For Lorraine Dooley, having a World Farm Animals Day event did not involve a march or a vigil outside of a slaughterhouse, but instead meant sharing the message of compassion for animals at her wedding reception via an animal rights table.
“It didn’t take away from the beauty of our wedding, and I felt better because I was able to share what I know with other people, without being oppressive or pushy,” said Lorraine.
I (Cindi) recently talked with Lorraine by phone about her reception and her experience with animal rights and veganism. One thing that stood out was that sharing her special day of celebration with the animals was a very natural extension of Lorraine’s personal and passionate style of activism.
And we may be talking with Lorraine again soon. Her husband, John a.k.a. “Dooley,” is a firefighter and is the chef for his crew at the station. I suggested Dooley check out Rip Esselstyn’s Engine2Diet and get back to us here at the FARM blog with his thoughts.
Cindi w/FARM: What materials were available on the animal rights table and where was it located?
LORRAINE: The table had tons of literature from different organizations, such as FARM and PETA. There were also Veg Starter Kits. I also purchased tens of copies of the books, Slaughterhouse by Gail Eisnitz and The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan to give away on the table. I wanted to provide one book that was a little lighter, as well as something pretty hard-hitting. We had a poster over the table to welcome people and to make sure they knew that they were free to take the materials with them. We put the table in a lounge area near the restrooms so people would be sure to pass by it! It was fairly low-key, yet still very effective.
FARM: How did the idea for the animal rights table come about?
LORRAINE: I initially suggested a vegan wedding, but I knew it was not likely to happen. Although my husband enjoys vegan food and prepares a lot of vegan meals; he still eats meat, but only from local farms we have thoroughly researched and personally visited. Many of the wedding guests were his and were also meat-eaters, so a vegan wedding was out. If I couldn’t have a vegan wedding, I wanted to at least be able to provide information and make more people aware of the issues involved with eating animal products. I knew I would have a lot of people’s attention that day and wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to help people get more informed.
FARM: How was the table received by your guests?
LORRAINE: It was a super big hit! All the books and literature were taken. I am hoping it impacted people’s lives, but don’t have specific feedback yet. Even if someone took a book with good intentions of reading it, but changed their mind and gave it away, hopefully it will still be valuable to someone else.
FARM: Did you encounter any resistance to the idea of having the table?
LORRAINE: No, my fiancé-husband understands the issues and was great about it. My mother, however, didn’t want me to do it at first, but then in the months leading up to the wedding, she actually became a vegan! She had always been a meat-loving Italian woman and had been very resistant to reading animal-rights materials I gave her. But one day I got her to sign a PETA petition about “pet” dogs and cats. Then I asked her, “what if your pet was a pig or a cow?” And she got it! Before I knew it she had not eaten any animal products in 3 weeks!
FARM: How did you become a vegan?
LORRAINE: Things began to change for me when I was 9 and went on a school field trip to a “Days of Yore” type of reenactment on a farm where they killed an animal, hung it up, and cut it up. I was so freaked out when I realized that this is where my meatballs come from. I immediately stopped eating everything I associated with an animal. This was huge considering I came from a European family where food and meals, like a 7-course Christmas Eve dinner, were a serious part of life. My grandfather was a professional chef and so he was a little upset when I became a vegetarian, but he still tried to accommodate me, and overall my family was pretty respectful. Dairy came later as I had not yet made that connection and didn’t realize that just because the animal didn’t die, did not mean there was not any suffering involved. I gave up dairy and have been vegan for about a year.
FARM: What other types of advocacy or activism do you participate in?
LORRAINE: I do a lot of one-on-one, advocacy for the animals. For example, I give away a lot of books and DVDs to friends and co-workers. Instead of loaning books out, I buy someone a copy and make them promise to pass it on when they are done. If I have lunch with a coworker and we end up talking about my vegan meal, they may find a book on their desk the next day! I participate in local rallies, write letters to the editors of magazines for PETA, and leave literature on the subway or in markets. Although ideally I would prefer for everyone to go vegan, when talking with people who are more insistent on eating meat, I especially talk with them about the realities of factory-farming, about doing research regarding the availability of humanely raised animals on local farms, and about being willing to pay a lot more for those products.
FARM: Do you have any suggestions for anyone else who might be interested in having an animal rights table at their wedding reception?
LORRAINE: Make as much available as you can, such as different kinds of literature and also veg starter kits. If you can purchase books to give away, that is also really effective. Mostly, don’t be afraid. Many of our guests were meat-eating Irish folks, firefighters and Marines, (like my husband) but it was still really well received!