On a trip to Spain in 2010, Aylam Orian, an actor and filmmaker from Los Angeles, stumbled upon a public spectacle that would change his life forever — a ceremony in which dozens of animal rights activists displayed the bodies of dead animals to help observers make the connection between the animals they were seeing and the food on their plates. It was an event so provocative and impactful that it inspired Mr. Orian to replicate it in the United States.
Five years later, Mr. Orian is, with the help of dozens of volunteers, producing the fifth National Animal Rights Day (NARD), with rallies in eight cities in the U.S. and Canada that are expected to attract over 1,000 participants.
The use of animals’ bodies has its critics, but Mr. Orian asserts that the tactic helps observers connect the dots: “Most people never see farm animals in their lives; they only see their body parts on their plates. When we show them what these animals look like in the flesh, cradled in our arms like you would cradle a baby or a beloved pet, they feel something. Many stop to ask questions, and that gives us a chance to inspire them to change their lifestyle.”
When people criticize the ceremony, Mr. Orian explains that the deceased animals, all of whom were donated, are treated with exceptional respect: “Instead of being ground up in a rendering plant or thrown into the garbage, we clean them, treat them with dignity and, after the ceremony, cremate them and spread their ashes. It’s the only tenderness most of these animals will ever receive.”
Jane Velez-Mitchell of Jane UnChained spoke to Mr. Orian to talk about National Animal Rights Day, the controversial use of deceased animals and the impact of the rallies on the public.
The National Animal Rights Day ceremonies are produced by Mr. Orian’s newly-incorporated charity, Our Planet, Theirs Too, and are taking place on May 30th in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Colorado Springs, Seattle, Toronto and Ottowa and on June 7th in New York and Northampton (MA).