We stood in the snowy wind outside the rodeo in Everett, silently holding our signs urging people, “Don’t Support Animal Cruelty,” “Real Men Are Kind To Animals” and “Heroes Protect The Innocent.” We couldn’t honestly say that it was the most attractive side of Northwest society that bunched slowly forward for tickets while looking at us contemptuously, mocking us as hippies and vegetarians, or just proclaiming, “I’m kind to animals—-I eat each and every one I can! I hunt deer. And cougars!”
Perhaps our peaceful presence was so threatening, and their sense of pride so fragile, that they felt compelled to defend themselves against our silent compassion. However, we remained steadfast while joking with each other, talking about the upcoming Vegan Prom, and generally trying not to freeze our little fingers off in the freezing cold.
Rodeos exploit and abuse animals for profit under the guise of “entertainment.” Take a look: rodeocruelty.com
It was an icy evening, but it felt good to raise awareness about the animal cruelty inherent in the fur industry.
The symphony is traditionally a place where people wear fur, especially on New Year’s Eve. So a bunch of us gathered at Benaroya Hall for a silent vigil before going out to party.
Brave souls withstood the wind and cold to stand up for tortured animals in front of UW’s Regional Primate Research Center at 3010 Western Ave, across from the Olympic Sculpture Park downtown.
UW’s Primate Research Center plays a major part in the torture and killing of primates every year. UW researchers have been confirmed in committing widespread violations of animal protection regulations.
These violations involve studies in which experimenters cut off the tops of monkeys’ skulls, insert electrodes into their brains, and implant wire coils in their eyes. The monkeys are then restrained in experimentation chairs, with their heads bolted in place so that they can’t move while experimenters track their eye movements.
They are kept hungry or thirsty much of the time so that they’ll comply during tests to get a sip of water or a bite of food.
We realized that with the Husky football homegames there’d be tons of people walking and driving right by UW’s Infant Primate Research Facility at the Magnuson Health Sciences Center.
With some of us coming all the way from Canada, Olympia, Lake Stevens, Renton and across the Montlake bridge, we gathered at the corner of NE Pacific St & Montlake Blvd. Holding signs depicting UW’s abuse of primates, we were the voices for sentient beings imprisoned in experimenters’ cages. As Jessica put it, “Our protest rocked!”
Afterward we all went out for delicious vegan food at Hillside Quickies, talking while we ate and laughing about Saturday Night Live, ’67 Mustangs, being a vegetarian in the Army in Iraq, and various nonsense and serious subjects alike. Who knew protesting animal cruelty could be this much fun? As one of us said of the day, “It was awesome meeting all of you guys and I had a blast for my first animal rights protest!”
UW is the most federally-funded animal research facility in the country, receiving over $270 million last year from NIH. The university holds captive over 16,000 animals, including 3,000 primates.
At the Primate Center, UW researchers cut holes into macaque monkeys’ skulls. Recording cylinders are attached so that electrodes may be fed directly into the brain. The monkeys are then confined to restraint chairs and forced to perform behavioral experiments. Juice or water is often used as a reward in these experiments. To make the experiments more effective the primates are deprived of fluids except when they are performing the experiments.
These experiments have been going on for decades with no conclusive results. In addition, these projects are very similar to one another, potentially duplicating experimental procedures.
A teenage kid with puffy, half-closed bloodshot eyes ambles up to our table. He spies the free stickers we have out.
“‘Whoa, wha–? Milk’s got pus in it? For real? But doesn’t milk taste, like, SO GOOD, dude? Heh heh, I don’t even CARE if it’s got pus in it, yo!”
The rest of his friends crowd around, looking at our literature. One guy takes a look at Bailee and me, then says, “But what do you do for protein? Is it really a myth that you can’t get enough protein if you don’t eat meat? I mean, you both look pretty healthy and everything.”
So that’s an opening to talk about how it’s really possible to care about animal suffering AND be happy and healthy at the same time. For these kids, maybe they’ve always thought they couldn’t do anything to help the tortured animals who die for their food. And maybe they’ve never met vegans who were happy to answer their questions about how they go about leaving factory farming behind.
Lots of people helped out at the NARN table at Hempfest. Rachel (above), Mark (left), Bryan (below), Patty, Carrie, Claudine, Rabbit, Andy, Jason, Andre, Bailee, and David handed out over a thousand Why Vegan? pamphlets. It was a real success in spreading the cruelty-free lifestyle message.
The Block Party was crammed with hipster kids in funked-out punker clothes, the girls Pat Benatar look-alikes and the guys cracking sardonic jokes to look cool and sophisticated for their friends. I’ve never seen so many aviator sunglasses in my life. New volunteer Fernando (photo below) from the Seattle Animal Rights Meetup and NARN members Jenn, Anna and David were rockin the scene on Broadway & Pine, handing out Veg Restaurant Guides to concert-goers. There were less “I like meat!” comments this time, and these primarily came from the girls for some reason.
Mostly what I heard were things like “SWEET! I totally NEED one of these!” which always makes ya feel good to be out there spreading the good news about a cruelty-free lifestyle. There were also a few surprised looks, but I think that’s because people didn’t see a connection between a music fest and veg restaurant guides. That’s alright–we still gave out a ton of ‘em. And I didn’t spot a single pamphlet thrown on the ground. Kids were folding them into the back pockets of their tight jeans, or even standing in line looking through the Why Vegan? pamphlets and lamenting the sad state of pigs in cages. It was a good day to be out there flyin’ the flag for animals.
My name is David, and I’m a new NARN Board member. I’m interested in outreaching people who want to activate the compassionate nature within them and do something effective to alleviate the institutionalized exploitation of animals. From my training as a social worker, I believe supporting people who have chosen a vegan way of life fosters a sense of community, and thereby encourages a blossoming of enthusiasm for animal rights activism. I know that this has been the case for my own development as an activist. It can be pretty intimidating to jump right into activism, especially if you are a new vegan struggling in isolation within a meat-eating society. My thrust within NARN is to provide people a way of turning compassion into action for suffering animals.
I’ve organized a new Seattle Animal Rights Meetup. It’s a group where animal rights activists & vegans can meet each other, exchange ideas, and learn how to end animal cruelty. If being vegan or animal rights is new to you, come learn what it’s all about and meet new compassionate friends! We get together monthly at a delicious vegan restaurant to discuss animal rights philosophy, activism, and current events. Everyone is welcome!
And the first discussion was great! Some good people who are brand new to the animal rights scene came out for delicious vegan food and compelling discussion, and we all made new compassionate friends along the way. 10 people, including Natalie, Elizabeth, Amber, Bryan, and Mark came. As Elizabeth said, “It was a relief to be surrounded by a group of people who understand my beliefs.” And Natalie said, “Welcoming, open people attended. Respectful sharing and conversation took place.” We tackled these questions:
♦ What can we do in a meat-eating society to alleviate the suffering of animals? What kinds of activism are most effective?
♥ When we say “animal rights,” what exactly do we mean? What’s the ultimate goal? Total abolition of all animal exploitation, or more humane slaughter?
♣ How do you personally keep from resenting the meat-eaters you know? How do you explain your stance against animal cruelty to friends and family?
On March 8, 2008, we all came out at lunchtime to bring attention to the atrocities the University of Washington carries out on captive monkeys.
Yep, that’s it.