This fall has been packed with lots of fun festivities in the Atlanta vegan community and, more specifically, with GARP. For those of you who are new to my blog, Georgia Animal Rights and Protection (GARP) is the local animal rights group in which I volunteer as well as serve on the board. Being a part of this group has helped me more than I can ever convey in words. They helped me find my voice for the voiceless and they made me feel welcomed when I was starting to feel like an outcast in everyday society. GARP has given me an outlet to be an advocate for the animals. I realize I live in a non-vegan world and it can be hard some days. I sometimes feel like I’m walking up a down escalator. But GARP has been there for me during the tough times and has given me hope throughout those unforgiving moments.
One of those moments came earlier this fall when I joined dozens of other GARP activists to protest the Georgia Aquarium. We held signs out front to show we do not condone animal exploitation and the Taiji dolphin slaughter. We talked over a megaphone to the people in the ticket line and shared the message that 5 beluga whales have died in the last 8 years at the Georgia Aquarium alone and that holding animals in captivity is inhumane. The tanks at the aquarium simply don’t allow the whales the space to freely move around. Also, since this protest occurred, another baby beluga whale has devastatingly died. That’s 6 beluga whales in 8 years that have died. I go to protests like this because I feel this is unacceptable and needs to stop. On a positive note, after sharing our message, we had several families turn around and tell us that they got out of line and wouldn’t go in because of our protest.
In September, my husband and I ran a 5K race that my fellow GARP board member organizes each year called Run In Defense of Animals. It was a great way to get some exercise while supporting the worldwide animal rights organization.
Also in September, GARP hosted our quarterly group meeting at Green Sprout. The co-founder of the Atlanta Coyote Project came and spoke to us about coyotes living in the city. We stayed after the talk and had a great vegan lunch with the group.
Then in October, GARP had a float in the PRIDE Parade. We reached thousands of people with our compassionate message by passing out literature and sporting our pro-veg signs.
Most recently, we attended VegFest where we volunteered at GARP’s table. We shared tons of vegan literature, including Vegan Starter Kits. We struck up wonderful conversations with folks who were either already vegan and wanting to get involved in the community or people who were thinking about going vegan and wanted more information.
From the kickoff party at Sutra Lounge with the Vegan Drag Queen Honey LaBronx to the actual VegFest itself filled with great speakers and awesome food to the after party dinner at CO, it was such an incredible day. The organizers of the event call it Vegan Christmas, which I couldn’t think of a better way to describe it.
And now Thanksgiving is here and I’m ready to celebrate in a compassionate way by eating Tofurkey and all the vegan food. I’m thankful for so many things in life, but after a fall season like this one I can’t help but reflect on how grateful I am for GARP and my fellow animal rights advocates.