Holding signs depicting graphic photos of abused chickens in factory farm cages and dressed in HAZMAT uniforms, vegan activists spent the lunch hour -- as promised -- holding up signs that read "RECALL ALL EGGS" outside the Albertsons at McKinney and Lemmon. Mercy for Animals, led by Texas campaign coordinator Eddie Garza -- once known as our own City of Ate's Veggie Guy -- brought out about 20 protesters in response to the massive recall of a half-billion eggs that may be tainted with salmonella.
A sign on the Albertsons door advised shoppers that the recalled Wright Country Eggs, which are sold at the chain, were only in California, and that Texas stores weren't affected. (Well, "effected," actually, but who can be expected to obey rules of grammar when under seige by vegans wielding signs?) Garza said the protest was "symbolic," and that this store was meant to "represent the Albertsons" where eggs had been recalled. Mostly, said Garza, his group wants people to consider, ya know, not eating any animal products ever again.
"Our message is for consumers to adopt a vegan diet because it's the best way to protect animals from cruelty and reduce their health risks from factory farming," Garza told me. For what it's worth, it certainly sounds like the owner of Wright County, Jack DeCoster, is playing a little fast and loose with the rules when it comes to his chickens.
Actually, he sounds like a Grade-A rotten egg: His farms have repeatedly been cited for animal cruelty violations and in 2002, he settled a $1.5 million lawsuit wherein female employees accused supervisors of sexual harassment and rape. In 1997, DeCoster paid $2 million in fines after officials described conditions as being no better than a sweatshop.
So yeah, if sweatshops and sexual assault are par for the course at the place, we're guessing the chickens aren't exactly getting the royal treatment. (Though, it should be said, factory farming generally is a pretty gruesome practice. Feels like a good time to link to Urban Acres, doesn't it?)
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I asked Garza if he really thought standing out on the corner with horrible photos of chickens was going to change anyone's mind about veganism, and he went quiet for several seconds, nodded slowly, then reiterated that veganism is the "best choice" for protecting animals.