Interview with Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale Organizer Gary Loewenthal

Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale shows a softer—and sweeter—side to veg activism.

Advocacy doesn’t always mean taking to the streets armed with leaflets and picket signs. Sometimes the whisk is mightier than the sword, and it’s that type of thinking that got the folks at Compassion for Animals sweet on the idea of doing a Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale (WVBS) June 20-28, 2009. VegNews catches up with organizer Gary Loewenthal to discuss how to serve your cookies with a side of compassion.

VegNews: Where did the idea for WVBS come from?
Gary Loewenthal: Last fall, when Compassion for Animals was getting started, the three other co-founders and I were talking about what kinds of outreach we wanted to do, besides the usual. Someone suggested bake sales. I loved the idea. We could leverage this widely accepted, traditional, and fun activity to introduce the public to veganism and melt away some misconceptions about vegan food.

VN: How many people and countries will be participating in the bake sale this year?
GL: My goal was to have 30 bake sales this year. We’re on track so far; in fact, it’s looking like we’ll do better than that. So far, we have participants from Australia, New Zealand, Nigeria, the UK, Canada, and the US. If there are any translators reading this, we’d love to have some materials in French and Spanish to help us better reach out to countries in which those languages are spoken!

VN: What is your ultimate goal for putting on this event?
GL: The WBVS has five main goals:
1. Promote vegan baked-goods, and veganism in general, in a friendly, upbeat, and engaging way
2. Encourage non-animal-related and/or non-vegan groups to try their hand at vegan baking, which, perhaps, will lead to further inquiries about veganism
3. Provide an outreach outlet for vegans who may not be interested in other forms of activism such as leafleting and protests
4. Present an opportunity for participants to experience the camaraderie resulting from others doing similar activities during the same short time period
5. Provide a vehicle by which groups or individuals can combine vegan outreach with helping a cause of their choosing

VN: Participants can also do a giveaway sponsored by VegFund. How does that work?
GL: VegFund has offered to consider funding baked-good feed-ins or other no-charge events that are done in conjunction with the WVBS. People interested in this option would give away rather than sell their vegan baked-goods, and, once their plans are in place, apply for funding by going to the VegFund website and follow the instructions there.

VN: How can potential participants get involved?
GL: The short answer is to secure a venue for the bake sale—the rest is relatively easy. The longer answer is find and reserve a location for your bake sale. Set a date. Let us know. Get volunteers for baking, tabling, and promoting. Decide where the proceeds will go. Take pictures. Let us know how you did. Have fun. Change the world.

VN: What’s your favorite vegan baked good?
GL: That’s a tough one because I like them all. But I would have to say chocolate-chip cookies—which may partially explain the WVBS logo.

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