Green Criminals at Large: Vegan Protests in Australia.
In April 2019, vegan protesters brought the central business district in Melbourne, Australia, to a halt for two and a half hours on a congested Monday morning; drawing swift national backlash and ultimately dividing the nation into two, with animal rights activists on one side and ardent meat-lovers on the other.
What’s clear here is that these protesters have clearly touched a nerve, attracting derisive comments from both social media and mainstream media outlives. As such it is worth looking at other factors which may have also prompted negativity towards these protests, and why questions about our meat consumption can feel particularly uncomfortable - here at Lives Without Knives we’ve broken this down for you.
What were these protests even about?
In a tight nutshell, the series of demonstrations were part of a coordinated effort in order to promote veganism and bring attention to the dreadful conditions at Australia's factory farms (and around the world, too).
Look closely at any image of the protests and you’ll see signs with the word ‘DOMINION’ plastered in red ink - In fact, The widely-acclaimed film ‘DOMINION’ is credited with being the catalyst for these protests, in which filmmakers use hidden cameras and aerial drones to investigate the dark side of animal agriculture,brings out the reality behind your McChicken in the most gory way possible.
Fig 1.1: An image of animal rights activists blocking the streets of Melbourne in April 2019.
Quoting a 16-year old activist on the site: "I don't believe any good person supports what's happening in slaughterhouses and so-called farms today, these are places of exploitation of innocent vulnerable beings. Animals are suffering in ways that most of us could never imagine. It's not about bigger cages, it's about animal liberation." - With the majority of Australian income deriving from organic farming, hypocrisy would surely be an understatement.
When and where did these protests take place?
Although animal rights has been an ongoing dilemma worldwide for the last decade, the Australian outcry began with the release of Dominion in March 2018. Over the course of 18 months, small, focused demonstrations erupted across the country, with the major uprisings occurring in Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, and Adelaide until June 2019.
Who are these so-called ‘Green Criminals’? How has the government responded?
The Prime Minister has repeatedly condemned the animal-rights protesters as “shameful”, “un-Australian” and, memorably, “Green-Collar Criminals”. Not only that, he has since stated that Australia was prepared to join a legal challenge against any landholder if they wanted to launch legal action against animal rights activists protesting on their farms.
Quoting chief executive Patrick Hutchinson. "This has to stop and stop now. We need to look at the 99% of people in Australia that are looking to and wanting to consume red meat products,"
The painful truth of these protests is that there was not one law adapted or passed in response to the demonstrations. The government still continues to support meat consumption for ‘the sake of the economy’, including the 30% of Australian citizens who are in-favour of meat-consumption despite it’s horrific impacts on the Earth.
In fact, meat production today is nearly five times higher than in the early 1960s - from 70 million tonnes to more than 330 million tonnes in 2017, according to the Our World in Data project.With multinational corporations gaining more power than ever before, individuals and governments are slowly losing their fundamental rights on governing animal and livestock farms. I’d say all we should really do is set an example for others such that they, too, realise the benefits of a healthy, vegan lifestyle.
Lastly, here’s a quote by vegan teenager that sums up the Australian demonstrations pretty well: “Vegans - We’re people who have the crazy obnoxious idea that animals simply shouldn’t suffer.”