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Long walk to highlight factory farming horrors

A tent ‘embassy’ has been set up on the lawns of Australia’s Parliament House to highlight the plight of factory-farmed animals, and will be followed by a 500-kilometre consciousness-raising walk. Peter Hackney interviews the woman behind it, Jodi Ruckley.

19 May 2011

Jodi Ruckley was 13 years old when she first made the connection.

“My Grandma gave me an animal liberation magazine which described in detail what factory-farmed animals went through. It allowed me to make the connection between the animals on my plate and the family pets, and from that moment on I just couldn’t eat meat anymore.”

But not everyone has progressive grandparents – and Western society is addicted to meat, milk and eggs to the point where Australia alone houses an estimated one billion factory-farmed animals.

One thousand million captive animals to provide food for just 22 million humans.

These statistics are why Ruckley and a group of determined animal activists are currently camped outside Australia’s Parliament House in Canberra, shivering through the capital’s coldest autumn in years.

embassyThe Calling For Change animal tent ‘embassy’ on the lawns of Parliament House is a beacon reminding the politicians inside of the enormous suffering so many sentient beings endure to fill Australian stomachs.

The embassy will be there each day until Sunday, May 22. The following day, the 500 kilometre Walk For Freedom will strike out from Canberra for Ruckley’s adopted hometown of Byron Bay in Northern NSW.

Along the way, the activists will give away free vegan food, conduct silent protests near abattoirs and factory farms, and raise awareness about the plight of factory-farmed animals.

“Our main aim is for people to get to know the food they eat,” says Ruckley, a vegan of 11 years’ standing and the Founding Director of Our Place on Earth.

“We want to highlight the fact that pigs are very similar to dogs in that they’re incredibly intelligent, loyal and friendly.

“Chickens form friendships and social hierarchies – that’s literally where the term ‘pecking order’ comes from – and they love and care for their young.

“Cows form life-long friendships with each other and have demonstrated the ability to play games and even exhibit vanity.

“All these animals are sentient beings and have feelings and families. Most people recognise this when it comes to dogs and cats but don’t recognise that it also applies to the animals they eat.”

The walking tour will make this very point when it visits numerous cities and towns between Canberra and Byron Bay, including Sydney, Newcastle and Coffs Harbour, omitting only highway stretches that are too dangerous to walk along.

“If we can make even a few people consider the reality of the food they’re eating, we’ve had a win,” says Ruckley.

Anyone wanting to join the group will be welcomed with open arms, but there’s also room for people and their companion animals to join the walk for short stints, according to their capabilities.

“For example, someone living in Kempsey could join us for a small part of the walk, for just a kilometre or two as we go through town,” says Ruckley.

Interested parties are encouraged to visit the Walk For Freedom web page for more information.

“And people who want to help but who can’t participate in the walk can assist by sponsoring one of the walkers or by making a donation,” says Ruckley.

“It’s a pretty big venture, so we’re grateful for all the support we can get.”

But in the meantime, Ruckley and her band of animal activists need to survive the Canberra cold.

“We’ve got some people dressed in some full-body pig, cow and chicken costumes – and right about now, I’d say they’re the lucky ones,” she laughs.

The ‘Calling for Change’ tent embassy can be visited at the Parliament Lawn, Parliament House, Canberra each day until Sunday, May 22.

The ‘Walk For Freedom’ commences in Canberra on Monday, May 23, visiting various towns and cities over the following 42 days, including Goulburn, Sydney, Newcastle and Ballina, before concluding in Byron Bay. Contact Nigel (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or 0467 556 509) if you would like to be one of the walkers.

For more information on Our Place on Earth, contact Jodi Ruckley: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or 0416 142 019).

Image: Animal Embassy Day 1. Pictured: Nigel Muecke (chicken), Our Place on Earth'founder Jodi Buckley, with Wayne,  Karen Vincent (pig) with son Noah Cornock, 1, and Jessica Ferry (cow); Lefki Pavlidis (back) with Shiney, on the lawns of Parliament House, Canberra. Photo courtesy of Our Place on Earth.






0 #1 Chantal Teague 2011-06-10 07:07
Tears are in my eyes every time I read these stories of people who do these amazing things. I see the world as dark and evil, then I hear of the people who actually care so much that they go out of their way. Thank you!
I'm opening my eyes more and more every day. I'm now vegan and I'm finding it tough going just knowing how much animal content I was still eating as a vegetarian.
Animals are not commodities. They are to be respected, protected and loved. I'm so grateful that others love them like I do. Thank you.

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