Inspired by Veganuary, Dairy farmers have hopped onto the bandwagon, aiming to cut a slice of its success.
The vegan community’s online campaign to encourage society to try out a plant based diet for the month of January has bloomed inspiration across the farming community. The aims of the gaudily named ‘Februdairy‘ are to flood social media with milk – specifically, positive messages about milk production.
Dairy farmers are being rallied; encouraged to share 28 short, positive posts about Dairy using the hashtag #februdairy to celebrate every milky stream of the industry.
What a load of bullocks!
The initiative was first schemed up of 12 months ago, in what I fondly imagine as, an envious fervour among industry experts. It gained some form of traction after an independent livestock sustainability consultant, Dr Jude Capper shortsightedly tweeted:
“Whenever I speak to groups, I always say you need five positive messages about farming to counter one negative one”
Just think about that a minute:
“Whenever I speak to groups, I always say you need five positive messages about farming to counter one negative one“
I still feel like banging my head off my desk when I read that. Honestly, instead of skirting around the issue with counter initiatives hoping to share pictures of cute calves, I wonder if Dr Capper ever considered undertakingsome root cause analysis on this little observation?
Quantitatively, five tweets does not seem like a lot to overshadow the truth behind dairy production. The truth behind which has taken a long time to break into the mainstream.
Februdairy is a reactionary movement; a jerking knee following decline profits across the dairy industry. US dairy sales will drop by over 10% by 2020; a trend that can be witnessed across the Western world. Since last February a whole heap of stats highlighted the global shift towards plant-based alternative foods.
It seems we stand upon the precipice of a war, where the rivers will run white…with milk. It seems the unfortunate farmers may have retreated from the first battle; probably, due to the shortsightedness of the ‘five positive messages‘ sentiment previously discussed.
Regrettably, sharing happy images of happy cows is a little futile when said cows are being:
- Artificially inseminated
- Separated from their mother
- Slaughtered during infancy
Honestly, if there’s a PR officer that can put a positive spin on that in five tweets, find them and point them towards Donald Trump; talent is talent.
The campaign has been stamped ‘counterproductive‘ by the National Farming Unions president, who admitted it wasn’t necessarily a good idea to begin with.
Andrew McCornick of the NFU said that ‘promoting the benefits of eating meat and dairy’ would be better than the campaign; because, ‘it would allow people to make that decision themselves.’
McCornick makes a solid point; people should be able to make their own decisions. But, to make decisions a populace must be informed. Coming from an Irish society, I grew up drinking a glass of milk with my dinner; worshipping Cheesestrings; and thinking, that producing milk was something that cows naturally did all year round.
I was ignorant. Promoting the benefits of eating milk and dairy is what the farming industry has been doing for decades – and it breeds ignorance.
Where’s the honesty in it all?
At the end of the day, it’s a person’s own choice if they want to be vegan, but what I don’t like is that some vegans are forcing their opinions onto other people, and making our industry look bad – McCornick said.
One of the most modern concerns we have on the internet is ‘preaching’. Some might say this post is preaching, some might say I’m a vegan trying to force my opinion.
At the end of the day, people will think what they want about this; the way people think what they want about anything. But people can only think about what they know of. That’s why hiding, or misconstruing information is dangerous.
We’ve been listening to biased information from the dairy industry for decades. Maybe Februdairy is a chance to reconsider what we have, and haven’t, been listening to.
Maybe we had begun to reconsider, and maybe that’s why the dairy industry is urging farmers to abandon the cause.