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The 14' x 48' billboard located at the intersection of Irving Park Road and Western Avenue features an image of an adorable puppy and a cute piglet side by side and asks the question, "Why Love One But Eat The Other?" Motorists and residents are encouraged to visit the ChicagoVeg website for information about adopting a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle. The month-long billboard campaign coincides with World Vegan Day on November 1 and World Vegan Month which is celebrated every November. Over the course of a month the billboard accrues more than 465,000 views.
ChicagoVeg, the billboard's sponsor, is a social and educational organization whose mission is to support Chicago's vegetarians/vegans and to educate the public about the advantages of a plant-based diet. The group's Executive Director, Vadim Metta, explains the idea of comparing pigs to dogs: "These cultural norms which were formed hundreds, maybe thousands of years in the past are based on perceptions that just don't hold up under the weight of new scientific knowledge. Dogs and pigs aren't that different according to the research. Pigs are sentient beings just like dogs or cats, and shouldn't be treated differently."
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Metta cites research like that of Dr. Donald Broom, Professor Emeritus at Cambridge University, that found a pig's cognitive abilities can be greater than a dog's and are actually quite close to that of a 3-year old human child. Evidence indicates that pigs are playful, social animals with strong family bonds between mother and offspring similar to a mother dog and her puppies.
However, statistics quantify the vast contrast in perception when it comes to the animals Americans love and the ones that are killed. In 2018, Americans spent more than $70 billion to care for their pets, which includes 90 million dogs and 94 million cats. Yet in that same time period, 730 million pigs were slaughtered to produce food products and other goods. Metta adds, "The horror of their slaughter is just the endpoint of their lifelong suffering and abuse. We hope people will see the billboard and will question their old perceptions."
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As part of their community outreach efforts, ChicagoVeg hosts numerous social events each month throughout the city and suburbs. Coming up at the end of November is the annual Turkey-Free Thanksgiving Dinner, as well as free cooking classes/demos/tastings. For more information or to RSVP, go to: https://meetup.com/ChicagoVeg
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