New College Grads Share How to Lead a Vegan Club on Campus

Written by Jaya Bhumitra

vegan club

COK’s new all-volunteer Los Angeles Outreach Coordinators Tabitha Phillips and Rachel Rothstein both recently graduated college — and they both ran successful vegan clubs on campus in Georgia and rural Maryland, respectively. Drawing in many pre-vegans with fun feed-ins, movie screenings, lecture series’, and more, these two former animal advocacy club presidents share some insight about effective animal advocacy on campus — and beyond!

Q: What compelled you to get active for animals at college? 

TP: I became vegan for the animals in my last semester of high school and was feeling a little lonely in my very southern hometown of Newnan, GA. The first thing I did at Athens’ University of Georgia was Google “UGA vegan” and up popped Speak Out for Species (SOS). At the first meeting, I was greeted by many other activists and a plate of vegan cookies. It was love at first bite.

RR: I’ve known for a while now that what I really want to do in life is educate others about the importance of animal welfare. When I got to McDaniel College in Westminster, I soon realized that starting a club was an ideal ways to create a network of like-minded people and reach a wide audience with a compassionate message.

Q: How did you recruit members?

TP: SOS recruits members at public events and through social media. At the event, SOS reaches out to vegans and pre-vegans, encouraging them to sign up on a listserv, an easy way to stay in touch. By engaging with students at frequent meetings (with free vegan cookies!), special events, and volunteer opportunities, many eventually became active members.

RR: As the founder of the Animal Welfare Club, I was starting from scratch. Initially, I sent all-campus emails to get the word out, and I also invited friends and classmates to join. Like Tabitha, we utilized social media to promote the club, events, and our message — which attracted several more members.

vegan clubQ: On what issues did you focus, and in what types of activities did you engage?

RR: The Animal Welfare Club focuses on an array of issues, from factory farms to puppy mills. Leafleting was one of our key forms of outreach, but we also coordinated events and addressed policy. One of my favorite events was a lecture series featuring three representatives from The Humane Society for the United States (HSUS). We also collaborated with The Humane League’s Aaron Ross to get our cafeteria to switch to cage-free eggs.

TP: SOS focuses mainly on farmed animals and vegan eating through film screenings, feed-ins, and speaker events. SOS also conducts pay-per-view (PPV), hosts leafleting outings, and teams up with groups like FARM who came to campus for the 10 Billion Lives Tour.

Q: What advice do you have for students promoting their own animal advocacy club at school?

RR: Remember that national groups are really accommodating — we wouldn’t have been able to accomplish half of what we did without help from organizations like HSUS, The Humane League, and COK sharing their time, information, and resources, such as vegan literature. When people come together, it’s amazing what meaningful change can be made for animals.

TP: Don’t be shy! You’ll be surprised by how many people are looking for a place to express their interest in animal protection — especially if you live in an area that isn’t brimming with vegetarians. And always have vegan cookies at your meetings!

Interested in starting or promoting your own campus club? Check out our advocacy resources and contact us to place bulk orders of literature for outreach events.

*Rachel is featured in the top left photo with Willy from Animal Place. Tabitha conducts PPV in the photo on the right.

Related Articles

Compassion Over Killing at the iV Vegan Conference

5 Reasons Why You NEED to Intern at COK!

Activist Camp Inspires Teens to Explore Vegan Eating