Vegan Long Island Message Board › Would you like to be an event organizer?
Dear Vegan Long Island members,
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?
Please read the Expectations and Guidance for event hosts. Event hosts do more behind-the-scenes work before and after the event than you may have realized. But if you're up for it, great. I'll help you partner up with a co-host. (Experience has shown that co-hosting is good because it means you have a backup in case you get sick. It also helps build our organization to work as a team.)
I ask that event hosts 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 hosts 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.
There are several tasks connected with hosting an event. I've explained them below.
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 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 Feb 27, 2016 9:08 PM
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 scroll down to the bottom of Part 2—I've listed animal products to check about, when communicating with restaurants.
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? If you have promised the restaurant a certain number of paying customers, then we should require pre-payment. We can have attendees pre-pay a deposit amount to reserve their space, or the full amount if it's fixed-price. When the restaurant is expecting a certain number of paying diners, no-shows aren't fair to the restaurant—or to you, if you end up covering the shortfall out of your own pocket.
See next post for more hosting guidance...
Edited by Jennifer Greene on Feb 27, 2016 9:05 PM
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. Some tabletop "Meetup" signs can be helpful, depending on the setting.
Should you bring nametags? Yes. 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.
In addition to printing out or handwriting nametags for everyone, I suggest printing out (or jotting down by hand) the RSVP list. You should note who is coming for the first time, and from where, to get a sense of who your guests are.
If you can take 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.)
After the event, you will need to edit the attendance list, and follow up with any no-shows.
In the days leading up to the event and afterwards as well, event hosts should be prepared to communicate with attendees. VLI event hosts need to be ready to answer questions and generate excitement beforehand, and express thanks afterwards to attendees for coming, as well as post photos.
I hope these instructions are helpful. I look forward to assisting you in planning a successful event.
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 29, 2016 5:01 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!