The following article was written by Jessika Lauren, PETA's Action Team coordinator for volunteers
in the southeastern region of the U.S. from Mississippi to Pennsylvania.
Abby Casarella is an activist and a vegetarian living in
Frederick, Maryland. She recently received a Certificate of Appreciation from
PETA for her hard work leading
her first protest against Cole Bros. Circus, which garnered great media coverage. Abby studied equine science and worked with horses for seven
years before switching to a career in sales for a local brewery.
In addition to her animal rights activism efforts, she is
involved with the Frederick Giving Project, a local philanthropic group,
and spends her free time enjoying live music,
hula-hooping, and practicing yoga. Abby shares her
home with her two cats—Augusta, whom Abby rescued and bottle-fed as a baby, and
Leroy Brown, who lives up to his namesake song as "the baddest cat in the whole damn town.
Here she is in her own words:
You recently organized a protest against Cole Bros. Circus in
Frederick that received great media coverage. Being interviewed is something
that requires a lot of confidence and a strong dedication to speaking up for animals!
Was this your first time protesting? How did you feel about your experience? What
made you want to do it?
a first-time protester, I really did not know what to expect. I knew that I
felt passionate about animals and exposing how they are treated for entertainment
purposes, but it did not truly hit home until I saw that circus poster hanging
in my town. The fact that Cole Bros. boasted about having a baby elephant was
the real tipping point. Thinking about the suffering that the baby elephant
will have to endure being treated as if he or she does not have a soul was
heartbreaking. The support that I received from friends and family and from
people I did not even know was truly amazing. The printed material we received
from PETA made this protest possible.
Are you vegan or vegetarian, and if so, what's the story behind
The decision to abstain from eating meat was a long time coming.
The support from a coworker who has been vegetarian for more than 10 years was
just the kick that I needed. Learning more about factory farming and the mass
production of meat made my decision much easier. Luckily, my roommate is a
great cook, and she is always willing to eat vegetarian foods with me. This
year, we were able to put in a small aboveground garden in our backyard. This
being my first garden, I am excited about being able to go out in my backyard
and pick my own dinner! We are also part of a local community-supported
agriculture (CSA) program. Buying locally and with the seasonal harvests is a
great way to start changing your eating habits.
What would you say to encourage someone who's never participated
in a protest or an outreach event?
If you are passionate about it, GO FOR IT! A few like-minded
people coming together can really make people stop and take notice. My
full-time job requires me to talk to both large and small groups of people, so
interaction with the public is not something that intimidated me. My main
concern was that people were not going to show up, but once the local newspaper
got hold of the story, it really took off. The one thing I would have done
differently in organizing my protest would have been to spend even more time
pre-planning. The time between when I saw the poster advertising that the
circus was coming to town and opening day gave me only about two weeks. Having
more time to plan can certainly make the experience less stressful. At the
protest, we did have a few people shout "Get a job!" at us or other
negative things. However, for every negative comment, there were 10 honking
horns, thumbs-up signs or waves from our supporters. Not everyone will
understand why you would hold a protest, but keep in mind that there are more
people out there that do support you.
Thanks so much for chatting with us. Is there anything else that
you'd like to add or say to the World Wide Web?
It is all about education. It's important to know about the
products you use and where your food comes from. PETA's list of companies
that do not use animal testing is a great tool to get you started. I am lucky
to have a co-op in my town. I can get organic food, and they offer educational
classes as well. When I first started this lifestyle change, I started out with
the 80/20 rule. Whether you are going vegetarian or vegan or just making sure that
the chemicals in your house are cruelty-free, it is a great way to dip your
feet in the water. For those of you wanting to switch to a plant-based diet,
try making 80 percent of your meals vegetarian or vegan. Once you make that
initial transition, I think you will find it easy to move to 100 percent!
in getting active? Contact Jessika at JessikaL@PETA.org and join the Action Team!
Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights? Read more.