In advance of the Fourth of July holiday, the Animal Rights Foundation of Florida set up shop in downtown Orlando on Friday to promote veganism by providing free food samples and also to protest the treatment of animals in the meat industry.
Members from the foundation were on the corner of Church Street and Orange Avenue, providing samples of vegan hot dogs and vegan Boca burgers. Bryan Wilson, Central Florida coordinator for the Animal Rights Foundation of Florida, said that being vegan is good for many reasons.
“It’s kinder for the environment, and it’s definitely nicer on the animals,” he said. “With more than nine billion animals being killed every year for food production, it’s unnecessary. We live happier diets, we live healthier diets, by adopting a vegan diet. Nothing has to die.”
Wilson said they host events like this one in advance of every major holiday in hopes of providing exposure to vegan alternatives for individuals. The AARF argues that modern factory farming creates cruelty to animals on a range of fronts, such as in Florida’s dairy industry and Florida’s egg industry. One example cited by them is that Florida’s heat makes life difficult for dairy cows, with the hot and wet conditions of the state creating health problems such as mastitis. The AARF said this is a common but serious infection of the mammary gland.
The AARF said cows are confined to buildings with fans in order to fight the heat, but this creates other health problems for the cows, such as having to stand on concrete and a lack of exercise. They argue that this creates common feet and leg injuries for the cows.
For those that find a vegan diet to be too expensive, Wilson argues the opposite.
“It can be done expensive, it can be done cheaper. Just like eating a meat-based diet can be done expensive, it can be done cheaply,” he said. “There have been studies done that show that a vegetarian diet is actually cheaper if you don’t buy all of the pre-processed foods.”
He also argues the plenty of protein can be found in vegan diets, despite the criticism that says otherwise.
“You get plenty of protein from the grains, from beans,” he said. “Many vegetable sources have a certain amount of protein, and because of the amount of protein that your standard American diet has in it, that’s why we have so many kidney problems, that’s why we have so many heart problems, is because we’re putting too much protein in our diet.”
Keila Villageas, a junior psychology major at UCF, was providing vegan samples on Friday as a member of the AARF. She said her love of animals drew her to the organization.
“I’m against animal cruelty and I don’t agree with how factory farms are treating animals,” she said. “Of course, I want to be healthy, but it’s more so for the animals. I just don’t like the way they’re treated.”
Rebecca Liebman, an office manager for a law firm, tried the products provided, and said she might consider eating them more regularly if the texture of the products were more like meat. She cited the example of the vegan Boca burger she tried.
“It doesn’t taste like meat. If you could find a way to get the texture to be more like meat, because beef is chewy and that sort of disintegrates in your mouth,” she said. “For me it’s all about texture. The flavor was good, but the texture wasn’t quite right.”
Jaclyn Mitchell, a sophomore psychology major at Seminole State College of Florida, also tried the products, but said she wouldn’t consider going vegan due to how she was raised.
“I’ve been raised on hunting and fishing and deer meat,” she said. “My life revolves around hunting, so there’s not much I can do about switching to vegan.”
For more information on the Animal Rights Foundation of Florida, visit www.animalrightsflorida.org.