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In the Pipeline: Opinions pour in on 'veganized' mural

November 26, 2012|By Chris Epting
  • Saeed Danosian starts work on the original mural in 1992.
Saeed Danosian starts work on the original mural in 1992. (Courtesy SEPI DANOSIAN )

Two weeks ago I wrote about the mural that once covered a large liquor store wall facing the McDonald's near the intersection of Edinger Avenue and Edwards Street. It depicted all of the most iconic McDonald's characters.

I wrote about how the McDonald's manager discovered one morning that the word "vegan" had been painted in large block letters over a large portion of the mural.

As I lamented, this painting was not some crass commercial statement. It was a gift from Saeed Danosian, an Iranian immigrant who came to America to become an artist.

Within a day or so of the story being posted online, it took on a life of its own. It was picked up by dozens of news outlets, local and national, and TV news crews reported from the site. I received lots of feedback. And there were layers of chatter across the social networks.

Much of the feedback I read was from vegans, who decried this sort of tactic to gain attention. As I wrote, this is not about veganism. I have plenty of friends who are vegan, and I respect their right to be vegans as they respect mine to eat meat. The majority of their comments expressed anger with the graffiti for the simple fact that you can't just go around destroying or modifying — or however you want to describe it — things that happen to offend you.

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Several other vegan activists wrote and expressed that while they believe in vehemently promoting their cause, they don't see this sort of action as being effective because it tends to turn more people against you. Agreed.

Some activists suggested that perhaps it was a non-vegan doing the dirty work in the hopes of creating a backlash against them, but that sounds like a long shot to me.

Perhaps most revealing were the thoughts, emails and comments from the more extreme activists. Not that I didn't know they existed, but the eye-opener was just how public some of them are in proclaiming not just their obvious, abject hatred of essentially any restaurant that serves meat, but how they justify snuffing out messages that run counter to how they think.

Yes, it is a minority. But it is a vocal and active minority that seems to have a fairly casual view of what constitutes vandalism. An online post from a discussion about the mural: "We have an AR [Animal Rights] squad that goes around vandalizing local restaurants. Spray painting 'meat is murder,' 'remove the cruelty from your plate' etc. Usually on the front walls of restaurants."

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