After over 8 years of being a vegetarian, I finally participated in my first animal rights protest this weekend. We had great success and lots of support! It almost seemed like there were more protesters than circus goers. Hopefully this is a sign that circuses who use animals are on the way out.
Speaking of signs, I helped design some of the protest signs that were used this weekend. Apparently the Ringling workers did a double-take when they saw the signs because they are used to seeing the exact same signs from protesters. It helped that our signs stood out and also encouraged me to show up (it was freezing rain and in the low 30 degrees) knowing that everyone was holding a sign that I helped produce. We conveniently did not use the letters P, E, T, and A together in sequence on very many signs and I think that actually helped! Unfortunately the public often dismisses anything PETA-related especially in our part of the world.
The biggest surprise for me was the number of circus-attendee parents who literally shielded their children from the signs. They covered them in blankets and ran with them through our group to the door. I always thought one of the goals of parenting is to educate your children. The parents did not seem concerned even when their children were staring at our signs and asking questions like, “why do they hurt animals?” Children are naturally inquisitive and after the protest, I was left hoping that more parents could take the time to answer their kids’ questions intelligently.
I don’t know how soon I will protest again. I still stand by my theory that most people gain appreciation of veganism through thoughtful and spontaneous conversations with vegans, not by having ideologies shoved down their throat. I can see the merits of protesting but for now I will focus on my sign-making abilities and maybe, just maybe, put these skills to good use again next December for the Ringling protests. Although, let’s just hope Ringling won’t be coming back.
For more information on Indiana Animal Rights Alliance, visit our website here.