(Ashlee Rezin/for RedEye )
Chicago's vegetarians are following in the footsteps of the gay community by hosting their first annual "Veggie Pride Parade" at noon this Saturday, June 2.
The parade, which leaves from the corner of Columbus Drive and Balbo Ave. and travels throughout the loop hopes to celebrate the vegetarian lifestyle and raise awareness about healthier, more ethically conscious diets.
A similar parade has been held annually in Paris since 2001, and the trend slowly spread across Europe over the last decade until it reached the United States via the Veggie Pride Parade held in New York City in 2008.
In 2009, Los Angeles held its first parade, and earlier this year thirty-five-year-old Jessica Stowe of Rogers Park and a group of fellow vegetarians in the city decided it was time for Chicago to join the party.
"The main idea in initiating this event is that we have seen other cities having veggie pride parades, and Chicago being a fairly vegetarian-friendly city, we thought we should have a parade to showcase that," Stowe said. "A parade is a great way to celebrate our cause and show everybody that this is important."
Stowe expects between 500 and 1,000 attendees this year, but she hopes attendance will continue to grow as the parade becomes a recognized annual event.
She said the typical American diet is high in cholesterol and promotes unethical farming practices, and she hopes the parade can help change some people's minds about proper diets.
For more information about how to get involved, go to chicago.veggiepride.com.