By Charlie Wainwright
ANIMAL RIGHTS activists protested on the busiest day of the week in Leeds city centre in a bid to persuade passers-by to adopt a vegan lifestyle.
Protesters took to the streets on Saturday writing statements in chalk on the pavement, carrying gravestones with emotive words and walking around with iPads to show PETA’s (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) latest campaign video.
The protest took place outside the Lush cosmetics shop.
A spokeswoman for Lush said although the shop was not connected to the protest, the company shared 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.”
Animal rights activists from Leeds complained that if they had known about the protest in advance they would have participated.
Josh Durant, 21, is an animal lover whose passion is so strong that he has changed his lifestyle in support of his views.
“I definitely would have considered going if I had known.
“However, 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,” he said.
Another animal lover Robert Durant, 21, said: “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.
“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 per cent vegan, as there’s animal products even in car tyres, and I still use an iPhone, which runs off conflict minerals mined by children.
“However, I only buy vegan food, alcohol and cosmetics though I’m a little more lenient with stuff like palm oil in Oreos.”
Helena Perkis, 22, is a Mormon with alternative views to meat eating, animal testing and animal rights.
Lauren Cheshire, 20, said she has always had the same respect for animals as she does humans: “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, or circuses where they use animals. Why should animals be subjected 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.”