Making use of the Internet
The Internet is your easist way of contacting 1,000s of potential vegans.
In this article we cover using the whole range, from email and forums, to easy ways to get your very own website for free, as well as getting it a great hit rate.
Effective use of email rather than using traditional postal services can save great amounts of time and money. All ISPs provide at least one email account with their service but you can also get free accounts that you use from Internet cafes or your local library.
Reduce the potential for people you email to get spam by putting your circulation list in the BCC rather than the To or CC field in your email client. Using email groups and forums are also good ways to reduce spam potential for everyone.
Email groups and forums
You can easily chat other like minded people by joining or starting an email group or discussion forum.
Email groups, such as Yahoo are easy to use - if you can use email you can use a group. You choose to subscribe to a group by either joining through a web page or by sending a special email to the group email address. Anyone in the group can then send an email to the group's email address. Your email is then copied to every one else in the group, to which they can all reply to and so on.
Popular groups can swamp your inbox and it can prove difficult to follow some topics over many disjointed emails. Moderation can prove difficult by either having someone read each email before it is passed onto the group, or just allowing all posts to pass through uncheck and then perhasp removing people from the group who persistently send abusive posts. Email groups work well for small groups.
Discussion groups achieve the same goal as email groups but via web site based forums, such as ActiVeg's. Once subscribed to the forum you can post messages which other people can reply to.
The advantage of a forum over an email group is that you can be very selective in which disusssion, often called threads, you join in on and that messages stay on the forum, not in your email box, and act effectively as an archive. Some find discussion more complex to use than email groups. A quiet forum can often go stale. Forums are more difficult to set up, although Local Veggie Web can provide you with a free forum - just ask.
Forums are considerably easier to moderate than email groups. Moderation can be applied after the post has been made, not just simply deleting it, but by editing the post. A forum can employ as many moderators as required.
Have a look at The Vegan Forum as an good example.
Chat groups (IRC)
Chat groups also allow you to commuicate with a group, but this time in real-time. There are no posting of emails or writing to web sites - you just type and it appears on the other group member's computers. Try Blitzed.org.
Creating a web site
A web site is a non-intrusive way for people to find out what you and perhaps your group is about. A well designed and maintained site can attract 1000's of viewers a mouth. The Thames Valley Vegans and Vegetarians and Vegan Bristol sites regularly have over 1500++ unique visitors each month. Imagine trying to achieve that with a postal newsletter.
Typically, on your web site you will want to explain what you do and believe. You may chat about your local restuarants and shops, show veggie news stories, promote your events , link to other places of interest and, what every you think may interest your readers.
The easiest and most productive route is to use Local Veggie Web - it's free to use, offers a free domain name, is comprehensive, its documented, very easy to use, there's no software to install, there's techinical support and new features are constantly being added. The down side to using LVW is that you will be limited in the layout design of your site, although the formats availble to you will be familiair to the typical Internet user and use of its various easy customization tools can produce distintive results. Even with LVW providing you with structure you will still require a considerable amount of time to put content into your site - content is King.
The IVU also offers free webspace, but there are no other features and your will be required to learn how to write a website from scratch (you may getting a helping hand from John Davis to get you going). You will not be able to achieve a site as rich as an LVW site, but you will have more freedom as to how your site looks. The Oxford Vegetarians is IVU's most popular site.
Some ISP's offer template web sites you that can make simple changes to. They can be easy to use, but of limited customization and very limited in features. You will not be able to build an LVW like site on it but it may prove handy if you already have such a package and your requirements are modest.
There are a number of lovely indivisuals you may be able to persuade to build you your very own site. The big advantage of this route is you will end up with a site that is unique to you - uniquely good or uniquely bad will depend on that individual's programming abilities and your abililty to communicate what you want effectively. The major down side will be your inability to update the site yourself. You will always be reliant on that person to keep your site fresh. There have been cases where time commitments by the orginal programmers of such sites has rapidly changed and this has lead to once promising sites being abandoned.
You can pay someone to create you a site. Many of the comments above apply but money can always produce more motivation that good will. Costs can be very high.
Some broadband providers will allow you to host your own website in your house - this gives you totally freedom to do what every you want. The downside is you will have to do EVERY thing yourself, from designing the site, install a webserver and all the other software required, doing your own backups, understand networks, implement security patches and have your machine on 24hrs a day. This is how LVW go started. Be prepared to get little else done.
Improving your Google rating - how often your site is found
Having a website is one thing, getting it found is quite another. You will get a much higher place in the listings of search engines like Google if your site has lots of content of interest to people, and that it is linked from from other sites. See the LVW list of good places to get your website listed.
Good content is the other side of this. People are particularly likely to search for places to eat and shop, so if you list these your site is likely to be hit more often. Also if you highlight the latest news and issues, people will often be searching for these things. Above all make your site engaging, with good regularly updated content, made pretty with a few of small images, and with consideration for those who will be interested in it.
By Stephen Fenwick-Paul
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Story posted by on 2005-11-07 12:00:21.
Story last updated by on 2006-05-18 10:40:04.
Veganism is often heralded as a very healthy way to eat. It certainly can be, and has more chance of being so than standard western eating habits. It avoids many of the dangers of omnivorous diets, as well as containing much better quantities of most essential nutrients. However, there are still some key nutrients we need to search out and help other vegans be aware of, to keep us in tip top condition and avoid risks. Then it can be a healthy diet for life for us all.
That's why we developed this key vegan nutrition page for everyone.
Most medicines are tested on animals and many contain animal ingredients. We vegans and vegetarians all have to make our own minds up about the medicines we use, by being well informed and listening to all views.
Widely varying opinions exist on the pros and cons of different medications, particularly vaccinations. These lead to different conclusions from different people, with strong views even amongst professionals on each side, even before you get to the animal welfare issues. We will not pretend to know the efficacy and potential side-effects of drugs here.
Being vegan or vegetarian does not mean you automatically doubt the value of any vaccination and western medicine per se, any more than it means you will believe in every alternative that comes along. This is a separate consideration.
We have a growing set of articles on common vegan issues for parents. Do contact us if you have anything to add to the articles we already have or any feedback - we'd love to hear from you!
There are some enterprising vegans out there wanting to make and sell lovely products. ActiVeg claims no great knowledge about setting up businesses, so always get professional advice and talk to others who have done similar. However, here are a few ideas to consider to get you going. Feel free to add your experiences and comments below.
This document highlights the changes made to LVW when it matured into ActiVeg Network
There are many animal products in food production and cooking used for their particular structural or chemical characteristics, which often have good animal-free alternatives.
This article will help manufacturers consider alternatives to animal products so as to increase their market share, by improving food choice for religious and food intollerance groups, without exiting the food's main market, as well as raising awareness of both the animal-based products and equivalents from plants, minerals and synthetic compounds.
What works for me to solve every day maladies, or at least lighten them. Check with a doctor and all that jazz.