PETA Volunteer Spotlight: Lauren Quillo
The following article was written by Lauren Stroyeck, PETA’s action team coordinator for volunteers in the U.S. from Minnesota down to Texas.
Lauren Quillo is from St. Louis. She is currently studying English, communications, and business at the University of Missouri–Columbia. (Go Tigers!) When she’s not in class, you can find her chilling out with her roommate Stanley (a 6-month-old pit bull/boxer mix), writing poetry, hiking, producing rap albums, and volunteering with PETA.
How did you first hear about PETA?
PETA is an organization I had grown up hearing about, but I had never been involved until after I tried going vegan. When I first went vegan, I wanted more information and I needed a support group. It was also important to me to share the vegan lifestyle with everyone! I found all of this and more at PETA.
Are you vegan or vegetarian, and if so, what’s the story behind your decision?
A few years ago, I started thinking more about what I was eating and began making healthy adjustments to my diet. After awhile, I hadn’t noticed much difference in how I felt, so I read the book Skinny Bitch by Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin and learned about veganism. I did a little more research on going vegan, including checking out PETA’s website, and decided to give it a try. I have been vegan for two years now and am healthier than ever!
Your first-ever animal rights protest was on tour as a volunteer with a PETA campaigner, where you bravely showered with another PETA staffer on a busy sidewalk in Wichita, Kansas, to promote the environmental benefits of going vegan. That’s a big leap for your first protest! What made you want to do it?
I’ve always been a firm believer in taking an active role in what I believe in, so when I got the call from PETA’s Action Team to help out with a week-long tour of shower protests, I couldn’t wait to hit the road! I’ve also always been kind of a ham (haha) so the risqué aspect of the demonstration didn’t bother me.
You’ve participated in several protests that involve wearing sexy costumes or posing nearly naked as a fun and striking way to bring attention to tough issues—something that requires a lot of confidence and a strong dedication to speaking up for the animals. How do you feel about these kinds of protests, and what would you tell someone who might consider them controversial?
As humans, we have the luxury of choosing what we want to do with our bodies, and we also have the means to vocalize how we feel. Unfortunately, other animals do not share the same luxury, so it is incredibly important for us as humans to speak out against injustice and to share knowledge with each other effectively. Nearly naked demonstrations are quite effective in getting attention, which allows us to open up a dialogue with others and share important information that might not have been shared otherwise. Aside from that, I’m proud of my vegan body, and showing it off through demonstrations is a great way to show the health benefits of a vegan lifestyle!
Volunteering to do a tour of protests with PETA campaigners can mean a lot of hard work and time away from home, but it can also be fun! Do you have a favorite memory or protest?
Oh my gosh, there are so many favorite memories. Where do I even begin?! The demonstrations in which we give out samples are always so much fun because people love free stuff, especially free food! It’s always cool to see people’s reactions after tasting a Tofurky sandwich or hot vegan chili—they seem surprised at how yummy vegan food can be. The protest I cherish the most, however, is the first one I did in my hometown of St. Louis with two of my dearest friends, fellow volunteer Holly Kersten and PETA senior campaigner Virginia Fort. We did a “Body Parts” demonstration, and it was just so special to literally take a stand for animals where I grew up.
Is there an animal rights issue that’s closest to your heart?
Veganism is probably closest to my heart simply because it’s a lifestyle primarily centered around compassion, and that is definitely a principle I live by.
You’ve been in the media spotlight a lot as a volunteer for PETA. Does it make you nervous? Why or why not?
Not at all! It’s really awesome to have the opportunity to share such important information (such as the health benefits of a vegan lifestyle or the cruel treatment of animals on factory farms or in labs) with thousands of people. I was so shocked when I learned that so many things I grew up believing to be true were actually entirely false, that I now want to share the truth I’ve gained with as many people as possible.
What do your friends and family think about your activism?
My family has always known me as the loud, excitable, oddball, so they are supportive of my decision to stand up for issues I believe in. My friends are incredibly supportive, too, and a few (including my little sister!) have adopted vegan or vegetarian lifestyles as a result.
What would you say to encourage someone who’s never participated in a protest or an outreach event?
If there is an issue you believe in, get involved! It’s never been easier to find like-minded people, join a group, host an event, start a protest, attend a demonstration, or get information. Plus, it’s fun to further such a great cause, and it can be so incredibly rewarding.
What are your favorite foods?
Pasta or Mac & Chreese, tomatoes, coconut, strawberries, and potato chips. And baked goods. All kinds. And soups.
Thanks so much for chatting with us. Is there anything else you’d like to add or say to the World Wide Web?
I am so thankful for the opportunities I’ve had working with PETA as an activist. Everybody has been so kind and warm—it’s really been a joy getting to know everyone as we work together toward the same goals. I look forward to more great experiences with PETA and even greater accomplishments in the future.