The animal rights organisation PETA has written to the Denmark-based toy manufacturer LEGO complaining about using farm animals in farmyards portraying a misleading view of animal agriculture. PETA is calling for toy farms to be rebranded as animal sanctuaries so that children are not misled about the “horror and cruelty” of farmed animals.

Mimi Bekhechi, PETA’s Vice President of UK, Europe & Australia, wrote to LEGO’s chief executive Niels Christiansen the following: “This rebrand would help children recognise that animals are sentient beings to be cared for, who feel joy, pain, love, and grief, not edible commodities to be used and abused …Animal farming is a bloody, cruel business and, in 2022, no firm should be promoting it, especially to children. ‘Pastoral scenes’ obscured the truth about chickens which are kept in cages, pigs in cramped pens and cows being sent to the abattoir.”

Neil Shand, chief executive of the UK’s National Beef Association, said: “We have a responsibility to teach children where their food comes from through farm toys.” However, the LEGO toys do not show that, but the opposite. They can make children believe that farm animals are just happy animals living their full lives on farms, as opposed to being kept in cramped conditions, being forced to produce milk and eggs against their will, being forcibly impregnated, and being brutally killed many years before their time to produce burgers and sausages. I do not doubt that children will not connect the animals with food when they are playing with these unrealistic toy settings. These toys are part of the carnist indoctrination that most of us had grown up with, but since veganism has managed to break this circle of abuse and violence, it’s time we start to address the different elements of this indoctrination and began teaching children the truth. The next step should be to expose the carnist indoctrination of toy horses that wrongly teach riding horses is a perfectly acceptable activity. 

Jordi Casamitjana
“Originally from Catalonia, but resident in the UK for several decades, Jordi is a vegan zoologist and author, who has been involved in different aspects of animal protection for many years. In addition to scientific research, he has worked mostly as an undercover investigator, animal welfare consultant, and animal protection campaigner. He has been an ethical vegan since 2002, and in 2020 he secured the legal protection of all ethical vegans in Great Britain from discrimination in a landmark employment tribunal case that was discussed all over the world. He is also the author of the book, ‘Ethical Vegan: a personal and political journey to change the world’.