About 100 college students and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) members organized Thursday at Venice Beach to protest the consumption of fish and to advocate for veganism.

Protestors held up signs with slogans like “Fish are not swimming vegetables” and “Sea Life not Seafood” and handed out flyers with facts about fish consumption. According to the flyers, 50 percent of the world’s fish are raised in aquafarms and are consistently treated inhumanely.

Photo Courtesy Jonah Dylan.

Marissa Price, a college campaign strategist with PETA2 (the youth-focused offshoot of PETA), said the group chose to protest for fish because they aren’t usually advocated for.

“We think fish are an area that a lot of people don’t talk about,” she said. “Fish are incredibly sentient, they actually have relationships with each other, much like the cats and dogs that we all love at home. And fish do feel pain. Many people don’t think about that.”

Fish are social animals, Price added, and have the ability to show affection for one another. They can also remember past interactions, grieve when they lose loved ones and develop individual personalities, she said.

The students, who work as campus representatives at colleges universities across the United States and Canada, came to the protest after participating in a five-day camp to learn about ways to advocate for PETA’s mission on their campuses.

Sophia Kudriavtsev, a student at the University of Waterloo, said Thursday was the first protest she’s been involved in with PETA2.

“I’ve never been to Venice, my first time in LA, it’s great seeing all the people around and there’s been a lot of positive response,” she said. “Some people saying ‘woohoo, go vegan’ and people walking by giving us thumbs up. Good response, definitely. It’s a beautiful day and everyone’s having a good time.”

Protestors also advocated for people to become vegans. Kudriavtsev said the protest was about “planting the seed,” for people to potentially become vegans or vegetarians.

Organizers said they chose Venice beach because it’s close to a number of seafood restaurants and also has a lot of foot traffic. Price added that aside from the humane reasons not to eat fish, there are many health concerns that should drive people away from consuming it.

“There’s no reason to eat any animal and fish are no exception,” she said. “It’s actually common for fish flesh to contain large amounts of toxins like mercuries and PCBs, which accumulate in the body and can cause brain damage, can, er and birth defects. So it’s really a healthier decision as well to leave sea animals off your plate.”