On Monday, peta2, the youth division of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, set up a tent in Gregory Plaza that exhibits the treatment of animals in factory farms in an attempt to persuade students to take action against animal cruelty.
The tent, which is open from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday through Wednesday, contains graphic pictures and descriptions of the ways animals are treated, leading up to their slaughter. The tent was organized by peta2 but was partly staffed by members of Students Against Cruelty to Animals, a UT student organization. Volunteers outside the booth asked students walking by to view the exhibit, offering free food and merchandise to those who entered.
The walkthrough ends with a video called “Glass Walls” — narrated by Sir Paul McCartney — which highlights the type of violence that is inflicted in the farms. In the video, McCartney said, “If slaughterhouses had glass walls, then everyone would be a vegetarian.”
Psychology freshman Autumn Rodriguez said she felt pressured by those running the exhibit to change her diet but couldn’t see herself becoming a vegetarian.
“I think they obviously are trying to push us to be vegetarian or vegan, but not everyone wants to do that,” Rodriguez said. “They are very passionate.”
According to PETA’s website, the organization has 3 million members and supporters worldwide. It focuses on factory farms, the clothing trade, animal testing laboratories and the entertainment industry.
Retail merchandising sophomore Denise Chavez said she has attempted to stop eating factory-farmed foods, but finds it challenging as a college student who requires cheaper options.
“I knew it was going to be about animal cruelty,” Chavez said. “It’s really sad, and I kind of wanted to leave immediately. It was hard to see.”
Kenneth Montville, the college campaign coordinator for peta2, said the purpose of the exhibit is to pull back the curtain on the way factory farming treats animals. Montville claimed students are usually horrified by what they see.
“It’s that kind of cruelty that students don’t want to support, and, with all the vegan options popping up on college campuses all around the country, they usually don’t have to.” Montville said.
According to a report released by the United Nations Environment Programme, food demand will outgrow sustainable production by 2050. Montville said he believes factory farming is a top contributor to environmental degradation, and, consequently, animal rights and human rights are closely linked.
Alex Bean, a member of Students Against Cruelty to Animals and a cell and molecular biology graduate student, said he has been a vegan for years. Bean said he does not believe humans need to eat meat, regardless of how well the animals are treated.
“Ethically, I can’t support breeding [and] then killing these animals when we have so many amazing alternatives. We just don’t need to,” Bean said. “[Better treatment] is good, but that should just be a step toward not needing them.”