A Day in the Life of a Warped Tour Vegan Activist
Vegan Outreach's Benjamin Sylvester talks about life on the road with Vans Warped Tour—logging serious miles, crashing on couches, and braving the heat to spread the cruelty-free message.
Since June 15th, I have been handing out leaflets at Vans Warped Tour for Vegan Outreach—driving across the country, from concert venue to concert venue, in a car full of old clothes, sunscreen, and free CDs. Every day on the road is different, but there’s always bound to be adventure. Here’s a 24 hour-rundown of what it’s like moving at “warped” speed as a vegan activist.
I either wake up in a soft bed or a wooden floor—depending on who my host is—and I look at my missed calls, most of which are from my mom who wants to know when I’m coming home. I do some calisthenics with my Outreach teammates, then start planning the day, figuring out how long it will take us to drive to the next venue, how many volunteers we will have, and how many leaflets we will be able to pass out based on past leafletting records for the specific area.
The drive to the next venue can take up to seven to eight hours. I can’t count how many Clif Bars I've eaten or how many Redbulls I’ve chugged to get through the late-night long hauls. Our stops along the way have included overpriced gas stations, the Wynn Las Vegas Casino, the Santa Monica beach, rest stops in Phoenix with star-filled skies, and regretfully, many Taco Bells. But every drive is a chance to experience America’s diverse landscape of mountains, prairies, endless cornfields, redwood forests, deserts, and urban jungles. Each journey is a chance to connect with your fellow activists—when you spend so many hours on the road with the same people who care as much as you do about animal issues, you bond intimately and learn about their unique characteristics and idiosyncrasies.
We get to the venue and unload our leaflets for the night. As I call our Vans nonprofit manager for vendor wristbands, my crew strategizes about which exits they will leaflet at, how many leaflets they’ll need for each exit, and how many people will leaflet at those exits. Every night is a new challenge with suspicious security personnel, exits that close suddenly and open randomly, volunteers running out of water and suffering heat exhaustion (Las Vegas was 117 degrees in the shade), and competing with other leafletters and bands selling CDs.
By 8:00pm, concert-going teens and tweens rush around us, and leaflets fly out of our hands. Thousands can be given out between 8:00 and 9:30, and with 15 to 20 volunteers we can distribute between 8,000 to 12,000 leaflets at a single event. Each pamphlet has a wonderfully designed cover featuring a portrait of Oliver Sykes from the band Bring Me the Horizon, so many concertgoers take them without deliberation.
After the music ends, we thank our crew and volunteers, do a quick photo shoot, and then we’re on the road to our host’s house, which could be a studio apartment in Brooklyn or a mansion in Southern California. Every host is fantastic, and their hospitality and generosity are always appreciated—whether he or she is a straight-edge vegan or a party herbivore, we always bond and add friends to our community.
Being on the road is tough work, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world this summer. Even though the days meld together and someone constantly has to remind me what state we are in, the people I meet during my adventures remind me that we are on an important mission that impacts each individual, the animals, and society. I could not think of a better way to get a tan while saving animals and having the best time of my life.
Why Going Vegan Can Help You Relax
Are you someone who practices mindful meditation? If so, heres why you should be vegan (if you arent already).
Read More »
Want Political Change? It's Time to Start Voting Vegan
Lets put ethical, moral, and environmentally conscious champions in government.
Read More »
5 Reasons Your Next Vacation Should Be Aboard the Vegan Holistic Holiday at Sea
A 10-night vegan cruise with healthy food and a plethora of plant-based celebs? Yes, please!
Read More »
How Do You Remember 100 Songs in 4 Days? For Pop-Punk Band Alkaline Trio, the Answer is Veganism
Matt Skiba says eschewing dairy helps with his voice and his on-stage energy level.
Read More »
5 Woman-Owned Vegan Businesses You Should Be Obsessed With
What's even better than a vegan business? A vegan business owned by a woman.
Read More »
- 6 Valentine's Day Gifts for that Vegan Curmudgeon in Your Life
- 6 Red-Hot Vegan Lipsticks To Drive Your Valentine Crazy
- How a Vegan Canadian Figure Skater Prepared to Win Gold at the Winter Olympics
- How to Be a Vegan Teen Valentine
- Vegan Valentine's Day Tips From No. 1 Best-Selling Author Kathy Freston
- 5 Vegan Turmeric Recipes for Those Who Are Slightly Intimidated by It
- How A Vegan Diet is Making ''Everything'' Easier for One Punk Singer
- Your Meat-Eating Friends Want One of These 10 Vegan Books
- 7 Ways to Veganize Your Bed, Just in Time for Valentine's Day
- 5 Steps to the Perfect Vegan Valentine's Day
- 8 Love-Infused Vegan Events to Celebrate Valentine's Day
- Thanks to These 7 Vegan Pies, We Have Declared National Pizza Day a Holiday
- No Valentine This Year? Try Vegan Speed Dating
- 6 Ways to Queer Your Vegan Valentine's Day
- Bought Too Many Vegan Girl Scout Cookies? Here are 10 Desserts You Should Make With Them
- Glow Up With These 18 Vegan Beauty Brands in 2018
- How One Chef is Getting NFL Players to Go Vegan
- From Struggling for Breath to Running Marathons: Veganism Saved His Life
- 6 Badass Vegan Women Who Don't Take Any Sh*t
- 10 Vegan Chip and Dip Match-Ups Fit For A Super Bowl Smackdown