Walking along a crowded Boston street, you can see people stopping abruptly in front of you – if you did not run into them first – glaring at the spectacle across the street in front of a McDonalds. There are five people with signs and bullhorns surrounding a person in a beakless chicken suit and another in a bloody cow suit. PETA was staging a demonstration in front of a McDonalds protesting their animal farming practices. Although this scene draw attention for a brief moment while people we passing buy, I never heard anything about it the next day, or any day following. There was no staying power in their message, in fact, I went into a McDonalds just days later…
I have a hard time getting behind animal rights groups that take eccentric measures to demonstrate their views. In an article written by Sherry F. Colb, “What Vegans Can Learn from the Gay Rights Movement’s Successes,” she sheds light on the similarities between those vying for gay rights and vegans vying for animal rights. She tries to explain that it is difficult for both parties to instill a message to the masses when both decisions, to not eat meat and to be openly gay, are by choice and most people choose the opposing view (she does have a disclaimer stating that she believes homosexuals are born and not a product of their environment, but that there is a choice to be openly gay or to live life, unhappily, as a straight person). Her article resonated with me because I believe some of the most persuasive demonstrations are those not “thrown in your face”, but rather, on an intimate level, on which everyone can relate.
Many can remember during the gay rights movement in California when the legislative body wanted to ban homosexuals from teaching in schools (Prop. 6). The movement sent out a message saying everyone knows someone who is gay. “[Y]ou have to put faces of people on the suffering the passage of the bill could provoke.” This message resonated with even the most staunch Republicans because they realized that even though they are not gay they will still be effected through their friends and family.
I believe this is the approach animal rights activists (especially, vegans, since they have a unique perspective) should take. Activists should try to bring the movement down to everyone’s level. Animal rights effects everyone, and this is the message that needs to be spread.