On Wednesday 26 June the Viva! Campaigns team were joined by 45 vegan activists outside the London Eye to protest the gross mistreatment of dairy cows across the world.
Earlier this month Animal Recovery Mission (ARM) released undercover footage of Fair Oaks Farm (Indiana, USA), exposing shocking animal cruelty towards dairy cows and calves. In the videos young animals are seen being beaten, kicked, having their heads stamped into the ground and dying from heat exposure and malnutrition, as well as distressed, sick and injured mother cows. At the time of filming Fair Oaks Farm was a supplier of Coca-Cola’s Fairlife dairy brand and had previously been described as the “Disneyland of agricultural tourism”.
In response to the appalling abuse exposed by ARM, our campaigns team jumped into action and organised a protest outside the London Eye — the most popular paid tourist attraction in the United Kingdom, which is sponsored by Coca-Cola. Our aim, to remind people suffering is inherent across all dairy farming – regardless of whether the farm is in the US or the UK.
During our 2018 dairy investigation Viva! obtained footage from more than a dozen dairy farms – many of which supply big brand names like Cadbury, Lurpak, Cravendale and Anchor. The investigators documented instances of severe animal abuse including sick and dying cows paralysed on the ground and emaciated cows living in filthy conditions, as well as many disturbing ‘standard practices’ such as cows with their legs shackled together to prevent them from collapsing and calves kept in solitary confinement.
Juliet Gellatley, Viva! founder and director, explained the reasoning behind the protest:
“The investigation of Fair Oaks Farm has brought global attention to the horrific abuse that dairy cows endure. Many people have been horrified by the undercover investigation and so now we must remind the public that this abuse is inherent to the worldwide dairy industry. No matter whether a dairy farm is free-range, zero-grazing, or organic, all dairy cows are locked into a perpetual cycle of forced pregnancy and have their new-born calves ripped away from them. The male calves are seen as a useless by-product and so are killed for meat or simply shot in the head and discarded like trash. The female calves have the same fate as their mothers, continual pregnancy until they collapse from exhaustion.
These barbaric practices are deeply embedded in the dairy industry and are completely unnecessary – all of this suffering just so that humans can consume cow’s milk. We will be making a stand for dairy cows everywhere, calling on the biggest companies in the world to wake up to the realities of dairy farming. Coca-Cola has now dropped Fair Oaks Farm and committed to an audit of Fairlife suppliers. This shows that we, as consumers, have the power to influence global corporations and urge them to move in a vegan direction. Veganism is the future; consumers will no longer be part of the systematic abuse of animals. It’s high time that big brands such as Coca-Cola, Cadbury and Arla realise that and use their power to end animal cruelty.”
At the event we screened our Dying for Dairy: An Industry Exposé video, handed out leaflets and educated the public about the reality of dairy farming. We were overwhelmed by public support for our action – enjoying numerous positive conversations on the day and reaching an audience of 51,000 online, across our social media platforms!