Photo by John Harper, NYC
You know the booth Lucy sits behind in the Peanuts strip, doling out advice? Well, one of the wacky geniuses up at Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary thought, Why not do the same thing, but instead of advertising that the doctor is in, invite people to ask a vegan?
So a couple of months ago, Joy Askew and I headed to Union Square Park and set up a booth with the words “Ask a Vegan” emblazoned across the top. We covered the table with animal rights & veg literature and Woodstock FAS brochures, and we waited. Finally people came over and started to, well, ask us questions (one of the most popular being, “So what should I ask you?”). And we’ve been at it ever since, every other Saturday, weather permitting.
So far we’ve had an interesting array of visitors. Already converted veg*ns make a beeline for the booth, happy to see us proselytizing plant products. The conspiracy theorists love to chat us up (one even tried to get us to pass out flyers about the Bilderberg Group). And of course, some people just want to argue or ask really insightful questions like, “What’s your favorite type of hot dog?” We’ve even gotten some free hugs (I’m a slight germophobe and could have done without mine, particularly when the swine flu scare was at its worst). But I’m happy to say that a fair amount of folks have been genuinely interested in what we have to say and how they can begin to transition to an animal-free diet. I even created a couple of fact sheets in response to the most frequently asked questions.
And as is inevitable in New York, two weeks ago we had our first brush with celebrity. Well, it was Rachael Ray. Anyway, RR was doing a short interview in the park, and after she finished, she and her husband, John, and their dog, Isaboo, started to walk past us. Joy couldn’t contain herself and called out, “Rachael! Ask a vegan!” Rachael looked perplexed and came over to shake Joy’s hand, but as soon as she saw what our sign said, she took Isaboo and ran. John stayed and talked shop with Joy for a while, since they’re both musicians and have worked with some of the same people. But that was it. They were gone. I guess it’s not just the Food Network that’s afraid of vegans!
Joy and I are usually in the park for about four hours from 12:30 on. Look for us this Saturday (if the rain holds off) on the 14th Street side of Union Square Park, across from Whole Foods and inland from the green market and street vendors. And bring your burning questions!