Will this animal advocacy movement that we are part of learn by it’s mistakes, or is it destined to keep repeating them because those in it are too arrogant or ignorant to learn from them?
As I have written in the past, I do not believe, nor is there any evidence to show me that bullying and harassing tactics that are used in protests actually work in Australia, in getting people, companies, or the government to change their mind on things.
Though what about online petitions?
As I am yet to see a government sponsored petition about anything animal related, online or otherwise, I would have to say no. And if they are targeted towards an individual I would definitely say no.
Take for example the recent petition that was started to ‘encourage’ Dave Hughes from Nova 100 in Victoria, to give up dairy.
Whilst Mr Hughes left himself open for some sort of comment when he said on radio that “I do believe that milk is for baby cows, that they are the ones who should be sucking on their mother’s teats”. With the way that commercial call-in radio these days, it is almost possible that he said it to see what sort of reaction he would get, and to possibly improve the station’s ratings. Though I am not sure if he was quite prepared for what happened next.
Whilst I must congratulate the person who called in to challenge him to give up dairy for the week, I am not sure that if creating an online petition was the best thing to do. Especially considering that Mr Hughes is a self proclaimed pescetarian, which means if he did give up dairy, he would still be eating eggs and fishes.
About the same time that this petition started, someone else in Victoria started an event on Facebook asking people to email the fast food chain, Lord Of The Fries, to ask them to adopt a 100% animal product free menu. Thereby making everything that they offer suitable to those who are vegan.
Given the choice between the two, I would have said that sending an email to Lord Of the Fries, and if they did indeed create a 100% vegan suitable menu would have been a ‘bigger win’ for the ‘vegan movement’, and the animals than Mr Hughes giving up dairy for a week.
Unfortunately, Mr Sundara DeSilva, Volunteer Coordinator and Strategic Planning – Vegan Australia, seems to think otherwise. In the Facebook event created for the Lord of The Fries campaign, he has stated:
If you want to make a difference in the vegan cause then the publicity that Name removed has managed on this Link Removed is a much better use of someone’s time.
And goes on to say
Lord of the Fries in Melbourne probably has served more veg meals to meat eaters than almost any organisation in this city.I’d like to see Lord of the Fries vegan, but I have to say bashing an organisation that is helping convince a lot of fast food people to not eat meat and offers vegan options I find counter-productive. If you want to make a difference have a go at an abattoir or a butcher or a supermarket for serving “happy meat”
This is of huge concern to me, especially considering that Mr DeSilva represents Vegan Australia, the same organisation that released a plan not that long ago, for Australia to be vegan within 20 years. It is also of concern that he thinks that harassing Mr Hughes to give up dairy is perfectly acceptable, yet emailing an organisation that you are a customer of isn’t.
Think about it, Mr Hughes’ decision to continue to consume dairy, whilst one that I do not agree with myself, is his choice to make and one that he should not be bullied or harassed about. I can tell you that if someone started up a petition to get me to give up drinking coffee or some other legal product, I would keep drinking it, regardless of how many points they gave to convince me otherwise. Whereas on the other side of the coin, if I was a restaurant owner and a majority of my clientele contacted me saying that I should change the menu then that is perfectly acceptable, and as a business owner, something that I would have to consider.
I am not saying that the person who started the petition for Mr Hughes, did the wrong thing. What I am saying is that with the benefit of hindsight or a little fore thought, it might not have been the best thing to do. Would she have been more successful in getting Mr Hughes to give up dairy if she had have contacted him privately, and maybe supplied him with dairy alternatives, invited him to a few cooking demonstrations etc.
Remember, none of us like being told what to do, and the more public that the ‘telling off’ is made, the more we dig in and stand by our decision.
If we are to win this publicity campaign for equal consideration of other animals, then we need to start working and thinking smarter.
Mr DeSilva was contacted for comment, and didn’t respond to emails.