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Members of the national animal rights organization Mercy For Animals will host a public demonstration this weekend, featuring a massive 10-foot-long inflatable puppy, crammed inside a hamburger bun. This demonstration advocates the rights of farm animals and pushes people toward adopting a vegetarian lifestyle. KSMU’s Rebekah Clark has more.
The demonstration aims to spark debate over the difference between household pets and what some call food.
The headquarters of this organization is based in Los Angeles, California. Representatives of the organization, including Phil Letten, are coming to Springfield to be a part of the demonstration.
“We feel that the people of Springfield have a right to know where their food comes from, and how the animals are treated so we can all make informed decisions. So we will be at the main square downtown with a massive inflatable puppy inside of a hamburger bun to get across our message that the only difference between the animals we call meals and the animals we consider pets is our treatment of them.”
Letten also advocates adopting a vegetarian lifestyle, saying that there are many health benefits.
“Being vegetarian a lot of times will decrease our risk of heart disease, certain types of cancer and stroke.”
He also believes that there are many jobs available to fuel the local economy in what he calls the “plant based foods” industry. And, he says, those jobs don’t require cruelty to animals.
However, some local farmers say they care deeply for the treatment of their livestock. Ame Hunter and her husband own Providence Farms near Seymour, which houses chickens, cattle and pigs. Hunter says all of their livestock is treated with respect and fed a healthy diet. She says she understands what this group is advocating for, saying that there are industrial companies that feed their livestock antibiotics and abuse their animals. Then there are farmers like her family.
“There’s what we do on our farm where our cows on grass, our pigs are out on grass, our chickens are out. They have happy lives; they’re very well taken care of. We don’t give medication to any of our animals. Our pigs, we don’t put rings in their noses, we don’t confine them inside, they are physically doing well. Which means, their meat is healthy for us.”
Hunter says that she and her husband care for their animals based on how they should be raised, not what equals the most profit. She says there are things they take into consideration, like feeding their cows grass instead of grain, that physically help the animals be the healthiest they can be. Though she doesn’t advocate the vegetarian lifestyle, she says it’s important for a consumer to know where their food comes from.
“I think everyone should ‘Where is my food coming from?’ ‘How is this being produced?’ Because when you go to the grocery store, you see all these happy pictures that look like, this came from a happy little family farm, so people just assume that’s true without actually tracing it back to see where it actually came from.”
Hunter says the consumer should visit the farmer's market and talk with farmers about the livestock they raise.
The demonstration on the Downtown Square tomorrow, beginning at 11 a.m.
For KSMU News, I’m Rebekah Clark.