New & Old Perspectives on HA 101

When PETA started their two day “Helping Animals 101” conference tour in 2004, I really hoped they would come to the SF Bay Area. About 15 years ago, when I was a newly minted vegan, PETA came to town with a one day “AR 101” conference, chock full of information and inspiration… and that’s how it all began, for me.

So, when I heard that HA 101 would come to SF on Feb 5-6th, I felt it was a great way to celebrate my 15th anniversary as a graduate from their 1st conference. In fact, my first PETA conference was so long ago, that I can’t even remember the impression that it made on me when I was so new to this all.

Jennifer, a self-described “newbie”, reflected on her experience at the HA 101 conference.

I’ve been to lots of conferences in the past, mostly related to the computer industry. I even met my husband at an IBM conference (it’s true!). But, I’d never been to a conference like PETA’s Helping Animals 101. Being new to vegetarianism and activism, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect; though I knew I would learn a lot.

On the first day we were subjected to various videos such as Meet Your Meat, videos of companion animals being euthanized and animal experimentation. It was a bit traumatic seeing all of this in a single day. Actually I wasn’t sure if I was going to make it to lunch on that first day. I stuck through it, and I’m glad I did.

Having the opportunity to meet and connect with other people who care so passionately about animal issues was amazing. The speakers were inspiring and their energy infectious. Their in depth knowledge of the subject and unique ability to put a humorous slant on such a serious subject had me laughing and crying all at the same time.

The highlight of the weekend, for me, was our “field trip” to the Tenderlion KFC. Our group, over 200 people, took over the four corners of Eddy and Polk streets. Chanting “Boycott KFC” while Dan from PETA shouted on his bull horn. Reporters filmed, took pictures, and interviews. Oh, and there were lots of police. “Now this is a real protest!”, I thought to myself.

The weekend left me inspired and motivated to get involved in more activism. Thank you PETA!

As I look back, for me, my first PETA conference was my introduction to activism, and I credit PETA with inspiring me to be an activist.

The first day of HA 101, as Jennifer said, was chiefly informative & educational, and emotional, and the second day was focused on community advocacy, and included the field trip. I found the 2nd day helped me the most as I continued to learn new tips from PETA staff and gain more confidence about being an activist.

I liked the emphasis they placed on being an effective advocate and using some of the same tactics that large corporations do. Listening to PETA validated the approach Chris and I have taken in our approach to Bay Area Vegetarians. For anyone who missed HA 101, you can also read the information on effective advocacy online.

It was also so wonderful to be surrounded both days by over 200 people who cared so much for the animals. I was also happy to realize that most of the faces were new ones to me. I am hopeful that the PETA conference will once again be a catalyst for a new generation of activists.

In fact, I think it’s already worked! We had a SF KFC demo on Geary & 6th Ave, the weekend after the PETA conference, and had about 30 people attend. Our recent demo at Pacifica KFC also someone from the PETA conference.

Yea, PETA! You’ve inspired and invigorated us yet again.