Sunday, 21 January 2018

The Animal Abuse Industry Is Shitting Its Pants

An opening point, for clarification.  By the "animal abuse industry" I am referring to the meat and dairy industries, in their entirety.  Yes, all meat; and yes, all dairy.  There is no such thing as humane slaughter.  That is an oxymoron.  There is no such thing as "ethical" meat, eggs, milk or any other products derived from the bodies of creatures who have as much right to an autonomous existence as you and I.  No appeal to the fractional percentage of animals who may live comparatively "decent" lives with respect to the overwhelming majority who experience nothing but horror from birth to premature death, is going to justify the appalling treatment by our species of so many others for no good reason at all.  (That's right, "but meat tastes nice" doesn't count as a good reason).  There are no exceptions, no excuses, and no escape from moral culpability.  These creatures are individuals; sentient, conscious and capable of feeling not just physiological pain but psychological states like fear, grief, loss, love and familial bonds, and an innate desire for freedom.  Accept this - and all the supporting facts are readily available for you to verify for yourself - and veganism becomes the only morally acceptable position for every human being who is capable of so living to take.  That is the bottom line.

With that flag planted, let's take a survey of the landscape.  The animal abuse industry is shitting its pants.  The Scottish Farmer ran an article yesterday, "Dairy must stand against the vegan tide" - explaining that, "unless the UK dairy industry does more to bolster its healthy image, it risks being swallowed up" by the rising tide of veganism, citing a (un-sourced, but plausible) statistic of a 261% increase in people professing to be vegans in the UK between 2006 and 2016.  In other words, dairy sales are down.  Veganism is bad for business.

Thus, a £1.2 million advertising campaign extolling the wonders of pointlessly drinking another species' milk (instead of - oh I don't know - letting the children whose mothers produced it specifically for them drink it, drink it) and promoted by the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) - the same organisation that, incidentally, denied that the campaign had anything to do with the rise of veganism only a few months ago.  No doubt it also has absolutely nothing to do with the success of Go Vegan World's excellent campaign from last year, from which its "Humane Milk is Myth" posters won the defence of the Advertising Standards Authority against claims by the dairy industry that such statements were misleading (they're not) and damaging (well, yes, they are, but that's the point).

Ponder that for a moment, if you didn't get the chance last summer: the regulatory body of all advertising in the UK ruled in favour of the (still relatively controversial) claim that there is anything morally objectionable to the production of cow's milk for human consumption, over and against the claims of an industry valued at £3.8 billion a year that still enjoys a general immunity from moral responsibility thanks largely to the generally accepted myth of the uniquely beneficial nutritional properties of dairy products.  The tide is turning, indeed.

So it might be, if you move in any digital vegan circles, that the #Februdairy hashtag has floated onto your social media radar this week.  Here's Dr Judith Capper, one of the speakers at the conference reported by Scottish Farming's article, planting her flag:

"Cute calves" and "juicy beef burgers" in the same sentence.  Hmmm.  Would you like some cognitive dissonance with that?  Once again, the #Februdairy hashtag has nothing at all to do with the far more popular #Veganuary (which is also a slightly better pun) hashtag used to promote a month of veganism for beginners and the vegan-curious.  No doubt the dairy industry decided to promote its products for reasons totally unconnected to their narrowing profit margin.  Multi-billion pound industries never make decisions for economic reasons.  It just doesn't happen.

The predominantly vegan replies to the tweet above might give us a clue to how well the #Februdairy campaign is going to fare in the twittersphere.  I've even thrown a tweet or two of my own into the blabbering void.  This one has been reasonably well received.

But let's be fair.  It's not February yet.  Maybe the dairy industry will find a way to put itself "on the front foot", as Dr Capper has urged.  "There is a need in the dairy sector for some myth-busting. If consumers don’t buy our products – milk, cream, butter, cheese etc – we will not have a dairy industry in five to 10 years", is her advice.  Maybe, despite the inevitable, unstoppable acceleration of veganism into the mainstream, the dairy industry has some more tricks up its sleeve; some incredible new body of evidence supporting the "environmental message" of the dairy industry, that has not already been comprehensively debunked by, well, reality.  I can't imagine what this "evidence" could possibly be but like many other vegans, I'll be all ears.  I'm not expecting anything other than the sound we're hearing already.  The sound of the dairy industry shitting its pants.

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