CAPTION: Preggo at Meditation Mount. Thankfully, my baby remained by my side after his birth.
This week was a trip.
Not literally. I stayed in the Ojai Valley… but digitally my mind was on the “Vegans United” Facebook group page. I asked a question there that has produced over 700 comments and counting:
My husband and I own a vegan shop in California. We’re thinking about releasing a line of plant milks… “Rape-Free Milks”. Too controversial or perfect to raise awareness?
Most people hated the name. These people are already vegans and know what happens to dairy cows. But with all the negativity, it should also be noted that I’ve never seen a thread with as many comments in that 18,000+ person group. So there’s that. Also, some commenters want me to read The Secret.
In this age of distractions, attention is our most precious commodity. And attention was definitely received. In addition, someone has to be a voice for the animals. Someone has to say SOMETHING that turns heads, creates interest or even outrage. Outrage leads to question asking…
Not every person that lives a vegan lifestyle considers themselves an animal rights activist, but many are. Some activists believe it’s important to bear witness. Their way to “be there” for the animals is to witness their suffering by looking at the pamphlets, the photographs of the violence in our news feeds happening on even “humane” farms, watching the undercover footage of blood, gore and unthinkable cruelty that goes on everyday.
I can’t watch that stuff and honestly I don’t feel like I’m the target audience anyway. I mean, I’m already vegan. Consuming violence through my eyeballs will not make me more vegan or strengthen my resolve to spread veganism. Instead, the choice to bare witness might drain me of energy, zap me of creative juices and leave me crying in a heap on my bedroom floor. So I choose to abstain from media that depicts the atrocities happening right now this very minute to so many sentient beings.
Yup, I’ve never seen Earthlings and while I like to “never say never” I can’t imagine I ever will. That said, if knowing what really goes on behind the scenes with the animals will motivate you, I think you should see it if you’re not vegan yet. Or Cowspiracy, if the environment is your main concern. Or Forks Over Knives if you’re better served from the health angle.
It sounds crazy, but many people believe cows magically produce milk all the time. They don’t realize that like a human, a cow must be pregnant and give birth to produce milk. So she’s locked in to a restraining apparatus (that workers in the dairy industry have oh-so-pleasantly nicknamed a “rape rack”) and forcibly impregnated via artificial insemination. Then once the cow has her baby, the calf is taken away usually same day and is never allowed to taste a drop of her mother’s milk. As a nursing mother I cannot imagine anything more cruel. The female calves then enter into the same system as their mothers… and the male calves are sold for veal. The dairy industry IS the veal industry.
Maybe I have too much faith in humanity but I truly believe that if most people really knew what was happening on dairy farms, to this level of detail, they wouldn’t eat cow’s cheese or drink cow’s milk. We aren’t baby calves… we certainly don’t need their growth fluid. We aren’t savage beasts, we can drink plant milk rather than rip babies from their mothers.
But how to be effective activists? PETA often alienates both vegans and non-vegans alike through the use of their “sex sells” advertising. That can’t be the answer. As a feminist I refuse to believe that women wearing cabbage leaves on their breasts is the best way to promote veganism.
During one-on-one activism, a gentler approach is often best. Kind of like… I’m here to answer your questions but not push any information on you (no matter how much I want you to understand!). But what about when your goal is to reach more people? When you need to grab someone’s attention from a store shelf and reel them in with the truth? I guarantee the Cafe Gratitude-esque “nice words” will not entice anyone to go vegan. Everyone’s tired of them. Honest this, cruelty-free that, kind this, Ahimsa that. Please.
Let’s call a spade a spade. Cows are pinned downed and raped by machines (usually while a farm worker inserts his hand into their rears to “loosen things up”– bestiality anyone?) so the masses can have creamer in their coffees. FACT. Sure, the legal definition of rape does not include non-human animals, but as vegans we care about all animals.
Is it important to bare witness? What have you found is the best form of vegan advocacy?
I know, we’re talking about things that are very taboo in our culture. Does anyone want to hear them?
Please don’t pull the wool over your eyes…
To your health,
Amanda and Mario
P.S. In case you’re concerned, we won’t really be going with Rape-Free Milk for our “new product line”.