Tips for Successful Vegan Leafleting
From Animal Rights Activism Articles Archive


[Also read Guide to Staffing Tables & Leafleting for Animal Rights from United Poultry Concerns.]

Compassion Over Killing (COK)
August 2009

Why Leaflet?

As a movement, we don’t have advertising budgets comparable to those of the industries that abuse animals. So, we have to find cheap ways to get the animals’ message to the public. Most of us became vegan after personal interactions with someone who was already vegan, and we can create similar circumstances that will help bring others along as well.

Likewise, handing out literature and talking with people one-on-one is an inexpensive and highly effective way to increase people’s interest in veganism, and having information for them makes your job that much easier.

While we may not have funds at our disposal like the meat, egg, and dairy industries do, we have a significant asset: people whose motive is compassion, rather than profit. Indeed, there are hundreds of thousands of compassionate people in the country dedicated to bringing about animal liberation. Many of us are willing to spend at least a few hours each week on animal advocacy in the streets, because we know there is no more effective way of reaching people than by showing them a friendly, vegan face.

Where To Leaflet

The best places to leaflet are public spaces where you find lots of people.

Some great locations are:

  • Outside of subway, train, or bus stations (especially during rush hour)
  • On college campuses (though if you’re not a student, you may be asked to leave)
  • Near high schools around lunchtime or just before or after school
  • Outside of major events like concerts, exhibitions, and sports games (preferably as people are leaving).

When leafleting, it’s very helpful to recognize that not everyone is equally likely to become vegetarian or vegan. Because of this, it makes sense to focus greater effort on those you feel may be more receptive. Typically, college and high school students—particularly females—seem to be the most open-minded to the message of compassion. As well, younger people tend to be much less set in their ways and more willing to question societal norms, such as the idea that animals exist to serve humans.

It’s also important to recognize that younger people have an entire lifetime of eating meat, eggs, and dairy products ahead of them, making it even more critical to expose them to the cruelty suffered by farmed animals. Does this mean that we should only leaflet young people? Of course not. Usually, when you’re leafleting, you’ll be able to give leaflets to hundreds of people, and you’re obviously not going to withhold a leaflet from anyone. What it does mean, though, is that we may want to pick leafleting areas that are often frequented by younger people to maximize the effectiveness of our time and effort.

What To Leaflet

There are many wonderful vegan advocacy tools available for you to distribute. It’s generally a good idea to have one brochure you will pass out to everyone, and another more extensive publication to give to those who seem especially interested in learning more about becoming vegan.

What To Say

Since we want to make sure people won’t just throw away the literature, it’s best to let passersby know what the brochure is about before they take it. Simply saying, Can I offer you a brochure about being vegetarian? seems to work well.

When talking with people about being vegan, make sure not to complicate the issue, if you can avoid it. Most everyone already opposes animal abuse, so it follows that we should focus on how factory farms and slaughterhouses abuse animals, rather than construct an abstract argument about violations of animals’ rights.

While you engage people in conversation about the intense suffering of the animals we eat, be certain to tell each one how we can take a stand against that cruelty by becoming vegan, effectively helping to make the world a better place for all of us.

Simple and Effective Leafleting Tips

  1. Always look professional and clean-cut. Even if this means dressing in a way you wouldn’t ordinarily dream of, it’s important not to give passersby a reason to quickly dismiss you and the vegan message. Advocating veganism sometimes requires sacrifice from each of us, and changing our appearance for public outreach is a minor—but important—one to make. Keep in mind that we’re trying to legitimize veganism and need to appeal to the “average” person. So, activists have found that the general public is much more receptive if we look as mainstream as our message of compassion should be.
  2. While leafleting, try to be outgoing and friendly. Many people may just walk past unless you approach them in a positive and pleasant manner. A simple smile can have a dramatic effect on how people perceive you and serve as an encouraging invitation to take a brochure. If someone is wearing a team shirt, commenting positively about their team is a quick ice breaker that makes it hard for them to refuse your leaflet, and leaves them with the impression, for example, “That animal rights person is an Orioles fan, too.”
  3. If you have a conversation with someone make sure to stay focused. It’s fine to have a quick conversation about the weather, the football season, or some neutral topic to bond with the person with whom you’re speaking. But avoid a spirited discussion of abortion, the death penalty, or any topic other than animal abuse. Never lose sight of why you’re there: to expose the misery endured by farmed animals and to promote veganism as a solution.
  4. Don’t engage with hostile people. Be careful to pick your battles. A good conversation with a person clearly interested in the issues is worth having. A lengthy discussion with a person only interested in hurling hypotheticals at you is not worth having. If someone yells at you, speaks with you in a belittling manner, or tries to provoke you into a heated debate, it is best to either ignore the person, if possible, or just to say, “Thanks very much for your comments. I have to get back to my leafleting now.” We know it’s tough to just turn away and ignore someone, but trust us: If you talk with them, they will only become more belligerent, and you will not change their minds. Additionally, no matter how nice you are, the impression people passing by will get is one of you being the instigator, since you’re the one asking people to change their habits. The focus will be placed negatively on you, rather than on animal suffering.
  5. Be polite and make it easy for them to take the literature. When we refer to people as “ma’am” or “sir” and say “thank you” or “have a great day” to those who take literature, we are seen as polite, well-meaning individuals concerned about the issue, rather than “radical militants” who the public is all-too-eager to dismiss. Also, try to place the leaflet directly in front of the passing person’s stomach so it’s less effort for them to take the brochure from you if they so choose.

You Are Making A Difference

More than 99 percent of the animals killed in the United States die to be eaten. As others have commented, even if we were to completely abolish every other form of animal exploitation, we would not have changed the lives of 1 percent of the animals in the country. Needless to say, the interests of each individual animal—whether abused by circuses, the fur industry, vivisection, factory farming, or any other exploitative industry—are important, and we know that some people become vegan after learning about rodeos, animal testing, or other non-farmed animal issues. However, the numbers do speak loudly: By encouraging people to become vegan, we help to alleviate far more suffering than by spending our time in any other way.

Perhaps more importantly, unlike other forms of animal abuse—mainly the hunting, fur, vivisection, and animals in entertainment industries—virtually everyone in the country is responsible for the suffering of farmed animals. Advocating for farmed animals is not a case of stopping a small minority of people (like hunters, vivisectors, or fur-wearers) from treating animals cruelly. Rather, it is about transforming the views and habits of nearly everyone.


As you consider the ways you can best help animals, make sure to keep vegan leafleting high on your list. Even if you convince people to eat less meat, dairy products, and eggs each week, that alone can have a dramatic impact on the industry, if done by enough people. Never underestimate the effect you can have.

If you find a busy enough area, you should be able to easily pass out 400 brochures in an hour. Imagine if you leafleted for only one hour per week (a small sacrifice to make): You will have exposed nearly 21,000 people to the message of veganism in just one year. Even if only 1 out of 300 people you leaflet actually becomes vegan, that’s still more than 70 new vegans each year, thanks to your one-hour’s effort each week! And this statistic isn't even counting the number of people who will either become vegetarian or reduce their consumption of animal products. It’s hard to imagine a better use of our time.

How many hours do you spend each week watching television, going to the movies, or shopping? Why not take a couple of those hours and commit to a weekly leafleting endeavor? You should be able to find friends to help you, and, before you know it, you’ll have a small group of people out every week, helping your community transition to becoming vegan.

Please don’t wait to get started … the animals need your help now more than ever!

See where and how to order leaflets

For more ways to distribute leaflets, also see: Tabling

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