The Jew & The Carrot: That’s Me

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The other night, I walked around the Norfolk Tides’ minor league baseball stadium, ran out onto the field, and climbed on top of both dugouts. I danced the Macarena with young children, showed off my air guitar skills to a thousand or so spectators, and put ketchup on a veggie dog when I could barely peer out of my carrot costume’s eye holes. Prancing around as Chris P. Carrot is a lighthearted way to tell people to “Go Veg!” and “Eat Your Veggies, Not Your Friends,” as the placards on my costume’s torso read.

Every opportunity I get, I advocate vegetarianism through sports teams’ Mascot Mania events. In 2004, I made my less-than-kosher debut as PETA the Pig, joined by Ronald McDonald, the Chick-fil-A cow, and other unlikely comrades. PETA’s Chris P. Carrot was in Boston then to “campaign” for vegetarianism outside the Democratic National Convention, but ever since, I’ve been the go-to guy to be Chris P. Carrot at baseball, soccer, and hockey games in my hometown of Norfolk, Va.

I’ve never mastered the art of effective dialogue as a mascot, as children can get scared when mascots speak. Usually when I promote vegetarianism, I focus on the fact that animals raised for food experience tremendous suffering—essentially tza’ar ba’alei chayim—in factory farms and slaughterhouses. Promoting that message is at the core of my identity as a vegan and a Jew, but it’s tough to do so coherently as a costumed crusader.

Without the option of dialogue, Chris P. Carrot resorts to other tricks of the trade. Some onlookers—especially children—make an instant connection that a 6-foot-tall walking vegetable is pretty cool and then think positively about vegetables, perhaps planting a seed for herbivorous eating at large. The physical interactions I have help too. Kids and teenagers love hugs and warmly embrace the carrot—and plant-based foods in general, one can hope! Plus, everyone reacts positively to Chris P. Carrot’s dramatic, exaggerated dance moves and gestures.

Nobody walks away from Mascot Mania events contemplating tza’ar ba’alei chayim. But sometimes it’s the little things that get people to think positively about vegetarianism.

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2 Responses to “The Jew & The Carrot: That’s Me”

  1. Richard Schwartz Says:

    Nice work, Michael,

    Yes, it is essential, I believe, to get people to seriouly consider vegetarianism, especially in view of the epidemic of diseases related to animal-based diets and the major contributions animal-based diets make to global warming and many other environmental threats. In addition, the production and consumption of meat and other animal products violate basic Jewish mandates to treat animals with compassion, take care of our health, protect the nvironment, conserve natural resources and help hungry people.

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