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Hollywood protest targets carnivores

Vegans and vegetarians protesting meat-eating get lost in the scenery-chewing environment of Hollywood Boulevard.

October 07, 2013|By Nita Lelyveld
  • Jeni Haines, national campaign coordinator for Mercy for Animals, walks past a 10-foot inflatable puppy in a bun at the intersection of Hollywood Boulevard and Highland Avenue on Monday.
Jeni Haines, national campaign coordinator for Mercy for Animals, walks… (Mel Melcon / Los Angeles…)

The inflatable puppy in a hot dog bun was designed to turn heads and stop traffic.

And no doubt it would on so many other corners, in so many cities other than this one.

Even at Hollywood Boulevard and Highland Avenue, it was a bit odd to see a bunned, 10-foot-long dog lying on its side, with big black eyes and a belly striped with ketchup and mustard.

But was it any odder, really, than to walk through a web of Spider-Men — one rail-thin, one chubby, one wearing a bulging fanny pack?

Pink stars on the sidewalk, a T. rex on a rooftop.

So many things compete for tourists' attention on the boulevard.

So who could blame most on the bustling pavement, just before lunchtime Monday, for barely registering the protesting vegans and vegetarians?

They held signs featuring photos of animals in pairs: a kitten with a fluffy yellow chick, a puppy with a piglet.

"Why love one but eat the other? Choose Vegetarian," the signs said.

Popeye, in dirty white track pants, stumbled by, slurring something about spinach.

The self-proclaimed Queen of Darkness — in tiara, eye mask, black gown, black cape and elbow-length black lace gloves — paused just long enough to lecture.

"God made cows, deers, pigs, goats and lambs for food — and lambs are for sacrifice," she told the demonstrators in a tone that brooked no argument. Then she pointed to the blow-up puppy and said, "These guys are for pets."

The protest was organized by Mercy for Animals, whose dozen or so volunteers handed out pamphlets decrying the treatment of animals farmed for food.

"All animals care about their lives," the pamphlets said. "Meat is cruelty on your plate."

Nora Kramer, 37, who works for the group, brought her dog along.

Kramer said she had been vegan for 15 years — "ever since I found out how the animals were treated." Daiya, she said, was a rescue dog, named after a "really delicious" brand of vegan cheese.

"Eat cats!" shouted a tattooed young man in a tank top and shorts as he passed Kramer and her fellow protesters.

"A doggy," a little girl said, tugging on her mother's sleeve to get her attention.

On her first day in Los Angeles, Beijing resident Wenlu Xie made her way down the street, examining the sidewalk stars: Milburn Stone, Bobbie Vernon, William Primrose.

"I used to think I knew a lot about Hollywood. Then I read these names," said the 26-year-old English teacher, who wore a pair of Hello Kitty eyeglass frames without lenses.

Xie seemed equally intrigued by the protest. She posed in front of it for a souvenir picture.

The demonstrators, many of whom pointed their signs at passing cars and buses, appeared content with whatever attention they could get.

"You get furrowed eyebrows," said James Bergland, 68, of Highland Park, "but maybe a little something sinks in."

An hour passed. The protest ended. The puppy was deflated, the signs stacked.

The protesters walked off in various directions, quickly swallowed up in the swirl.

nita.lelyveld@latimes.com

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