November is designated as World Vegan Month primarily because in 1994, Louise Wallis, then President of the Vegan Society UK, established Nov. 1 as World Vegan Day to commemorate its 50th anniversary. No one really knew the exact date in November when the Vegan Society was founded so she picked the 1st of November because she liked the idea of it coinciding with Samhain (Gaelic festival marking the end of harvest season) and Halloween, which are times of feasting and celebration.
World Vegan Month is a month-long celebration of a health-, environment-, and animal-friendly vegan diet. Many activists are using this time of heightened awareness to promote veganism to the public. Of the events I’ve looked into there seems to be a trend of using humans to symbolize food, the goal being to help onlookers empathize with the animals they eat.
In what seems to be an annual event, the founder of People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), Ingrid E Newkirk, wills her body to be “barbecued” on a charcoal grill accompanied by a sign that reads, “All animals have the same body parts. Go Vegan!”
A similar demonstration in Belfast featured an almost naked model slathered in BBQ sauce with a side of fresh greens on a plate with the words “Try to relate to who’s on your plate”.
Yesterday in NYC, what appeared to be a slaughterhouse truck with stuffed animals peeking and squealing through open slats drove through the streets of the Meatpacking District. The truck is the work of international graffti artist and political activist Banksy. Entitled “Sirens of the Lambs”, the piece will be touring the rest of the city during the next two weeks, according to his website.
Personally I think as a form of artwork this is a clever way to introduce people to the inhumane way animals are treated in most of the food industry. For children on the street the substitution of stuffed animals is appropriate. Kids are naturally inquisitive and probably asked about the truck.
Obviously this is a creative piece only meant to be a subtle reminder of a not-so-pleasant reality. It’s not meant to invade people’s lives or shock people with graphic photos, there are other trucks for that, though I’m sure many people are critiquing the truck for not doing any significant form of activism. Even YouTube users are commenting on the supposed “ineffectiveness” of the truck, as if its only goal should be to turn people vegetarian on the spot. Honestly, the truck doesn’t seem to be doing any harm so even if it’s just raising awareness about the maltreatment of animals that’s fine by me!