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César Chávez dogs inspire vegetarianism

César Chávez, the famous civil rights leader and labor organizer who did so much for farm workers, was also a vegetarian. Chavez was a genuinely religious and spiritual figure as well as a community organizer and social entrepreneur, a champion of nonviolent social change, and a crusader for the environment. He also deeply loved his two German Shepherds.

The German Shepherds provided security for Chávez and his family at La Paz, the United Farm Workers’ headquarters in Keene, Calif. They went almost everywhere with him, including on the road when he traveled by car. He credited them with deepening his belief that without exception, all lives are valuable.

The dogs even helped deepen his commitment to vegetarianism. As he said, “I became a vegetarian after realizing that animals feel afraid, cold, hungry and unhappy like we do. I feel very deeply about vegetarianism and the animal kingdom. It was my dog Boycott who led me to question the right of humans to eat other sentient beings. The basis for peace is respecting all creatures.”

Chávez also was committed to animal rights. Chavez said. “Kindness and compassion towards all living beings is a mark of a civilized society… “Racism, economic deprival, dog fighting and cock fighting, bullfighting, and rodeos are all cut from the same defective fabric: violence.”