If you are a vegetarian and want to meet other like-minded people, you can join a vegetarian group. If there isn’t one in your area, then why not start your own.
The idea of starting up your own vegetarian group may feel quite daunting, but once you get it going, you will be glad you did. Suzanne Morgan, the founder of the Penang Vegetarian Meetup Group, gives you a few tips on where to start.
Decide on where and when you want to hold your first meetup. The best place is usually at a local vegetarian restaurant. You need to decide whether you want to hold it either at lunch time or in the evening, on a week day or weekend. I have found that weekday lunch meet ups have proved very popular in Penang, but weekends and evenings are good for people who work during the day.
Give yourself plenty of time to advertise your vegetarian group, at least two to three weeks. One of the easiest and cheapest ways of advertising your group is to create a Facebook group. I created the Penang Vegetarians as a forum for people to share information on their favourite vegetarian restaurants, health food shops and vegetarian-related activities and events in Penang.
When you create your Facebook group, make sure that you put the name of your location in the title as it will make it easier for people searching for a group in your area, e.g. Melaka Vegetarians, Kuala Lumpur Vegetarians etc. You can then add your Facebook friends to your group.
To create your vegetarian event, click on Events and then create event. Add your details and invite members. If you have a relevant photograph, you can add that. Once your event is created you can then share it on other relevant Facebook groups such as:
Other cheap ways to advertise your meetup is to create a poster or postcard and place it in your local health food shop, on notice boards, in colleges and health centres etc. If people are interested in your group, but don’t have a Facebook account, then take their email address and create an email group so you can easily send them the information.
If you don’t mind spending a bit of money you can join meetup.com. Meetup is the largest network of local groups and provides all the tools you need customise your group. It’s easy to schedule meetings, email members, see who has RSVP’s, add photos, etc.
What to do at your first vegetarian group meeting. You have advertised your first meet up and people have replied. First of all make sure that you reserve a table at the chosen restaurant at least a day in advance. On the day, it’s a good idea to arrive a bit earlier than the specified time so that you, as the host, can meet and greet your members. It is important to welcome everyone and introduce people to each other, especially if people have come on their own.
Take photographs of your event to post on your Facebook group. This is also a good advertising tool, seeing nice happy and smiley people at your event.
After your event you can thank people for coming and post your photographs. Have a few days rest and then start planning your next event/s. It’s always good to get feedback to see if there is anything you can change or improve on or suggestions for future events.
Running your own vegetarian group takes a bit of time and commitment. At the beginning you may not have many people attending – at my first meetup there was only three people – but don’t give up. Be passionate about what you are doing; keep posting relevant information on your Facebook group and tell as many people as you can about what you are doing. You will find that people will want to come along out of curiosity.
Spread the vegetarian word and hopefully more and more people will go meat-free.