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The onset of summer frequently brings vacations, trips to the beach, bar-b-ques, picnics, and hopefully, some much-needed R&R. Why not easily turn your summertime activities into opportunities to change the world for animals?

First and foremost is the food. When it comes to changing the world for animals, sharing food is one of the most powerful forms of advocacy. While animal rights shares with other social justice causes the need to change people’s hearts and minds, it also involves changing the way they eat. While it would be nice to think that people are going to change just because it’s the right thing to do, let’s face it… People like to eat good food, and for most of them, if they think they can’t get it, their minds are not going to open. In some ways that creates obstacles, but in so many others, it opens up unique opportunities — because what could possibly be better that making and sharing delicious food? If the best way to change people’s hearts is through their stomachs, then thanks to the accessibility and deliciousness of vegan foods, we’ve got that one in the bag.

Bar-B-Ques

Bar-b-ques are the classic summer food venue, and for too long they have been associated with dead animals. It’s time to change that! Whether you are throwing a bar-b-que or dropping by someone else’s, it is the perfect place to show off vegan delectables. You can make your own veggie burgers, buy some vegan Italian sausages (we personally favor Field Roast), grill up some veg-kabobs or whole vegetables (you haven’t lived until you’ve tried bar-b-qued okra), or create other cruelty-free food concoctions that will show everyone that backyard cookouts were, indeed, made for vegans. Oftentimes, it’s the hearty sauces and the chewy textures that make grilled dishes truly scrumptious. So put on your Chef’s hat: these textures and tastes are easily replicable the vegan way.

Picnics

Another perfect summer food celebration is the picnic, and picnics are a particularly ideal place for a potluck — vegan of course. Picnic potlucks can be any size, any style, and at any kind of venue — whether it’s the beach, in a park, or at an outdoor concert. Where we live, in NYC, people sometimes go all out, bringing candelabra, white tablecloths and gourmet food to the Metropolitan Opera in the Park. Why not make it gourmet vegan food?

And since the goal isn’t just to snack on the delectable goodies yourself (remember, we’re trying to change the world one bite at a time, so don’t be greedy), be sure to invite your friends and family. Nervous they won’t be willing to bring a vegan dish? After providing them with resources for the budding vegan chef (such as VegWeb, which has 13,000 recipes searchable by keyword), consider titillating your guests by turning the potluck into a contest, and awarding a prize for whatever is voted the best dish. There’s nothing like a little competition to get people’s creative juices flowing, and you may find your non-vegan friends outdoing the competition with their vegan creations. What better way to motivate them to add some vegan specialities to their repertoire? Not to mention that you get to eat all that delicious grub.

Feed-Ins & Bake Sales

While sharing food with friends and family is important, other forms of activism shine in the summer as well, because it’s just so much easier to find people — they’re all outside, just where you want to be. Leafleting, for example, is a whole lot easier when you don’t have to get people to take their mittened hands out of their pockets just to grab a pamphlet. If you want to take your outdoor outreach a bit further, try organizing a feed-in. (Mercy for Animals has a great howtoonfeedins.) Or maybe you should make it a bake sale and raise a little money for charity, while enlightening others about the deliciousness of vegan cupcakes. And oh how delicious they are! Summertime is the perfect season for dusting off your copy of VeganCupcakesTakeOvertheWorld.

Books

Speaking of books, hopefully you’ll finally have time to read, now that warmer weather is here. If you’re a beach bum who gets through the hot months with nothing but a margarita and a book, try to expand your summer reading to include books that will enlighten and educate you. Some of our faves for accessibly absorbing knowledge about the world of animal rights include ThankingtheMonkey and StrikingattheRoots. For a treat, don’t forget about animal rights themed fiction, like our absolute favorite new novel, TheTouristTrail. Plus, all of these books make great summertime gifts for those in your life who might need a good beach read. As a bonus, they might leave with more than just a tan — like a new life’s passion, perhaps?

Of course, even activists deserve a vacation now and again, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t do a little good while on the road. Every time you eat out, which you’ll probably be doing a lot of when you are away from home, make your meal an opportunity for outreach. Make sure to check the menu ahead of time, and if there isn’t a vegan option, call ahead and ask for one. If there is a vegan option, remember to leave a nice comment about it. If the restaurant winds up making you a special vegan meal, follow up afterwards and encourage them to make that dish a permanent menu item (perhaps they can even label it “vegan”). Lastly, while you’re packing for your vacation, don’t forget Compassion Over Killing’s restaurantmanagercards, which are gentle reminders of the importance and deliciousness of including vegan options on the menu. You simply leave a wallet-sized card with the bill, and voila, you’ll be planting a much-needed seed.

Just like the juicy peaches that have finally arrived at our farmer’s market, this summer, changemaking opportunites will be sweet and in season. So eat up.

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