Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Walk for Farm Animals: New York City

I walked. To take a stand against factory farming, a black mark on the heart and soul of humankind. To support the animals who live at Farm Sanctuary's Watkins Glen, New York and Orland, California shelters, who have endured the horrors of this very system. To spread the good word about a veg-lifestyle.

Upon seeing the large crowd in Central Park for Farm Sanctuary's Walk for Farm Animals (one of many walks nationwide), I thought of Michael Stipe's words in R.E.M.'s call to activism in "These Days."

"All the people gather...We are young despite the years. We are concern. We are hope despite times. Take this joy wherever you go."

This chicken and cow put a smile on the faces of the people they encountered, including my own.

President and Co-Founder Gene Baur's "Farm Sanctuary: Changing Hearts and Minds About Animals in Food" dispels all those childhood visions we have of happy cows, chickens and pigs out on open field with the red barn. Very few of the 10 billion land animals killed for food know such conditions. He introduces us to some of the animals Farm Sanctuary has rescued over the years.

I have a November birthday, and when my family asks what I want, my answer is always the same: a turkey from Farm Sanctuary! Learn about the Adopt-A-Turkey program, where for $30, you can sponsor a turkey that lives at their shelters. Sign their petition urging President Obama to send the turkeys pardoned each year at the White House to Farm Sanctuary.

I was so coveting the raffle prizes, including this one which included a $50 gift certificate to Blossom Cafe, one of my favorite vegan restaurants in New York City, which serves the best vegan chocolate cake, ever (in my humble opinion). Didn't win.

Every walker got an apple for breakfast, and assorted bagged lunches. Mine included a breakfast empanada from V-Spot Cafe. A humane way to refuel after our walk.

Eating chocolate for charity, oh yes! Rescue Chocolate donates all of its net profits to animal rescue organizations around the country, and its featured charity in October was Farm Sanctuary. Worth every penny of the $5 cost per bar. I wish I had some now...

Dapper Joshua Katcher (check out The Discerning Brute) was a featured speaker as was Leanne Mai-ly Hilgart from Vaute Coture, a super-stylish vegan fashion house. She also designed our walk t-shirts that simply but eloquently stated, "Compassion for All." Why do so many show compassion for cats and dogs, but choose to ignore the horrors of factory farming simply because it doesn't suit them?

I'm just saying, this man, NBA champion John Salley: a vegan! He was the shining New York City walk marshal.

Gene Baur spoke about in our world there is so much beyond our control. We can't stop the war. The state of our economy can leave us feeling helpless. But we can control our food choices.

Today is election day, and I hope every citizen of age is going to vote. I'll be enthusiastically voting at the booth, but I'll continue to vote against factory farming whenever I can when I sit down to eat, and hope you will too. No one can make ideal food choices all the time (I certainly don't), but we can strive for them as much as we can.

I vote: for family farms, clean waterways and air, animal and worker rights, and a better world than what exists now. Farm Sanctuary is helping us get to that better world, and I thank them.

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