It’s only natural, once we become aware of the horrible injustices humans thrust upon our fellow earthlings, that we then want to get active and do something about it. But what’s a vegan to do, what is accessible to all, fun and effective enough to reach the masses? Let’s talk about a vegan chalk revolution!
Plagued by the question of what more he could be doing to help animals in his everyday life, James DeAlto started laying down some peaceful vegan messages on the footpaths while walking his dogs. To his surprise, he got a great response from non-vegan neighbors as well as the chalk drawing photos he posted on social media. It wasn’t long before his friends caught the chalk bug and started chalking together. James then developed the idea of the Vegan Chalk Challenge (VCC) to encourage other vegans to spread the word in an intriguing way to help make the ‘V’ word a household name. The first international chalking event of September 2015 amassed more than 1,000 vegan rebels, the next event took place in January 2016 attracting 1,600 people. And the latest event of October 1-2, dubbed the “Worldwide Vegan Chalk Bomb,” rallied nearly 3,000 “chalktivists” flooding social media with their creations. Our next event is “Vegan Chalksgiving” from November 19-20, 2016.
I started chalking with a bunch of my activist friends in Perth, Australia, because it is cheap, legal and effective. When I came across the VCC I grabbed onto it with both hands and we started organizing v’gang chalking events and incorporated chalking into our regular vegan picnics covering the paths with quotes, drawings, hashtags and documentary lists. Being an artist myself, my chalkings became quite elaborate, attracting the attention of local vegans who would find them on their walks and share them. They caught James’s eye when I kept posting them on the VCC Facebook group.
As I see it, talk is cheap but chalk is cheaper and it does the talking for you, potentially reaching thousands of people both directly and indirectly with the help of social media. It doesn’t matter whether you’re nine or ninety, you can participate at any age, and the world is your canvas. It’s great if you aren’t so confident with public interaction. You don’t even have to be a creative type; you can just write your favorite quote on cycle paths, foot paths, walls and stairs. Anywhere with a lot of foot traffic is a good place to chalk up. It can be big or small, an elaborate drawing with beautiful writing or just a catchy line; it might even rhyme. It doesn’t have to take a long time, just remember to sign #VeganChalkChallenge so people know where to find out more.
Chalking or chalktivism can be done by anyone, any time and pretty much anywhere. Most other forms of effective activism require a fair bit of prep, equipment and usually an organized group of people. Whilst chalking in a group is a lot more fun, you can totally rock it solo and easily fit it into your daily routine.
The Vegan Chalk Challenge is most present on Facebook and Instagram but it is important to use as many different platforms as possible. Whilst some Vegan Chalk Challenge videos have been made (James has made some great time lapses), I think the time has come for chalking public reaction videos because they are a really great way to show how open and interested passersby are and vegan video outreach has already garnered a lot of attention.
Chalking really breaks down all these barriers and society’s anti-social boundaries by injecting color, art and surprise into the (usually) mundane everyday. It has a certain innocent whimsy that infects anyone who sees it, bringing that forgotten inner child sparkle back to adults’ eyes. People stumble upon the bright colors on the pavement and just start smiling. Kids absolutely love it, always want to join in and engage their parents to help them read explain it.
The goal: to color paths with compassionate, educational and inspiring messages that ignite critical thinking and break down the walls of cognitive dissonance by the public, a public which already agrees with the core principles of veganism but just needs a little help recognizing it.
As vegans we sometimes feel like we have the weight of the world on our shoulders, and it can leave us feeling very isolated by a society that seems to largely misunderstand us. So the vegan chalk challenge also serves to unite us and build our community globally. A chalk drawing is truly that “random act of kindness” … not to mention a win for the animals, for the planet and for humanity as a whole.
Next up for the Vegan Chalk Challenge is an event dubbed ‘Vegan Chalksgiving’ that will be taking place November 19th-20th. The mission: to raise awareness about the genocide the United States was founded upon and the estimated 45 million turkeys who are slaughtered every year as a way of ‘giving thanks’.
You can join the event which is linked below along with the VCC website:
Isabelle Tamm (@fruitfullendeavours)