Speciesism.WTF X Viva! X We The Free

| 13 March 2024
minute reading time
What's the difference?

What’s the difference between humans and dairy cows?

We joined the organisation Speciesism.WTF to see if art has the power to convince people.

On Saturday 9 March, I joined Speciesism.WTF, as a milked woman, in their demonstration outside the Arnolfini gallery in Bristol. Their exhibition – Acts of Creation: On Art and Motherhood, features an image of a woman in a bathtub with a mother cow reaching over her. It’s clear to see the cognitive dissonance of featuring a female woman alongside a cow, who is exploited within the dairy industry, in an exhibition where we celebrate motherhood.

Speciesism Demo
Photo by Calvin Tasker

Dairy cows are the hardest worked mothers of all , enduring a constant cycle of exploitation, where they are artificially inseminated to become pregnant, milked for ten out of each twelve months, including seven months when she is pregnant and sent to slaughter between the ages of four and six when their milk production falls. You can read more about the dairy industry, and our campaigns and investigations into the abhorrent reality for the estimated 1.9 million dairy cows living in the UK, by clicking onto one of these buttons below.

Dairy - Corporate Cruelty

Tafarn Y Bugail Investigation

Home Farm Investigation

Arla and Müller Investigation

Speciesism.WTF is a group, founded by Stephanie Lane, who uses art in their activism, creating a thought-provoking space where passers-by question the ethics of exploiting females, of any species. They’ve previously held installations in London, Liverpool, New York and Melbourne. With the launch of this exhibition right on Viva!’s doorstep, we joined forces with not only Speciesism WTF but also, We The Free (WTF). Campaigner James manned the Viva! stall, urging people to choose the kinder choice for the animals, the world and themselves.

James at Speciesism collaboration event

Cold, exposed and uncomfortable – standing in a near naked costume, my mind raced thinking about the millions of individuals currently being exploited, tortured and slaughtered. I stood silent, observing the crowd gathering. As I watched the mothers out for an early Mothers’ Day celebration with their children, I thought about the calves stripped away from their own mothers. I thought about my own mother, someone who loves and supports me, and the absence of this relationship in thousands of calves’ lives. I thought about the human mothers being celebrated today and the mothers exploited for humankinds’ food.

Milk Demo
Milking Demo
Milk demo
Milk Demo

We stood outside for an hour and a half, standing alongside a van showing Viva!’s dairy investigation footage, whilst representatives from Viva! and We The Free offered free food and a VR experience to learn more about the dairy industry. Conversations were incredibly positive, with the immediate dislike of the human milking installation, meaning that people were open to the ethical issue with dairy. People were visibly moved as they were faced with the cruel realities of the dairy industry and had the opportunity to try some plant-based alternatives, as well as take some leaflets in order to learn more.

Photo by Calvin Tasker

Using art to speak up against the injustices cows face in the dairy industry meant conversations were sparked by the public rather than activists. People are often more receptive to questioning their beliefs when they experience some form of art and it was incredible to see the public understanding the injustice themselves.

One of the conversations which sticks in my mind was a mother with her young daughter. She stopped in front of me and knelt down telling her daughter that we were showing what happens to cows. She spoke about the dairy industry, educating her daughter about what happens to other female animals. She didn’t even interact with any activists, but I hope she was vegan herself and her daughter will go on to be a voice for these animals who are exploited for their reproductive systems.

Photo by Calvin Tasker

There are so many styles of activism around and I urge anyone reading this to step up and be a voice for the voiceless. Thousands of animals suffer behind the false marketing of animal agriculture corporations and it is up to us to be a voice for them.

It is time for you to go vegan, get involved and fight for the innocent millions killed for a moment of taste pleasure.

What's the difference?

About the author
Issy Acosta

Issy joined Viva! as a Campaigner in 2023. She is responsible for building and creating campaigns that will provide a voice for the animals and help end their exploitation. Issy went vegan in 2019, realising the love she felt for her companion dog, Lily, was the same love all other animals deserved.
She was working within the fitness industry at that time and educated people that one can be healthy, strong and vegan. Whilst working full time, she volunteered with an array of animal and climate organisations, one of which was Viva! in their ‘The True Costa Dairy’ campaign.
In her free time, she enjoys going on long walks with Lily, volunteering at animal sanctuaries, going to the gym, playing the violin and spending as much time as possible outdoors in nature!

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