I'm always getting questions via email asking how one can spread the Herbie love. Specifically, how can they talk to others about living the plant-based lifestyle and without being preachy or overbearing.
I talk a lot about outreach (and how to tailor your message so your hearer hears it) in my new book, The Happy Herbivore Guide to Plant-Based Living, but today Kayla is sharing her own personal experience with outreach.
As I've said before: You can lead a horse to water, but you can't force him to drink. However, leading by example is dynamite. If you lower your head to drink the water, then start moaning over how refreshingly delicious it is, the horse may very well get curious and give it a try!
When I discovered how great I feel eating an 85% vegan diet, I wanted to prove it to my family, friends, and acquaintances on Facebook. But since I live in a small, fast food loving town where everyone is a fan of fried foods, I knew I had a challenge on my hands!
Like Lindsay, I also wanted to start my own business and be my own boss, so I started making and selling Happy Herbivore baked good recipes to local businesses (eye doctors, offices, dentists, etc). Unfortunately, I wasn't making much of a profit so I quit selling door to door.
A little while later, one of my friends shared a granola bar recipe with me. It was good, but, I felt like it could be healthier. So, with faith in God, I started tweaking the recipe and eventually "Kay's Delight Bars" were born.
I've been selling my bars to friends, family, and coworkers ever since for the past two years.
I'm still not making a profit, but I love knowing I'm getting those I care about to open up and try healthier foods. I still hope to own my own health-based business some day.
Recently, I decided to take my outreach even farther by participating in an event called "The Taste of Rogersville." The Taste of Rogersville is an annual event where local vendors and restaurants give out samples to anyone who buys an admission ticket (hence the name).
The Taste of Rogersville is always a huge event (some 1,500 people attend), so I decided to participate. I wanted to show my town how wonderful healthy, plant-based food can be by providing some plant-based options at the event.
It took me eleven hours to make all samples myself, but it was worth the work.
I didn't win a prize (there were awards for Best Dessert, Best Taste, People's Choice and Best Booth) but I didn't care. My award was seeing people's smiling faces, wide eyes, and hearing their high praise compliments about my bars.
(I used a basket of fake fruit, Happy Herbivore books, and the No Meat Athlete book as my main décor, with fake flowers)
I ended up with a good bit of leftover bars so I gave them to the owners of three different local restaurants.
One of the restaurants, the Sunshine Sandwich Shop, opened a year ago. When I first walked in, I was delighted to see they had healthy vegetarian choices already on their menu. When I mentioned to the owners I was vegan, they started participating in "Meatless Mondays" by making their Monday specials vegan and vegetarian dishes. As far as I know, no other restaurant in town had done anything like this.
To date, the Sunshine Sandwich Shop is VERY popular and I think it's their "uniqueness". Their willingness to step out of the circle, stand out and be different, that gives them a competitive edge.
Meanwhile, the chef at another local restaurant, Hale Springs Inn, always made a special vegan dish for me whenever I'd come to eat. I'm delighted to say my veggie/bean dish is now on the regular dinner menu! Just goes to show you it never hurts to ask and by asking you might create a vegan option for others in your town to try!
Also, at the event, another restaurant, Jubilee Point Café, told me they wanted to start putting vegan and vegetarian options on their menu as well. [Editorial note: the Jubilee Point Café has closed.]
My state, Tennessee, is one of the unhealthiest and obese states in America, and I'm glad to see local restaurants getting on board with healthier fare. My town might be small, and these changes might seem small, but they can lead into a big change that the community needs.
It's not an overnight thing, but one person, one step, can make an army of success.
Help get the word out in your area! One person can make a difference.
Here are some of my favorite ways to reach and inspire others:
**Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter-Share, share, share! Share healthy tips, encourage, motivate and show off your eats!
**Ask if your company has a Wellness Program and if it doesn't, see if the company is open to starting one with your help.
**Take part of food contests. Spread the healthy news.
**Ask locally owned restaurants if they can make something special for you. Then thank them over and over.
Above all, remember that inspiring others is a domino effect. Build them up and nudge them in the right direction. It won't happen overnight, but, with patience, faith, willpower, and determination, anything is possible if you just believe.
Plant the seed, nurture it, watch it grow. It'll do the rest on its own.
With all this said,
GOOD LUCK WITH WHATEVER YOU DECIDE ON!
Stand up. Stand out. Color outside of the lines.