People driving on highway 150 in Mooresville, N.C., each day during certain hours might notice the faint smell of seared animal flesh. That’s because the Bloom grocery chain, a division of Food Lion, erected a billboard that spews a charcoal and black-pepper scent in order to promote the store’s new line of beef. The smell is spread by a high-powered fan at the bottom of the billboard, which went up on May 28. (The advertisement is supposed to run until June 18, although perhaps if Bloom gets enough complaints from vegetarians and people with asthma and/or environmental sensitivities, they’ll pull it down sooner.)
Now, I wouldn’t want to be accused of forcing my vegan views on people the way that Bloom is forcing the steak scent on motorists, but did it ever occur to them that many people—including some of the store’s vegan customers, I’m sure—find the smell of animal flesh repulsive? (If they’re going to do a scented billboard, they might at least want to choose an aroma with more universal appeal, maybe like fresh strawberries of citrus.)
A lot of people who don’t find the smell—or taste—of beef objectionable, still find the images that the Bloom billboard conjures up—bloody, dismembered animals; thick artery-clogging plaque; and massive manure lagoons—less than appetizing.
PETA is using the opportunity to remind people that meat stinks for animals, human health, and the environment. PETA has even proposed running a billboard of its own—one that shows a skinned cow’s head and emanates the smells of rotting flesh, urine, feces, and blood.
The “smell of fear” that emits from slaughterhouses should be powerful enough to touch everyone’s heart and convince people to stop eating meat. As PETA President Ingrid E. Newkirk says, “If commuters got a whiff of a slaughterhouse—including the smells of terrified animals who have lost bladder and bowel control and the stench of gallons of blood and offal—like most slaughterhouse inspectors, they’d go vegan. You can dice it and slice it and broil it or boil it, but the real scent that meat gives off is the smell of decomposing flesh.”
Between the blood and the ammonia-saturated urine and the mounds of accumulated waste, it’s easy to see why people living downwind of animal factories are more likely to suffer from nausea, respiratory problems, and other health problems. A Scripps Howard report even warned that farmed animal waste is “untreated and unsanitary, bubbling with chemicals and diseased. … Every place where the animal factories have located, neighbors have complained of falling sick.”
Considering this, billboard companies might not be too eager to place an advertisement that emits the true stench of meat—or even one that blares the harrowing sounds of the slaughterhouse: bellowing cows, screaming in pain and fear. But, if a billboard company is willing to erect a billboard that sprays the smell of beef around, it should also be willing to produce one that emits factory farm and slaughterhouse odors.
Of course, I’m sure some concerned reporters and other caring individuals will help give people get an earful (and an eyeful) of information about the meat industry. If you know someone who still eats meat, why not show them “Meet Your Meat” and ask them to take the 30-day veg pledge?