The poet Alfred Tennyson wrote that 'in the Spring a young man's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love' but on the first weekend of Spring, an anti-vegan YouTuber had other plans.
And what plans they were: the man, known as Sv3rige, turned up outside Brighton VegFest and ate the raw head of a dead pig. He told the media he staged the protest because veganism is 'human cruelty'.
Sv3rige wanted vegans to be horrified by what he did but as I left VegFest I was curious more than anything. I love provocateurs of all kinds and I also wanted to know what it is that makes people spend their day this way.
So I chatted with Sv3rige and his handful of acolytes. One of them, an ex-vegan, claimed that in 2003 he 'launched veganism in Australia' and that veganism gives you 'erectile dysfunction'. Jeez, poor guy.
Then I chatted with a pleasant but very ill-looking man who told me that veganism is unhealthy. The irony was so obvious and hilarious that I started wondering if the entire stunt had been staged by vegans. It just all seemed too ridiculous to be true.
Sv3rige had forecast that 30 people might join him but his curious sextet was completed by a young guy in an Emporio Armani t-shirt handing out leaflets about Vitamin A deficiency and woman who stood smiling uncomfortably at the side.
Meanwhile, every time vegans arrived at the festival, Sv3rige would take a nibble out of the pig's head, hoping to provoke a reaction. But as one of his gang admitted to me sadly, most vegans were simply ignoring them. Talk about erectile dysfunction – the whole thing was turning into an embarrassing flop.
In fact, if Sv3rige had any effect at all, it was probably to boost veganism. Passers-by told the media they were sickened by seeing the faces of the animals they eat. VegFest's brilliant boss Tim Barford said the 'revolting spectacle' had encouraged people to 'give up eating meat'.
So Sv3rige is a vegan hero in a weird way. If only all meat-eaters were as honest as him about what they are eating, we could have a real debate. But as we know, most people who eat a bacon sandwich will do anything to distract themselves from the fact that they are eating a dead pig.
Sv3rige might have intended to confront vegans but it was meat-eaters he challenged most because his protest shattered one of carnism's greatest taboos. The faces of murdered animals are kept hidden from consumers because the slaughter bosses know the public must never be reminded that the flesh they are eating once belonged to a living, breathing animal with a beautiful face.
Every year, 10 million pigs are slaughtered in the UK for their meat, and the slaughterhouses make sure the public never see their faces. Thanks to Sv3rige and the media coverage his demo generated, millions of people saw this particular pig's face. A lot of them will remember it next time they eat bacon or sausages.
Put simply: the meat bosses would have hated what Sv3rige was doing.
So I salute you, Sv3rige, for your services to veganism. But having spent a day being such an unwitting vegan activist, how about becoming an actual vegan? I noticed you discreetly spitting out bits of meat you'd nibbled off the pig's head, so I'm wondering whether you really like eating meat.
Next time, why not step inside a vegan festival and sample some of the delicious, nutritious plant-based food on offer. Go on, you know you want to…
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are prepared in the author's capacity and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Plant Based News itself.Reuse this content
Chas Newkey-Burden writes about veganism and animal rights for The Guardian, Metro, Indy Voices, Daily Telegraph, International Business Times and Attitude. He is also the author of several books, including 'Running: Cheaper Than Therapy’ and ’64 Geeks’. A calf is named after him at the Retreat Animal Rescue sanctuary. You can follow Chas on Twitter: @AllThatChas
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