Vegan protesters are facing up to five years’ jail time and a public backlash, after they brought rush-hour traffic to a standstill and chained themselves to abattoirs across Australia in carefully orchestrated protests that caught plenty of media attention.
But it was an off-the-cuff Facebook rant by a grazier that caught the viral limelight, as he slammed the protesters as “bananas” and described a telephone conversation with a protester who told him “lettuce has a heartbeat.”
Within a day Brendan Farrell’s two-minute video (below) had been viewed over 500,000 times—in a country with a population of only 25 million—with the comments overwhelmingly in support.
“Vegans are going bananas,” said Farrell. “Blockades left, right, and center. Flinders Street Station is in chaos. Abattoirs chained up, people locking themselves up here, there, and everywhere.”
“I am just gobsmacked with some of the [expletive] that’s coming out these people’s mouths on what they are trying to achieve.”
In addition to his livelihood in grazing, Farrell runs a charity that trucks out hay to drought-stricken farmers.
He described how he had picked up the phone to a protester. “I answer every call because that’s what I do… ”
“[She said] she didn’t like the last post I done on Facebook. … because lettuces have got a heartbeat …,” he says in the video. He pauses for several seconds. “Lettuce. Has. A. Heartbeat.”
Interesting update 😂😂
Posted by Burrumbuttock Hay Runners on Sunday, April 7, 2019
“I don’t know what else I can say about that. Some people have just got no bloody idea. None.”
Farrell then talks about how there is one steer on his farm that’s going to be “delicious at Christmas time.”
His viral video came the day after over 100 activists had blocked a major intersection in Melbourne outside Flinders Street Station, on April 8, before they were forcibly removed.
Thirty-eight were arrested. The protesters had demanded the community stop eating meat and animal-derived products, chanting for animal liberation.
Other protests, including people chaining themselves to machinery in abattoirs, took place in Victoria, New South Wales, and Queensland.
— 7NEWS Toowoomba (@7NewsToowoomba) April 7, 2019
“Animals are suffering in ways that most of us could never imagine. It is not about bigger cages—it is about animal liberation.”
The protests also marked the first anniversary of the released about a film about factory farming, which the protesters said that media had ignored.
— Nine News Queensland (@9NewsQueensland) April 8, 2019
The documentary used drones and “undercover footage” to show how some animals are treated in the production of meat, dairy, eggs, and leather.
“The industry is telling people these animals are being killed ethically, that they are being killed humanely,” the director Chris Delforce told Australian Associated Press, according to Reuters. “It’s the furthest thing from humane.”
In response to the unrest, Victoria police superintendent David Clayton said, “We respect the right for people to protest peacefully, but we will not tolerate anti-social behavior that disrupts the broader community.”
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison called the activists “shameful and un-Australian,” and called on state authorities to bring “the full force of the law … against these green-collared criminals.”
“This is just another form of activism that I think runs against the national interest, and the national interest is [farmers] being able to farm their own land,” he told radio station 2GB.
Australia’s livestock industry makes up more than 40 percent of its agricultural output.
In a previous Facebook post Farrell said that the activists were going about it “all wrong” by potentially wrecking the livelihoods of the struggling farmers, who he said already care for their animal’s welfare.
“Farmers are very, very smart when it comes to animals’ health,” he said.
“These activists … they need to go a different way about it. All [the protesters] see is just death, death, and more death.”
“How about you go to an outback station and help people feed their cattle? I know cattle-men who go out and pet and talk to them … sometimes for hours.”