Rise Against is a punk rock band that formed in 1999 from Chicago, IL. The band consists of lead singer and rhythm guitarist Tim McIlrath, lead guitarist and backing vocalist Zach Blair, bass guitarist and backing vocalist Joe Principe, and drummer Brandon Barnes. They have released 6 studio albums, 2 EPs, and 2 DVDs. In 2008, the band was awarded the “Best Punk Artist” by the Rock on Request Awards, the American annual music awards run by the music webzine Rock on Request, and was awarded the “Best Animal-Friendly Band” award in 2009 by PETA. The members of Rise Against are known for their political lyrics and activism, and being vegetarians and active supporters of PETA/animal rights. In 2007, they endorsed a new line of vegan Vans Shoes in an effort to contribute to animal rights. Except for Barnes, the rest of the members also follow the straightedge lifestyle, which consists of abstaining from alcohol and recreational drug use.
McIlrath actively participates in PETA protests and even hands out the organization’s flyers and books at the shows. He and the rest of the band have given many interviews about animal cruelty and animal rights, and have appeared in PETA’s videos to express their beliefs on vegetarianism, the meat and fast food industry, fur and fashion use of animal skins, animal testing, and dissection. In one of the interviews about being a vegetarian, McIlrath puts it quite simply: “If we can make vegetarianism, veganism, work on the road, you can make it work at home. All four members of Rise Against, none of us eat meat.” To advocate animal rights and vegetarianism, their music video for their song “Ready to Fall” shows footage of animal cruelty and the destruction of our planet; that video can be viewed under the Videos tab. Their fifth album, Appeal to Reason, even included a PETA sticker, encouraging people to take a stance against animal cruelty and fight for animal rights. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) was founded in 1980 by Ingrid Newkirk and Alex Pacheco. It is an animal rights nonprofit organization located in Norfolk, VA, and is believed to be the largest animal rights group. The motto of PETA is: “animals are not ours to eat, experiment, or use for entertainment”, and the organization focuses on four main issues: opposition to factory farming, fur farming, animal testing, and animals in entertainment. PETA is famous for its aggressive campaigns and consumer boycotts; it is also well-known for its large celebrity support network, including celebrities like Pamela Anderson and Drew Barrymore. The organization has targeted large corporations such as Wendy’s, KFC, and Burger King, and their consumer boycotts have focused on Avon, General Motors, and more. PETA has also conducted numerous undercover investigations by sending their staff into a facility as an employee where they wear hidden cameras and take pictures and videos of the abuse. The organization has conducted investigations in research labs, factory farms, circuses, and slaughterhouses, and then released the footage they captured as videos and short films. They have also used this footage as evidence that these facilities are violating the Animal Welfare Act and have been able to assist in the charging of companies for violations or even shutting them down.
I had the privilege of seeing Rise Against with Bad Religion and Four Year Strong live in concert last month and I can honestly say that it was one of the best shows I have ever been to. Of course, PETA had a booth there to advocate for animal rights and support one of their greatest supporters. If the band is ever on tour in your area, I highly recommend going to the show. You will not be disappointed, I guarantee it. Rise Against has been one of my favorite bands ever since I was a young teenager, and I have always respected their ability to write meaningful songs and the courage they have to stand up for their beliefs. The fact that they are avid supporters of animal rights has made me an even prouder supporter of the band and their music because I myself am vegetarian and have been for 4 1/2 years. I am also the owner of four happy and healthy pets: a dog, two cats, and a bird. Wait, technically five pets now because my sister just adopted a cat from the shelter recently…..I have yet to meet him!
Growing up with animals has taught me that they are to be treated kindly and fairly, and being a volunteer at the local animal shelter all throughout my high school years made me realize that unfortunately, not all animals are given the love and care that they deserve. It made me realize that something needs to be done to end the suffering of animals and that I could do something about it. And that’s why I decided to go vegetarian. It’s healthy, there are tasty foods to try out, and best of all, it doesn’t involve killing innocent and defenseless animals. I encourage all those who aren’t vegetarian to just try it, even for a day. Think of all the animals you would save by choosing not to eat them. And who knows, maybe you’ll decide to go vegetarian.
Still a meat lover? Well, maybe this article about bacteria found in almost half of U.S. meat will make you change your mind.
For more information about PETA, visit their website or go to peta2.com to get involved.