February saw the rise and meteoric fall of the hashtag ‘Febu-Dairy’ and its variants (#legendairy #supportourfarmers etc). This was a clear marketing ploy by the British dairy industry to try and convince us that they were in fact still relevant and ultimately the good guys. They certainly played every card possible; from crying dairy farmers to pictures of happy cows that were loved by the farmers. They labelled vegans extreme, militant, irrelevant, and, on the more bizarre end of the spectrum, terrorists, because the biggest threat to national security in Britain today is tofu scramble. I am proud to say that this monumental crusade failed miserably. Indeed, much of the social media and media coverage turned to the boycott and the inhuman practices of that lay behind their supposed fields of happy cows.
A few, however, were not deterred. They clambered together to create a desperate last stand. These loyal crusaders of cruelty so threatened by the vegan ‘tide of terror’ started a campaign ridiculously called ‘Meaty March’. Their go-fund me page stated that they wanted to educate and reinform Britons about the importance of meat and emphasise the beauty and nobility of farming. They wanted bus-sized posters to parade the streets of Britain, only furthering the dissociation between what we eat and the pain and suffering it comes from. At first, it seemed like people were almost buying into this, a few were chipping in, posting pictures of their happy sheep, and lamenting the attack on tradition and the evils of vegan terrorism (a reoccurring motif) because after all, this is what we’ve always done, so why change it? (I grew up in an area where historically you could sell your wife – times change)
Their propaganda harked back to a time of the small rural farm, of happy farmers and happy flock and unity with nature. But the reality is very, very different. Mass industry strips the animal of any dignity, it is no more than a by-product fit for purpose, unworthy of kindness or humane treatment. Meat becomes the by-product of pain. The meat industry is poorly regulated, and let’s face it, there is a reason you take your children strawberry picking over a trip to the local slaughterhouse. Furthermore, the workers suffer in unsanitary conditions, being poorly paid, untrained and unsupported, working long hours, yet another layer to the problematic nature of the meat industry.
Then there is the cruelty; I don’t have to explain that killing is cruel. I am not implying that farmers are inherently bad, but rather the systems they uphold, the mechanistic industrialised killing is. The focus needs to be on reform and regulation if the meat industry is to continue, or perhaps even being a little bold and trying Veganuary next year.
So anyway, what happened to Meaty March? After all, we are now at the start of April, and I was still waiting to see one poster or any social media posts of the same furfur of those loyal Meaty Marchers. It totally collapsed. Hilariously so, indeed before we had even reached the month the hashtag had quietened away to all but whispers, drowned out by posts highlighting the cruelty and hypocrisy. Vegans used it as a vehicle to demonstrate the importance of animal rights, and people listened. More and more people are turning to a meat-free diet and are becoming inspired to move away from cruelty. Will meat eating become a thing of the past? I don’t know, but you could say that Meaty March was a success – in the sense that it opened even more peoples’ eyes and minds to meat-free living.