From August 8 to September 4 this summer, Befairbevegan held a poster campaign in one of the highest traffic areas of the world – Times Square and the Javitz Center in New York. Their moving billboards and street posters poignantly illustrated the faces and feelings of the animals that we use for human consumption, experimentation and entertainment. ‘Different But Equal’ and ‘Like Us’ were themes displayed with beautiful pictures of animals. Short but powerful messages accompanied the images telling viewers that these sentient beings value their lives as much as we do, and that they feel joy, pain and fear death. I was deeply touched by these pictures. Many others were, too.
To see the all of the pictures, go to Befairbevegan campaign.
It is difficult to measure the effectiveness of such a campaign, but it is my fervent hope that it caused people to seriously question their meat eating habits. At the very least, it shows that there are many people who feel it is morally wrong.
One of the most challenging parts of begin an animal advocate/activist is communicating with people who don’t want to know. This campaign puts the message of human caused animal suffering in people’s faces so that they cannot stick their head in the sand so easily. I have no doubt that there were many people who continued to eat animals after they saw the posters, conveniently compartmentalizing their compassion. And I also know that many people started thinking more empathically toward animals afterward.
Continued messaging will get through. According to the Social Cognitive Networks Academic Research Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, a tipping point for changing opinions and beliefs in a society occurs at 10%. In other words, a minority opinion can become a prevailing belief in a society when 10% of the population shares that belief.
A positive trend reported in several journals is that more and more millenials are embracing plant-based diets. Protests against slaughterhouses and animal cruelty are occurring around the world (Australia, Brazil, China, Israel, Paris, Ireland, England, Iran, Korea, to name a few), which gives me hope that we’re getting to the 10%.
Some like-minded colleagues and I are going to replicate this campaign in Connecticut with permission and help from the folks at Befairbevegan. We are now in the throes of learning how to raise money to do this. Wish us luck.