Vegan bake sales combine fundraising, community-building, volunteering opportunities (and often a chance to attract new volunteers), and vegan outreach. If you’re interested in any of these things and bake, know others who bake, or are friendly with local bakeries, you can put on a vegan bake sale. If your bake sale is part of the Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale, all the advantages are multiplied. If you bake but are not vegan, don’t worry, no new skills are needed. If you can bake, you can bake vegan.
The Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale (WVBS) started in 2009. The concept is almost too simple: Groups (or individuals) around the world have vegan bake sales at around the same time. That’s it. Maybe its simplicity is why it works. Each participating group gets to do whatever it wants to with the proceeds, and has full autonomy. Each bake sale in the WVBS is unique; that’s a big part of the beauty and fun of the project.
Why a vegan bake sale, specifically? There are hundreds of web sites on veganism, so no need to repeat that information here. For me, when I found that virtually all eggs come from hens bred at hatcheries that kill newborn male chicks and virtually all milk comes from dairies that steal baby calves from their mothers, that was all I needed to give up dairy and eggs and seek out alternatives. We have more info on dairy and eggs on our website. Fortunately, there are excellent alternatives to cow’s milk for moisture and excellent alternatives to eggs for binding.
There are other advantages to vegan bake sales. Many people are allergic to dairy or eggs. Dairy and eggs are also prone to turn dangerous if left out too long. You don’t have to worry nearly as much with nondairy milk or plant-based alternatives to eggs.
I came up with the WVBS idea in late 2008 after the new group I formed with three other people, Compassion for Animals, had our first meeting and someone suggest holding a vegan bake sale. I loved the idea and went online to learn about bake sales. My mind drifted, I formulated the basic concept, and a couple of brainstorming sessions later we had the WVBS. The first year of the WVBS, 2009, we thought we’d be lucky to get a dozen participants, and we really weren’t sure if we would get any. No one had ever heard of us or the event. Over 80 groups signed up, and VegNews Magazine awarded it “Veg Event of the Year.” Again, I think the utter simplicity and potential for “fun(d)-raising” were keys to its success.
If you do vegan outreach there are additional attractions to vegan bake sales and specifically participating in the WVBS:
- - It’s low-stress. Cupcakes are disarming. You can discuss potentially contentious topics in a friendly manner over a bake sale table filled with delicious homemade treats.
- - The fun, low-key aspect of it often attracts volunteers who would not show up at, say, a circus protest.
- - The nature of the event naturally invites questions about eggs and dairy. The public understand that animals are killed for meat but on the whole do not realize how much killing is involved in dairy and eggs.
- - Vegan bake sales are a great opportunity to get your baking friends to try vegan baking – and be pleasantly surprised with the results.
Surprisingly, vegan bake sales can even be gateways to talking about the health advantages of whole foods-based vegan diets. Here’s how it typically happens: Someone sees all the wonderful cookies, cupcakes, brownies, and other creations on the table. She tries a sample (a plate of free samples is a nice touch at bake sales) and is impressed. She asks how you can bake without eggs or dairy, and one of the friendly volunteers explains. Next thing you know, you’re talking about protein, Vitamin E, and phytonutrients, because the person is interested in eating better. But – it’s the tantalizing tasty treat that got the individual’s attention, and let her know that if she goes vegan, she doesn’t have to give up her favorite dessert tastes. Even super-healthy diets can make room for chocolate chip cookies now and then.
(Tip: Go for taste above all else with your bake sale goodies. That’s what gets the conversations started.)
Over the last five years, WVBS bake sale proceeds have gone to a wide variety of causes, including animal sanctuaries, humane societies, autism clinics, community gardens, river cleanups, and much more—including green technology projects by Jeanette’s Pier in Nag’s Head as a result of the awesome bake sale hosted by Kind Confections. The WVBS has raised close to $200,000 for charities and grassroots efforts on six continents.
Remember: bake sales don’t have to be big to be successful. We’ve had bake sales consisting of one person and a table, or two kids selling baked goods on their front porch. There have also been some huge ones with lines around the block and several tables packed with items.
Want to be part of this “meaningful world party?” It’s April 20-28, or as close to those dates as possible. The signup form is here. The WVBS website by now is probably the most comprehensive resource on the Internet for bake sales–period–and has many handy tips on putting together a bake sale and on vegan baking. The web site also has a schedule of participating bake sales, web banners, past highlights, and lots more.
Once you’re about 90 percent sure you’re going to have a vegan bake sale, you’re ready to sign up. Number one tip: reserve your location. Once you do that, the rest is relatively easy. Our bake sale tips page has all kinds of hints on how to find a good place for your event.
If you can’t organize a vegan bake sale, there are other high-impact ways you can participate. Check out the WVBS schedule to see if there are any participating bake sales near you. If so, and if inclined, contact them to see if they need bakers or volunteers for other duties. Or simply stop by the bake sale, pick up some delicious items baked with love by talented, hard-working local bakers, and help out a great cause.
You can also spread the word! Tweets, Facebook statuses, and –of course—blog posts really help. Fifth annual Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale – April 20 through April 28, 2013.
*This is a guest post by Gary for the Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale.