DON'T EMOTIONALLY BLACKMAIL ME! TEACHING ABOUT A VIOLENT INDUSTRY.
Warning labels have been used on everything from cigarettes, to hip hop albums, to washing machines. Many of the products that we purchase come with some sort of label which warns of the inherent dangers associated with using or consuming that product. One place where warning labels seem to be non-existent is on animal products such as meat and dairy. Despite the many dangers associated with the creation and consumption of animal products, there still is no mandate in place to label these products with warnings the way that cigarettes do. In an attempt to help people make a connection between the consumption of animal products and the health issues, environmental impact and suffering caused by the animal agriculture industry, animal rights activists have begun to create and place their own warning labels on animal products in stores. These warning labels which have taken the form of home made stickers, are intended to shock, educate or instill compassion in the people who come across these stickers, and hopefully make an informed decision about what they eat and contribute to. We recently had a chance to interview Marc Gurney, an animal rights activist who has been sticker tagging animal products in the UK.
Marc Gurney Interview
Tell us a bit about yourself and how you came to start sticker tagging animal products.
I'm a passionate vegan activist living in Brighton, UK. I started putting stickers on animal products after deciding that I wanted to be more active and not just post vegan articles on Facebook.
What is the intended response from people who are seeing the stickers on the food that they eat?
When it comes to animal flesh products, I want to remind people that what they are eating was once alive. In terms of animal secretions (eggs and dairy), I want to inform the public of the cruel practices that have taken place in order for these products to be put on the shelves. I was unaware of the extreme brutality of the egg and dairy industry myself before I became vegan. Many vegetarians think they are being ethical when they don't realize the horrors going on in these industries.
I hope people will make the connection and look into cruelty free foods.
Much the same way that warning labels on cigarettes tell of the hazards of smoking, the majority of the stickers are simply stating facts about the food that people are eating. Why do you think that stickering factual information elicits such a negative response from meat eaters who are calling it “emotional blackmail” or “guilt tripping”?
The people who are calling it emotional blackmail or guilt tripping do not want to take responsibility for paying someone to kill an animal so they can eat it. Humans are compassionate by nature and eating animals products contradicts this idea.
Do you think that feelings of guilt can cause awareness in individuals, which in turn can lead to a change in their behavior?
Friends and randoms have messaged me saying that the sticker videos which I circulate on social media platforms have made them think about what they are eating. Many of whom have made big changes with their diet and lifestyle. So yes, I do believe 'guilt' can cause awareness.
Can you talk a little about what it was that made you decide to go Vegan? Was it one defining moment or was it a culmination of ideas?
I've always felt connected towards animals and they've had a positive impact on my mental well-being. I was devastated when my cat died couple of years ago. I remember walking past a field of farm animals a week after the loss of Bunty (cat) and having a moment of realization.
Is it urgent that we as a world move to a plant based diet?
Yes not only to save the lives of billions of animals, but for our planet and our own health. Veganism could be a real lifeline for the world.
How do you feel about some Vegans saying that stickering food is too “militant” and gives a bad name to Veganism?
I find vegans who say this quite strange to be honest, especially as we're all faced with images of animal flesh and packets containing animal corpses on a daily basis! A sticker asking someone to consider not contributing to the murder of animals seems fairly reasonable to me.
Can you get into legal trouble by stickering food?
I asked the website of where I purchase my stickers about this and they say the worst case scenario is you'll be told to leave the supermarket.
Do you think that the Vegan movement needs to be more organized in its efforts to spread awareness or are the actions of small groups and individuals enough?
It's the responsibility of every informed vegan to be active, whether that be attending Save Vigils or challenging non vegans in day to day conversations. It's vital that vegans unite and stop sitting around bickering on Vegan UK! Find your local Earthlings Experience group. Head to London and join a Surge campaign. Hand out free vegan food to the public and tap into what barriers people feel they may face when turning vegan. And join the Save Movement!
If people want to follow your lead, where are some places that they can find stickers to use?
Www.veganstickers.co.uk or search for 'Vegan Stickers' on Esty (etsy.com/shop/customlyy).
Also check out my Facebook page 'V Gurn' for ideas on where to sticker.
Any words of wisdom for people reading this?
Be an example and put yourself out there! The social awkwardness passes - activism can lead to many opportunities and friendships.
Use the right language - use 'animal flesh' and 'animal products' instead of meat. Don't beat around the bush!
Do it for the animals! Why eat one and love another?
Thank you Marc