peta2 visits campus, educates on animal capitivity in farms
“Fish are friends, not food” — a sentiment that was echoed yesterday at peta2’s “Glass Walls” exhibit.
Inside a large inflatable tent that resembled a barn, representatives from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals’ youth division gave students a chance to understand what animals experience while living on factory farms near Brower Commons on the College Avenue campus.
Upon entering the tent, students saw pictures and informational posters that described how animals are similar to human beings in terms of intellect.
“Fish use their mouths and tongues in much the same way that we use our hands — for tasks such as building nests, catching food and hiding their babies,” according to a peta2 poster.
The tent featured a gestation cage to demonstrate the space pigs live in, large information posters, and a seven-and-a-half-minute film that gave an inside look at how cows, fish and pigs are treated in factory farms.
“Most people don’t really have experiences with farms at all because it is a very industrialized system nowadays, so we’re basically [inviting] them to come inside and in the very beginning, they are learning about animal intelligence,” said Lisa Hines, “Glass Walls” exhibit coordinator for peta2.
The “Glass Walls” tour is visiting colleges and universities across the country this semester to draw back the curtains that surround factory farms to show students the conditions animals face before becoming a part of one’s meal, said Ryan Huling, manager of college campaigns and outreach for peta2.
“The exhibit put students in the animal’s position in the industry so they can understand the deprivation, confinement and torture,” he said.
Huling said the exhibit also shows students there are many vegetarian and vegan options available in the 21st century, in which samples of vegan food were given out to those who walked through.
“We hope that students will walk away with a new perspective on the cruelty the animals face when they are being killed for food,” he said.
Hines said students are shocked about what they learned through the campaign, which gives students an inside look of how animals are treated in factory farms.
“We’re really trying to put students in the shoes of animals on factory farms before they become meat,” Hines said. “They’re pretty shocked to find out that cows have their throats slit into when they’re fully conscious.”
She said at the end of the day, there is no nice way to kill animals that want to live, which is the message peta2 is trying to get across to students.
The United States farming industry slaughters about 10 billion animals every year, she said, which is more than the world’s population.
“They have to be intensely confined, generally chickens have about as much space as a size of a sheet of paper,” she said.
On average, about six chickens are confined to one cage while pigs are kept in crates and are separated from their young, Hines said.
Bilal Ahmed, a University alumnus, said the issue should be talked about more because it is a huge part of how we sustain a livelihood because the country is dependent on meat consumption.
“I think this is something that we always overlook in movements like this ‘oh maybe PETA’s over-exaggerating,’” he said. “Well yes, but it has to be exaggerated in order to get exposure and in order to shed light on something that is very real.”
Michael Mullins, intern for peta2’s “Glass Walls” tour, said he turned to veganism after learning about how animals are treated in factory farms.
“I view animals as equals, I just view them as sentient beings,” he said.
Briana Ramos, a School of Arts and Sciences first-year student, said she tried a vegetarian diet for about four months after learning about animal cruelty in slaughterhouses.
She said becoming a vegetarian could be easier at college than at home, where families might serve dinners including meat.
“Here there are so many options [in the dining hall] — you can make your own decisions,” she said.
The exhibit will be on campus from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. today, before it leaves for Pennsylvania State University to continue the tour.