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Memorializing Farmed Animals

World Day for Farmed Animals is coming up in a little over two weeks, on October 2nd. The observance was conceived in 1983 and celebrated throughout the world each year since then to memorialize the billions of animals slaughtered for food. Farm Animal Rights Movement has led the way. Here’s how we got it going and how you can take part.

The Concept

In the early 1980s, I heard an apocryphal tale of a barbaric tribe with a gruesome penal code. Depending on the gravity of the offense, the offender could be beaten, lose a limb, or even be killed. In case of an extreme offense, the offender’s dead body could be actually consumed, to remove all traces of their existence.

It struck me as exceptionally barbaric that we would inflict such extreme punishment on cows, pigs, turkeys, chickens, and other sentient animals who had caused us no harm whatever. I knew back then that the struggle to stop the use of animals for food would take many years, perhaps beyond my own lifetime. But there was one small step that we could take right away.

By 1983, we arranged the very first observance of World Farm Animals Day (later renamed to World Day for Farmed Animals). The purpose was to mourn and memorialize the world-wide suffering and slaughter of billions of innocent sentient animals for human gluttony. The date selected was October 2nd – birth date of Mahatma Gandhi, world’s foremost champion of farmed animals.

Arranging Public Displays

That first year, we parked a moving van with a public address system on Washington’s National Mall and staged a mock funeral for farmed animals, with PeTA’s Ingrid Newkirk addressing a small assembly of local activists. Indeed, many early observances involved mock funeral processions, with participants dressed in black and bearing a black cardboard coffin.

In subsequent years, we staged funeral processions, die-ins, mock slaughter lines, and other dramatic events in front of the White House and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). In 1987, I spent 24 hours fasting in a veal crate behind the White House. Some years later one of our activists did this for 100 hours in front of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Signage has always played an important role. In 1997, we had four teams pasting hundreds of posters on traffic light switch boxes throughout downtown DC. In other years, we would hold up huge signs along commuter routes during rush hours or hang home-painted banners on highway overpasses. Once we had a budget, we were able to contract for outdoor billboards and bus cards with pictures of farmed animals proclaiming “Be Kind to Animals – Don’t Eat Them” or “Save Some Lives – Theirs and Yours.”

Discomforting the USDA

The U.S. Department of Agriculture, located on the National Mall in Washington has always been our favorite target for displays and vigils. After being ignored for several years, we decided to try and get their attention.

In 1988, eight of us, including a mom with her six-year-old, staged a sit-in in the office of the Secretary of Agriculture. It got us a meeting with his chief deputy, where we laid out our case. A couple of years later, five of us blocked the main entrance to the USDA headquarters building.

Visiting Slaughterhouses

In 1986, we decided to venture outside our Washington comfort zone and visit a sheep slaughterhouse in nearby Timberville, VA. When we arrived, we found that the slaughterhouse was struck by union workers. We invited them to a picnic at a nearby public park, where we shared vegan food and our views on killing animals for food.

Three years later, we traveled to a pig slaughterhouse in Smithfield, VA, where we staged an-all-night vigil, then blocked trucks loaded with pigs from entering the plant. We went back there three more times. At the 2015 blockade, I was almost run over, as I sat on the ground in front of the truck.

On the West Coast, we staged the first ever vigil at the Farmer John pig slaughterhouse in the Vernon neighborhood of Los Angeles. That vigil began with an assembly at the Vernon police station and a march through Vernon to the slaughterhouse. Access to a live auction in nearby Petaluma was blocked by local activists on several occasions.

Generating World-Wide Observances

Several other countries have participated actively in World Day for Farmed Animals through the years. Israeli activists arranged impressive marches and public “die-ins.” Indian groups staged massive lectures, marches, and bicycle rallies. European groups had rows of activists holding photos of abused farmed animals and minimally clad “blood”-splattered human bodies in giant cellophane-covered “meat trays.”

Expanding the Observance Through The Internet

With the advent of the Internet at the turn of the century, World Day for Farmed Animals acquired an impressive website.  The website lists a number of options for local observances. It also cites the devastating impacts of animal agriculture on animals, on public health, and on our environment, including global warming.  

This year, the website has been thoroughly revised to ensure that all options are COVID-compliant. It offers professionally designed memes that can be shared on social media platforms, as well as a list of educational films that showcase the truth about animal abuse. Local activists are encouraged to “fast against slaughter” and to post a photo of themselves with a sign, or a brief video, explaining why they are fasting on October 2nd

Co-sponsors of this year’s observance include Animal Save, Jewish Veg, Happy Cow, and Switch4Good.

We invite all who care about animals to use our website’s resources to demonstrate their concern to their friends and co-workers.

 

Disclaimer 
The views expressed here are of the author and do not necessarily
represent the views of the Farm Animal Rights Movement

6 thoughts on “Latest Post”

  1. The role of the big corporate nonprofits seems to be to pump industry, and i don’t think animal rights advocates need to generally get involved with that particular form of consumer advocacy which tends to validate animal use in order to have cosy relationships with the animal industry, such as you would find with MfA, HSUS or THL. Through their “welfare” advocacy they no doubt have an open door to push plant based options through different avenues, but they’re all about “pragmatism” and “doing the most good” according to their own utilitarian calculations, short term thinking, and where HSUS led “philanthropy” is positioning the most $$.

    As for having animal rights as a “top priority”, i don’t think so. It should be a focus, but we also need to take care to consider other social justice movements, particularly as animal rights is human directed, so we don’t want to make mistakes around promoting or incorporating mainstream ideas of social dominance and speciesism, when we are supposed to be opposing it, “effectively”.

    1. Animal rights is the top priority, what’s the matter with you. Name me another social justice movement faced with over 100 billion murders every year.

      1. Top priority. The species (humans) with all the rights suffers least than all the other species denied any and all rights and stripped of moral standing besides! Can it get any worse? Not!

    2. I think you all sentient individuals should be given equal consideration as far as pain and suffering is concerned. I prioritise campaigning against animal farming as it causes the biggest suffering on planet earth.

  2. The gauntlet has been thrown. Rise to the occasion to discuss the impending changes to our food supply because of Veganism.

  3. Dr Alex Hershaft
    Hello , it’s my first time on your site. MY goal in my life time is to change slaughterhouses . So they have to stop . I can’t believe what I see. I think about it all the time. I have gone to different houses and paid off driver to allow me to take pigs before they get to house. ! There has to be something to change this..I believe if you put it out in the universe it can happen. . How people can look at themselves at home after a long day of killing . Is beyond me. I really wish it didn’t cross my mind all the time . WE DONT NEED TO ALLOW THIS TO KEEP GOING ON. I DONT CARE HOW MUCH MONEY THEY MAKE. I HAVE GOD ON My Side.

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