Anti-meat protesters were out at the Penticton Rotary Ribfest at various times throughout the four-day event.

Every Canadian has the right to peaceful demonstration. Every Canadian has the right to choose what they eat.

The dozen or so protesters who showed up outside the gates of the Penticton Rotary Ribfest (as well as last year’s Ribfest in Kelowna) at different times throughout the weekend were respectful. They maybe even had a point.

But it was the wrong time and the wrong place to demonstrate.

None of the protesters were aggressive. Their presence was respectful, although one wore an Anonymous mask, which can frighten small children.

As the Penticton event has evolved, it has also improved. After a few hiccups in the first year, there’s now tons of shaded seating, recycling stations and vegetarian options with a tent operated by Bogners (one of the best places in town).

It is not against the law to consume beef and pork in Canada. Most people do.

Nobody is forcing the public to attend the event.

As for protests, what’s next? Do we picket the car and boat shows because they’re bad for the environment and boycott the Elvis Festival because Presley struggled with drug addiction late in his life?

The anti-meat crowd would be better served by targeting big business and the industry or the federal government — not a group of Rotarians, many of whom are seniors.

The Okanagan is always looking for new festivals. How about the Veganfest where the public can sample great vegan dishes while listening to the likes of k.d. Lang and Paul McCartney?

If people are introduced to a new lifestyle through positivity and not guilt-tripping, they might convert.

So to the protesters, rather than point out what’s wrong with Ribfest, try celebrating what’s right.

Hundreds of volunteers, tens of thousands of dollars raised for local and global humanitarian projects, a stage for Okanagan musicians to perform and an additional event that many people now circle on their calendar.

James Miller is valley editor for Okanagan Newspaper Group.