Dr. Wes Jamison, Associate Profession of Communication at Palm Beach Atlantic University, is considered one of the nation’s leading experts on the current debate over animal care. During a recent presentation to a group of farmers at a program sponsored by Farm Credit Services of Mid-America, Dr. Jamison said the ag industry has made a great deal of progress in coming to grips with the challenges being presented to the livestock industry. He said, for the most part, farm groups have stopped ignoring the problem and hoping it would go away. He was encouraged by the efforts of bring diverse segments of the industry together to battle a common enemy. He told me, however, that just vilifying the other side was not enough. He said agriculture must claim the moral high ground and make consumers feel good about the choices they make.
Consumers have a split personality when it comes to animals and meat. They love “happy cows” making California cheese, and they get outraged when they see downer animals in PETA videos and want chickens to run free. Yet, they also demand that their meat products be low-cost, government-inspected, tasty, and easy to prepare. Jamison says agriculture must help consumers be both anthropomorphic and carnivores.
He suggests this can be done by telling people it is OK to eat dead animals. This is in stark contrast to messages from PETA and HSUS that say eating dead animals is bad. They use guilt and shame to make people feel bad about those choices. Agriculture has the opportunity to take a positive approach and tell them go ahead, eat that dead cow, it’s OK. He suggested printing T-shirts with a photo of a juicy steak or pork chop with the phrase, “Happiness is a dead animal” written on it. He would start by passing these out on college campuses where young people love to wear provocative shirts. We could then move up to bumper stickers and onto billboards. It is a simple yet effective message that would help consumers feel good about their meat choices. It would also be fun to watch the leadership of HSUS and PETA come completely unglued when people started responding to this approach.
I’m sure the Grumpy Vegan would think that this is a good idea.