Note 11/8/12: While FARM helped fund this study and is intrigued by the results, we do not believe that this is the final word on graphic vs. non-graphic imagery. We hope this study and this post contribute meaningfully to the dialogue about this topic.

FARM’s Sabina Fund recently helped fund a study, conducted by Chris Monteiro,* to determine whether images of farmed animals that are low, moderate or high in graphic detail (gore produced by violence) was most effective at improving attitudes toward animal rights. The images used, from low graphic detail to high, were: a dead pig on a muddy slaughterhouse floor, a dead pig on a bloody slaughterhouse floor, and a dead pig with their throat slit on a bloody slaughterhouse floor. The images’ effects on attitudes towards animal rights were measured using the Wuensch animal rights scale, a high score on which indicates positive attitudes towards animal rights, and a low score indicates negative attitudes towards animal rights (Wuensch, Jenkins, & Poteat, 2002). There were multiple interactions between personality characteristics and the effects of the different images, and the two most relevant to activists are discussed here.

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Illegal backyard animal enclosure

Two weeks ago, we posted an important alert on our Facebook page concerning the growing trend of DIY backyard animal breeding and slaughtering. Thanks to our friends at Neighbors Opposed to Backyard Slaughter (NOBS), this alarming trend is not going unnoticed and they are demanding city officials do something to stop it.

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Children learn compassion for animals

Leilani Farm Sanctuary is home to chickens, cats, goats, rabbits, donkeys, peahens, pigs, deer, and ducks. The sanctuary is an all volunteer, non-profit organization created to provide shelter and care for rescued animals and humane education to the community.

The sanctuary hosts at-risk youth programs, school field trips, special needs children, elder activities, and farm tours for the general public, including visitors from the Mainland. It provides the community with hands-on experience that is thought-provoking and stimulates social and emotional growth to all who visit.

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Thanks to our Sabina Fund, groups like the Society for Health, Environmental and Rural Development (SHERDP) and the Women’s Organization for Rural Development (WORD), are educating fellow villagers about the importance of environmental awareness, compassion for all living beings and promoting proper health care.

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Each year, FARM’s Sabina Fund supports the effort of Eastern Europe’s most active animal rights group, Animal Friends Croatia (AFC). The group’s goal is to promote animal rights, animal protection and vegetarianism and veganism as an ethical, ecologically acceptable and healthy life-style. In more than ten years of its activity, AFC has organized hundreds of campaigns and demos which have focused on animal suffering in the food industry, laboratories, fur farms, hunting and fishing, the entertainment industry and which have promoted the ethical way of living.

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During the week of March 11-17th, author and lecturer Dr. Melanie Joy presented her acclaimed slideshows throughout Europe on what she calls “carnism,” funded in part by FARM’s Sabina Fund. Carnism, as Dr. Joy explains it, “is the invisible belief system, or ideology, that conditions people to eat certain animals. Most people view eating animals as a given, rather than a choice; but when eating animals isn’t a necessity for survival, as is the case in the majority of the world today, it is a choice – and choices always stem from beliefs.”

Throughout the week, over 750 people came out to hear her speak – but that’s just the in-person lectures. More impressive was the international media coverage, from an interview on Good Morning Croatia to an article in leading Austrian paper Der Standard with nearly 1,000 comments posted on it! Additional articles and interviews across Europe ensured that many thousands of people heard her compelling message.

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In 2005, Animal Liberation Israel (ALI) was formed to create a society free of animal exploitation and abuse – a society which recognizes the basic rights of animals to live a life without enslavement, suffering and exploitation. FARM is proud to support ALI’s gallant efforts through our Sabina Fund.

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Another amazing organization to receive a grant from our Sabina Fund is the Kairos Coalition; which promotes grassroots advocacy and youth volunteerism to further humane education objectives worldwide. FARM is thrilled to support this group’s collaboration with a budding animal rights youth community in Vietnam to plan and conduct a national Animal Rights Propaganda Poster Contest.

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Since 1999, FARM’s Sabina Fund has partnered with nearly 150 grassroots organizations across the world by awarding small grants to support their efforts to promote a plant-based diet and animal rights. The Fund honors the memory of FARM President Alex Hershaft’s mother, Sabina. These small grants have produced amazing efforts by creative, dedicated folks who donate their time, talent, and tenacity and require only minimal seed grants to help get their projects started.

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Feeling discouraged about the plight of animals raised for food around the world? Need a lift? Visit the Meatout 2011 Event Directory and delight in the wide variety of interesting events taking place this month to promote veganism. With pledges to serve vegan foods to nearly 20,000 people, Meatout events range from public feed-ins and presentations, to events in schools and retirement communities, plus demonstrations, open mic nights, and more.

In Pembroke, Massachusetts, students at Brockton High School will take a vow of silence to honor animals raised for food and will wear badges to identify their involvement in Meatout. They will put up posters and operate information tables sharing the positive message about the benefits of a vegetarian/vegan diet. The cafeteria will also offer vegetarian options for students from March 21-25.

Although vegan outreach frequently targets younger people, one event in Fargo, North Dakota will share the benefits of a vegan diet with approximately 200 residents of a retirement community. Rachel, the compassionate coordinator of this event, works for the retirement community and saw a perfect opportunity for residents, many of whom are 80 or over and have diabetes and other chronic conditions, to make choices to improve their health and quality of life.

Rachel is frequently consulted by people in the community for nutritional tips and healthy recipes and is looking forward to providing lots of helpful information to residents on March 21st. She is also looking forward to giving residents a chance to try a variety of vegan food products, teaching them different ways to prepare vegan foods, and showing them how delicious vegan foods are.

At Colorado State University, Colorado Coalition for Animals Charlotte Cressey will give a powerful presentation about the dismemberment of nonhuman animals, the dismemberment of the human spirit, and how to return to wholeness. In Alexandria you can attend an poetry open mic night and vegan potluck where the focus is on compassion for all beings. And in California, kids from the Mars Academy (a nonprofit private academy for k to 12th graders) will share a vegan feast, serve vegan lunches to the homeless, and distribute information and vegan food samples to the public.

And how about events outside of the U.S.? In India’s city of Madurai, Grace Trust, one of FARM’s Sabina Fund recipients, will mobilize its coalition members, volunteers, and youth to promote Meatout’s educational initiatives, potentially benefiting 25,000 people.  In Mexico, people will celebrate the Dia Sin Carne (Day Without Meat) with a fiesta including music, vegetarian food, movies, and more.  In Spain, a month-long online vegan bloggers’ event will promote the month without meat.  And depending upon where you are in Germany, you could feed apples to 32 cows rescued from slaughter, get an animal welfare-related tattoo, or enjoy free vegan chocolates!

Finally, if you are feeling alone or discouraged on your own vegetarian or vegan path, perhaps we can all find inspiration in the words of Carolina who is hosting a private feed-in Odendaalsrus, South Africa. As she shared with FARM for the event directory, Carolina believes she is the only vegetarian in her city of 200,000 people. She says meat-eating is a “big thing” there and people don’t relate well to vegetarians, much less vegans.

But Carolina persists and says, “I walk every single day and always think what an amazing opportunity it is to do leafleting.” If she can do it, alone in a city of 200,000, so can we!

A HUGE THANK YOU to everyone hosting or participating in a Meatout 2011 event. And there’s still time! Register now and you can take advantage of food offers from our generous food sponsors. Plus get our handouts and our colorful new vegan brochure to give to all of your attendees.

~ Cindi Saadi for the FARM Blog

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