A kind stallholder at the Bloom in the Park festival, held in Phoenix Park, Dublin, (1-5th June 2017) suggested that some non-graphic vegan education materials would be good to offer - and so she invited us to distribute them at the festival.
We were blooming kicked out after about two hours.
I didn’t have a great feeling about the place as we walking in. Burger bars, left and right, then, near to where we were situated, there was an area in which several sheep were huddled into a corner of a pen, another pen in which were two pigs, and another containing two dairy cows (see photos below). The signage on the cow pen was all about the amount of milk that the cows “give” (that is, “taken from them”) and, of course, no sign of their calves, or notice or reference to what happened to them.
Worst still, amidst sausage stalls – and about 50 metres from where the pigs were imprisoned – there was a large “hog roast” stand advertising some speciesist treats such as “suckling pig wraps.” Think about that. Live pigs, and only a few metres away the stinking smell of pigs on spits: burning pig flesh in the nostrils of live ones.
Anyway, we set up. Literature, vegan-friendly cheese samples, a few badges, and animal sanctuary t-shirts. Stall holders help each other out of course, and our first visitor was someone looking for thumb tacks. Turns out she needed them to put up posters advertising the sheep shearing that her husband was about to launch into. Great!
Then it got a little better. The cheese samples were popular, and a vegetarian came up keen to try the Violife cheese. She liked it. She said that she consumes soya milks rather than calf food but said that she struggles with cheese. We told her the story about casomorphins and that seemed to resonate with her. She also said that her husband wasn’t keen that the soya milk curdled in coffee, which they drink far more than tea. We told her that Alpro single cream will not curdle in coffee.
A few kids tried the cheese samples, but then trouble arrived in the shape of a dairy farmer. Oh, we’re lovely to the cows we repeatedly make pregnant, separate from their babies, and then wizz off to a house of slaughter when they are “spent,” she smilingly informed us.
The farmers of other animals tend to get irritated and often fairly infuriated when they learn from long-term vegan activist Declan that he was born on a farm and he knows the score, including knowing that more than 60% of their income comes from cash-rich subsidies. The Irish have a cute phrase for that: the farmer’s dole.
Animal farmers love nothing more than to suggest that know-nothing vegans cannot criticise them because they don’t really know what goes on. Declan does!
Debate moved to whether they feed nuts to the “grass fed beef,” and whether they use artificial insemination. I said that, from a rights view, say, that of rights-based philosopher Tom Regan, we would ask what right we have to use other animals in the dairy industry. This rights-based question, as ever, was answered with welfare – we “care” for those we exploit.
Turns out this dairy farmer was a big fan of MGOs – the only way to “feed the world,” she said. I said veganism would do that, as well as returning land to free-living beings. She wanted to know if vegans would eat grains that dairy farmers grew. We were a bit stumped about the relevance of that.
She clearly wasn’t happy when she left us and, hey, 15 minutes later, three or four heavies turned up telling us, in effect, that vegan education wasn’t welcome in their speciesist event. We can’t be having all that talk about peace and justice. They said that we were blocking a walk-through area. This was untrue – and they had not objected to a yoga session in the same place which took up more space.
The writing was on the wall. When they said we could not sell anything like badges,* and t-shirts, we briefly explored whether they would be happy with just literature being offered. They looked at it – and they were not.
* while they were declaring that we couldn’t sell, a man gleefully bought a couple of badges from us and said a few things decency will not permit being repeated here!!