Are Pro-Vegan Posters ‘Forcing’ Beliefs on Toronto Subway Riders?

After a bit of a legal struggle, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals finally managed to get the transit system in Toronto, Canada, to erect a series of pro-vegan advertisements. As soon as the posters went up, of course, people started to complain.

The posters feature animals that tell people, “I’m Me, Not Meat. See the Individual.” It’s a simple enough statement, accompanied by earnest-looking photos of animals often consumed as food. The campaign will run in 25 stations within the Toronto Transit System through the end of July 2018.

Photo credit: PETA

Photo credit: PETA

Somehow, some commuters find this ad campaign offensive. They accused PETA of “forcing its beliefs” on them by making them look a these posters as they travel to and from their destinations.

Here’s a selection of comments expressed to CBC News:

  • “It should be a personal choice and not advertised. I’m not vegan, and I personally love meat.”
  • “I think it’s forcing other people’s opinions on others. I don’t agree with it.”
  • “I think guilt shaming people for eating meat is probably not the best idea. But I think being vegan is healthy and good for the environment.”

Truly, though, is an ad campaign really “forcing” an opinion on someone?

There isn’t a vegan on the planet who hasn’t been accused of “forcing” his or her beliefs on a non-vegan. Not surprisingly, a lot of non-vegans just don’t like hearing about what animals go through.

The thing is, so often we are accused of “forcing” our views on others simply because we’re expressing our opinion and describing the facts that led us there. True, some do it in an aggressive, in-your-face manner – and perhaps that approach won’t win hearts and minds.

Photo credit: PETA

Photo credit: PETA

Far more plant-based diet advocates tend to express our thoughts in more considered way. Someone — a co-worker, perhaps — asks why we went vegan. Having been asked this question many times before, we have our response ready to go.

Quietly and earnestly, we describe the horrors of factory farming. We offer to pull up YouTube videos and investigation photos verifying that it’s every bit as bad as we are describing.

Often at this point, hands go up in the air. “Whoa, whoa — I’m not looking at that stuff. Why would you show me that? Why do you vegans insists on forcing this stuff on us?”

What we want to say is, “Hang on, pal. You asked me why I became vegan, and I’m telling you. I didn’t know this information either, until someone showed me — and it changed me. I wished I’d known much earlier. Now I feel a responsibility to explain fully to anyone who asks exactly why I went vegan.”

Photo credit: PETA

Photo credit: PETA

Hopefully we get a chance to express this, but more often we don’t. The conversation often ends when the objection is raised. After that point, nothing else is usually going to get through.

The PETA posters in Toronto are fairly gentle reminders that animals are individuals. It’s not like these ads were hitting people between the eyes with bloody scenes of slaughterhouse carnage. No, these are simple animal faces, imploring passersby to see them as personalities, not meat.

This is “forcing” vegan views on them? Really?

Perhaps vegans should rise up and complain every time we see a McDonalds or Arby’s billboard featuring a huge meat sandwich. I don’t like seeing that, and frankly I see it every day on television, on billboards and in magazines.

Surely non-vegans can look at the innocent face of a cow or pig and not be offended by the accompanying idea that these animals ought not to be considered food. Is that a bit of guilt lurking in the background, prompting the objections?

What else can it be, when you get right down to it?

Photo Credit: Jason Leung/Unsplash


Marie W
Marie W17 days ago

Thank You for Sharing This

Thomas M
Thomas M25 days ago


Peggy B
Peggy B28 days ago


Greta L
Greta L29 days ago

Thanks for posting

Jan K
Jan Sabout a month ago

thanks for sharing

Dr. Jan H
Dr. Jan Hill1 months ago

well, as a vegan I find it offensive and stomach turning to see pictures of hunks of meat on a plate advertised as someone else's potential dinner. Tolerance is an important quality.

John W
John W2 months ago


Michael F
Michael F3 months ago

Thank You for Sharing This !!!

hELEN h3 months ago


Mary B
Mary B4 months ago

You don't have to demonize the other viewpoints to express your own, nor do you need to explain why you arrived at your viewpoint.