Activist Profile: Rob Gilbride
February 3, 2010
Where do you live and what are your favorite things to do outside of leafleting?
I live in Durham NC, where Eleni (my partner) and I bought an old 1920s fixer bungalow. I spend much of my time fixing up the house. One of my other favorite things to do is to play guitar and drums in my band, Beloved Binge. I’m a big fan of going to see local music and film. I also played a small part in the making of Eleni’s documentary, Seeing Through the Fence. It is a film about the role of animals in society, including an interview with VO’s own Jon Camp!
How did you get interested in animal rights and what led you to start leafleting?
In 2002, Eleni and I were traveling through California and came upon a huge feedlot (the Harris Ranch). We were blown away by all the cows standing in mud for miles. We pulled off the freeway and spent some time with them. We had both been vegetarian, but began to look into the industry as a whole after that. Once we discovered that the egg and dairy industries cause a tremendous amount of suffering to animals, we stopped buying these products and went vegan. We both felt we needed to do more to help end animal suffering, and so we joined NARN (the Northwest Animal Rights Network). I spent a lot of time protesting KFC and driving a Faunavision van showing Meet Your Meat videos. I also handed out veg restaurant guides within the Why Vegan? leaflet. A few years later, I began leafleting with the Adopt a College program.
What was your most positive leafleting experience and why?
One of my most positive leafleting experiences was from leafleting at Duke University. Well, it was after I leafleted: I was standing in the Whole Foods checkout line when a student came up to me and said, “You are the guy who handed me a leaflet on campus last semester. Thank you so much.” He then told me that he is now vegan and writing about veganism for one of his classes. He shared the leaflet I gave him with some of his friends, and as a result they went vegan as well. Once I realized how much of an impact I could make with so little effort, I was hooked.
What would you say to individuals hesitant about leafleting?
At first I felt real strange handing out information. I’m the type of person who doesn’t want to bother people, but knowing the facts about animal cruelty and not doing anything about it wasn’t an option for me. The more time I spent on campus, the easier it got for me. I found that as long as you are respectful and nice to people, they will usually take the information. Sometimes rude comments can be hard to smile through. When I just ignore these or reply with a polite retort, the people around see how normal and friendly you are, and are more likely to read about factory farming. Many people thank you for being out there. Individuals who are hesitant should come leaflet with me and see how much fun it can be.