Thursday, March 13, 2008

Houston Rodeo Demonstration

It is that time of year again, no not tax season (I always wait till the last day to do mine), but here in Houston it is Rodeo time again. Growing up here, rodeo was the time of year that it was acceptable to wear your boots, super-tight jeans, and western button down shirts to school (no... we don't wear that all the time here), you were forced to square dance with the ickiest boy in school, and all your friends were planning which rodeo show they attended. The only attraction for me at the Rodeo was the big name singers, and since I'm not really a country music fan, that wasn't much of an attraction. I don't think I ever came early enough to see the broncing bucs, calf roping, or horse races for the few rodeos I did attend.

Last Sunday, I participated in my first demonstration against the rodeo. Actually, it was my first demonstration ever. I must say, I went it to it with a bit of anxiety. In talking to others who had attended the demonstrations in previous years, it seemed like there could be some tense situations. This tends to happen when rodeo, testosterone, and alcohol are in the mix. Luckily, I chose to attend the evening of the Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus concert, so the majority of attendees were families with young children, tweens, and teens. We held up our anti-rodeo posters while standing on the public sidewalk. The cops directing traffic at the intersection appeared to have no problem with us being there (which I've heard isn't always the case either). The poster I held I thought was very powerful "Rodeos are Legalized Animal Abuse". Quite a few people took the time to read all the posters, some took some of the anti-rodeo literature, and we even spoke to a few of them the abuse that rodeo animals endure. I think the part of the demonstration that really touched my heart though, was seeing all of the children (maybe from 8-16) who would read the signs and you could tell it registered to them that this was wrong. Those parents likely had to do some explaining after the rodeo. Hopefully many will never return.

I won't go on about the reasons of why rodeos are so cruel, since I'm sure many of you already know. I will give you a link to this video that I thought was extremely powerful, I actually couldn't bear to watch the whole thing. The calf roping was just too horrific.

To end on a bit of a happier note, I brought some cookies for the other demonstrators, the mochadamia bars from Damn Tasty Vegan. Next time I think I would add more instant coffee mix, to bring out the mocha flavor a bit more. I loved the combination of macadamia nuts and chocolate chips though (so did the other volunteers) And finally, just a question for everyone. Have you ever attended an animal rights demonstration? Did you enjoy it? I think we all have our own forms of activism (all of are blogs and vegan food are definitely activism!), and depending on our personalities and strengths, we are comfortable with different methods. What is your favorite form of activism?

29 comments:

Jennifer said...

Good for you! How barbaric are rodeos anyway!

I like the saying on your sign! So true.

Speaking of demonstations, I will be attending one this weekend, though not related to animal abuse. It will be the 5th anniversary of our invasion of Iraq. While I know that demonstrations don't really 'do' a whole lot, they give us the opportunity to come together with like minded folks and express to our fellow citizens and the world that certain things cannot be done in our names.

Nice treat to take along!

Cakespy said...

I admire you for doing that. Personally I have never gone to a demonstration of any sort--while there are definitely things I care enough about, I guess I am more of a behind the scenes person--writing letters, etc.

(However I would have gladly demonstrated my love for those cookie bars!)

potato said...

Good for you! I would love to go to a demonstration, but either I find out after the fact, or they happen while I'm at work. I looked for an anti-seal hunt demonstration to attend this month but couldn't find any in town, unfortunately.

SHARK said...

Thanks for being out there and helping to spread the word. Anyone who doubts rodeos are cruel can watch our rodeo videos at:

http://www.youtube.com/user/SHARKonlineorg

stonielove said...

awesome! i'm a little scared to watch the video you linked, but i will make sure to check it out.

i haven't attended an animal rights demonstration. i've organized fundraising events for the global water crisis and women in science. i enjoy raising awareness and money for a cause at the same time.

Ashasarala said...

I am ashamed to say that I have yet to attend an animal rights demonstration. But I can say that watching a rodeo on tv is what switched me over to vegetarianism when I was 12!

I admire you for taking part in this and especially reaching out to the kids. And the cookies look so yum!

And I've just gotta say, I am surprised that a Texan does not like country music. I'm just gonna high-five you 'cause I can't stand the stuff, personally. ;)

Animal-Friendly said...

That video is absolutely horrific. I congratulate and admire your demonstration against the rodeo! Younger children are so innocent and able to see the torture in events like the rodeo, so I'm sure your demonstration really made a difference.

On a lighter not- the mochadamia bars look delicious! It makes me want some macadamia nuts really badly (gosh, it's probably been several years since I had some)!

Rach-ums said...

Good for you! Rodeos are a big thing here in Tucson too, kids even get two days off school the week it comes to town. Maybe next year I'll have the guts to go protest.

I ordered some pamphlets from Vegan Outreach and I'm really nervous to start leafletting. Wish me luck!

Billy said...

Great job with the protest! Rodeos are disgusting. Keep up the activism!

Also, thanks for the comment on my post about killing stray cats.

Romina said...

I should consider protesting the Calgary Stampede for their stupid rodeos. It's so saddening. =(

ChocolateCoveredVegan said...

I really want to attend an animal-rights' demonstration. Haven't gotten the chance to here in Dallas, sadly. But thank you for standing up against the horrible practice that they have the nerve to call a sport. I am always so sad when I see a rodeo on tv.

On a brighter note-- your fellow demonstrators must have LOVED you!

Jenny said...

I am so proud of you! It is hard to step out of our comfort zones and do something we are nervous about. I have to say, you really inspire me. I am new to being vegan, and haven't even gotten the nerve up to tell a lot of people that I am now vegan. (Only close friends and family.) So for me, my baby step is to start speaking my own truth! Thank you for being such a good influence on all of us! Vegans are such a nice group! :)

Vegan*asm said...

I went to the circus demos in Houston two years in a row, and the rodeo demo last year. It was really kind of terrifying going out there, but once I got to know everyone, and they are all so nice, it was actually kind of empowering and uplifting, and..dare I say?..fun. I did wear myself out on it, though. After spending hours in the heat, and not getting any positive response from people, it tends to wear you down. I admire people who go out and make the effort, and I'm glad I did it. Without it, the message will never be spread, and people will continue to stay in the dark about these issues.
Say hi to Kristen for me if you get a chance! I admire her efforts with SoP. She has really made a huge difference in Houston. I miss everyone there.

pleasantly plump vegan said...

rodeos are so foreign to me thankfully. my mom lives in San Antonio and she talks about rodeos and I always wonder if she thinks about what they are really about. I've never brouht it up and maybe I should. Her husband is a real big Texan, so she has assimiated to the whole Texas culture, so it's a tough subject.
i think it's totally cool you did this! yr too cool for school.

the little one said...

According to research, very few Americans every partake in any type of protest. Go you! I think part of the explanation for our lack of protest participation is exactly the fear you were brave enough to admit. But why are we afraid? It is interesting that we live in a society that pushes conformity so much and yet were wore born from nonconformists (aka the Founders). Thanks Vegan Noodle for putting yourself in uncomfortable situations in the name of animals!

Vegan Girl said...

Good for you, I am really proud of you. Confrontation is so uncomfortable I know. But it is great that you made an impression on the young ones.

Anke said...

wow, amanda, you are great. going to demonstrations and actually giving the protest a face makes the posters you hold so much more powerful.

I've never been to an actual demonstration. I'm trying to do what I can do with family and friends - die hard meat eaters who are always surprised that, yes, it is possible to put a meal on the table with no meat...

Ricki said...

You're really brave to demonstrate at a rodeo--I admire what you all did there. It sounds like you did have an impact, too.

And the cookies look yum.

I love that you asked this question, as it's one I think about all the time--I live with an omnivore, and virtually all of my family and 99% of my friends are omnivores (yes, they do think I'm a bit weird). I have never been comfortable openly demonstrating, as I'm not an overly political person.

I guess my favorite form of "activism," if it can be called that, is to influence others mostly by example and by supporting causes I believe in as best I can (donations, volunteering, etc.). I'm more comfortable promoting what I do believe in rather than actively demonstrating against what I don't (if that makes sense. . . ).

Sam said...

I love those bars! Yummy! I have the opportunity to participate in my first demonstration (against Ringling Bros.) and I'm nervous, just as you were. You've given me courage, now that I know that they can go on peacefully and I won't end up in jail...

Tasha said...

Yay! I'm so proud of you for demonstrating, you are an inspiration! I wish I could do a demonstration or tabline or even leafletting, but I think it is probably illegal where I live.

I love you blog so much, I hope you don't mind I added you to my links!

Liz² said...

I'd love to participate in animal rights activism to a greater degree. Activism in general to a greater degree! As it stands... my favourite method is probably underground press (ie, zines), wether that's cookzines, political chapbooks or whatever. I learned how to sprout from a guerilla gardening pamphlet!

And I'm glad some of the kids seemed to think twice about rodeos now. You're doing amazing work!

textual bulldog said...

Why, WHY didn't I buy Damn Tasty Vegan while it was still available?!? And why does every blogger who did keep taunting me with their gorgeous DTV baked goods??? :D

Good for you for protesting the rodeo! I know from first-hand experience that it takes a lot of courage to go out and do that kind of thing. Congrats on your first AR protest! And welcome to the FBI "watch list"! J/k. Maybe. ;)

Sara said...

I sometimes do KFC, Fur, and Fois Gras protests in Austin. It's definitely empowering (especially when there's a lot of positive reactions to your cause) and they've forced me to learn a lot more about the issues since there's nothing worse than not being able to explain your stance at the protests...

Anyway, I love your blog! I live in Houston but go to college in Austin and one of my main concerns was "Is it possible to stay vegan in a place like Houston?". Your blog has allayed my fears. Thanks!!!

Urban Vegan said...

Good for you. Life only moved forward because of those who oppose it! I bet those bars tasted damn tasty after all that demonstrating.

I've demonstrated at the Ringling Bros Circus...and have done AR marches. At the circus, most peeple were neutral, some stopped to look at our literature and talk to us, but others yelled and cursed at us--calling us spoilsports and saying we were ruining things for the kids.

Maybe we were. But the kids--you could see it in their eyes that that they way the animals were treated wasn't right.

Theresa said...

Good on you! I personally love the adrenaline rush that comes with big crowd protests. I've been involved in a few SHAC protests, one where we went to a company office to protest their use of animal testing; another we went to the homes of CEOs of companies like Gillette. It was intense, but incredible... hopefully their neighbours don't look at them the same!

I actually find it more nerve-wracking to walk around on my own with a shirt that says 'vegan' than to participate in protests like that.

LisaRene said...

I too have protested at rodeo's. It's simply cruel and I can't believe people find it entertaining. I'm a very "respectful" protester, meaning I don't get nasty with people as some protesters can. Getting nasty does more harm then good, in my opinion. You want to open peoples eyes and get them thinking.

I will admit that I do not enjoy demonstrating at all. I really hate it but have done it many times when I was younger. My preference is volunteer at animal shelters, and wildlife refuges and donating money to support animal rights issues.

Nothing beats conversation. I know I have influenced a great number of people through conversation.

Jess - The Domestic Vegan said...

UGH! There is a damn rodeo coming to my city soon, and I keep seeing commercials for it! It makes me so sad & sick. I hate being pushy with my beliefs, but at the same time, I think it's important to protest against things that so deeply sicken me, and help work towards a positive change...

You are truly amazing for voicing your opinion! Hopefully it made people think that their "fun day at the rodeo" comes at a great expense to innocent animals, and it should not be considered a fun, educational family activity...

peaceful vegan goddess said...

Rodeo demonstrations are certainly the most challenging, and I've been to circus, anti-fur and March of Crimes demonstrations in the past. I still wonder sometimes how effective they are in the long term and if anyone takes demonstrations seriously these days. Maybe it makes a difference if there are large numbers of demonstrators? Hard to say. You make a good point that we should be open to different kinds of activism, such as leafleting, letter writing, demonstrations, tabling, cooking or otherwise. Many of us may feel more confident in our particular 'comfort zones' or interests, thereby excelling in that form of activism often with positive results. Just by being vegan, we are engaging in everyday activism and become positive examples for others. I'm glad you gave the rodeo demonstrations a try!

vko said...

That is great that you demonstrated- good for you! I have yet to go to a demonstration, but I do plan to soon.

I think being fully vegan is activism, just by sharing information about our lifestyle & beliefs and by living by example is one of the strongest ways to bring people to the cause.

I am also a big email sender- that is quite effective especially since people send stupid chain letters all the time, why can't they pass along an email for a petition or donation for a good cause?

Brava my dear for demonstrating at the rodeo- can you believe they are trying to put it on tv and make it as popular as NASCAR?