G-20 Pittsburgh Vegan Waffle Summit Follow-Up

October 13, 2009

We had planned to serve free vegan peace waffles on Thursday, September 24, during the G-20 economic summit in Pittsburgh. We’re still unclear as to why it was unable to happen.

Our plan was to set up a small vegan waffle serving station alongside several groups who were to hold demonstrations and workshops on environmental and climate-related issues. Alongside the vegan waffles, we planned to distribute some literature about the environmental benefits of plant-based diets and lifestyles to some of the activists. Seemed simple enough.

On Wednesday, the city announced that the park where they had recently granted permits for the environmental activism groups would be closed by the Secret Service that evening through Thursday. One of the main events of the G-20 was to occur at a secured site adjacent to the park, in a building chosen partially due to its recent ultra-green renovations. The environmental groups reported soon thereafter that their tents, tables, and chairs were confiscated.

We were thus without a location, audience, waffle iron energy source, or time to formulate another plan. Without knowing all the behind-the-scenes details and decision making parameters, one can only speculate why the above events occurred.

During the G-20, thousands of individuals voiced their opinions peacefully, without any issues. However, some of the negative interactions that did occur reinforced certain vegan and vegetarian philosophical underpinnings. For example, our behavior and attitudes toward one another as human beings often parallel our behavior and attitudes toward other animals. The cyclists and pedestrians in this widely disseminated video are being prodded along like factory farm cows; a female student reacts violently after being struck from behind with police batons at least twice, and is arrested. Even slaughtering experts acknowledge that herding behavior creates great stress in other animals, so it should be no surprise that it also creates great stress for people.

YouTube and the G-Infinity Indymedia site include various videos and commentary on other “human herding” interactions during the G-20 in Pittsburgh.

The idea of twenty of the world’s important leaders coming to town probably placed great weight upon mid-level leaders’ shoulders–and as anyone with a background in leadership or management knows, stress is often passed down the line. There were also a few cases where demonstrators openly taunted and provoked police, and caused property damage, which is asking for a reaction. However, this doesn’t justify the cases where non-confrontational individuals were assaulted. For everyone’s sake, I hope that better training and preparation occur on both sides the next time one of these meetings occurs. Many leaders, demonstrators, and law enforcers did a wonderful job, but it takes only a bit of blood to spoil the pot of veggie stew. Or the First Amendment.

In the meantime, we can still choose to eat peacefully and sustainably.

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