To the unsuspecting spectator, Elwood’s website comes across as a genuine dog farm that raises pups and dogs for meat. It claims that the dogs are “local,” “organic,” “free-range,” and offer the absolute best quality canine meat.
But in actual fact, it’s simply just a creative spin on activism that focuses on cognitive dissonance. The aim of the website is to bring into question “why love one type of animal but eat the other?”
Elwood’s content has captured the attention of non-vegans and vegans alike, picking up over 40,000 followers on Facebook, with one viral post reaching over 9.8 million people across the world.
Plant Based News (PBN) co-founder Robbie Lockie recently sat down with Molly Elwood herself to find out how she exactly came up with the unique concept that is Elwood’s Dog Meat Farm.
“I’ve been a vegan for six years, and I’d been trying to figure out what type of activism I wanted to do,” explained Elwood. Having tried raising awareness with blogs, and sharing documentaries exposing the realities of the meat industry, she decided to hatch out an entirely new concept with her husband.
Sharing how the couple came up with the concept, Elwood said, “My husband is vegan too, but he’s very analytical and he wanted the idea to be very logical and for it to hit all the points. And that’s how we landed on Elwood’s Organic Dog Meat.”
The activism was initially going to be carried out using car bumper stickers, but Elwood decided to also create a whole website posing as a sustainable dog meat farmer to spark people’s curiosity.
“Two weeks in and I put it on social media. I expected vegans to hate the concept… but they played along, which really just amplified the content,” said Elwood.
‘People are angry’
Speaking about some of the reactions she has received from the campaign, Elwood’s explained, “I made the bumper sticker for my car and I did have a lady chase me through a parking lot once. But online, I get a lot of direct messages… and people are angry.”
Having received plenty of encouragement from other vegans who understand the purpose of the website, Elwood has also encountered an endless amount of criticism and threats from people who believe the dog farm is actually real.
“I have a voicemail that I set up, and I’ve received endless voicemails and threats from people who think that I actually run a dog farm… We’ve called a number of people back. Some people have figured it out and some get very belligerent,” said Elwood.
Exploring cognitive dissonance
Elwood’s activism involves parodying the language and messaging we see every day coming out of the meat industry, and encourages consumers to explore their cognitive dissonance around the animals they choose to put on their plates.
“People have these societal beliefs that they don’t question, and it’s easier to go along with the status quo, and then they have their core beliefs that they access from time to time when they’re with a dog. But when it’s disconnected from the animal and put on their plate, people can’t see the animal and it’s easier to not think about it, and this website brings the two together,” the activist said.
She goes on to explain that the campaign arouses anger and disgust, and being confronted with these feelings can trigger cognitive dissonance.
“It’s very deconstructing… Elwood Dog Meat puts this right in front of people, and it’s a private personal experience. They know it’s not a vegan standing in front of them that they can fight with, it’s a mirror held up to them, they’re alone, they’re figuring this out. It’s making the connection,” she said.
Having made a strong impression within the activism community with her website Elwood’s Dog Meat Farm, Elwood hopes to continue advocating for animals through other thought-provoking campaigns with the help of billboards and demonstrations.