Dead Animals Were Driven Through The Streets Of London – Here’s Why

Can you love animals if you eat them?


(updated )

4 Minutes Read

Viva! stunt with dead animals displayed on a truck in London A pig's life is worth the same as a dog's or cat's. - Media Credit: Viva!

Vegan advocacy group Viva! shocked Londoners on Monday (February 12) by displaying dead animals on the back of a truck at iconic locations in the capital.

The fake corpses of a dead cat and dog, and a real dead pig, hung from butcher’s hooks with a sign above them asking “Are you an animal lover?” The dog and cat were each labeled as “pet” and the pig was labeled as “animal.” The aim was to challenge perceptions of “food” animals as different from the animals we think of as pets.

Stopping at the London Eye, Trafalgar Square, and Parliament Square, the stunt provoked strong responses from members of the public, says Viva!. Some expressed their disgust, but others had long conversations with campaigners and decided to reduce their meat consumption. According to Viva!, one woman was so affected by the sight of the pig that she decided to go vegan then and there.

“Tens of millions of people in the UK eat factory farmed animals but very few are happy to look at them dead, see how they are farmed or witness how they are killed,” Viva! Campaigns’ Director and leading vegan advocate Juliet Gellatley said in a statement. “This stunt serves as a reminder that the beef burger you order or the bacon sandwich you cook isn’t a faceless ingredient; it comes from a living creature that experienced similar emotions to your beloved pets.”

Disparities in how we treat animals

A pig in a factory farm
Adobe Stock Pigs are sensitive and intelligent animals, just like dogs

As part of its new campaign, Viva! highlights how much consideration British people give to companion animals compared to farmed animals. Nearly £10 billion is spent each year on pampering and caring for dogs and cats, while pigs, chickens, and cows often live and die in terrible conditions. 

“As a society we treat cats and dogs as part of our families but see animals such as pigs, chickens and cows as commodities,” said Gellatley. “Pigs are sensitive, emotional and highly intelligent. The only distinction between a deceased pig and a deceased cat or dog is your perception. If the sight of a dead cat or dog disgusts you, that same sentiment should be applied when seeing a dead pig.” 

Drawing attention to factory farming

The majority of the billion animals killed for food in the UK each year spend their lives on factory farms. Their lives and deaths remain hidden from the public behind closed doors, with misleading marketing further obscuring the realities of the meat industry.

Viva! points out that most farmed pigs in the UK are killed by being stunned with gas before having their throats cut. The carbon dioxide used to knock them out them makes acid form on their eyes, nostrils, mouth and lungs, meaning the feel as if they’re burning from the inside out. In 2023, animal activist Joey Carbstrong released footage showing pigs gasping and in distress as they were gassed at a Pilgrim’s Pride slaughterhouse.

In June 2020, the European Food Safety Authority published a scientific opinion on the welfare of pigs at slaughter. “Exposure to CO2 at high concentrations is considered a serious welfare concern by the panel because it is highly aversive and causes pain, fear and respiratory distress,” it said.

“The abhorrent process of breeding and slaughtering sentient beings has no place in a civilised society,” said Gellatley. “How can we claim to be nation of animal lovers when we engage in such moral hypocrisy? It’s time we apply the same consideration to farmed animals, as we do our pets at home.”

New campaigning tactics

Yesterday’s stunt marks a new era of campaigning by Viva!, the charity said. It will start using more such provocative tactics to encourage people to go vegan. The group says that such tactics are becoming more necessary as factory farming continues to expand. 

Larger and more intensive animal farms are on the rise in the UK. The number of so-called mega-farms rose from 818 in 2016 to 944 in 2020 in England alone. The majority – 745 – are for chickens and other birds, while 199 hold pigs. 

Undercover investigations by groups including Viva! continue to reveal that even minimum legal animal welfare standards are often not being met in the UK’s factory farms. 

More like this:

Join The Plant Based Newsletter and we will plant a tree! 🌳

We plant a tree for every signup. You’ll receive our weekly news round-up and be the first to hear about, product launches, exclusive offers and more!

© 2024 Plant Based News is a mission-led impact media platform focused on elevating the plant-based diet and its benefit to human health, the planet, and animals. | Plant Based News Ltd, PO Box 71173, London, SE20 9DQ, United Kingdom.