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Mainstream Media Takes Notice of Vegheads

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

AR Activists Approach the Tipping Point: Mainstream Media Takes Notice
by Jasmin Singer

chicagotribune-newlogo2Last month, the Chicago Tribune magazine ran a feature story which discussed how animal rights activists are starting to get their message through. The provocative piece, which follows several demonstrations organized through Mercy for Animals, details the harsh treatment of animal abuse in factory-farms, circuses, and fur-farms. Of the 2.7 million readers of the Sunday issue of the Tribune, chances are many have not previously been exposed to these harsh realities. Following the personal stories of individual activists, this important article has the heart and ethos to effectively and truthfully reach the masses, and lacks the more common stereotypes and eye-rolls often associated with AR activists. Bottom line: Mainstream media is finally paying attention.

nytlogo153x23Even the New York Times is intrigued. Within the past six months, they have published two articles focusing on the importance and upsurge of veganism. On the front inside page of the style section, Uncruel Beauty discusses vegan-friendly fashions found in both cruelty-free specialty boutiques MooShoes and Organic Avenue as well as chain stores that are incorporating animal-free fashion into their products (like Whole Foods and Rampage. The article states that the purchasing power of this eco-conscious population is “paramount,” and that the market for vegan goods has jumped “63.5 percent between 2000 and 2005.”

h_vctotwTwo weeks after the Times published that article, the inside page of the food section featured an article on vegan chef Isa Chandra Moskowitz, whose latest cookbook, Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World, has sold more than 50,000 copies. Strict Vegan Ethics, Frosted With Hedonism discusses how a culinary movement has become a “progressive political force.”

Veggie cuisine also has found its way into Gourmet Magazine, which until recently has mainly featured meat-dishes, and is now featuring monthly vegetarian main courses. This month’s issue of Gourmet actually takes it one step beyond the human health effects of eating meat, delving into the more important animal issues, and providing an in-depth investigative report on the life of a chicken.

Perhaps this newfound positive media coverage-as opposed to the rampant negative rep we’ve had as a result of, as Peter Singer says in Animal Liberation, the “tiny minority of more obnoxious types” who were “simply played up by the media…”-is due to the relentless vigor of those handing out the leaflets, holding the signs, bringing vegan dishes to family picnics, running the sanctuaries, and not taking no for an answer. Samuel Adams said, “It does not require a majority to prevail, but rather, an irate tireless minority, keen to set brushfires in people’s minds.”

For many animal rights activists, the degree to which the mainstream media is paying attention is, if nothing else, validating and inspiring. In a movement that is oftentimes quickly and conveniently overlooked by the majority, or even dangerously misunderstood, claiming our spot on the front pages of newspapers and magazines is well-deserved, and about damn time.

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