Wake Up Weekend highlights animal advocacy and vegan food


Photo courtesy calvin.edu

This Friday and Saturday a succession of events, including talks, demonstrations and meals, will highlight animal advocacy and vegan cooking.

Together, the events, which will take place on Calvin’s campus and 106 South Division, are a part of Wake Up Weekend, which according to its website is “an annual grassroots celebration of animal-friendly advocacy, art, food, education, music, philosophy and religion.”

The weekend is sponsored by a host of organizations, including the Calvin College Office for Multicultural Affairs, Calvin Students for Compassionate Living, the Calvin College Office of Community Engagement, Bartertown, CVLT PIZZA and Vegan Grand Rapids

Among the many headliners, Jill Fritz, Paul Shapiro, Charles Camosy and Steve McMullen will speak on topics including banning wolf hunting in Michigan and the connection between the pro-life and pro-animal movements. There will also be an art exhibit, a cooking workshop with noted vegan blogger and Calvin alumnae Sarah McMinn, a potluck on Friday and a chili cook-off on Saturday (both vegan).

Friday night at 7:30 p.m. in the Commons Annex Lecture Hall, Charles Camosy, a professor of theology at Fordham University known for his interaction with Peter Singer on the connection between faith and morality, will give the 7th annual Animals and the Kingdom of God Lecture on the similarities between the pro-life and pro-animal movements.

“It is clear that Christians are called to live out our lives of non-violence and concern for the marginalized and vulnerable in all circumstances,” said Camosy. “And it is difficult to think of a marginalized population subject to more violence than non-human animals.”

Preceding him at 3 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. are Jill Fritz and Paul Shapiro, of the Humane Society of the United States.

Shapiro, the vice president for farm animal protection, echoes Camosy’s sentiments as he discusses how he became involved in animal advocacy.

“Whether it was on the playground between kids or it was in human-animal relations, the ‘might makes right’ mentality was so offensive to me that I knew from a fairly young age that I wanted to defend those who couldn’t defend themselves,” said Shapiro, “and of course, there’s hardly anyone with less power in society than animals.”

Shapiro’s talk will focus on the legislative and cultural progress made by the animal advocacy movement.

“Our laws are a reflection of our societal values,” he said, “and it’s critical that our legal code ensures protection from abuse for animals who stand at our mercy.”

Jill Fritz, Michigan senior state director, will be discussing the recent lifting of a hunting ban on wolves in Michigan and efforts to replace the hunting ban, making it once again illegal to hunt wolves in Michigan.

Fritz describes deciding to become an animal advocate in the late 1980s after reading a pamphlet on the fur trade.

“I’ll never forget that it described how foxes on fur farms are killed by electrocution — I’ll spare you further details, but it’s horrific,” she said. “It was a total epiphany moment.”

Since then, she has been pushing changes in legislation across the country, including in Michigan. “Here in Michigan, we’re fortunate to have some very strong animal cruelty laws and in fact the strongest animal fighting law in the country, but we do have a ways to go on issues like wildlife protection,” she said. “So I hope that people will learn how important it is for all of us to speak up for wildlife!”

On Saturday at 1:30 p.m. at 106 S. Division, after brunch at Bartertown and CVLT PIZZA, Sarah McMinn, a Calvin grad and author of the vegan cooking blog The Sweet Life, will be hosting a cooking workshop on making classic recipes vegan.

At 3 p.m., Calvin economics professor Steve McMullen will be giving a talk on the relationship between capitalism and consumerism and violence to animals in modern society, in which he proposes that animal advocacy needs to understand the economics behind modern industries.

“We can be far more effective advocates if we understand well the economic context of animal industries,” he said. “At the same time, I think economists need to think seriously about the hard ethical questions that arise within market economies.”

Although McMullen is critical of the way capitalism and consumerism currently result in dire consequences for animals, he sees a solution within capitalism.

“What I advise is conscious consumption — ideally vegan diets and lifestyle — and political support for animal welfare initiatives and regulation,” he said. “I want to help people envision a better capitalism, and then move toward it.”

The weekend also includes a talk by Bryant Terry, noted author of “Afro-Vegan: Farm-Fresh African, Caribbean, and Southern Flavors Remixed”, on Thursday at 7:30 p.m.

The weekend will culminate with a vegan chili cook-off at 5 p.m. at 106 S. Division and a reception for an art exhibit showcasing animal artifacts curated by Calvin art professor Adam Wolpa and GVSU art professor Brett Colley.