Guide to Leafleting

Thank you for getting active with Compassion Over Killing! We really appreciate you spending your time and energy helping animals. This guide explains what leafleting is and offers some helpful tips on how you can maximize your effort for animals!

What is leafleting? 

Leafleting is a cheap and easy, yet effective way to inform people about animal rights. You can leaflet virtually anywhere on public property (as long as you aren’t blocking foot traffic). All you really need is some literature and an area with a lot of foot traffic. Some of our favorite spots to leaflet are public universities, outside large events (like concerts and festivals), and outside transit stations in cities.

cok leafleting

Before an Event:

1. Find an appropriate venue

  • Leafleting can easily be done in most any public space, but to maximize your impact, find a place that receives a lot of foot traffic, like the quad of a college, a downtown promenade, or outside a festival.
  • Be sure to check your local laws and ordinances for any local restrictions or requirements. For example, in most areas you should avoid leafleting on private property, like inside a privately owned mall, or within a business’ parking lot. The sidewalk or grassy area adjacent to a city or county-owned road, called the public right of way, is the safest bet if you do want to leaflet outside of a business.
  • The best audience for leafleting are people who aren’t already vegan, but may be open to animal rights.

2. Get some literature

  • COK has lots of different leaflets you can distribute, available online in our Shop! Consider your audience.
    • Our Vegan Starter Guides and Easy Vegan Recipes booklets are great for a general audience.
    • Are you leafleting at an environmental event? Consider our Eating Sustainably Brochure.
    • We also have campaign-specific leaflets for all of our ongoing corporate campaigns! Email us at outreach@cok.net to order campaign-specific materials.
  • Plan your event as far ahead as possible to allow for time to receive your literature. If ordering from us, expect to receive your materials in about 2-3 weeks.

3. Prepare

  • Make sure you have all the materials you’ll need. These may include:
    • Literature to distribute
    • Personal items (such as sunscreen, comfortable shoes, snacks, water, etc.)

During an Event:

1. Positioning yourself

  • Ideally, you can find a spot where foot traffic bottlenecks. You want to be able to hand literature to as many people as possible without blocking traffic.
  • Try to avoid areas where people can see you from far away and avoid you.

2. Handing out literature

  • Looking presentable doesn’t always mean wearing formal clothes. In fact, it can sometimes be off-putting to some crowds. We want you to be authentic to yourself, but you can often benefit by blending in with the crowd you’re leafleting to.
  • Be friendly and approachable! Smiling and making eye contact can go a long way to increasing the amount of people who take your leaflets.
  • Extend your arm straight out in front of you. Try to avoid leafleting way off to the side or handing it to people too high or low.
  • We’ve found short lines like “Info to help animals” to be the most effective in convincing people to take our literature. 
  • One of our main goals at any event is to reach as many people as possible. The more people we leaflet, the more we can educate and inspire to take action! Don’t waste your time engaging with negative people. You can simply tell anyone giving you a difficult time to have a nice day and move on to leafleting to others.
  • If someone wants to talk to you, that’s great! But feel free to let them know that you need to get back to leafleting if they’re taking up too much of your time or you feel the conversation has stopped being productive. “I’d love to talk more, but I need to get back to work. There’s a lot of good information in that leaflet I gave you!”
  • You might run into a time when no one seems to want to take a brochure from you. If that happens, feel free to step back for a minute and start leafleting again once that group passes. 
  • Make it fun! Perhaps you’re leafleting outside of a comic con or during Halloween. You can wear a costume! Sometimes it pays to stand out in a crowd, and people are more likely to take a leaflet from someone who looks like there’s having a good time!

3. Tips on talking to people

  • You’ll mostly be handing out leaflets at these leaflets, but every once in a while you’ll find people who want to talk to you. This can be great, but feel free to use your discretion. 
  • Meet people where they are. Most of us weren’t born vegan, so we should be able to relate to pre-vegans. Listening to people is a great way to start the conversation. It can give you ideas of what to address, and it will show that you’re interested in having a genuine conversation.
  • We want people to know that going vegan is the most effective thing we can do to fight animal cruelty. Our language should always reflect this, so even if the conversation leads to the option of starting with smaller steps (such as Meatless Mondays or eating vegan meals once a day), we can frame those as steps towards a larger goal. “That’s a great start! The more you try new foods, the more you’ll get used to them. Then you can introduce more and more vegan days!”
  • Keep the conversation positive! You want to feel out where they’re at and what’s keeping them from going vegan, not shame them or argue. Virtually everyone agrees the treatment of the animals is horrible, but there’s still something keeping them from going vegan. Is it a health concern? Enjoying what they eat? Knowing what to eat? Focus on their individual reasons, invite questions, and also ask them questions. 
  • Be prepared for people to ask about “cage-free,” “free-range,” “organic,” and “humane” animal products.
  • Remind them that according to the USDA, the vast majority of all animal products come from factory farms.
    “Humane” labels are created by the industry to put consumers’ minds at ease because they know many people are willing to pay more for what they believe are more humane conditions. But these products are far from cruelty-free. On most “cage-free” farms, hens are crowded by the thousands in dark sheds and are deprived of natural conditions and behaviors. “Cage-free” and “free-range” animals are often subjected to the same mutilations as animals on factory farms, such as tail docking, debeaking, and castration without painkillers. Babies are still taken from their mothers, and male chicks are killed at birth by the egg industry because they aren’t considered useful. 
  • “Organic” doesn’t have meaningful animal treatment requirements either. USDA requires that the animals are given organic feed and no growth hormones or antibiotics, and the regulations have unclear space and outdoor access requirements for most animals. Animal welfare rules for organic-certified producers are so imprecise, that animals are often raised in conditions that are indistinguishable from those on factory farms. Ultimately, these animals end up at the same slaughterhouses as all other animals raised for food. 
  • We are not here to shame or yell at people or to promote ourselves as “examples of perfection.” It is important to remember that most of us were not born vegan. Answer questions and concerns, speak from your own experiences, but the best thing you can do is ask questions to get them talking. 
  • To this end, please do not use comparisons to the Holocaust, slavery, or sexual violence when discussing the issues of animal agriculture. We find that it distracts people from our mission of raising awareness about how farmed animals are treated and instead turns their attention towards the activist and their method of discussion.    
  • Invite the person to take action. One of the best things you can do is to ask them if trying vegan food has made them consider reducing their consumption of animal products. If they say “Yes”, ask them where they can start. 
  • What if people ask about legislative measures? You can answer that “We are empowering people to take action right now, rather than waiting for rules and regulations that depend on a lengthy, complex process.”
  • What if I don’t know the answer? It’s OK! Most likely, anything they bring up will be a simple question that you’ve answered before, but if someone asks something you don’t know the answer to, it is totally fine to be honest and say “You know, that’s a great question. I’m not sure of the answer, but let’s find out together!” Then you can look up their question on your phone.
  • Time Management: Do your best to manage your time and feel free to end conversations if you feel they aren’t productive. When you feel the conversation has reached its natural end, you can ask if they have any other questions or concerns. 
  • The most important part is to have fun while doing this! Joke around with people, smile, laugh, wave, dance, etc. Events can seem overwhelming at times, but just remember you are doing great work and the more fun we have, the more likely people will want to check out what we’re doing. 

4. General tips

  • Be responsible. Volunteering at COK events under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol is not permitted. 
  • Be inclusive. Compassion Over Killing works to build a world where everyone is welcome and feels safe, and we can start by making our events like that. Be respectful and welcoming of people in their diversity of gender, orientation, race, national origin, body types, abilities, etc.
  • Respectfully follow directions. If you receive directions from event, campus, or other personnel, or from law enforcement, we ask that you comply respectfully and without argument. Do not resist directions, argue, or escalate under any circumstances. 
  • Never underestimate the effect you can have! Some events are better than others, but our efforts always plan seeds of compassion.
  • Take pictures and videos of your event! COK would love to highlight your event on our social media accounts!

After an Event:

1. Share

  • Share your photos and videos on your own or your local group’s socials to spread the reach of your action with an online audience.

2. Reporting

  • Send both COK and VegFund your signup sheets and any pictures and videos you took. We can’t wait to hear how your outreach went! You can reach us at: outreach@cok.net