The dangers of putting everyone in the same basket.

I have been writing my two blogs for over 12 months now and have yet to have anyone send me a comment that would cause me offence. Now it would be highly unlikely that anyone would take umbrage at the activities of Art4Agriculture. But there is the chance that like the divine Milk Maid Marian this blog may attract the “haters” every now and then. The “haters” in this case being those extremist  vegans who think all livestock farmers are the right hand of the devil and its their right of passage to tell you so at every opportunity.

Now apparently the “haters” from both sides have been active on twitter this week which has prompted these excellent posts from Alison Fairleigh and Milk Marian Marian ( note the comment by @JohnKeily1)

Lets not forget the world is full of bizarre people and a couple of things that have happened to me in the last 48hours have highlighted this very strongly.

Just check this out I will guarantee it will have you shaking your head as well. Today I was out and about like last Sunday walking the gorgeous Kiama Coastline this time from Bombo beach to Minnamurra with my trusty camera to add to my weight load . Along the way we spotted this painted on the front of a house.

Tree Vandal  (2) 

Obviously some extremist  “nature lover” was very unhappy that the occupants of this house had done something?? to a tree in their front yard. Also in front of this house was this little car

Tree Vandal  (1) 

It too had fallen victim to the wrath of the “nature lover”. Whilst I was taking this photo the mother of the owner of the car approached me and I got the real story. This little car belongs to her daughter who just happened to be staying with friends next door and had nothing to do with the occupants of the house her car was parked in front of. Well “nature lover” who is the real vandal here?.

After our walk we ventured down to the Kiama Markets. Can there be anywhere more beautiful to hold markets? Kiama Markets

You can get 2 bunches of roses for $10, buy extraordinary eclectic pieces made out of spoons and all the gorgeous produce you could think of from the South Coast as well as enjoy food cooked on the biggest barbeque I had ever seen.


Well I was walking along minding my own business, taking lots of pictures with my beloved camera.


And out of no where this man invades my personal space and starts haranguing me about what an abomination cameras are. According to him it is an absolute to disgrace to reduce the world to “rectangles”. Well I did engage him for just a moment sharing with him how much pleasure its gives me to be able to record my journey on my camera. But he wasn’t listening and continued to rabbit on in a very loud voice and I walked away.

Now what does all this have to do with animal welfare and vegan extremists you ask. Well yesterday afternoon I had a call from a friend who told me something that really distressed me. Apparently a local farmer parked his ute in the main street of my gorgeous little village of Jamberoo in front of the newsagency and remained there for a least twenty minutes. Now here comes the appalling bit. On the back of his ute he had a dead cow just lying there for all the world to see little kids included. Just what was he thinking you ask and just how much damage was he doing to the reputation of our other local farmers I cant even begin to think

As I said the world is made up of bizarre people who do just don’t think before they act. All I ask vegan extremists is that you don’t lump all livestock farmers into the one basket. Like 99% of the people in this world, most livestock farmers are good, caring, sensitive people with values and it hurts when you attack us.

As for the farmers who feel the need to fight back like Alison says

Some of the best advocates for Australian agriculture and farmers are people living in cities. You don’t have to be a farmer to “get it”. Give credit where it is due and don’t lump all “city people” into the same basket.

and this sage advice from the US

Be proactive, not reactive.

It’s not about engaging activist crazies in fire fights where everyone comes back bloodied. We can reduce their clamour by building a wall of trust with our customers. It’s as simple as talking with them on an ongoing basis, joining them in conversations about food and addressing their concerns.

• Build bridges with people influential in the food community, who drive opinions and are willing to engage in a conversation about food.
• Meet customers on their own turf and invite them to ours. Answer all concerns they have about food, whether the issues seem real to us or not.
• Talk about our desire to continually improve sustainability, quality and safety on the farm.
• Tell your personal story about how you use fewer resources to produce more, and let them know how you care for your land and animals.
• Be transparent. It builds trust. Share values with your customers.

To move public opinion… to counter the activists… “We must open our doors–and maybe more importantly, open our minds–to consumers and their perspectives about food and agriculture,”

as Marian also rightly says

The ethics of food is so complex. Vegans following a conscientious diet are told they are inadvertently starving Peruvians, causing deforestation and even eating with blood on their vegetarian hands. It’s not easy being green and I don’t blame vegans for being so passionate about their choice. 

I personally have seen my vegetarian friends attacked by perfect strangers asking for justification of the choices they have made. Like my gorgeous vegetarian friends I am doing my best to walk away from the battles I cant win.


Come on everyone its time to fight the good fight