Veggie Pride Parade Wows Los Angeles
Over 850 boisterous vegetarians, many in costume, took to the streets on Sunday April 26 to celebrate the Los Angeles community's first Veggie Pride Parade. Chanting phrases like, "Be Veg, Go Green, Save the Planet," the marchers streamed along Venice and Washington Boulevards, two main arteries in the West Los Angeles-Culver City area, in their five-kilometer walk to celebrate the vegetarian lifestyle.
Coordinating the event was Animal Acres, the Los Angeles farmed animal sanctuary and compassionate living center. The inspiration was Vegetarians Against Animal Exploitation in France celebrating its 9th parade in 2009. New York vegetarians held a similar parade in 2008 and will have another in 2009.
The five-hour celebration's focal point was the parking lot of Culver Events in Culver City where participants registered, heard speakers, ate food, and listened to music as part of the day's program. Before and after the two-hour march, participants were treated to spirited musical sounds from Crazy Aunt Mary, Truth on Earth, and Monogroove.
Speaking to the audience prior to the walk, Lorri Houston, founder of Animal Acres and organizer of the day's activities, urged, "Vegetarians everywhere to unite." Houston told the crowd, "Eating meat is criminal. It's killing millions of people each year. Eating meat is bad karma. All our leading spiritual philosophers have recognized our moral responsibility."
She smiled as she gave the #1 reason for going vegetarian: " We all look good. Face it; we are pretty to look at." Following her brief address, Houston took the lead position as the colorful group marched through the streets of West Los Angeles and Culver City.
Along the parade route people in the neighborhood stared at paraders dressed as fruits, vegetables, trees, cows, ducks, and dogs. As passing cars honked at the marchers, they responded with chants like, "What do we want? A vegan world. When do we want it? Now." Between pauses at traffic signals other marchers shouted, "Two-four-six-eight, get the meat off your plate!" Throughout the march there were no incidents. Police officers stationed along the route even gave the group a thumbs up.
Following the parade Karen Dawn, author of Thanking the Monkey, Rethinking the Way We Treat Animals, addressed the crowd. Dawn reiterated some of the statements in her book emphasizing man's inhumane treatment of animals. Closing the program was Rory Freedman, co-author of bestselling Skinny Bitch with sales over two million copies.
Although there were numerous participants in costume, the award for best costume of the day went to the twin Strawberry Girls, Donna Ashton and Jennifer Robles. Ashton also received top honors for being the largest pledge donor to Animal Acres.
There were no signs of hunger in the crowd as attendees scarfed up vegan food offerings provided by One World Vegetarian Cuisine, Vegan Factory, Samosa House, Vegan Plate, Leaf Cuisine, Perfected Foods, and C'est La V Bakeshop.
Organizations lending their support to the event were PeTA, United Poultry Concerns, Supreme Master TV, and Kids Make a Difference.
Houston is already making plans for next year, but recognizes that a larger venue is needed to handle the crowd. She feels that more than the 30 volunteers will be essential, and she may consider requesting a permit for street closure to accommodate the large number of marchers she anticipates.
"Nobody expected the numbers," she said proudly. "It totally put a smile on everybody's face."
Events Coordinator Katy Arth said, "Everything was beyond our expectations." She praised the volunteers for their efforts in creating banners, the parade website, tee shirts, and performing other duties to make the event happen.
Anyone interested in helping to plan next year's Veggie Pride can contact Animal Acres at http://www.animalacres.org