A new billboard campaign that’s urging the UK public to confront their speciesism is currently on display in London.
The posters depict a human woman with milk machines hooked up to her breasts. A similar fate is endured by the almost two million dairy cows living at any one time in the UK. The ads are the brainchild of a vegan enterprise known as “Speciesism WTF.” Speciesism refers to the idea that some species are superior over others, and it’s this belief that makes humans think they have the right to exploit and kill other animals.
Speciesism WTF founder Stephanie Lane worked as a filmmaker before setting up the enterprise, but grew frustrated with the industry’s reluctance to cover animal rights issues. “I woke up with this idea to create a project which primarily focuses on placing human subjects in the same barbaric and unjustifiable situations that non-human animals are subjected to in the animal agriculture industries,” she told Plant Based News (PBN). “And use advertising platforms which can reach the public on a mass scale, to counter-condition society into creating a more compassionate world for all sentient beings.”
The ads are on display for two weeks across a number of areas in London, including Shoreditch, Hackney, and Putney.
The cruelty of the dairy industry
The first campaign focuses on the dairy industry, which relies on exploitation of the female reproductive system for profit.
As children, many of us are told that milk “comes from cows.” The reality, though, is that milk comes from mothers, and cows used in the dairy industry are forcibly impregnated before having their babies taken from them hours after birth. Like humans, cows form powerful bonds with their children, and they will often cry out and bellow for days after they are gone.
So-called “dairy cows” will often spend much of their lives in pain. It’s thought that around 30 percent of them suffer from lameness (an inability to use limbs), which they develop because of the conditions in which they’re kept. They will often be forced to stand for long periods of times on hard concrete floors while being milked, and farmers may also shackle their legs to prevent them from falling over. When their bodies are worn out and stop producing milk, they will be sent to the slaughterhouse.
Reaction to the campaign
Lane told PBN that she’d been “surprised” about “resistance” to the campaign from advertising spaces. “It’s hypocritical, to say the least, that many of the prime advertising spaces in London advertise lingerie or bikini ads with highly sexualised young women, but find our current campaign ‘at risk’,” she said.
She added that it”s “interesting to find how little people know of, and understand, what speciesism is in the first place.”
“I hope that this will serve as a great opportunity to educate the general public, and provoke them into thinking about how their choices as consumers are inflicting suffering onto non-human beings in factory farms, which we can all agree would be unacceptable if happening to humans,” Lane continued. “If the public can learn about speciesism through the campaigns, and acknowledge that non-humans feel pain and suffering just like humans do, then that’s a step in the right direction.”