It’s going to make people hate you and everything you stand for
By Jessica Berget, Opinions Editor
Recently, I’ve noticed a number of animal rights demonstrations happening all around world. Just this month, protesters have gathered in Vancouver, Fort Langley, New Jersey, and London to challenge and persuade people to give up their use of animal products. As much as I respect people’s right to peacefully rally for their beliefs, there is one aspect that comes up in these events that I can’t stand: When they show videos and images of animals being abused or slaughtered.
Showing content like this is not going to make people change their lifestyle or stop eating meat. No one wants to see footage of a cow getting shot in the head during their daily commute. It’s obnoxious, traumatizing, and it just makes people uncomfortable—or, if you’re like me, angry. Not at the meat or clothing industries, but rather at the protestors showing this horrible footage.
This tactic uses shock to scare or guilt people into no longer supporting meat and dairy industries or using animal products. However, using these scare tactics to make people think or feel a certain way is not a good way to advocate your cause and it doesn’t make a positive difference. In fact, I think it makes you and the entire animal rights community look like assholes. Furthermore, many people—especially children—are sensitive to the content of these images or videos and could be traumatized by them. It’s important to think about how this form of protesting really affects people, instead of just thinking about how it supports your cause.
The thing is, showing people this abuse is not going to end their exploitation. Many people already know of the atrocities that occur in the meat and dairy farms, so I don’t think showing these clips raises any more awareness. The onus of ending this abuse should not be on what individual people are putting on their plates, but on the corporations. In fact, in an article by Vox that focuses on this very idea, they found that organizations that target corporations with welfare campaigns have a higher success rate in achieving demands than organizations that target consumers. Thus, publicly showing these videos is not only horrifying, it’s an unsuccessful avenue for change, so there’s no reason people should still be doing this.
If someone wants to become vegan, vegetarian, or just wants to reduce their meat intake, it should be because of their own self-determination and personal choices, not because they were scared or guilt-tripped into it because of protesting tactics like these. If you try to force people to think the same way as you, it will be met with resistance and hostility. Ergo, making people watch videos of animals being killed because you think everyone should adopt a meat-free lifestyle is both absurd and ineffective.