Some participants marched in fruit and vegetable costumes; others carried posters promoting animal liberation. But their messages to the public were consistent: “Animals are not food.”
On April 3rd, animal advocates took to the streets of Greenwich Village for the 9th annual Veggie Pride Parade, attempting to awaken their fellow New Yorkers to the plight of animals exploited for food and the health and environmental benefits of a plant-based diet. Curious onlookers fumbled for their smart phones to document the unique and unexpected parade and to take selfies with a giant pea pod.
Racial, ethnic and socio-economic diversity at the Veggie Pride parade.
The parade began in the “Meatpacking District,” a neighborhood that was once dominated by commercial butcher shops. Today, those businesses, which have been priced out of the trendy neighborhood, have been replaced by restaurants that, of course, serve meat (for now).
Parade onlooker wearing Canada Goose fur coat expressed excitement about seeing the parade.
When the parade spilled into Union Square, where it ended, organizer Pamela Rice staged a spirited rally, and parade participants indulged in vegan fare sold by local restaurants and food companies.
By observing the actions of adults, we are taught as children that animals exist to serve our needs and desires, not their own. Our sense of superiority to other animals is so ingrained that society gives virtually no thought at all to imprisoning them in zoos, labs and factory farms, thereby stripping them of the freedom that they instinctually desire just as much as we do.
Our behavior can best be described as speciesist. As a word and as a concept, speciesism is not yet a part of the public discourse. In an effort to help animals, however, social justice groups are working to change that, employing creative methods from provocative street theater to dramatic protests.
Launched just two months ago, a NYC-based organization called Collectively Free has been stopping people in their tracks with their “Swap Speciesism” events. At Meatopia, a carnivore festival where whole animals were cooked, Collectively Free turned the tables – and turned many heads – by serving samples from a whole human.
On the menu: Rack of Man, Human Chops
Wearing a pig mask, Kate Skwire, a Collectively Free performer, used humor to capture the attention of passing carnivores:
“You look like you’d like a piece, m’am. Are you hungry?”
“These are humanely raised, grass fed, local, happy humans.”
“Now tell me that isn’t delicious.”
“This one had a very good life. You don’t have to feel bad about eating this meat.”
The execution (of the event, not the human), was so creative that some Meatopia attendees stopped to give them props. Robert Jensen, one of the participants, said, “A few people said things like ‘I’m not vegetarian, but this is really creative.’ Others said, ‘that’s sick!’ to which we responded ‘it’s sick the other way around too.’ Then they became lost in thought.'”
Photo: Collectively Free
Another participant, Miriam Lucille, said, “I was holding a sign that says ‘Why love one but eat the other’ showing a dog and a pig, and one man looked at the sign, nodded and said, ‘That’s very true.'” A lot of people took photos because it was eye-catching, and that’s always a good thing.”
photo: Collectively Free
A San Francisco based group, Direct Action Everywhere, is also aiming to “Disrupt Speciesism” through dramatic and controversial actions inside of and in front of restaurants and grocery stores around the world. A video of one such protest not only went viral but also made national news. In the video, activist Kelly Atlas enters a restaurant and delivers an emotional account of her baby girl Snow, who is an injured chicken rescued from a battery cage.
In 2013, filmmaker Mark Devries made made a critically-acclaimed documentary about the issue. In Speciesism: The Movie, Animal Liberation author Peter Singer sums it up nicely: “The fact that animals are not human isn’t a reason to give less consideration to their interests.”
Humans might be more powerful than other species, but we are far from superior. In fact, because we are the only species that is destroying the planet, some might argue that we are inferior.
Jane Velez-Mitchell, former host “Jane Velez-Mitchell” on HLN (Headline News Network), has created a new show dedicated to animal rights. On “Jane Unchained,” Velez-Mitchell, who has been America’s most prominent spokesperson for animal rights, reports on the day’s news with the same dedication and emotion that turned this TV news anchor into an icon in the animal rights movement.
Donny Moss from TheirTurn was lucky enough to a guest on her first two shows. On the first show, Velez-Mitchell and Moss discuss the impact of meat on the climate, the horse-drawn carriage fiasco in NYC and how a single issue can draw caring people into a cruelty-free lifestyle.
In an interview with the local press, prominent NYC cardiologist Robert Ostfeld states that his patients are telling him that transitioning to a plant-based diet has improved their sex lives. The Harvard-trained doctor, who runs the Cardiac Wellness Program at Montefiore Hospital, says “Erectile disfunction may result from a clogged artery to the penis.” Only animal products contain artery-clogging cholesterol.
Dr. Ostfeld says that five of the 250 patients in his practice who have adopted a plant-based diet have volunteered that they’ve experienced “significant improvements to erectile dysfunction.” He suspects that the number is higher.
Dr. Robert Ostfeld (photo: The NY Blue Print)
When patients argue that a plant-based diet seems “extreme,” Dr. Ostfield says that the effects of eating cholesterol-laden animal protein are far more extreme: “I think it’s extreme when someone saws my chest open, takes a vein from my leg and stitches it into my heart.”
In the article, Dr. Ostfeld describes many other benefits of a plant-based diet, but its impact on sex is what likely led the media outlet to publish the story.
To learn more about the benefits of a plant-based diet, watch the award-winning documentary film Forks Over Knives, which “examines the profound claim that most, if not all, of the degenerative diseases that afflict us can be controlled, or even reversed, by rejecting animal-based and processed foods.” The trailer is chilling:
The fat man in the back of the bus is not tipping it over, but PETA wants you to think he is.
To capture people’s attention in an era of information overload, PETA is launching a provocative ad campaign that uses fat shaming as a strategy to trigger people to go vegan. The ads will appear on London buses starting in October.
In an interview with a London newspaper, a PETA spokesperson stated that switching to a plant-based diet leads to weight loss and that “People who insist on stuffing themselves with Sunday roasts, bacon, cheese and eggs are throwing their health under the bus.”
In 2009, PETA was widely criticized for launching a similar campaign in which it encouraged human “whales” to lose their blubber by going vegetarian.
Criticism has never stopped PETA in the past, so the organization is unlikely to make any apologizes for its controversial “tough love” approach now. Tapping into people’s insecurities about body image will assuredly offend some people, but the approach could save the lives of many people – and, of course, animals. Do the ends justify the means?