CHICAGO — Officials from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals are planning to protest Sunday's Cochon555 event with a billboard featuring the group's president and co-founder, Ingrid Newkirk, posing naked next to slaughtered pigs.
A billboard with a naked Newkirk, 67, is set to be installed at the intersection of West Grand and North Union as soon as Wednesday, PETA spokesman Ben Williamson said, adding a mobile billboard truck with another naked Newkirk will be circling the Cochon555 event Sunday.
Newkirk on Monday said she hopes the billboard "strikes a nerve in people or makes them think twice about eating pigs."
"I'm horrified that pigs, who are gentle and sensitive, are slaughtered so casually," Newkirk said. "Our hope is that people try soy bacon or fakin bacon, and give some thought that there is every taste you could ever want from an animal without having to commit such a violent act that hurts a living being."
A nationwide tour, Cochon555 features five chefs cooking several dishes from five locally raised pigs. Tickets for the event, which begins at 4 p.m. and will take place in the Morgan Manufacturing District, start at $125.
In an emailed statement sent Wednesday afternoon, Communications Director for Cochon555 Robert McKeown wrote: "Cochon555’s mission is to support small and family farms that raise animals humanely and responsibly. Cochon555 believes in the choice of the consumer. Cochon555 believes in educating individuals so they can make choices in the most informed way possible. Cochon555 fully supports the right of any person to choose not to eat meat, but we also asks others to respect the rights of consumers who choose to enjoy safe, honest meats that have been raised with purpose and passion by family farmers.”
Newkirk has never posed naked for a billboard but has protested naked a few times to protest fur — including once lying in a coffin in Times Square. She expects what she called "trolls" to make fun of her for posing naked as she nears her 70th birthday.
"I'm going to get my fair share, but nothing compared to what the pigs get," she said.