The Second Annual Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale – 24 April-2 May, 2010. Participants Wanted.

The Basics / How to Participate

The Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale (WVBS) concept is simple: Groups and individuals around the world hold vegan bake sales at about the same time. Participants can do whatever they want to with the proceeds. Everything sold or given away at the bake sales must be vegan.

The WVBS this year is from 24 April through 2 May (two weekends and the week in between). If you’d like to take part but can’t do so during that time period, we’re quite lenient; we want to be as inclusive as possible!

To take part in the WVBS,

  • Be about 90 percent sure that you’re going to hold a vegan bake sale.
  • Fill out the “easy as pie” signup form.
  • Prepare for awesomeness.
  • Hold the bake sale.
  • If inclined (which we hope you are), take pictures and let us know how you did.

The WVBS web site is www.veganbakesale.org, and it’s filled with information, including an overview of the event, a schedule of participating bake sales, an extensive list of bake sale tips, links to over a thousand vegan baking recipes, sample press releases, web banners, and more.

Special offer! If your vegan bake “sale” is a vegan “bake-in,” at which you give the goods away rather than sell them, you may be able to get it funded through VegFund. Details are on the WVBS web site, or you can go to Vegfund directly.

The #1 Vegan Bake Sale Tip

Reserve your location. After that, the rest is relatively easy. Even if you can’t find anyone else to bake or help out—which is unlikely—you could always set up a table and sell some cookies and muffins that you baked yourself. The WVBS web site has lots of tips on finding and securing bake sale venues, amassing your first-rate team of bakers and volunteers, and just about every other aspect of vegan bake sales.

Some Background

In late 2008, our newly formed Washington-DC-area grassroots animal advocacy group, Compassion for Animals (CfA) was thinking up ways to raise money and do vegan outreach. Someone said “How about a bake sale ?” I loved the idea. Here was this popular, well-liked piece of Americana (little did I know that the tradition existed in other countries) which we could leverage to promote veganism in a fun, upbeat manner.

I went online to research bake sales, so that our bake sale would be a success. While Googling for information, I found out about some national bake sale fundraising programs, and thought, “I wonder if we could create a vegan version of that concept. Maybe include Canada, too.” I discussed the idea with my CfA colleagues and it turned into the Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale. We figured, “Why limit it to North America? Let’s open it up to the whole world.”

I built a barely functioning web site and then looked for potential participants and emailed invitations to them. I was hoping for a handful of participants the first year, and would have been ecstatic had we gotten 15 bake sales.

We ended up with 84 bake sales, on four continents, during the “official” nine-day period, and quite a few bake sales after that from groups that found out about the event later or couldn’t make it during the specified timeframe. When I went to Google and typed in “vegan bake sale,” the Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale was all over the place.

Each of the bake sales had its own distinctive flavor, and some were astounding – such as the San Francisco bake sale that raised over 3000 dollars. Some bake sales were combined with music or craft shows. Many had colorful, creative posters.  Proceeds went to sustainable community gardens, river cleanup efforts, local spay/neuter services, farm animal sanctuaries, hunger relief programs, and well-known animal protection organizations such as the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and Vegan Outreach.

In their year-end issue, VegNews magazine named the WVBS the “Veg Event of the Year.” We were overwhelmed and surprised. But I must give the credit entirely to the individuals who organized and helped out at the bake sales. They did an amazing job. All we did was make the request.

Vegan Bake Sales as an Outreach Tool

There are several advantages to vegan bake sales in terms of their vegan outreach potential:

The stress-to-effectiveness ratio is refreshingly low. At a vegan bake sale, people tend to be in a good mood. Buttercream frosting is disarming. You’re unlikely to get hostile questions about whether your shoes are leather or why you don’t care about humans. If customers or visitors to your table ask where you get your protein, or what’s wrong with organic eggs, they’re likely to be sincere and genuinely interested rather than trying (in vain, of course) to stump you. At vegan bake sales, you tend to get into friendly, productive conversations with the public.

Giving people a chance to try delicious vegan food helps “close the loop.” One reason people do not eat more vegan food is because they’re unaware of all the tasty options available. Or perhaps they’re afraid that eating vegan means sacrificing flavor. However, at a vegan bake sale you often witness this wonderful transformation: A dubious omnivore bites into his or her first-ever vegan chocolate chip cookie, red velvet cupcake, or lemon cheesecake, and enthusiastically exclaims, “Oh my God, this is out of this world!” or “Wow, I had no idea vegan desserts were this good!” You can practically see the misconceptions and skepticism melting away.

Vegan “inactivists” will often participate in vegan bake sales. Many vegans who will never attend rallies or leafleting events will be glad to bake or otherwise volunteer at a vegan bake sale. Vegan bake sales are an opportunity to connect with vegans who you might otherwise never meet.  While some of these folks might not participate in any other forms of organized outreach, you may get some who join your email list or become fans of your Facebook page, or join in future low-key activism such as volunteer days at a farm sanctuary or tabling at a health fair.

Non-vegans may join in. If you’re organizing a vegan bake sale, ask your non-vegan friends, co-workers, and family members who enjoy baking if they’d like to bake anything for the bake sale. You may be surprised at how many take you up on the offer. You can point them to vegan baking sites or lend them vegan baking cookbooks if appropriate. Once they see how nicely their efforts turn out, and how easy it is to bake vegan, they may incorporate vegan baking into their normal routines.

Vegan bake sales generate questions about eggs and dairy. The “vegan-ness” of vegan baked goods is, above all, their lack of dairy and eggs. Inevitably, at the bake sale table, people ask about those two ingredients; it’s a great opportunity to educate the public about the severe and widespread cruelties in both of those industries, and about cruelty-free alternatives. The presence of stupendous vegan creations all around you makes your advocacy more convincing and appealing.

The Worldwide vegan Bake Sale “Multiplier Effect”

The WVBS aims to add even more value to vegan bake sales. By having dozens of vegan bakes sales occurring almost simultaneously around the world:

  • Participants feel an inspiring, empowering camaraderie with all their bake sale counterparts.
  • Individuals holding bake sales in areas with few vegans and limited vegan resources can be part of a global, mutually supportive happening and feel less isolated.
  • Compassion for Animals – and anyone else, for that matter – can use the WVBS as basis to contact the press in hope of generating positive publicity about vegan bake sales, vegan food, and veganism.

The Growth of Vegan Bake Sales and the Future of the Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale

Possibly it was just my ignorance, but when looking around for vegan bakes sales in early 2009, they were rare. They were a novelty – and that may have helped fuel the enthusiasm for the first Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale. Since then – again from my limited perspective – vegan bake sales have taken off. Some of the groups that held their first vegan bake sale as part of the WVBS now hold them regularly, throughout the year. In February of this year, vegan cookbook author Isa Chandra Moskowitz held a vegan bake sale for Haiti and wrote about it in her blog. To quote Isa, “A few days later, there were over 20 cities participating. A few weeks later, over 75,000 dollars were raised.”

If I search online for vegan bake sales now, I’m bound to find at least a handful occurring in any given month. Vegan baking caterers and stores are also popping up. Not to mention cookbooks that are dedicated to or prominently feature vegan baking recipes. In the last couple of years, vegan baked goods have won top prizes at major county and state fairs in the U.S. Of course, in London and elsewhere in the UK, tohappyvegans.com has become a multi-faceted vegan baking powerhouse.

I’ll always be indebted to pioneers of vegan baking outreach, such as the Veggies Catering Campaign – who knows; without them, there might be no Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale – but I love all the new vegan baking endeavors that are spreading throughout the world. Slowly but surely, vegan baking is not only becoming mainstream but is on its way to becoming the new standard in baking.

Will the profusion of year-round vegan bake sales and other vegan baking ventures make the WVBS obsolete? Perhaps one day, vegan bake sales will be so commonplace that the WVBS will have to change in order to stay fresh. What a wonderful “problem” to have!

In the meantime, however, the second annual Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale is set to start in less than five weeks. I’m fully expecting the bake sales to be even more awesome than last year. I’m excited about recent signups from Brazil, Finland, and Romania – as well from everywhere else.  If you want to get on board, there’s still time, but you should probably get on the phone soon to secure that all-important location. Then let the “meaningful fun” begin! The more participants in the WVBS, the more energizing buzz it creates, and the more leveraging potential and influence it has on the media.

Vegan bake sales and the WVBS are enjoyable and nearly stress-free means by which you can help change the world. If you aren’t up to organizing your own bake sale, you may want to check the WVBS schedule and see if there are any bake sales in your area that could use a helping hand. Or you can just stop by the nearest vegan bake sale and support your local, hard-working, talented bakers – that’s important, too! There are lots of ways to “spread the love and spread the frosting.”

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