Vegan Long Island Message Board › yes, YOU can be an event organizer!
Dear Vegan Long Island members,
I want everyone to know that yes, YOU TOO can be an event organizer!
Check the following list, and see if any of the following is true for you...
Are you wishing events were closer to where you live or work?
Are you wishing for a greater variety of events?
Or maybe you've been frustrated by the scheduling? Do you wish that a regular event would get scheduled for a different time/day, so you could attend?
Are you wishing for more low-cost or no-cost events? Like potlucks, picnics, hikes, games nights, dances...?
Are you wishing for more activism & outreach events?
Have you discovered a new place to eat that offers great vegan fare?
Or maybe you're up for hosting an event at your own home?
If any of the above applies to you, then how about being an event organizer? Just let me know you're ready, and I'll designate you as an "Event Organizer" here at the Meetup.com site. Once I do that, then you can arrange an event, have access to the meetup calendar to post the information, and be the "host" at the event.
I ask that event hosts/organizers be good ambassadors for veganism. (If you don't already identify as vegan, then I hope you see yourself as on your way there!) Please review my "Why Vegan?" letter—my hope is that you will feel no conflict with the perspective and values I present there.
An effective ambassador will be a campfire, not a forest fire. What does that mean? It's a metaphor I'm borrowing from Zoe Weil's short blogpost, "Be the Campfire." Check it out.
Can you model equanimity in the face of conflict, should it arise? (Which I hope never would—but if it does, I ask that hosts make every effort to defuse the conflict, not escalate it. I have found that nonviolent communication techniques can help a lot. I recommend watching "Basics of NVC.")
I also ask that event organizers save their event description as a draft first, and let me sign off on it, before posting it. That way I can catch potential problems before the announcement goes out.
Interested? Great! The Meetup.com system is pretty easy to use.
Already have an event or venue in mind? Super! There's a chance we might have gone there already; if so, we can use the past event page as a template. If not, I'm happy to help you set up a new event, or I can be hands-off and let you do it yourself. Whichever you prefer.
If you want to host a restaurant event, see the continuation of this message (next post in the thread). I provide some how-to guidance.
But don't feel limited to restaurant outings! Potlucks, picnics, house parties, hikes, leafleting, tabling have all been successful VLI events in the past, and I want us to do more of them in the future.
Thanks for helping this group be even more responsive & participatory! I'm looking forward to seeing more Vegan Long Island events on the calendar.
Yours for a greener, healthier world with more justice and compassion for all—
Vegan Long Island Organizer
jrg1232 <at> gmail.com
631-278-5108 (call or text)
Edited by Jennifer Greene on May 11, 2015 3:20 PM
How to Arrange a Restaurant Outing for Vegan Long Island
(Guidance for Event Organizers, Part 1)
As you plan a restaurant outing, be aware that the cost of the meal can be handled one of several ways:
1) Separate checks. These days, more restaurants are letting diners pay individual bills, but you should find out ahead of time. (If there's counter service, separate checks are a given, of course.)
2) A single bill at the end, which members divide according to what they ordered from the menu.
(Caution: if you go this route, bring some means--like a memo pad or slips of paper--for each diner to keep record of what they order. It's happened that some have accidentally underpaid & left before the final reckoning with the restaurant, leaving the rest of us to pay more than our share.)
3) You can arrange a prix-fixe menu (English: fixed-price) so that each diner will pay the same amount for the whole meal. (You can make certain things extra, like appetizers, dessert, beverages...).
Whichever plan, the restaurant will want a headcount a certain number of days beforehand, so you should find out from them *when* they want to get the final headcount--and make that day, or maybe even the day before, the RSVP deadline for meetup members.
It's good to post the vegan menu options as part of the event description.
Before scheduling the event, you should actually pay a visit to the restaurant. Go have a meal there, so you can pick up a menu, count the number of seats in the place (if seating seems limited), maybe introduce yourself & find out what menu options can be made vegan, and perhaps even take a picture.
When ascertaining what can be made vegan, please confirm that the manager or owner or chef understands that vegan means no meat and no animal products.
In case there's any question, please see below—I've listed animal products to check about, when communicating with restaurants. At the same time, let me add this: as an advocate for animals, I think the general approach presented by Vegan Outreach here makes a lot of sense. That's why, in my own life, I remember that my goal is not "personal purity." It hurts way more animals in the long run if, because of my efforts to avoid every last trace of animal product, the people who are with me come away turned off to veganism. Eating something that's apparently vegan and not making a fuss about the trace ingredients is what's in the animals' best interests.
That said, I think the good news is that nowadays, a certain level of attention to ingredients isn't going to hinder results-oriented advocacy the way it once might have. In other words, when you're the lone advocate dining out with a group of folks, and you're positive and appreciative and friendly toward the waitstaff, I wouldn't say that finding out about trace ingredients is necessarily a strategic mistake. Much depends on who you're with. It's 2015 now, and at this stage we may be close to the point where vegan choices are normal enough that any off-putting effect on others is fairly small & outweighed by the good to be achieved by conveying consumer desire for fare that's not only apparently vegan, but really is free of dairy and egg ingredients. I don't know for sure. Just please make sure, if you ever do interrogate your waiter, that you're super-nice about it. And tip well.
(If you want to see a list of animal products that shouldn't be in vegan food, scroll down to the bottom of Part 2.)
Here's a summary of what to discuss when you call or visit the restaurant:
- "I'd like to arrange a vegan (lunch/dinner) at your restaurant for members of Vegan Long Island. We typically have groups of 6 to 12 people come to events like this. Which day of the week & what time would you like us to come?" (Or if you already have a particular day/time in mind, see if that will be okay.)
- "If we have the (lunch/dinner) on _______ , then you'd need a final headcount by what day?"
- If seating in this restaurant seems limited, you should ask, "What should I set as the upper limit for number of RSVPs?"
- "I'm going to tell the group that you can make the following items vegan, and I'll give them the prices, so they have an idea of what they might want to order. [List menu items & prices] -- Those are all vegan, or you will make them vegan for us, is that correct?" --OR-- "Can we create a fixed-price menu for my group? We typically have a soup, appetizer, and three or four entrees shared family-style... Would brown rice be available? Do you have dessert options? (The fixed-price might not include beverages or dessert, but people could pay extra for those...)" Then you'd negotiate the fixed-price. Or if you're not going the set menu/fixed-price route, maybe you can ask for a percentage discount off their regular menu prices. I'm not a good haggler, but you might be. :)
- "Let me give you my phone number in case you need to reach me--it's ___________ . I will call you on _____ to give you a final headcount before the event. Thank you so much!"
Another decision to make: will you require pre-payment, to assure a reliable headcount? You can ask people to pre-pay online, say, $20 to reserve their place for a $18 fixed-price meal (there's a processing fee for credit card payments) . If they don't show, they forfeit their prepayment, and the $18 goes to the restaurant.
Pre-payment is better than having lots of no-shows at the last minute, when you promised the restaurant there would be a certain number of diners. Unreliable headcounts aren't fair to the restaurant, or to you as the host if you end up covering the shortfall out of your own pocket. If you're going the fixed-price route, do consider requiring some prepayment.
See next post (character limit, sorry) for guidance for the event itself...
Edited by Jennifer Greene on Jan 17, 2015 2:44 PM
What to Bring to a Restaurant Outing
(Guidance for Event Organizers, Part 2)
For the event itself, you should arrive at least 10-15 minutes early, so you can identify yourself to the restaurant staff, and be ready to greet diners as they arrive. If you want to print out some tabletop "Meetup" signs to put on the tables, that's great (but not essential).
Should you bring nametags? Yes, if possible. Bring blank nametags, and supply a magic marker that's low-odor... nametags are worn literally under one's nose, so the fumes from regular markers can be a problem for some folks. Or you can use the "Print Name Tags" option at the meetup site; you'll need to have Avery name tag labels #8395, #5395, or #45395. Or use regular paper and cut out the name tags to insert them into plastic holders.
If you don't print out or handwrite nametags for everyone, I suggest printing out the RSVP list so you can greet people more easily and take attendance.
If you can take some pictures (or recruit someone else to) and upload them to the site, that's great. (If you do take pictures, please ask members if they mind being photographed, and give them a chance to get out of the shot. Some folks may not want their picture on the website.)
I hope these instructions are helpful. Feel free to contact me with any questions! I'm happy to support and assist you in your planning.
P.S. Here's a list of animal products that should not be in vegan food:
no meat (which means no fish, shrimp, or other "seafood")
no beef stock or chicken stock (often used in preparing rice or sauces)
no fish stock (sometimes in miso soup)
no fish sauce (common in Thai cuisine)
no lard (common in Mexican cuisine)
no dairy--which means:
- no butter, ghee (=the clarified butter used in Indian cuisine)
- no cow's (or goat's) milk, cream, yogurt
A vegan version of the same dish could use vegetable oil, non-dairy milk, non-dairy cream, non-dairy yogurt.
- no dairy cheese (common in Italian, Mexican, Greek cuisine)
You could suggest they try the new dairy-free cheeses! Like Daiya cheese!
- no paneer (=cheese used in Indian cuisine)
Tofu cubes or chickpeas substitute well for paneer in the traditional spinach dish called saag paneer.
- no grated cheese (parmesan or romano)
- no feta cheese
Breaded items sometimes use beaten egg. Conventional mayonnaise--used in deli salads, sushi rolls--contains egg. You could suggest they try one of the eggless mayonnaise spreads.
Although I think Dr. Greger makes a good point here about honey.
Edited by Jennifer Greene on Jan 17, 2015 2:06 PM
I'm bumping this old post up to remind folks that you've got a standing invitation from me to try being an event organizer!
With your help, there'll be more gatherings on the calendar, and/or in your neck of the woods!