Wil, Claudine, Bryan, Rabbit, Anna- Lynne, Andre, Michael, Rachel and David helped spread the message of cruelty-free living Labor Day weekend at Bumber-shoot. Trillions (well it seemed like it) of people packed themselves into Seattle Center to listen to Stone Temple Pilots. And, well, I guess a few people came to see the other bands, too. We gave out lots of Why Vegan? pamphlets and Veg Restaurant Guides, and we got lots of “Thanks!/Perfect!/Hey cool!”‘s from people. Tabling was real easy and smooth, and we got more members, too.
One guy said he doesn’t eat hardly any meat…except for bacon:
“Dude, I LOOOOOOOVE bacon! I mean, if they made cigarettes out of bacon, I would totally NOT quit smoking next month!”
So, okay, that’s a challenge: find this guy a tasty vegan bacon alternative. I promised him I’d look. I mean, if bacon is the only thing holding him back from 1) helping to save the planet, 2) avoiding cancer, and 3) saving a lot of poor pigs’ skins, then by gum let’s point him in the direction of some faux bacon! If you have any ideas, tell us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks!
We all thought it’d be much worse. Protesting a bull-riding event at the rodeo, we figured we were gonna get spit on and shouted at. I expected I’d at least get something thrown at me. My mom simply said sadly, “Well, I hope you don’t get beat-up, is all.”
It was a beautiful day on the ferry over to Bremerton. Outside the entrance to the Xtreme Bulls event at the Kitsap Rodeo, a couple of cops came over to us: “Hi–how many of you are coming today? Just you three? Well, we heard you were coming today, so thought we’d come over and say hi. If you need anything, or if anybody gives you a hard time, we’ll be right over there.”
Rachel got out her sign saying, “www.rodeocruelty.com,” I held one with “Don’t Support Animal Cruelty,” and Patty worked her crowd magic calling out, “Free Rodeo Reality FLY-errrrrrs! Get yer free FLYYY-errrrrrs!” Though it did rain hard on us, and most people who passed by chuckled or mumbled something to themselves, without a doubt every single person who attended the bull-riding contest that day saw us and read our signs exhorting them to think about the animals they were about to see. Even if all we did was plant little seeds of doubt in people’s minds about the “entertainment” they came to see that day, then we were successful in bringing attention to animal suffering.
A tall lanky guy in a cowboy hat makes a beeline for us before his girlfriend steers him away. He blurts out, “You’re missin’ the f-‘n point!” (Rachel leans over and mutters to me, “Yeah, I guess we are, buddy.”)
A dad says to his 2-year-old daughter who he’s pushing along in a stroller, “Let’s support animal cruelty, Sally! Yes, let’s go watch some animal cruelty.” (What must his daughter think of this?)
Some young kids slouch by and one yells out, “Go back to Woodstock, if you can’t kill anything, ya HIPPIES!” (Rachel couldn’t stop laughing at this one.)
Truth is, the huge size and fierce appearance of a bull does not make him impervious to pain. Bulls receive the worst abuse from electric shocking in rodeos. Cattle are particularly sensitive to electricity, and rodeo animal abusers use that to their advantage to make calm, docile bulls appear to be wild killers.
If these supposedly “mean” animals were “born to buck,” they wouldn’t have tormenting straps tightened around their flanks, or get blasted with 5,000 volts of electricity from a Power-Mite electric prod to a confined bull. In rodeos the prods are often used on animals in pens who are unable to move or even turn around. The rodeo people use the pain of the prod to force the animals to “perform” — to run or buck against their nature and beyond their natural abilities.
Rodeos victimize and abuse animals for profit. These animals are trucked around the country in intensely hot trailers, kicked, hit, and shocked in their pens, then forced to act wild, run and buck through pain, fear and torment.
Our most energetic, lively discussion yet, while we all ate vegan pizza at Pizza Pi. We learned that the University of Washington’s Regional Primate Research Center (WRPRC) has more than one animal experimentation facility in Seattle, and even owns a breeding facility in Indonesia that captures monkeys from the wild, all at taxpayer expense. Their baby monkey research lab sits near Magnuson Park, and their primate virology lab faces the Olympic Sculpture Park. UW has been genetically engineering monkeys to be more susceptible to getting particular diseases for their experiments. We also made plans for building public awareness and media coverage of these abuses.
U.W.’s Washington Regional Primate Research Center (WRPRC) is located just across the street from the Olympic Sculpture Park downtown. It plays a major part in the torture and killing of primates every year. 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 to their skulls, 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.
We shared a blustery day with the pigs, dogs, cats, and llama at Pigs Peace Sanctuary.
Little baby piglet Emma Sue, who was saved from being a factory farmed pig, is growing bigger by the day, galloping around and making barking noises. Maybe it’s because she and pug dog Tibbet have taken to each other like Tom Sawyer & Huck Finn, running around the sanctuary creating mischief.
Maria, Emma, and I cleared out old straw from the barn, while Margaret and Jason scooped up poop in the fields. After a huge country potluck provided by Judy, she led us on a walk through the forest, with all the dogs in tow, to the sanctuary’s two cabins, and we took turns riding the zip line. All the dogs took a splash in the pigs’ hidden forest pond. I can’t wait to go back there.