Kaya Gromocki, the Volunteering and Engagement Officer of The Vegan Society writes
In 2020, The Vegan Society made the decision to assign a percentage of their VEG 1 stock solely for the purpose of donating to vegans who are in need.
VEG 1 is a supplement, created and sold by The Vegan Society. It is a plastic-free, nutritional tablet, which provides an affordable, reliable source of vitamin B12, iodine, vitamin D and selenium.
I took on the project and set about finding worthy organisations that could support those suffering from financial hardship, whilst living on a vegan diet. Thus, the VEG 1 Donation Project was launched! The goal was to donate 10% of all of our stock, which equated to over 140 boxes. Each box contained up to 243 pots of supplements, so there was plenty to go around.
We all know that a lot of people have struggled to make ends meet over the course of the pandemic, and no one has done a better job of supporting those people than regional foodbanks. Run by teams of dedicated volunteers, who coordinate, sort, and distribute donations, they have been an invaluable source of support for many people who otherwise may have had nowhere else to turn.
This is why, when searching for vegans who needed our help, foodbanks felt like a natural place to start. Some foodbanks, such as Mutual Aid Vegan Food Bank, provide vegan food and toiletries to vegans and non-vegans alike. Others, such as Food for Scotland, based in Glasgow, have a few vegan clients, and so took a smaller donation from us. We also worked with religious organisations, such as Sikh Relief, who work in Europe, North America and India to create change for Sikhs, many of whom follow a vegan diet.
Our biggest donation was to The Real Junk Food Project (TRJF). TRJF are the UK’s largest environmental charity, they work on redistributing surplus food from right across the food industry. Serving meals at schools, third sector organisations and individuals, alongside catering at events. They were able to take around 4860 pots of VEG 1.
We also worked with university student societies, as most universities in the UK now have a vegan or vegetarian society, often called a ‘veg soc’. Our Volunteering and Outreach Officer was able to get in touch with our existing student contacts and identify those that also do outreach work in their communities. Many, including students at The University of Oxford, collaborate with local foodbanks too.
Vegetarian for Life is a charity that works on behalf of older vegetarians and vegans to improve the standard of vegan and vegetarian catering in UK care homes. They accepted a donation for distribution amongst their clients. Knowing that our donation will support the work of a charity that are tackling challenging issues, such as how to uphold the wishes of vegans with dementia living in care facilities, was exactly what made this project so rewarding.
We even made some international donations, including one to a TOFLA (Tree of Life for Animals) an animal hospital and rescue, based in Northern India. Their workers, who are predominantly vegan, were struggling in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. We were glad to be able to send a year’s supply of VEG 1 supplements to them all to support them in their important work, caring for animals who would otherwise be left to suffer.
Although it is still early days in terms of measuring the impact of this project, we have had some encouraging feedback from the charities we donated to. Forest Row Community Fridge is a community initiative in Forest Row, East Sussex and focuses on the redistributing of fresh surplus food.
A volunteer for the charity, Sue, said:
“Forest Row Community Fridge can’t thank the Vegan Society enough for their donation of VEG1 supplements which were gratefully received by our foodbank clients. We feel these supplements were an amazing addition to our food boxes as it isn’t always possible to supply our vegetarian and vegan clients with everything they need for a healthy lifestyle. Thank you again from all at the community fridge and all of our clients whose lives have been made better by this addition.”
The Vegan Society plan for this project to continue to operate in the coming years and operate as a rolling service. Our Sales and Merchandising Team aim to expand the reach of the project next year and work with an even broader network of organisations to enable us to donate more supplements to vegans in need.