The step-by-step guide to starting a vegan club in your school!
We here at Animal Allies believe that anyone, regardless of age, can be a part of promoting the vegan message. While starting a club may seem initially daunting, just realise that your efforts can make a big difference to the environment, people's health and the lives of animals. Once something is started, it can create positive change for years to come, all because you took the initiative to start it all!
What do you see as the group’s main message? What would you like this group to accomplish? What ideas do you have for the group? (activities, etc.) What should we call the group? (try to make it marketable and inclusive; you can even call it Animal Allies! Try to avoid naming it vegan as members will then think it is a vegan-only club).
Of course, this can be modified as the club and its members change over time!
Depending on which educational institutional you're from, setting up your own student-run organisation may or may not seem like a foreign and scary concept. Although this step may require some administrative work, it is a lot less intimidating than it appears. Plus, we are here to help!
Depending on your type of school (international, MOE secondary school or junior college, polytechnic, university), the formal route through which a student organisation is set up will vary. In most schools, the first step is to find out what your school requires to start a club. Contact school administration to obtain the required procedures for starting a new club. Step two would be to follow procedures, which may include: writing proposals, meeting with teachers to discuss ideas, etc. You should focus your wording on helping animals in general, rather than foreign concepts such as "vegan", "carnism", etc which may cause problems with your application. As you can see, a lot of commitment is required during this process; when the going gets tough, remember why you started! 🙂
We have contacted some of our vegan friends from the various schools around Singapore to ask them about how CCAs are set up in their schools. They were able to give us some general tips (but not the entire CCA start-up process - that is something you must find out on your own!) We hope that this information can make the process of starting a club in your school a bit easier 🙂 Click here to see if there is information on your school! (If there isn’t, fret not - just contact the administrative staff in your school to find out more.)
Secondary school (MOE): From the MOE website, on Secondary schools: “Students who are keen on an activity not offered in school may seek the school’s approval to start their own activities. This gives students the chance to pursue their specific interests or ideas, and expands the range of activities available in school.” Thus, just contact your school’s administrative staff with your idea and a proposal, and see how things go! Do not hesitate to contact us for assistance at firstname.lastname@example.org
Junior college (MOE):
VJC: From a friend who was part of the student council in VJC: “It is very difficult (to set up a new organisation) in our school because we have a set number of CCAs and resources allocated are already spread out really thin. However, it is still mildly possible because there is a new CCA occasionally.
- Find a teacher in charge willing to oversee your CCA
- Rounds of proposals are needed to convince the school management
- You need to get support from some Teachers and student body
- Clutch on to any straws and not give up
- Think of the interests and what else can you offer to the school”
Hwa Chong: “In my school I believe it's quite difficult :/ especially since our school is even trying to cut down on the number of CCAs now.”
This is not to say it is impossible though! Just give it a shot; approach the relevant teachers with a proper plan and proposal (to seem more credible and serious about your idea!). Do not hesitate to contact us for assistance at email@example.com if needed 🙂
Saint Joseph’s Institution (International):
“In my school, students who are keen on an activity not offered in school may seek the school’s approval to start their own activities. This happens very frequently and every year new clubs come to existence! It is mostly about speaking to the teacher in charge of CCAs, then finding a teacher who will supervise your club.
However, the difficult part is finding people who want to join and take the club seriously - in my school, many people attend CCAs just to fulfil hours. To start a vegan club in my school, I recommend finding a group of like-minded peers - if they are in your year group and you know them personally it will be better - before you start the club. If not, just make sure that the people who eventually join truly want to help and not just join for the sake of joining!”
Thus, just contact your school’s administrative staff with your idea and a proposal, and see how things go! Do not hesitate to contact us for assistance at firstname.lastname@example.org needed 🙂
“It's quite easy (to start an interest group) if you have the drive and a group of like-minded friends. You will have to be active for some time before you become official, (and after that) the directors will decide whether to keep the interest group or not.” You will need to speak to the teachers and then give proposal - the content in these proposals will be different for each polytechnic. We recommend that you approach your teachers and ask for what they need from you!
“If people want to start their own CCA, they have to get a certain number of signatures first, then go through many many rounds of discussion with the department of student development”.
“In Yale-NUS it is very easy to start new clubs. You need to fill in a proposal form (vision mission etc), have a constitution, get 10 signatures from the student body (who are keen to be part of the club) and a dean's fellow/professor as your mentor.”
CCAs in school are mostly under NUSSU (NUS student union); however, there are some which are not, like NUS SAVE. If you would like to start your own CCA, a good place to start would be approach the Office of Student Affairs (OSA) for more information.
According to a representative in the NTU Student Union, it is difficult in NTU (and maybe even NUS) to start new clubs that are not “well-recognised”. She suggested that you can contact the Student Union to try and see if you can convince them to start something, and if that is not possible you could instead start a vegan interest group as part of another club. For example, your vegan club could be an extension of Earthlink because veganism is an environmental cause as well.
Information for starting a club at SMU can be found here.
If your school is large, another idea is to use a survey to see who may be interested. The survey may have questions like, "Do you know if the cosmetics you buy are tested on animals?", or "Would you wear fur?", “Do you know how animals are treated in factory farms?”. At the end, ask "Would you be interested in starting a group at school that discusses these issues? If so, please write your name on this sheet so I can contact you." In addition to identifying possible group members, such a poll would introduce thought-provoking ideas to the entire student body.
If you are truly motivated, you could even invite a speaker who will discuss the issues you wish the group to address. Notify students beforehand of the nature of the talk. Afterwards, announce that those students wishing to explore this topic further can write their names on the sign-up sheet as they leave so they can be contacted.
- Free vegan bakes to be given out as an outreach event
- Pushing for vegan/vegetarian options or Meatless Mondays in your school canteen
- Vegan bake sales
- Documentary screenings
- Vegan/vegetarian mentoring programmes
- Green Monday/1 week/30 day veggie challenge - see our guide to this here.
- Volunteer trips to animal sanctuaries
- Vegan cooking classes
- Vegan meetups with professionals or other vegan schoolmates (from other schools)
And many more!
Just as some general guidelines, these projects should be:
1) Approved by your school administration
There would be no point in planning a perfect event without even getting the permission to hold it! If you are in a secondary school/international school, be sure to be in close discussion with your teacher with regards to your ideas. Make sure that you go to the teachers (or administration for university/polytechnic students) with a clear proposal, including your idea, your purpose, your action steps, manpower/funding needed etc. By being organised, you will appear more knowledgeable and genuine in your intentions and be more likely to gain support!
Also, be explicit about the support that you may need in the administrative side; will you need to book any room/facility for the event? What forms of promotion will be permitted (e.g. can you hang up posters anywhere, do an assembly announcement or use a centralised student website)? Would the school be able to provide any funding?
2) Within your own capabilities
Make sure that you have the expertise, finance and manpower to carry out the project you want to execute. If you want to start with posters, where are you going to get the art materials, and are you able to find a place to hang them up? If you want to give a talk during an assembly, do you have the relevant resources (powerpoint slides, videos, etc.), and enough expertise on the topic to educate others? If you are doing a bake sale, where are you going to get the funds for the ingredients, do you have people to help sell them and how are you going to promote it? It is crucial to ask all these pertinent questions before embarking on any project.
3) Tailored to your student body (if your club conducts activities are for people outside the club)
What kind of student body are you targeting - primary, secondary or university students? The type of activities that you plan will be determined by the maturity level and interests of your target audience. For example, if you are targeting secondary students, more hands-on events like vegan cooking workshops would probably be more appealing as opposed to long and heavy documentaries. Think about what your friends and classmates would like and tailor your activities to their expectations.
So now you know the “official” steps you must take to start a new club! But before you get too excited, remember that starting something new at school and what’s more, a vegan club that challenges the norm, will not be an easy process. We have compiled a list of potential problems that you may face, and a few tips that may be helpful in overcoming them. Remember, you are always free to contact us at email@example.com if you need any assistance.
Lack of members Before you start your club, it would be great if you are able to rope in a few like-minded friends, so that you won’t be the only one in your quest to start a vegan club! It would be good if you could find people who love animals or are vegetarian as well. Try to emphasize that club members do not have to be vegan to join the club - just be someone who cares about animals and wants to help animals. A support system can be a lot of help in times of difficulty. However, if you are unable to do so, do not give up! Here are a few suggestions for you to attract club members: Give out free vegan baked goods during recess; hook people in by telling them they’re vegan, and tell them about the club at the same time! You could even say that club members can learn how to make the food (of course you need to actually carry this out).
Fear of negative backlash from student body When dealing with people who do not believe in veganism, be polite and understanding of their views as well. Most of the time, people do not support veganism not because they do not support you per se, but rather because they are comfortable with the norm and do not understand anything else. When you challenge their conventional way of thinking, they get uncomfortable and immediately start to defend their own lifestyle choices. In situations like this, remember that they are retaliating against your message because they are coming from a point of ignorance - where you were once at as well. The best way to spread the message is by educating people with patiently, with positivity and good vibes, because people are always so much more receptive when you are friendly!
If these people have a hardcore carnivore mentality and do not listen to you regardless of however you act, do not get upset. Just thank them for their time and leave them be! These people are too close-minded and there is no point wasting your time on them - rather target those people who are already curious about veganism and want to know more.
Most importantly, when you meet negative people (be it parents, teachers, friends or strangers), never feel ashamed, guilty or embarrassed to support this cause of compassion. There is nothing wrong with veganism - it promotes environmental protection, animal and human rights, health… Basically, you are a voice for a great movement, so don’t let anybody drag you down with their pessimistic views and negativity! You are doing something amazing so don’t worry about the haters! *Cue Taylor Swift’s “Shake it off”*
Lack of interest in organising This stems from you and your club members! Everyone must have a similar intrinsic motivation and interest in promoting the vegan message, or else this club won’t get very far. Try your best to find members who are truly interested, rather than join just for CCA/SA/CAS points. During your first club meeting, decide collectively what types of events everyone wants to organise! Remember that collaboration is key - you shouldn’t be the one organising everything while everyone just helps with your idea. This won’t make it a club any longer!
Lack of time Ensure that the activities you arrange are manageable enough for you to plan, organise and hold without much intrusion into your academics or other extra-curricular activities. It is better to hold events that are easier to organise, rather than try to execute something overly adventurous and end up not doing anything at all.
Also ensure that all your members agree on the project you want to undertake, and that everyone has sufficient time within their schedules to contribute. Always try to delegate rather than get everything done on your own!
Lack of funding Typically, we would advise you to try and get funding on your own, be it through bake sales, directly from members or from the school. However, if that's not possible, Animals Allies also has a grant program form where you can request for funds from us. Simply email firstname.lastname@example.org with your requests!
Lack of administrative support (Unable to find teacher in charge, proposals not approved, teachers may not understand veganism and not allow club activities) Proposals (for any kind of event) often have to go through a complicated cycle before they are approved. With a bit of organisation, communication and tenacity, it shouldn’t be impossible to get your proposal approved! The process may be tedious, but as long as you keep pushing for it and hounding the people in charge, it will eventually be achieved (speaking from personal experience!)
Teachers are not unreasonable people, and most would not bar an event from taking place just because they do not support the movement behind it. In fact, teachers may even be open to learning more about a subject from a student (it’s like a role-reversal)! Some teachers may even be impressed that a group of students are taking the initiative to make change!
It is definitely important to find a teacher to support this club activity so that they can supervise you. One way to attract teachers is the same way you could recruit students - free vegan baked goods! Teachers will definitely be attracted to your booth as well, so you could try to introduce your idea to some teachers who visit and ask if they are willing to help you. Alternatively, you can approach a friendly teacher that you know personally and request for her/him to help you! Bear in mind that it would be helpful to approach a 1) fairly young teacher, as she/he may be more open to veganism as opposed to an older one, 2) a teacher or support staff (e.g. substitute teachers, counsellors etc) who does not have a heavy workload. This is harder to gauge but you can assume that the teachers who teach more than 1 subject/have a larger number of classes will be busier, and hence be unlikely to want to add supervising a CCA to their list of responsibilities, or 3) teachers who volunteer with animal shelters or love animals! You can approach the teacher by first asking them if they love animals and then tell them your club’s cause from there after catching their interest.
If you are still facing any difficulties with administrative support, please contact email@example.com and we could help liaise with your school administration on your behalf.
Borrow our Virtual Reality gear that let's people meet animals inside a farm sanctuary or visit a real slaughterhouse.
If you've made it all the way down here, you have shown the perseverance and commitment that is necessary to start a club! We hope that you are now better equipped and ready to bring your message to the masses (or even just a small group!) in your school. If you ever require any further assistance or advice, please do not hesitate to contact firstname.lastname@example.org. So we'll leave you here with a quote:
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.”
- Margaret Mead
All the best, and good luck; go out there are make a difference!
*Aspects of this post was compiled from: https://vegyouth.com/student-clubs/start-club/ and http://www.vrg.org/activist/student.htm
Written by: Victoria Lim