It all started with ExVegans.com, a website that publicly named and shamed former vegans in such a ruthless and malicious way that it was bound to turn heads.
As anticipated, it didn’t take long before the site was receiving hundreds of thousands of unique hits a day and the mainstream media were jumping on the ‘vegan extremist’ bandwagon and letting the whole world know that they were right all along, and that vegans really were the fanatical crazies that they had always said they were.
To give you an idea of just how much the mainstream media loved this story, here are some of the headlines that popped up once the site starting gaining tract:
“Fanatic vegans launch website to name and shame former followers who are now meat lovers” – Mail Online
“Vegan extremists launch Website to name and shame ex-vegans” – New York Post
“Extremist site shames ex-vegan ‘traitors’ for carnivorous cravings” – The Observer
If you’re one of the people that stumbled onto this site in the last month or so, then you’ll know exactly how self righteous and scathing it came across. There is no arguing with that. But thanks to Peter Young’s public explanation of the creation and conception of this pretentious ‘Vegan Sellout List,’ we now know that it was nothing more than a farce created with the sole purpose of confronting omnivores with stomach churning slaughterhouse footage that would potentially pull on their heart strings.
After the traffic starting flooding in, and many of the biggest websites in the world had linked to ExVegans.com, the creators redirected the URL to graphic footage of slaughterhouses and factory farms. The exploitation and suffering of animals was brought right into America’s living rooms.
So what can we learn from this outrageous publicity stunt?
Well, one thing’s for sure: the media is so easily manipulated and that when you play them right, they will lap up pretty much anything you dangle in front of them as long as it is provocative enough.
Perhaps a more important lesson that has come out of this is how it is possible for the animal rights movement to cleverly use manipulation tactics to generate huge publicity for the cause. Animal advocates everywhere are constantly looking for ways to increase effectiveness and bring their message to as many people as possible, and it seems that the inspiration behind ExVegans.com may just hold the answer.
Obviously, baiting the media is not the only way to turn the spotlight on animal issues, but in this case, and I am sure in a lot of others, it is a tactic that clearly works. Some would argue that the damage this stunt caused to veganism is unforgivable, as there is no doubt that a lot of people were rubbed the wrong way (vegans included) during this naming and shaming extravaganza. But in the end, it all boils down to the fact that if animal advocates want to get heard, they need to get creative.
So yes, ExVegans.com might have made vegans look bad, and yes it probably turned a lot of people off, but as Peter Young himself said, “Before last week, you believed the temperature in Hell would have to hit 32 degrees before FoxNews.com would ever link to this: Meet Your Meat.”
This post originally misprinted Peter Young as Peter Singer. We apologize for this mistake.
Photo Credit: Farm Sanctuary