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Vegan potluck

Sophia Eristen, 24, of Orlando brought her potbelly pig, Rhys, to the 11th Annual Independence for Animals Potluck.

Sophia Eristen, 24, of Orlando brought her potbelly pig, Rhys, to the 11th Annual Independence for Animals Potluck.

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Hot dogs and burgers sizzled from the miniature grill — a July 4 tradition — but there was one catch — Everything served at this community potluck was vegan.

Animal Rights Foundation of Florida laid down its pickets for one day to celebrate its 11th annual Independence for Animals Potluck on July 3 at Mead Garden. The public was welcome, as long as they didn't bring animal products to eat.

Bryan Wilson, co-coordinator of ARFF, said the name of the event is a play on words.

"It's Independence Day but also independence from any animal products. We are celebrating the birth of this nation, which gives us our freedom of speech, freedom of assembly and the ability to organize something with change."

Carla Wilson, co-coordinator of ARFF, said the event was an educational opportunity to show non-vegetarians or newly converted vegetarians how delicious vegan food can be minus the cruelty.

Maria Corrales, 48, from Apopka came to the potluck for that very reason. She said her 8-year-old daughter recently turned vegetarian, and she wanted to learn more about the vegetarian lifestyle and recipes she could prepare for her daughter.

Bianca Corrales said she became vegetarian because she felt bad for the animals and she wanted to be healthier and not eat food that was pumped with hormones.

Not wanting to kill animals was the common trend among potluck-goers for their reason for going vegetarian or vegan.

"I'm one of those people who cannot love one animal and eat another," Christopher Murphy, founder of Superior Mutts said. "The minute I started getting into dogs, 13-15 years ago, someone asked me 'Would you let someone treat your dog the way they do a pig in a factory farm?' and I was like, 'no.'" After that, Murphy said he gave up meat immediately.

Other signature dishes included coleslaw, baked beans, apple pie, cup cakes and cookies.

Wilson said there are no statistics that show the slaughter rates of animals increased around holidays, but he said he knows people purchase more meat items around the holiday seasons.

"Typically, throughout one year, it's estimated that one million animals die every hour for food production," Wilson said. "That is where the most animals suffer is in food production."

In the past, ARFF has been responsible for getting the city of Winter Park to cancel plans that would have allowed horse-drawn carriage rides. On July 4, ARFF members chained themselves to doghouses for eight hours to protest Seminole County not having an anti-tethering ordinance. This chain-off event took place at the Sanford Paw Park.