WLU hosts animal rights day

Free vegan and vegetarian food was handed out as part of the event. (Heather Davidson)

Free vegan and vegetarian food was handed out as part of the event. (Heather Davidson)

Waterloo’s two universities saw the first ever Animal Rights Day event come to their campuses on Thursday last week. Animal Rights Day Waterloo 2013 was sponsored by the University of Waterloo and Wilfrid Laurier University and featured a variety of opportunities for the community to learn about issues surrounding animal rights.

“It’s really to bring awareness…even if you don’t care about animals; for reasons of personal health and the environment, this is an issue that should concern you,” said Bob Clark, the creator of Animal Rights Day Waterloo.

Throughout the day, information was delivered about the traditional concerns of overusing animals in food, clothing, laboratory testing and the entertainment industry.

Additionally, information was provided concerning more recent health and environmental impacts of the mass consumption and farming of animals for dietary purposes.

The Paul Martin Centre at Laurier was host to a variety of booths belonging  to external clubs for animal rights, vegan/vegetarian lifestyle and more which distributed brochures and free snacks.

“The food was great!” said Laurier student Vanessa Christner. “It really opened my eyes to vegetarian and vegan delicacies.”

The literature being distributed came in the form of brochures, pamphlets and booklets that discussed the wide variety of animal rights-related issues brought forth by the participating organizations.

“We have 17 different organizations with great literature, like Mercy for Animals and their Vegetarian Starter Kit,” explained Clark.

Although some of the booths had items for sale, the event focused on being an entirely free event designed to educate those interested in learning more by interacting with the organizations present and obtaining some free literature on animal rights topics.

Throughout the day until 5:30 p.m., Laurier students and other guests could attend any of the four free panel discussions concerning emissions impact on the planet based on dietary choices, the health benefits of veganism, the legal rights of animals and the recognition of animal rights.

Later, at Hagey Hall at the University of Waterloo, the event continued with a performance by the Laurier String Quartet in the Humanities Theatre before the main guest speaker, Jo-Anne McArthur, presented on the human relationship with animals.

Throughout the week before Oct. 3, documentary screenings of relevant films were available to the public, including Forks Over Knives, Blackfish and Maximum Tolerated Dose. These films set the stage for the event that would discuss the health benefits of vegetarian/vegan eating, the abuse of animals used in the entertainment industry and the ethical debates of using animals in testing facilities.

Although Animal Rights Day Waterloo is not currently planned to be an annual event, Clark and his team of volunteers were extremely pleased with how the day went overall. Upwards of 700 guests attended the Paul Martin Centre at Laurier for the booths alone, with 1,800 free vegan snacks and even more vegan meals served over the course of the day.

Clark stated that the Animal Rights Day was a successful event and met the ultimate goals of bringing awareness of animal rights issues to the Waterloo community at no cost to attendees.

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