Why I Advocate, Disrupt, and Protest for Animals

Written by peta2 intern Mason Melito

If you’re a vegan who’s new to animal rights activism, welcome! After being vegetarian for most of my life, I decided to go vegan nearly five years ago once I learned about the cruelty that cows endure in the dairy industry. I started feeling healthier and happier immediately—and I noticed that my skin was clearing up, too!

Then I found out that peta2 has a student-led program called Students Opposing Speciesism (SOS) that helps educate our peers about animal rights issues. After becoming a local organizer with the program, I applied for an internship with peta2 and was accepted. Working and volunteering with PETA has truly been one of the best experiences of my life, and I’ve had so many cool opportunities to speak up for animals.

Why I Advocate, Disrupt, and Protest

To be honest, when I first went vegan, I never saw myself disrupting events or protesting companies to speak up for animals. Once I discovered that these forms of activism are empowering and make a huge difference, I was ready to do even more to have a positive effect on animals’ lives.

Of course, going vegan, only buying products that are animal test–free, and making sure that my closet contains animal-friendly clothing and shoes were all super-important, but disrupting and protesting has become my favorite way to stand up and make a difference for animals.

Not only are these forms of activism exhilarating, they also cause people to stop and think critically about why the disruption is taking place. Whenever I see a disruption, I always wonder why these individuals took the time to do what they’re doing. Very often, I learn something new that I may not have considered if it weren’t for the protesters taking time to speak up for what they believe in. 🤔

Being a part of these actions has strengthened my public speaking skills, my confidence, and my passion for animal rights. I’ve made many amazing friends along the way, and I’m so grateful to continue to meet so many like-minded individuals who care about animals. Here are some of my favorite disruptions, protests, and general outreach events I’ve done with PETA over the last few months.

The Council of Animals

Last summer, I spent almost a month at PETA’s Council of Animals exhibit at the National Mall in Washington, D.C., advocating for more compassion toward animals. After passersby looked at the massive animal sculptures and listened to an audio recording that discussed all the amazing attributes that animals have, I talked to them about what they heard and provided them with information about what they can do to help sentient beings. We even gave out stickers and vegan popsicles. It was very hot outside, so those popsicles were super-refreshing.

SeaWorld San Diego Protest #1

This protest was my first at SeaWorld San Diego since going back to school in late August for the fall semester. My fellow PETA supporters and I were advocating for Corky the orca to be released to a reputable seaside sanctuary. No animal should be forced to live in captivity and be used for entertainment. We stood right outside the entrance of a major parking lot and were also next to a major road, so a ton of people who were driving by saw our signs and got the message not to support SeaWorld.

SeaWorld San Diego Protest #2

I went back to SeaWorld San Diego in September to keep advocating for Corky and other animals to be released to a safe environment where they could live their best lives. It’s always so refreshing to see other activists alongside me fighting for animal liberation, and I’m sure that SeaWorld is feeling the pressure.

‘ThanksVegan’ Demonstrations

Right before Canadian Thanksgiving in October, I went to Canada to urge people to keep turkeys off their plates and to have a vegan feast instead. I traveled from Winnipeg all the way to Calgary, and it was a blast to be able to see so much of Canada. I’ll admit that it was a bit cold just wearing beige-colored underwear while lying in a “turkey position” next to two other “turkeys” on a “cutting board,” but it was minimal discomfort compared to what turkeys have to experience throughout their entire lives.

SeaWorld San Diego Protest #3

For this protest in October, singer Christopher von Uckermann teamed up with us on a boardwalk near SeaWorld San Diego to tell the public that the park keeps animals in captivity. In support of animal liberation, von Uckermann was “trapped” in a bubble to show how orcas like Corky are trapped in such tiny spaces for their size.

peta2/SOS Tabling at ‘Fright for Future’

Later in the month, I attended the “Fright for Future” event in San Diego— which showcased a “haunted” house showing true horrors of the world, including animal agriculture and testing—to table on behalf of peta2 and SOS. I loved providing families, students, and other attendees with information on how they can help animals. I also passed out stickers and bracelets.

Netflix Cup Disruption

In November, I went to Las Vegas to urge Formula 1, owned by Liberty Media, to drop its annual sponsorship of the Iditarod in Alaska. The Netflix Cup was Netflix’s first-ever live sporting event, so it attracted a lot of viewers from around the world. Another volunteer and I ran onto the golf course shortly after the livestream started, yelling at Formula 1 to stop funding the cruel dog race. We got stopped shortly after we made it onto the green—but not before we made it onto the livestream!

Liberty Media ‘Cement-In’

Toward the end of November, I went to Colorado to keep putting pressure on Liberty Media. This time, a few other volunteers and I went to its main headquarters, where I cemented my feet and chained myself to the company’s sign, which had a message that read, “Funds Dog Deaths,” written in “blood” across it. Police, security, and the fire department soon arrived, and we were held in jail for about 10 hours before being released. I felt so powerful in that moment, and my adrenaline throughout the day was through the roof.

SeaWorld San Diego Protest #4

I went back to SeaWorld San Diego in December to dress up as Santa and station myself outside one of its main entrances. PETA told SeaWorld that it was “ho-ho-horrible” to Corky and that it needed to release her to a seaside sanctuary immediately. Seeing the reactions of people who drove by—and hearing all the honks we got in support—was inspiring.

Radio City Music Hall Demonstration

For my last action of 2023, I went to Radio City Music Hall in New York City ahead of Christmas to ask it to dump animal acts from its Christmas Spectacular show. It was super-busy in the city, which was perfect for getting tons of attention. Two other “elves” went in front of the building and dumped three wheelbarrows of coal. There were a lot of other protesters there, so it was awesome to be with so many people dedicated in promoting animal rights.

Last year was filled with memorable moments and experiences speaking up for animals. I absolutely love disrupting, protesting, and advocating for animal rights, and I’m so grateful that I had these opportunities to do so. I can’t wait to see where I go next.


Are you interested in taking to the streets for animals and connecting with other young activists? Join SOS to raise your voice and inspire others to raise theirs. 📣❤️

Text peta2 to 30933 for ways to help animals, tips on compassionate living, and more!

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