Their Turn - The Social Justice Movement of Our Time Their Turn - The Social Justice Movement of Our Time

Activists Use Provocative & Controversial Tactics to Shine Spotlight on Speciesism

October 26, 2014 by Leave a Comment

The News

By observing the actions of adults, we are taught as children that animals exist to serve our needs and desires, not their own. Our sense of superiority to other animals is so ingrained that society gives virtually no thought at all to imprisoning them in zoos, labs and factory farms, thereby stripping them of the freedom that they instinctually desire just as much as we do.

Our behavior can best be described as speciesist. As a word and as a concept, speciesism is not yet a part of the public discourse. In an effort to help animals, however, social justice groups are working to change that, employing creative methods from provocative street theater to dramatic protests.

Launched just two months ago, a NYC-based organization called Collectively Free has been stopping people in their tracks with their “Swap Speciesism” events. At Meatopia, a carnivore festival where whole animals were cooked, Collectively Free turned the tables – and turned many heads – by serving samples from a whole human.

free sample meatopia


On the menu: Rack of Man, Human Chops

On the menu: Rack of Man, Human Chops

Wearing a pig mask, Kate Skwire, a Collectively Free performer, used humor to capture the attention of passing carnivores:

“You look like you’d like a piece, m’am. Are you hungry?”

“These are humanely raised, grass fed, local, happy humans.”

“Now tell me that isn’t delicious.”

“This one had a very good life. You don’t have to feel bad about eating this meat.”

The execution (of the event, not the human), was so creative that some Meatopia attendees stopped to give them props. Robert Jensen, one of the participants, said, “A few people said things like ‘I’m not vegetarian, but this is really creative.’ Others said, ‘that’s sick!’ to which we responded ‘it’s sick the other way around too.’ Then they became lost in thought.'”

Collectively Free Meatopia Reactions

Photo: Collectively Free

Another participant, Miriam Lucille, said, “I was holding a sign that says ‘Why love one but eat the other’ showing a dog and a pig, and one man looked at the sign, nodded and said, ‘That’s very true.'” A lot of people took photos because it was eye-catching, and that’s always a good thing.”

photo: Collectively Free

photo: Collectively Free

A San Francisco based group, Direct Action Everywhere, is also aiming to “Disrupt Speciesism” through dramatic and controversial actions inside of and in front of restaurants and grocery stores around the world. A video of one such protest not only went viral but also made national news. In the video, activist Kelly Atlas enters a restaurant and delivers an emotional account of her baby girl Snow, who is an injured chicken rescued from a battery cage.

In 2013, filmmaker Mark Devries made made a critically-acclaimed documentary about the issue. In Speciesism: The Movie, Animal Liberation author Peter Singer sums it up nicely: “The fact that animals are not human isn’t a reason to give less consideration to their interests.”

Humans might be more powerful than other species, but we are far from superior. In fact, because we are the only species that is destroying the planet, some might argue that we are inferior.

Your Turn

To learn more about and get involved in the provocative #DisruptSpeciesism and #SwapSpeciesism campaigns, please visit Direct Action Everywhere and Collectively Free.

Comments via Facebook Comments

  1. Daniel says:

    This is a very smart tactic. What made me stop eating meat was thinking about my dog and how if I wouldn’t eat my dog why would I eat a chicken or a cow. It’s very creative.

  2. Elinor Hawke-Szady says:

    I was raised in a family where meat was eaten EVERY day. Both my older brothers hunt (YUCK), and everyone in my family STILL eats meat – including my 2 nephews and 2 nieces. My parents are both in their 80s now, and absolutely won’t change their thinking – there’s nothing wrong with eating meat. I can’t tell you how many arguments I’ve gotten into with my brothers and parents over the years about A. hunting, and B. eating meat. It’s just plain wrong, and I’m glad I’ve basically weaned myself off it. It’s amazing how much better you feel when you DON’T eat meat. To each his own, but don’t belittle me or tell me I’m “crazy” for not eating meat.

    1. I am very confused on who is calling you crazy. Collectively Free is turning the tables and asking you how would YOU feel if you were farmed, raised to be eaten and had only one job: to be someone’s meal.
      It’s natural to get defensive but we ask you to look at this video and really ask yourself what you’re contributing to. We shouldn’t be begging you or convincing you that killing animals is wrong, because we all know it’s wrong. And deep inside you also do. Stop consuming death!

  3. Terry Russo says:

    It’s true. A lot of people around the world do terrible things to animals, and people are responsible for destroying the planet, the non-human animals are not. The attitude is that we as humans are superior, and the conclusion drawn: therefore we have the right to do anything we want to non-human animals. It’s really a very primitive and non-intelligent way of thinking. The human race has a long way to come. Let’s hope this is a start.

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