As a vegan “influencer” and “content creator” (cringe, right?) whose job it is to spread news about plant-based products to the hungry masses, I get extremely busy when January rolls around each year. Brands are desperate to climb aboard the Veganuary express and ride it until the green dollars and pounds start rolling in.
Similarly, vegan brands and non-vegan companies making plant-based products start clamouring for my digital attention as June looms due to the fact that it is Pride month.
My online name is Fat Gay Vegan. So I’m kind of like an irresistible temptation to companies looking to shout about plant-based consumerism during Pride month. They can’t resist the promise of combined pink and green revenue streams.
I am a loud and proud member of the LGBTQ+ community and they want me to put my clout behind the stuff they are selling during Pride. If you are reading this in June, I’m currently struggling under the weight of vegan corporate sponsorships and offers of free plant-based meals for me and my husband.
I’m not complaining about the free stuff and paid opportunities of course. But I do find it startling how instantly these offers dry up once I flip to the July page of my calendar. They really don’t want to know about me or my queer community anymore.
But just as we tell people about dogs at Christmas, I’m here to say a Fat Gay Vegan is for life – not just Pride month.
A lot of vegan brands and restaurants launch special Pride menu items or products in June. And, they will usually direct some of the profits to charities working to challenge homophobia and transphobia.
But the challenging situations LGBTQ+ people experience in June are experienced in other months, too!
The forces of oppression that make life more difficult for LGBTQ+ people are very real all year round. So while we welcome solidarity and visibility during June, we also desperately need your commitment to our communities the other 11 months as well.
To put it bluntly, your rainbow bagels and fairy cupcakes make our month of celebration and protest more visible. But our fight for legal protections, mental health infrastructure, safer sex education, shelter, and transgender health support is a year-long battle. Year after year.
We appreciate your support in June and don’t mind giving you some of our money, but we need you to stand beside us every single day on the yearly calendar.
How to be an effective ally
If you are in a position to call the shots in a vegan business, here are some pointers on what your brand might do to be an effective ally to the LGBTQ+ community. If you are a vegan consumer, use these pointers as a scoreboard. How well are your favourite vegan brands doing when it comes to championing queer communities?
Representation matters and always will. If you have a marketing budget and want to feature real people modelling your products, look for a diverse line up of community members that reflects reality. Same sex couples are getting a bit more of a look in when it comes to big budget advertising, however non-binary, gender non-conforming, and transgender people are invisible to advertisers despite existing in real life. Your company can make a difference in this regard by making diverse model casting regular practice.
Take a moment to consider what your brand is signal-boosting on your social media platforms. Are you supporting LGBTQ+ groups and initiatives year round? Or are you falling into the trap of being a Judy just for the month of June? Make your support for minority voices more meaningful by boosting throughout the year.
How does your vegan business recognize gender and sexuality diversity in the workplace? A simple way to make people feel valued and seen is to make it common practice for every person on the team to self-identify when it comes to preferred pronouns. Not all of us are “he” or “she.” Some of us might not agree with the pronoun the world wants to assign, or we might like “they” and “them.” Make it simple and normalized to include preferred pronouns within email signatures and on staff name tags.
Fighting oppression in all its forms
Seriously thinking about LGBTQ+ visibility and inclusion in your business is also a fabulous time to address other forms of oppression. Many vegan people navigate the ugliness and violence of racism, sexism, gender-based violence, wealth inequality, and ableism. Some of these vegan people will also be LGBTQ+ identifying. The more positive things your vegan business does to challenge all forms of oppression, the more people you will be working to protect.
In closing, I’d like to issue this challenge to vegan and non-vegan businesses looking to advertise during June. Put your mouth where your Pride month advertising money is and support LGBTQ+ people all year round.
And if you’ve got money to spend as a plant-based consumer, don’t shy away from asking your favorite businesses to do more for queer people… and ask them to do it 365 days a year. We are not going anywhere.