'You know if you succeed, someone is going to kill you, or worse destroy your reputation.'
DAY 30! 30 Days Straight of Protesting for Animals
Today my wife and kids came to join in the achievement of my initial goal of 30 days. I wish I could say mission accomplished, time for a break. But, I know myself better than that. I'll be out there tomorrow. But, when I started this effort, my hope was to show that it was possible to get out and protest with just a sign, a sidewalk and an audience. I hope that some of you out there are gearing up to start your own effort. My advice is don't do it every day. And don't do it longer than you can handle. I don't do well with 'self-care'. And I'd be worried about burning out, but I'd be lying if I say I remember what it feels like not to be burnt out. But, I inherited the genetic defect of not having an off switch. So, the take away from this first 30 days is not that you should be out there everyday until you are physically and mentally exhausted. The point is more that you can make a huge difference by just making a sign and getting out where people can see you. People are curious and some are actually thoughtful. You won't reach everyone but you will reach the people who matter. And then your message will spread far beyond those that see or interact with you.
I've had far more positive than negative reactions and I've never left the experience without feeling like it was completely worth the time and effort. And yes, you'll deal with some idiots that want to yell ignorant things. Apparently some redneck idiots drove by a few times to yell about hating vegans and loving bacon at my wife and kids. But, just use that as fuel to your fire to make those dipshits feel more and more alienated by the world leaving them behind. Focus on the positive aspect that you are raising their blood pressure and ruining their day by giving a shit.
So, please, if at all possible, try to make protesting and raising awareness in a direct manner, a part of your daily life. And to everyone already doing this, please know that you are my heroes! I'm so grateful for all who put themselves out their for animals. Just reading about Lola Kay not regreting having to spend time in prison for her protest against the Jewish ritual of Kaparos (where chickens are brutally swung around and killed) fills me with hope that we are not part of a movement that will just sit by the sidelines forever but will begin to refuse to allow the abuse to continue. We are willing to risk our own freedom for a cause far greater than ourselves.
And to explain the initial quote I wrote up above, it is actually in part what my wife said to me a while back and then strangely, it is what I was told by a police officer last night (and not in a threatening way, as he was not the least bit opposed to my efforts or anything but genuinely friendly and supportive). Fortunately, we fight for something where if that is the cost of succeeding, I'd like to believe the vast majority of us wouldn't flinch from fighting on.
And thank you to Chase Avior for inspiring me to start this journey by always reminding us that we need to be out there fighting for the animals, not just enjoying potlucks!
And the good parenting award goes to...
Day 17 of my Ongoing Protest for animals. (Joined by my pig puppet and a mini pig stuffed animal)
An overwhelming amount of honks, waves and thumbs up as usual! The compassion of people is shining through every day! There are good people out there and they are revealing themselves! You just have to look for them.
Today's Idiot Awards:
So today a dad decided to yell in front of his wife and two elementary school aged children, "I love Bacon, pigs taste good." So I responded with, "Great parenting, teaching your children to be cruel and deaden their compassion is a great way to raise them. That should make you very proud." He seemed caught off guard, fumbled for words and then yelled, "Get off the corner." I'm not sure everyone's opinion on this, but I feel like stupid behavior in front of children should be called out. No wonder we have so many rude people if that is how they are being raised.
Another person was up close and rolled down the window to say he loved bacon, so I put my hand to my ear and said, "Sorry, I don't speak guilty conscience." Again, I don't think they were prepared for this.
But, really not too many idiots today. Mostly supportive people or people staring at my sign and then my pig hand puppet that I had waving and moving to stare at people as they passed by. I'm sure a few people were wondering if it was real. You can see in the picture the two mini pig's that I had with me today. I think it helps having something to draw in the eye and also turn on the heart a little to make the message sink in.
This is how we will change the world.
4 hours of protesting today with one hour I. Williamsburg and 3 outside of the Smithfield Slaughterhouse (day 17). Interesting day... sorry if my live feeds were rough. Still learning and hopefully it'll get better. Have some footage to share later on my real video camera. Huge tumors on pigs, spray paint marked pigs... and just pure sadness seeing those poor pigs going to their death. But such an amazing group of people out there today. And so many people from Farm, Peta, and more. So much compassion. And while I know the police were just following orders, immoral orders to protect murder and abuse should not be followed.
If only we could have protests like this everyday everywhere!
Hooray for School Buses (filled with curious kids)!
Day 18: What a great day of activism. I'm sure that my mind and body meet all or most of the definitions of what it is to be burnt out. But, self-care and backing down are two things I'm terrible at (a fun mix, I assure you). Fortunately, I some how manage to rekindle the flame the instant I reach full burnout. And one thing that keeps me going when my legs don't want to lift my body and my body doesn't want to leave my bed is knowing that the cars driving past Vegan Corner (as I'll call the corner I stand on here in Williamsburg) may have someone with an open heart driving by. And if I can get there, maybe, just maybe it'll spark their passion for fighting for animal rights. And then once I get there, I have a hard time leaving. There is always more cars coming and this means more chances to reach people.
And today I figured out what time the school buses go by filled with kids who are obviously the most open to the truth regarding animals. They aren't filled with as many years of brain washing and still are open to new ideas (or at least more so then most adults). So, it is truly wonderful seeing a whole row of windows filled with kids staring out at my sign and tapping others not looking and pointing in my direction. The world tries so hard to hide the truth from kids until their hearts are too closed off to care. Hopefully some of these kids will take what they saw on my sign and get curious to know the truth.
And the award for dipshit of the day goes to Woman in the SUV Giggling with Her Husband!
I knew she was brewing up something to say as she rolled down her window and her and her husband (clearly in their 50s) giggled and smirked back and forth until the light turned green. And then she let out a very disappointing, "Got Milk?" Really? Got Milk? That was the best they could do? Again, demonstrating just how brainwashed people are, they used the dairy industry catch phrase... So disappointed in them. If you are a carnist and are planning to drive by Vegan Corner, please think up more intelligent or at least clever comments. At least entertain me with your cruel heartedness...
Sharing my experiences at Smithfield with the local police...
Day 19: More friendly visits from the local police.
Today I met Officer Ed. He was very friendly and came over to ask why I had picked the corner that I had. So I pointed out how there is a three way stop and that nearly all the traffic in town has to go through this stop. He quickly agreed and let me share my experiences at Smithfield this weekend with him. And he even took a Gardein coupon with him. So, if he ever has to arrest me, at least I'll know it was being done be decent guy :)
And today my son was out with me. We had the large stuffed pig on the corner and I had my puppet pig waving to people. I don't remember a single negative reaction from today and we managed to catch several school buses filled with kids going by. And there were the usual honks, waves and smiles.
And this is slightly earlier than I had been going out, so hopefully I'm catching a few new people each day. Though, Officer Ed said he'd seen me out there several times. I'm starting to wonder if everyone in Williamsburg is going to recognize me as the dude in the William and Mary hat holding up the protest signs for animals. Hopefully it'll make people feel like they can approach me to ask questions if they have any.
Protest Day 16: DEAR CARNIVORES, YOU CANNOT BREAK MY SPIRIT, TOO MUCH POSITIVE ENERGY COMING FROM OTHERS!
So my day started with the man yelling rude things about loving bacon, eating pigs and such. So I held up my phone as if I were taking a video (which fortunately I do have an image of this guy should I go missing ;) ) So, he pulled into the nearby parking lot and this huge guy came charging at me shouting that he was going to take my phone, hurt me or call the police if I didn't delete the video. Stupid me, I just stood my ground and said I can take video in public but that I wasn't sure I even took a video. He just kept shouting about how dare I video his son. This is a grown man who thinks it is good parenting to shout cruel things to get a laugh. Eventually he wandered off as I walked after him joking I needed to get a photo of him for the police... The police did come but just drove off without talking to me.
But I did find out that it is apparently illegal to use my megaphone unless I'm doing it for religious reasons. Talk about discrimination (which I apparently spell wrong when taking video :( ). I will be looking into this. But, right now having my signs out there is my primary goal. I had my stuffed animals bracing signs (sort of like letting animals speak for themselves), and used trees and posts. What I lack in numbers I make up for in resourcefulness.
I had one man tell me to move to Venezuela... not sure why. Anyone who yelled at me, I tried to explain how sorry I am that caring about animals and standing against unnecessary suffering made them uneasy. One numskull showed me his muscles and made some comment about protein. When I told him about the strongest man being vegan he did what meat eaters love to do. He denied the facts. Because for them, if they deny it... it isn't true. I assured him we needed less muscle and more compassion in this world.
But again, the positive energy flowing my way was amazing. So many thumbs up. And to correct a stereotype regarding age, it is usually men and women over 50 that I get the most positive responses from. The bulk of the thumbs up come from retirement aged women. So, never for a second doubt that every person out there is worth trying to reach.
And several people would stop at the turn lane to talk to me. I was holding my dairy sign and so I would quickly sum up the misery of being a dairy cow or a calf born into that system. So many people seemed deeply moved by what I was telling them. And when people were going across the cross walk I would quickly share a fact or two with them as well. I try to be cheerful and pleasant so they leave not feeling negative feelings towards my message, but obviously the message is not one of sunshine and rainbows.
One girl going by said, I work on a dairy farm. She was clearly a W&M student. I joked, "Ah, the devil herself on my corner... be gone devil." Fortunately, her cold black heart that is immune to animal suffering had a sense of humor and she laughed (awkwardly... but laughed nonetheless).
And I'm pretty sure I'm on SnapChat saying 'Stop eating animals because they have to suffer to end up there.' I think this same guy does it each time he goes by... says say something to the camera.
THE HIGHLIGHT of the day was another person, this time a woman, pulled into the parking lot to thank me for being out there. She said she had to turn around and come back because she was so glad to see me out their doing this and wanted to thank me for her and the animals. People have no idea how inspiring it is knowing it touched someone so much that they went out of their way to thank you.
And now, after 3 hours in the sun I'm ready to not move for a while. But I can't describe how much better I feel after getting out there and speaking for the animals instead of just being angry at mankind. It really feels like I'm helping to spark thought in people's head. And no amount of taunting, anger or even harassment will keep me from continuing to speak for animals.
Day 15: I Spoke Too Soon...
Today was a great day out on Vegan Corner here in Williamsburg. My friendRachael Ellis had volunteered to join up with me today and my kids came. For two hours the town of Williamsburg was bombarded with pro-Animal messages. And while we got quite a few "I love bacon", "Meat taste good." and "Get a life" type comments, I still feel like the number of positive responses was greater and way more enthusiastic. And I handed out a few buttons to the people that were very supportive and were stopped at the light. My hope is that it'll serve as a reminder of what they supported today and maybe they'll start looking more into how they can help animals through their food choices.
The place where I spoke too soon was Rachael and I were talking about the people yelling are almost always male and usually with someone else as an audience for their ignorance. And I added, 'I've never had a woman or girl yell 'I Love Bacon'. Well, within probably 15 minutes we had a girl yell exactly that (she was with a group - so that part held true) but then a little bit after that another girl (or maybe the same one doing another drive by) yelled the same thing. So, I've henceforth decided not to joke, 'At least no one has assassinated me.'
And to the man who yelled 'Get a Life' to whom I suggested back that he might join me on that adventure of life obtaining... what exactly does that mean? I live in a state that praises Robert E. Lee as a hero for fighting to create a country that would protect slavery. My kids, Rachael and I were out there trying to promote an end to abuse towards living beings and we need to get a life. I'm not sure I understand the rationale behind this statement. Choosing to devote your life or even free time to helping animals seems hardly to be deserving of 'Get a Life'. In actuality, I think what he meant is 'It makes me uncomfortable that people care about things that matter and aren't at home watching football or drinking beer all day. So, because you are trying to do something that matters for this world... I need to try and put you down to boost my own meaningless existence a little.'
To all the lovely people that rolled down the window to say thank you or say they liked what we were doing, we can't thank you enough. You cancel out a million 'I love bacon's with your kindness and inspire us to fight even harder!
(additional news from today)
While usually activists have to accept that we will never really know the impact we have, sometimes we get lucky and someone tells us that we've had an impact on them. Today one of my nearby neighbors shared that she had seen my signs the other day when I was protesting and had went home and watched a video about how pigs are treated. And she wanted to know more about if the same thing happened on Smithfield farms and factories. We had a great conversation about everything from the facts on factory farming to the philosophical implications of animals sharing so many emotional commonalities with humans. And everything in between. This is not a neighbor that I've ever had much more than an occasional hello with, so it was great knowing that holding up signs really does get people thinking and increases the chances that they will go home and want to know more. Imagine how many people never share the impact. Hopefully this inspires us to keep getting out there more and more often!
I also wanted to add a note about today's protest. I forgot to tell our planet that there is no need to stock on idiots. In spite of the projected shortage predicted by the Enlightment... we are beyond capacity on that front. This thought was inspired by a woman who yelled at us today asking if we drank dairy or if my kids drank dairy since we needed to get our Vitamin D. I tried to explain to her about the giant fireball in the sky that hangs over our rotating planet which apparently isn't flat (though I hear that is now debated by some who might enjoy her company). I told her how that giant fireball sends off rays that hit our skin and produce vitamin D and so we were all set. She insisted she would still drink milk even though she seemed to suggest that veal was evil and I pointed out the connection between dairy and veal. But, she closed with 'Milk does a body good.' Always nice when brainwashing reveals itself fully for what it is by the person reciting the exact wording used to brain wash them.
If you'd like to support my ongoing protest, please donate to my GoFundMe account to help me get more weather proof signs made for speaking for the animals at my ongoing daily protest for animals.
Day 14: I Know Why the Police Took My Picture...
So I started my journey to go protest by stopping at Michaels. Had to get some paint for the Pandas I'm working on. But there I ran into a woman who said she loved my I H8 Meat shirt. She was 63 (she told me) and her doctor just recommended that her and her husband should go vegan. And the doctor gave them Forks over Knives to watch. (Mind you'll I'll be finding this doctor). So, we talked for a long while about this. And then the cashier at Michaels told me she had been vegan and still didn't eat anything with eyelashes. So, I told her I'd bring her some Gardein Fishless Sticks and Crabless Cakes. She said she went vegan because she loved animals so much. Needless to say, I instantly like this human.
Finally, got to my protest sight and immediately had someone walk by and say, 'Isn't veal deer meat?' I explained that was venison and told her all about what happens to baby cows and she thanked me. Had another woman thank me for being out there (and bless me).
One person said, "I hate pigs." He may have been drunk or drugged up. But, I suppose hating pigs is less ignorant to yell than I love bacon... you can hate something and still not wish it harm. So, I'll be optimistic. And as usual lots of thumbs up and honks. And many people are so enthusiastic about showing support. It really inspires me seeing this.
Then the same police officer who took pictures of me yesterday drove by the corner and rolled down his window. He said, "I love your stuffed animals. I took a picture yesterday so I could send it to my daughter." This confirmed my belief that Williamsburg Police Officers are some of the nicest ones I could hope for. Not a bad experience with one yet. They've helped me know what I can and can't do and never once tried to dissuade me from exercising my rights.
And in addition to this I found out that since I lack in bulk and my signs are great wind catchers, standing still and not blowing away can be a challenge when the wind came. But, I fought it and now my muscles in my upper arm and mid back are telling me they are angry about that.
Plan to head back out again in a little bit with my kids. I'm having such a positive reaction from people and it just really feels like people are being impacted by the message and the dedication.
What is a Vegan Warrior?
It is someone that wishes they could stay up all night because there is so much to do to work on the fight for animal rights. But it is someone who can hardly drag themselves out of bed in the morning because they don't know if they have it in them to survive another day knowing what they know. It is never thinking of the cost and the sacrifice that goes into fighting for animal rights while at the same time dealing with the emotional and physicalexhaustion and pain that goes along with a life centered around righting the most egregious wrong our world may ever know.
A vegan warrior is someone who has embarked on a quest that they know will likely consume them, cost them many friends and family members, but knows that to not take on this quest would mean to lose themselves. It isn't a choice someone makes, it is just who they are. Feeling so passionately about speaking for the voiceless animals of the world, feeling overwhelmed with grief and sadness is not a life that one chooses. Vegan warriors are often highly sensitive people who feel things so deeply and violently (in that it causes them physical pain) that they have no choice but to fight the injustices they see in the world being heaped upon animals.
It is not a life we choose. It is not a life we'd wish upon others. But, yet, we'd have it no other way. We may not make it back the same person that started this quest for justice. The wounds, emotional scars and losses may never truly be healed or rectified. But, we will come out the other side victorious. We have justice on our side. We will defeat cruelty and selfishness. And we will never regret the cost.
Feel free to tag the vegan warriors you know in the comments below!
This one is called A Mother's Love: Deer. It is a 16"x20" acrylic on canvas painting. Click here to see it's listing on our Etsy shop.
We've had mostly positive responses during our first 12 days. Occasionally we get someone yelling something stupid like that they love Bacon or that meat tastes good. But, most people either just read our signs and several give us thumbs up, waves or honks! And one girl made a donation to our cause.
The Phillips' Family
The Dad- Ryan, 38,