WARNING: This video contains confronting abattoir scenes.
VEGANS have hit back at Meat and Livestock Australia’s latest Australia Day lamb advertisement with a parody video that has sparked legal action and a online-funding campaign.
The MLA video advertisement has also indirectly facilitated wider media exposure for veganism and animal rights, vegans have claimed.
Vegan Chris Delforce, founder of the animal rights-focussed body Aussie Farms, on January 12 posted a video on Facebook containing seven seconds of the original MLA ‘Operation Boomerang’ lamb advertisement and footage of lambs being slaughtered in a Victorian abattoir.
The video uses a cynical ‘Hilarious behind the scenes clip from the new Aus Day Lamb Ad’ clickbait headline to encourage viewing. Its abattoir footage was secretly filmed in 2014 by activists and has been investigated, but a takedown request from MLA has failed to persuade Mr Delforce to remove the parody clip. He said MLA has also tried to have his video removed from Vimeo and Facebook.
Mr Delforce said many people were unaware or almost “trained’ not to think about what is involved in producing meat products.
“We don’t think of them as sentient intelligent animals, we think of them as the final product.”
He believed MLA had been unsuccessful in getting his video removed from social media platforms because of fair use and fair dealing policies, allowing the use of a short section of a video for the purposes of parody or criticism.
“That is kind of what I am relying on.”
Mr Delforce said he had raised more than $6000 in four days to boost the video’s reach in the lead-up to Australia Day.
“It’s all gone into the Facebook advertising campaign to get that video out to as many people as possible.”
Mr Delforce said he was not personally offended by the MLA lamb advertisement.
“My issue with the ad is the way that it makes light of what is an industry based on violence, based on killing.
“It dangerous to think about how myself as a vegan or how others vegans might have been personally offended by this because it means we are forgetting about who are the real victims are and those are the lambs, who want to live just as much as out pet dogs or cats.”
The media focus on the MLA lamb advertisement making fun of vegans is a detraction from the real issue, he said.
“I think we have brought that on ourselves in a way, by focussing on how we are personally offended when it shouldn’t be about us, it should be about the animal.”
Vegan Australia director Greg McFarlane said MLA had been “picking on vegans explicitly” for the past three years and should remove the flame-throwing segment. But the MLA’s treatment of vegans was secondary to the main issue of the suffering of animals, he said.
“The current advertising standards probably don’t cover this sort of thing.
“They are getting good publicity for their million dollars or whatever it cost and we also are getting publicity, using their advertisement to get publicity for the vegan and animal rights cause.”
Mr McFarlane said the vegan point of view had been covered on radio and news websites since the lamb campaign started.
“We probably wouldn’t get invited to speak on talk-back radio if it wasn’t for this advertisement, so the message goes out to a lot of people who haven’t heard about the rights of animals and veganism.
“In this case, we make the best of it and use it as a platform to expose the cruelty that goes on in animal farming.”
Mr McFarlane said had not watched the Aussie Farms video, but the other available footage of animal farming “as a total, it is pretty horrific”.
“Even the stuff you get from the farming industry itself, like branding and ear tagging and castration as standard practices, is pretty horrific, when it is completely unnecessary and no-one needs to eat any of those animal products to thrive and happy, healthy life.”
Mr McFarlane said Vegan Australia’s main focuses included the environmental “damage” caused by animal farming and recovering land to reduce greenhouse gas emission, and the health impacts of meat consumption.
“We don’t really want anyone to consume animal products or advertise those products.
“We feel it is violence against the animals and it is obscene.”
MLA group marketing manager Andrew Howie said the abattoir footage on the Aussie Farms video is not new and the industry had already responded to it. He claimed Aussie Farm’s use of the MLA footage was a breach of copyright and unlawful.
“Our takedown notice was in relation to protecting the identity of our paid talent and the sheep industry funds that have been used to fund our campaign.
“It was specifically about our content.”
Mr Howie said the challenge now was to reinforce the message to consumers to buy lamb.
“So this week our media now is about talking about the Australian product – we’ve got the best lamb in the world – and reiterating that the reason the campaign exists is to get people to buy the product and not to be controversial.”
Sources: Vegan Australia, MLA, Aussie Farms.