Lately, I’ve been actively stepping out of my comfort zone to try things that challenge and allow me to connect with some really cool people, and ultimately impact the world. I’m not a total wallflower, but putting myself out there has never exactly been something I jump out of bed to do.
I’ve learned that making a new perspective or mindset stick is like training a muscle: if you don’t keep working it, it’s going to atrophy and you’re going to find yourself in the same situation where you started… old boring perspectives aplenty. So, set some goals and get out there.
As my hero Jen Sincero says, “Lame, vague goals are the best way to live a lame, vague life.”
On Wednesday, I decided to respond to an email from Mercy for Animals looking for volunteers and spent the morning at the University of Michigan campus handing out educational pamphlets about veganism (“making compassionate choices”) to students, faculty, and whoever else happened to be walking through.
I connected with an awesome new friend from Vegan Outreach and Factory Farming Awareness Coalition (FFAC) who taught me the correct way to “leaflet”, which is not, by the way, sort of trying to sheepishly hand someone the paper and awkwardly smiling and asking them if they would please take it — which may or may not be my natural default as the 97% introvert that I am.
Luckily, I quickly found myself in a good rhythm of “good mornings” “thank yous” and “have a great days” and was pleasantly surprised by what I observed.
Most people were very receptive and took it, opening and reading it as they walked away and headed to their next class. A few politely declined. And yeah, one guy, eyes straight ahead, yelled “please stop harassing me!” and started running. But he was just an anomaly. 🙂
A few were already vegan.
A few weren’t yet vegan, but were interested. One woman said her daughter was interested in going vegan, and she wanted to support her but wasn’t sure what to do. We talked for a few minutes about good plant proteins.
When I was in college, I remember actively avoiding the leafleters on the sidewalk, sometimes so much so that I would change my route to get to my dorm or my next class just so I didn’t have to pass them. Again, INTROVERT. Totes awkward.
So, you can guess that I was relieved when people were actually happy to take my information and didn’t immediately throw it in the trash can when they walked away.
Call me a skeptic.
At the end of the day, 1800 leaflets were distributed (!!!). The Humane League has found that leafleting is an effective way to sway views regarding eating meat.
For every 2 educational pieces given out, at least 1 animal is saved.
After handing out 300 pamphlets in just the couple of hours I was able to help, it felt good to have saved 150+ animals and perhaps inspired a few more people to #goveg.
As I left campus, I thought about how much I look forward to being able to take my son to do things like this as he gets older. Which means, I need to keep working my extroversion muscle and seeking out things to get involved with that support our core family values: helping the planet, saving animals, protecting public health, and teaching others how they can do all of the above.
My point of telling you all of this is to remind you that there are so many simple ways to get involved in your community to support a cause YOU believe in, without trying to carry the entire world on your shoulders. You never know what kind of impact you can have just by being present and trying something new.
Find your people. They’re out there.
Look for local events that align with your family’s core values and make it a household endeavor. Expose your kids to issues in the world in a way that makes them feel empowered and capable of impacting the lives of others.
Help them feel confident in their ability to be a catalyst for change in the world by participating in advocacy efforts alongside them.
Get out, go do it.