Oct. 2 was World Farm Animals Day, and every year around this time groups of people around the country (and perhaps even the world) walk to benefit farmed animals. Chicago's walk was this past Saturday and benefited Farm Sanctuary.
I use the term "farmed" animals instead of "farm" animals because "farm" simply describes what kind of animal it is, whereas "farmed" connotes an action against the animal. It hints at exploitation. I can't remember who introduced me to the term, but I feel it more accurately implies how the animals are regarded by those who use them.
This walk was my first, and it was uplifting to see the number of vegans and vegetarians who showed up in support of the animals -- 65 of us! I also like that, through vegan and animal-rights meetups, I'm forming a group of good friends.
People we passed on the walk exhibited varied reactions. Some stared at us like we were freaks, which was off-putting. Some took pictures of us. A few people cheered us on. Several people made disrespectful comments about how good meat is. One boy sang a song about chicken. A man at a sidewalk cafe told us he had ordered spaghetti (hopefully with marinara sauce). A few people, arms outstretched, asked for one of the 200 "Why Vegetarian?" brochures we were handing out.
Unfortunately one girl who was walking behind me was rude to the people who made the pro-meat comments. She told one guy he should die. A gay man we passed (I'm assuming he was gay, and I only bring it up because I find it odd that some people who are oppressed think nothing of oppressing others) said he could go for a hamburger and then said he should go to a particular steakhouse. The girl behind me said something, and the guy started walking with us and tried to put his arm around her. She told him to get away, that he might have an STD. He said he did and put his arm around her. I should have said something to that girl much earlier, but I didn't. I didn't want to cause a scene or incure her wrath.
At this point, though, I'd had enough and turned around. The guy, though, had already entered a building. I know I still should have said something. I really need to work on being more assertive in those types of situations.
One other negative aspect of the walk were the signs we were given. Most were anti-veal, and while I'm against eating veal, I'm also against eating any type of meat. The people we passed likely thought it was an anti-veal protest. I can't criticize too much since I didn't plan the walk. Next year, though, I hope the signs make it clear that all meat consumption -- including hamburgers and chicken, which is what people eat the most -- is wrong.
After the walk a large group of us ate lunch at FlatTop Grill, a veg-friendly restaurant with locations in Chicagoland. It was delicious! You put noodles or rice in a bowl and pile on tons of veggies and a sauce. They even have tofu, seitan and mock chicken. And then you leave it on the counter, the chef stir-fries it for you, and it's delivered to your table.
If you have the inclination to walk to benefit farmed animals, you can find a walk here. If the walk near you has already taken place, you can donate to a walker. My friend Heather, whom I met at AR2008, is still taking donations for her Oct. 25 walk.
(Photos courtesy of Mikael Nielsen. Click to enlarge.)