Help VINE Design Our Anti-Dairy Campaign

One of the things we’ve been promising to do for some time is to mount a new anti-dairy campaign from within our understanding of the intersection of sexism and speciesism and our standpoint as a sanctuary located in midst of dairyland. The time has come to collect data for and begin to design that campaign. We need your help.

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We envision a multifaceted campaign that simultaneously drives down demand for dairy and paves the way for farmers now vested in dairy to transition to more equitable and sustainable (not to mention more profitable) cultivation of plant crops.

On the demand side, we are particularly keen to intervene in the common misconception that female cows naturally produce surplus milk constantly and that people are doing them a favor by milking them. It’s not only dairy industry propaganda but also storybook and cartoon images of cows who want to be milked that make this myth so powerful. People are so mystified that even veg*n visitors to the sanctuary have asked us how we milk the cows or what we do with the milk! “Dumbfounded” is the best word to describe how they look when the simple truth that cows are like any other mammal sinks in.

So, we are searching for strategies—slogans, images, means of catching attention—that will break through the mental mists to illuminate that truth. Ideally, this will be done in a way that encourages empathy rather than distanced pity. We are especially eager to provoke women who have breast-fed their own children to feel a visceral, embodied empathy with cows. As mothers, they occupy a privileged standpoint from which to speak about diet. They also tend to be the people making grocery decisions for their families. We also hope to induce empathy for cows among feminists, who we hope will begin to see dairy as an example of an intersection of sexism and specieism with more than a dash of racism in the mix.

On the proactive side, we would like this campaign to promote alternatives to “dairy” products, both at the level of production and at the level of consumption. Concerning production, we envision regional campaigns in three key states —Wisconsin, California, and right here in Vermont— each of which would put forward and promote locally appropriate, farmer-friendly and farmworker-friendly strategies for transitioning to dairy-free agricultural economies.

On the proactive consumption side, we’d like to focus on access to alternatives to dairy. At present, a complex nexus of factors drives what might be called “forced consumption” of dairy products in low-income and working-class communities—including communities where the majority of people are lactose intolerant. This is a form of social injustice upon which the profitability of the dairy industry (which relies heavily on its stranglehold on school lunches) depends. Persistently targeting that particular intersection at every level—from neighborhood schools to federal subsidies—might make a big difference for both children and cows.

Hence, we envision a multi-year national campaign in the sense of simultaneous local campaigns in many different places in tandem with selected national interventions. We do NOT envision the kind of one-size-fits-all vegan/animal advocacy that has come to be popular but, rather, a multifaceted strategy in which a diversity of tactics are deployed in concert by a diverse array of organizations and individual activists. We hope to partner both with organizations and with individual activists to implement the campaign elsewhere while we focus on Vermont and on providing the organizational infrastructure to coordinate and supply resources to the overarching strategy.

Audacious? Yes. We see no other way to meaningfully reduces the use of cows for dairy other than by such an undertaking. We owe it to the dairy survivors at the sanctuary, and to all of the cows now locked down on dairy farms or in veal crates, to at least try.

Of course we have our own ideas about all of this, but we also want to hear from you. The tactics for many aspects of this campaign, such as promoting alternatives to dairy production in particular regions and increasing access to dairy alternatives in particular communities, will have to be decided locally. However, we CAN crowdsource other aspects of the campaign, drawing upon our collective memory and creativity. We also need help in identifying potential partners or allies as well as past or ongoing relevant efforts, not to mention resources for the campaign’s website.

Please use the form below to answer as many of our questions as you can and to tell us anything else you like.