em!