Chickens can purr like cats, pigs love a good belly rub, and cows are just like giant puppies.
So says Corunna native Tosha Lobsinger, an animal rights activist and founder of Sarnia Vegfest.
A belief that animals are individuals is a driver behind the region’s first and only summer festival dedicated to a life free of animal products.
The free, third annual event returns July 7 to Canatara Park with discussions, film screenings, new recipes and samplings of animal-free cuisine.
Last year’s event drew about 5,000 people and many of them were not vegetarians, Lobsinger said.
“Everyone’s welcome,” she said. “It’s not just for vegans by any means.”
The food vendors include Globally Local, a London-based vegan fast-food restaurant that makes burgers and other “comfort food” even staunch carnivores enjoy, she said.
“I think a lot of people are afraid to try them. Just giving people an opportunity to come out and try (plant-based food) is a form of activism for me.”
Now living in Vancouver, Lobsinger, 31, has participated in dozens of protests in support of protecting the welfare of animals.
The final straw for her was a five-minute video clip recorded in a slaughterhouse she watched in 2013, she said.
“I kind of felt like I’d been lied too. We all kind of know animals are being hurt, but until you see the footage it doesn’t really feel real. It’s easier to block that from your thought process.”
She divested her house of animal products and within two years was actively fighting for animal rights.
She’s involved with several activist groups and last summer joined about 25 other protestors in a peaceful demonstration at a turkey farm.
Lobsinger said they had a productive conversation with the farmer, who raises thousand of turkeys each year for slaughter. All except one, however, which the farmer gave to the group and which was taken to a nearby farm sanctuary to live out its days.
Lobsinger said the vegan movement doesn’t have to be judgmental about carnivores and farmers. What interests her is educating the public about animal rights and sustainability, she said.
“If it’s better for the planet, better for health, and better for the animals, than why not?”
IF YOU GO
WHEN: July 7th, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
WHERE: Canatara Park
INFO: All welcome, admission free. A Vegfest cruise on the Duc d’Orleans is scheduled for July 8. For more, about the cruise and festival visit www.sarniavegfest.com