The sidewalk is public

I read with interest your recent story about animal-rights advocates showing up at the sidewalk grilling of a pig’s corpse, with a banner asking passersby to please think before they eat.

Certainly the Davids were within their constitutional rights to be there on that public sidewalk, speaking up for the voiceless victims, the animals. And what more appropriate place to reach meat-eaters than at a public event where flesh is being fired up and peddled to pedestrians?

It’s not surprising that some folks reportedly expressed discomfort, no doubt resulting from the connection being made to their own complicity in the senseless torture and suffering of sentient beings—and all for a mere palate preference.

History reveals that social change necessarily involves the repeated shaking up of comfort levels of the masses. Just as so many at the time were most certainly uncomfortable when Rosa Parks boldly refused to give up her seat on that bus in this country’s all-too-recent past, those who were being asked to consider the most miserable conditions endured by the tortured pig whose body they were devouring at that sidewalk barbecue could have understandably experienced such uneasiness.

Peace and quiet are two very different entities. To achieve true peace often requires anything but silence. It’s been said that one’s own silence always benefits the perpetrator of the abuse, and never the victim. Just as Martin Luther King Jr. used his powerful voice to rally folks to civil disobedience in Alabama, and just as women raised their voices on the streets demanding the right to vote, so too must we, as advocates of compassion, speak up for the sake of peace. For nonhuman animals, more so than any other oppressed group, remain the most downtrodden of all, as they are truly the voiceless. Find out more at

— Kayla Rae Worden

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10 thoughts on “The sidewalk is public

  1. donaldoro

    i find it disgusting (and indicative of rascism) when vegetarian activists quote and compare themselves to people like Dr. King, Rosa Parks, et al.

    i know plenty of people who are vegan/vegetarian who are not self-rightious, pompous egotists. they recognize that their dietary choice is just that- a DIETary choice. to glorify eating tofu and carrots over ‘meat’ is to have a very egotistical, small view of the world.

    with the amount of injustice in the world, if not just our own front yards, i think it is rediculous that these food-activists think that they are like some kind of modern day ghandi. to be a peace activist is to show by example. not shoving your own theory and dogma down someone else’s throat.

    so before you use phrases like ‘pig carcass”, ask yourself how much of what you use and enjoy on a daily bases is supplied to you directly from a petrol-based economy made affordable by war and genocide. (cars, food, clothes, computers, this newspaper, your tofu). i imagine that in the process of cleaning up your own mess, you will gain real compassion for other people’s own choices and compromises in daily life.

    (and Martin luther king, jr. and rosa parks were not vegetarian, so how is that a useful comparison, anyway?)

    find out more by googling “Soy is unhealthy” (the UTNE Reader just ran a huge story on the multi-billions dollar soy industry)

    or reading Sally Fallon’s incredibly well-researched and useful book “Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats.” They carry it at maloprops, as well as barns and noble.

    oh, and truly, nothing makes me want to go out and enjoy some locally raised, hormone-free pig-carcass and cow-flesh more than some self-rightious hypocrites tarnishing the name of true revolutionaries.

  2. velouria

    1) Veganism is way, WAY more than a dietary choice. As for the vegans who mind their own business and don’t care what others eat, well, good for them, but some of us can’t idly sit by while billions of animals are being bred and slaughtered unnecessarily. I would have never become vegan (and I doubt many others would have) if it weren’t for vegan activists, and I am eternally grateful to them.

    2) Dr. King and Rosa Parks spoke out against what they believed to be injustice in our society toward a particular group. How is that much different from what veg*n activists are doing? And how in the WORLD do you consider it racist to create a comparison there?

    3) We can’t be perfect. Some of us can’t give up our cars and still be able to work at jobs to pay our rent, etc. But veganism is something that most of us CAN do with just a little initial effort, plus it makes a huge impact on both animal suffering and the environment. What have you done? What compromises have you made?

    4) Regardless of whether or not it is “dangerous”, you don’t have to eat soy, much less tofu, to be vegan. Some vegans are even allergic to soy.

  3. donaldoro

    again, neither rosa parks or MLK were vegetarian or vegan, so the comparison seems silly, at the least. the charge of rascism is based on the assumption that you are white, and therefore privelidged, and using that privelidge to co-opt a civil rights stance that does not apply. Mbesides, Martin Luther King Jr. loved ribs, so, seriously, please explain to me how the comparison is in any way accurate

    in addition, i challenge you, or any other vegetarian to see where the majority of your food comes from. even vegans and vegetarians eat food produced in a petroleum-heavy agricultural setting. unless you own a farm, gather and wildcraft your own food, you are dependant upon a food distribution system that is inherantly destructive, immoral, and unsustainable, wether you food has eyes or not.

    so really, i think your problem isnt with meat, per se, but with industrial food production. but thats probably harder to attack, because it doesnt make you feel like a modern day rosa parks.

    you see, that is the problem that i have (as do many others) with people like the david’s, or yourself. to protest against meat is to not properly highlight the issues. you see, many people DO need to eat meat. it is a medical fact. although some people can subsists on an entirely animal-free diet, many can not. and many who currently do, are only able to because of the years of animal-product consumption they have in their past that allows them live off of the stores of energy, fat, and nutrients they have saved over the years. after a few more years without any animal products, most will eventually fall off the wagon.

    the real issue here, and where you would most likely find far broader support, is to be for finding alternatives to Industrialized Agriculture in all it’s forms. I, personally, see very little difference between factory-farmed pig from the piedmont, raised with hormones and antibiotics and slaughtered in incredibly inhumane ways, and a giant, 40 acre ‘organic’ carrot farm in california, where the carrots are raised in a mono-culture setting, and ‘weeded’ with giant, petroleum-intensive tractors or underpaid migrant labor. they are both equally environmentally destructive.

    on the other hand, people who hunt or raise their own meat in a sustainable setting are probably FAR more environmentally responsable than either of the examples above.

    so your real argument needs to be against Industrial, Petroleum-rich Agriculture, and a population and culture that is generally over-fed anyway. You will probably find far more support for this stance, than an ill-conceived, ill-informed pseudo-scientific stance abut meat ‘being bad for you”

  4. Orbit DVD

    Someone told me a quote when people start cheapening the name of Parks and King. “The only person worthy of being compared to Rosa Parks stood in front of tank in Bejing.” Nuff said.


  5. velouria

    It doesn’t MATTER if Rosa Parks or Dr. King were vegetarian. Why would it? Although the issues are different, the principle is the same.

    I’m quite aware of where much of my food comes from, and with every trip to the grocery store I become a little more conscious of it. I try to buy as much local, organic, unwrapped produce as I can. Unfortunately, I work an hourly-wage job that pays my bills with a little extra spending cash and therefore have to compromise on some things. I am guilty of purchasing some convenience foods: some tempeh encased in plastic, a bag of chips, or fruit bars made in Washington. Eventually, I would love to buy the majority of my food from farmer’s markets and cook from scratch when possible. I can’t speak for all veg*ns. I know some of them are perfectly happy with processed meat analogues and don’t give a second thought to the environmental implications of their food choices. But a lot of us do, or at least are on are way to that understanding, and try to change their shopping habits accordingly.

    I would like to see your evidence that “many people do need to eat meat” and that those who stop eating meat are sustained by the “stores of energy, fat, and nutrients they have saved over the years,” because honestly, I think this is terribly misinformed. And, for the sake of intelligent argument, please don’t reference the Weston A. Price Foundation again.

    Of course I’m worried about industrialized agriculture, our reliance on petroleum, and the environmental damage all this causes (a huge way to oppose this is practicing mindful veganism… even locally-raised, “humanely” slaughtered–let’s ignore the oxymoron–animals still drain resources… that is, the feed produced for these animals uses a huge amount of land, water, fertilizer, etc. that could be used instead to more directly produce food for humans) However, (and again, I can’t speak for all veg*ns) but I’m not looking for an issue where I can find “the broadest support”. I’m concerned about justice for animals, which you seem to almost entirely ignore in your arguments. Did you even read the original letter?

    Rereading your response, I’m starting to think not. Neither I nor the original author of the letter mentioned anything about “meat ‘being bad for you'” as you mention. Or anything about the environmental effects of various types of agriculture. And, maybe I’m a little sleepy this morning, but I STILL don’t understand your accusations of racism.

    And BTW, my problem IS with meat.

  6. donaldoro

    im not sure what the Weston A price foundation is, but i have never referenced it.

    i DID reference Sally Fallon’s book “Nourishing Traditions” you really might want to browse though it. in it, you can find the ‘scientific background’ you request.

    don’t know where you got the other reference, though.

    marc from orbit’s point states it all well-enough.

    and your sentimentalizing ‘animal welfare’ si part of what annoys me. just because your food has a face, does not mean it is any less of an aware being than your ‘vegan’ food. trust me, in a few years, when your body is screaming for animal fats, and your avocadoes from california, or your olive oil from europe are no longer affordable or effective, you will be *hehe* eating your words.

    and, unless you are a black person who has struggled in the civil rights movement in some way, your comparison makes you a Racist. i dont need to repeat myself anymore. if you dont get the inference, thats your own ignorance of what the institution of Racism truly is. White People co-opting the message and imagery of a Black Person’s struggle.


  7. donaldoro

    so the Planes Indians were wrong in having a diet that consisted mainly of buffalo? isnt it ironic that European invaders killed all these animals that were the cornerstone of most first nation people’s diets, and now we grow corn and soy on the very same land?

  8. velouria

    Sally Fallon is the president of the WAPF. I’ve read enough nonsense on their site to bypass her book, thanks.

    “just because your food has a face, does not mean it is any less of an aware being than your ‘vegan’ food.” Are you trying to say that vegetables have feelings, or what? ’cause that’s what I get from this.

    And no, I’m not going to criticize the Plains Indians or any other natives who had to hunt to get by, but you know what, this just isn’t the case anymore. I’m pretty sure there are still some people that are only able to sustain themselves by hunting and killing animals for food, but for the rest of us–the majority of us–yeah, I think it’s wrong.

    And I guess all the people who have been thriving on a vegan diet for years and years are lying or cheating, right?

    Lastly, I’ll agree to disagree on the whole racist thing if you will.

  9. donaldoro


    those poor Planes Indians who “had to hunt to get by.” the poor things obviously werent as advanced and evolved as Europeans to grow monoculture crops and import food from around the globe, much less be enlightened enough to know that eating the animals is bad.
    it’s a good thing we have “evolved” to the point where we dont have to eat meat anymore. not like those silly, backwards, un-evolved indians.

  10. sonjia johnson

    Your premise that Native Peoples “had to hunt to get by” is alarming in it’s ignorance and implied cultural racism. Native Nations lived in North America for thousands of years previous to Europeans stumbling into the continent. And part of that abundant, blessed life they enjoyed was the harvesting of food and medicine from the land, provided to them by their Creator. Very much of this Abundance was, for most, one or two particular animals; the Elk, Buffalo, or Deer. This kept the People fed, clothed, and sheltered, as well as providing many hand tools, instruments, etc.
    Today, the descendants of those European invaders’ diets are kept from them through a complex system of agriculture and Petroleum politics, where it is somehow “easier” to fell forests for homes and process dead dinosaurs into clothes, shoes, toys, tires, fuel etc.
    Vegetarian and Vegan diets are all based on The Food Pyramid, a U.S. Government Construct from the early 20th century, that allowed for yearly government surpluses to be consumed by the public (ex. too much grain this year in the U.S? Up the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for bread this year. Too much Dairy this year? Up the RDA for Dairy.) In fact, much of modern Western notions of a healthy diet come from this idea of the “Food Pyramid”, with an emphasis on grains at the base of the pyramid. Constructed with finances in mind.
    In Contrast, Native Diets are diets that have been utilized for centuries, if not Millennia (or were before European Agriculture took over) by peoples living in harmony with the cycles of nature, and the scarcities and abundances that come with such a lifestyle. The protein and fat gained from one hunt would normally be enough to feed a large group perhaps for an entire season. Compare this to the inneficiency of the Typical American farm-model, where otherwise abundant land is clearcut, often burned, then continually plowed in order to pull nutrients from the soil, all in order to produce food to ship off to somewhere else. Native peoples used animals and held a delicate balance on this Continent for thousands of years. Europeans have lived primarily on agriculture on this continent for less than 500 years and they have essentially depleted the nutrients from most farmable land. Which seems like a more ‘sustainable’ model?
    To imply that Native Peoples were not advanced enough or intelligent enough to maintain a Vegetarian, plant-based diet is foolish and, yes, racist. Cultural Racism. Thinking Your way of doing things, or in this case, your sub-culture’s way of doing things, is better, more advanced, or more “moral” than another’s.
    A Plant-based diet has always been, and will continue to be, a diet for the privelidged class of an Agriculturally based society. Not Sustainable or Healthy, merely fashionable.
    Whether or not you eat meat products, from whatever source, please do not assume that Native People’s diets are not as advanced, informed, or intelligent as yours, only because you have your culture’s “Science” on your side.

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