Animal rights activists protested on the busiest day of the week in Leeds city centre in a bid to turn passers-by onto the vegan lifestyle.
Protesters took to the streets writing statements in chalk on the pavement, carrying grave stones with emotive words and walking around with iPads to show Peta’s latest animal rights plea video.
Many passers-by stopped to listen to the protesters who remained calm and friendly.
As they were stood outside Lush the group gained plenty of attention from shoppers, even going inside the shop at points.
Lush Customer Care expert Amber said that though the shop wasn’t connected to the protest it shares the same beliefs.
“We have always been a strong advocate for animal rights and it’s been one of the driving factors of the foundation of the company.
“It has always played a huge part of our identity as a company passionate about fighting against animal testing.”. Lush Animal Rights.
Animal rights activists from Leeds have complained that if they had known about the protest in advance they would have participated.
The protest in Leeds has got everyone talking about veganism.
Rob Durant, 21, is an animal lover with a passion so strong that he changed his lifestyle in support of his views.
“I definitely would have considered going if I had known.
“Though it depends on the type of protest really. There’s a lot of anger on the side of animal activists, which is understandable.
“I just wonder whether, sometimes, the vocalisation of this anger acts as more of a hindrance than a prompt to getting people to assess their own habits. It would be good to know how best to open up a discussion on the reality of the agricultural industry in a way that is not off-putting or detrimental to change; in a way that takes people’s willingness to asses the impacts of their diets and turn this into a perhaps gradual and progressive move away from meat and dairy products towards a healthier and more sustainable vegan approach”.
His views on animal rights are shared by thousands within the UK, a handful of whom attended the protest.
“I think being passionate about animal rights follows pretty simply from recognising that non-human creatures have a rich inner life; a conscious experience; a vast potential to feel pleasure or pain.
“Human history has this repeating trend where the dominant group deny that the experiences of ‘the other’ or the minority are worth considering, only to eventually realise the extent of their maltreatment.
“I think our children’s children will probably look back to our factory farming practices in a way that’s analogous to the way that we look back at the slave trade. By saying that, I’m not at all trying to equate the experience, or suffering, of animals with that of human beings.
“Simon Amstell has this great comedy bit where he’s envisaging this utopian future where people are reminiscing about us, summing all of this up well, “‘Do you remember when people got upset when their pets died? But then when other animals died…they ate them?'”
“Once we admit to ourselves that the animals we eat have an immense capacity to thrive or suffer then we’re left in an awkward spot. Most people think that causing unnecessary suffering is wrong and we’re now at a point where consuming animal products isn’t at all necessary for a healthy lifestyle.
“A well planned vegan diet can actually be much healthier than a carnivorous one. We just carry on because animal products are tasty, convenient and normal. But hopefully we’ll get to a point where drinking the lactation fluids of other species seems as weird as it kind of is.
“I try not to get too pretentious or righteous because I ate animal products for 19 years.
“It’s also impossible to be 100% vegan (there’s animal products even in car tyres) and I still use an iPhone, which runs off conflict minerals mined by children. I don’t want to be too hypocritical. I actually don’t personally see being passionate about animal rights through living a vegan lifestyle as a doing any good.
“I just think of it as morally neutral, as not doing as much damage in one area.”
To support his beliefs Rob keeps to a strict diet saying:
“I only buy vegan food, alcohol and cosmetics though I’m a little more lenient with stuff like palm oil in oreos etc.”
Helena Perkis, 22, is a Mormon with alternative views to meat eating, animal testing and animal rights.
Lauren Cheshire, 20, has always had the same respect for animals as she does humans and said:
“I’ve always been an animal lover for as long as I can remember. I used to sit and watch all the animal documentaries with my grandparents and there would be some shows where animals were left in awful conditions and abused and it used to make me sick to the stomach.
“How could anyone willingly leave an animal in distress?
“I’ve never understood what goes through their minds. I’m also disgusted by things like fox hunting and other ‘sports’ (if you can call them that, I call them barbaric events) or circuses where they use animals. Why should animals be subject to this for human entertainment?
“For this reason I don’t associate myself with anyone who enjoys these activities and I don’t wear real animal fur either. I don’t mind zoos and safari parks if they are actively looking after the animal’s welfare and the welfare is the priority.”
She is an advocate that however strong your beliefs it is possible to act upon them.