Vegan protests aften involve near-naked women these days and it makes some within the movement uncomfortable.
Peta’s World’s Sexiest Vegetarian list makes the news every year – and performs one step forward for animal rights and two steps back for feminism.
Sex sells and sexy celebrities sell, sell, sell baby! Peta realised this years ago and decided to strip their campaigns to their bare buttocks. Recently, Peta protesters have been pictured wearing nothing except for strategically placed lettuce leafs which back one hope that none of them have pet bunny rabbits.
The fact that most of the nearly naked protesters are women might be because there are more vegan women than men. In America, the figures were that 79 per cent of vegans are women! So, there are less males to ask to get their kit off in public for a start. I guess this also means that men are the main targets for such campaigns and the obsession with both shock tactics and sex is a sure way of making the papers.
Protesters in Spain recently covered their naked bodies in blood and packaged themselves like a piece of meat in a 20-strong demonstration in Barcelona. It made the UK Press. How many other demonstrations in Spain involving just 20 people make the UK Press?
Exactly. Sex sells. Sex gets noticed and the pictures from passers-by get splashed across social media within minutes.
I’ve seen it myself, at a Close All Slaughterhouses protest in London several years ago, where two women did a similar thing to the Spanish activists. They stripped down to their underwear, squirted fake blood on themselves and lay down in some fake packaging.
Needless to say, they got most of the attention and most of the photographs taken that day were of those young ladies. It makes one wonder how many people actually listen to the message the demonstrators are trying to convey and how many just want to ogle women’s bodies.
I’m not sure why Peta thought people getting naked was a good idea. It has definitely worked at grabbing headlines, but at a price.
It has also polarised those within the animal rights community and some claim it is rather contrary to the ethics of veganism. After all, vegans don’t discriminate on the basis of species, so letting sexism slip into the mix is hardly a good idea is it? But it’s a tactic that has rubbed off on other vegan groups as the Spain protest shows and has become somewhat of a marketing success story.
However, once people are drawn into a debate through the promise of sexy ladies, how many of them will stay for the lesson on cows getting their throats slashed?
It has to be said, that there is plenty of evidence that vegans are better in bed, taste nicer and smell nicer, so the view that vegans are sexier does hold some truth, but many of them are also sensitive to human rights issues too, so objectifying women does rather stick in their throat.
Personally, I’d prefer to see campaigns which unite the vegan community rather than splitting it. We live in a time when there is already a great deal of pressure on young people to look a certain way and body shaming is not cool. It has to be said that half-naked demonstrations can make some people feel uncomfortable. I want people to be uneasy over the knowledge of what happens to chickens in the slaughterhouse, not over the human flesh on display in a shopping centre on a Saturday afternoon.