A vegan campaign group have urged people to take the time to understand their message, after one of their posters was vandalised in Coleraine.
Go Vegan World has put up 50 billboards across the north recently, including 20 in Belfast and six in Co Derry. Three of the posters are in Derry city, two in Magherafelt and one in Coleraine.
The posters have several different messages, including “Eating animals contributes more to climate change than transport” and “Dairy takes babies from their mothers.”
The group said that the billboards bring a “clear, consistent message” to the public that “other animals may look different to us but in all the ways that matter they are our equals. Like us, they feel. Like us, they value their lives. Like us, they don’t want to be used or harmed.”
“Using them is unnecessary and unjust. We can stop participating in this injustice by going vegan. It is easy. It is good for us and for the planet. It is the right thing to do,” they said.
Sandra Higgins, Campaign Director of Go Vegan World, said that although the public response to the campaign has been “mostly very positive,” there has been some criticism online.
“It has come to our attention that people have threatened to paint bomb or remove some of our ads; indeed, as the photo shows, someone has already attempted to do so,” Sandra said.
“Instead of promoting the destruction of the posters, we encourage people take the time to understand them and the campaign behind it. It concerns human rights as well as animal rights.”
“Although there was some negative reaction in N. Ireland, most people are very shocked to learn about what we do to other animals when we view them as objects for our use instead of feeling beings. They are grateful to have the information and the opportunity to make an informed decision about how to live.”
The group has also been criticised by the Ulster Farmers’ Union. The UFU’s president Barclay Bell claimed that Go Vegan World’s campaign was “dishonest in its message and seeks to mislead consumers.”
“This campaign seeks to denigrate farmers to advance the cause of a tiny minority opposed to livestock farming. This is a small special interest group that seeks publicity. Less than one per cent of the UK population is vegan – but those supporting this lifestyle choice are well funded and adept at attracting media attention,” Mr Bell said.
“Farmers supply the needs of the 99 per cent of the population happy to eat eggs, meat and dairy products. It is unfair to denigrate farming families who do a great job producing affordable food on high welfare, environmentally friendly livestock farms across Northern Ireland.”
Mr Bell also took issue with vegan soya or almond blends being described as milk.
“Milk is defined as a product secreted by female mammals. That cannot include plant extracts. Such a misleading approach is unfair to farmers and consumers, and I believe it needs to be challenged, as it has been in the United States.”
Responding to the UFU comments, Go Vegan World said it was “quite inaccurate to accuse the campaign of being dishonest and misleading.”
“Go Vegan World shines a light on the standard, legal practices upon which all animal use are predicated, and it does so by showing us the victims of our use,” they said.
“The campaign is evidence based and it says nothing that can be denied by those who use other animals for profit. What is unique about the campaign is that it questions what is socially normal and acceptable and gives the public the information they have a right to know in order to make an informed choice. The campaign has never denigrated farmers or farming families. It has always focused on the victims of animal use and the multiple unjust ways in which we use them.”
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