The Second Annual Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale


April 24 – May 2, 2010

Vegan bake sales combine a time-honored, well-liked tradition with vegan outreach. They’re a fun and effective way to raise funds, introduce the public to delicious vegan food, and-in many cases-engage in productive discussions about vegan diets and broader vegan issues.

Here are some specific benefits of vegan bake sales:

  • They attract both vegans and non-vegans who may not be interested in other forms of activism. Many people who will probably never leaflet or attend a rally will be delighted to bake brownies for a vegan bake sale or help with sign-making or tabling at the bake sale. In addition, non-vegans often try their hand at vegan baking for the first time because they want to donate items to a vegan bake sale.
  • They’re a nice change of pace for seasoned activists. Compared to, say, an anti-circus demo, a vegan bake sale is a bowl of cherries. The stress-to-effectiveness ratio at vegan bake sales is remarkably, refreshingly low. Buttercream frosting is disarming: at vegan bake sales, conversations about dairy, protein, and other aspects of veganism are cordial and friendly; it’s unlikely that anyone is going to angrily ask if your shoes are leather.
  • Vegan bake sales implicitly turn attention to dairy and eggs. The “vegan-ness” of vegan baked goods above all is their lack of dairy and egg products, and this leads customers at vegan bake sales to ask about those two types of animal products. In addition to fielding questions about these subjects, groups holding vegan bake sales often have literature about dairy and eggs–anything from industry fact sheets to vegan baking tips–on their bake sale tables for curious customers to take.

The Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale (WVBS) takes the vegan bake sale concept further by having a large number of bake sales during the same short time period–two weekends and the weekdays in between. This magnifies the power and fun of the bake sales:

  • A global phenomenon attracts more attention from the media. Compassion for Animals (www.compassion4animals.org), organizer of the WVBS (“organizer” is used loosely since the event is so decentralized) uses the multi-city WVBS buzz as a selling point when contacting the mainstream press and sending out press releases. The worldwide aspect also generates more interest and articles from alternative media–blogs, podcasts, vegan web sites, and so forth–and this is important, too!
  • The WVBS builds camaraderie among participants. Participating groups cheer each other on and are inspired by each other. People holding bake sales in areas that have a scant vegan presence may feel empowered by being part of a spirited global happening.

There is one factor above all that determines the success of the WVBS: the number of participants. Of course, every vegan bake sale is a valuable outreach event, and we appreciate every one. But when there are 100 or more going on at the same time, the press is more likely to write about it, more people take notice, and the buzz self-generates.

It’s relatively easy to set up and hold a vegan bake sale. Nearly everyone who does it has nothing but positive feedback. Perhaps the most daunting prospect for those who have never organized a bake sale is finding a location. The WVBS web site has an ever-growing list of tips that include suggestions on finding and securing a venue: http://www.veganbakesale.org/veganbakesale/vbs-links-bake-sale-tips.html.  Farmers markets, strip malls, community centers, food co-ops, campus gathering places, and churches are a few of the more popular bake sale sites.

For the most part, in the U.S. and other countries where bake sales are common, the regulations concerning bake sales are easy with which to comply. Note that if you decide to do a bake “sale” feed-in, where you give away the goods and ask for donations, your location options may increase, since some public areas allow you to give out but not sell food. As a bonus, you may be able to get your feed-in funded; details are here: http://www.veganbakesale.org/veganbakesale/vbs-funding.html.

Once you have your location reserved, the rest is fairly easy. Amass your awesome team of bakers and volunteers, decide generally what you’ll bake, create and distribute flyers, promote the bake sale through social media, determine what else you’ll have on the table, and so forth–and watch the enthusiasm build. Again, the WVBS bake sale tips can help.

To “officially” participate in the WVBS, fill out the “easy as pie” signup sheet (http://www.veganbakesale.org/veganbakesale/vbs-signup.html) once you’re about 90 percent sure that you’re going to have a bake sale.

Key point: When you participate in the WVBS, you can do whatever you want with the proceeds. There is basically only one rule: everything sold or given away at the bake sale must be vegan.

The WVBS web site (http://www.veganbakesale.org) has lots more information, including web banners, vegan baking tips, and highlights from last year. If you have any questions, please contact info@veganbakesale.org. You can also keep track of WVBS happenings via Facebook and twitter (links are on the WVBS home page).

If you participate, prepare for meaningful fun. It’s wonderful to see people bite into their first-ever vegan cheesecake or cupcake and exclaim how delicious it is-you can practically see the barriers melting away. And all the while you’re raising funds for one or more of your favorite charities–including your own organization.

If inclined, you can combine the bake sale with craft displays, music, unicycle demonstrations, face-painting–you name it. The creativity of the 2009 WVBS participants was astounding. But you can also have a very simple bake sale. One person at a table in a small town is in some ways more profound than a huge gala affair in a big vegan-friendly city. But it’s all good, and the synergy of the bake sales creates an awesome, more-than-the-sum-of-its parts effect.

I almost forgot to mention…If you can’t participate in the WVBS, there is one more vital-and quite enjoyable-role you can fulfill: going to a vegan bake sale near you and buying some mouth-watering creations. You’ll be donating to a worthy cause and helping the hard-working, talented bakers and organizers who make the Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale a success. To find bake sales near you, scan the WVBS schedule page (http://www.veganbakesale.org/veganbakesale/vbs-where.html). Check back periodically, as this list continues to expand.

Spread the word, spread the love, spread the frosting: The Second Annual Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale – April 24 through May 2, 2010. (Details: www.VeganBakeSale.org)

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