Animal rights group encourages vegan lifestyle

Vic Sjodin (right) of Mercy For Animals and Dr. Paul Rouseau of MUSC talk with passers by on King Street Friday about the benefits of a vegan lifestyle.

Jim Wallace of West Ashley paused on King Street to chat Friday with animals rights activists passing out fliers that urged people to quit eating meat.

In Wallace’s case, they were preaching to the choir.

“Nobody ate meat any more than I did,” Wallace said.

High cholesterol, though, forced him to make some dietary changes. He wound up going vegetarian and hasn’t looked back.

Wallace, 67, said he doesn’t miss animal protein a bit.

“I don’t even want it. It’s a habit,” he said.

Mercy For Animals hopes that more people will follow his lead.

“People are horrified to learn how animals are treated on factory farms,” said Phil Letten, coordinator of the organization’s campaign for a vegan lifestyle.

Letten described cows and pigs raised inhumanely in cramped quarters where they can not move about. He talked about how they are cruelly slaughtered.

From 7:45 to 8:45 p.m. today, the group will show “Farm to Fridge,” a 12-minute video that takes viewers inside industrial pig, poultry, dairy and fish farms as well as slaughter plants. The viewing will be on three 80-inch screens on a retrofitted truck at King and Wentworth streets.

Dr. Paul Rousseau of the Medical University of South Carolina handed out fliers to sidewalk strollers to draw attention to the issue. He said there is pretty convincing evidence that a vegan diet is healthier.

“I think it (meat) is contributing to disease, certainly,” he said.

Rousseau said animals on factory farms have feelings.

“I just find myself not able to eat meat,” he said.