On the 9th and 10th of October 2023, vegan students at Brown University in Rhode Island, US, ran a booth on campus offering “breast milk” and “dog meat” to other students to make them think about veganism. Although they did not produce such items but just offered them to draw attention to passersby, they believed this was a good tactic.

The table was at the bottom of Wriston Quadrangle, where volunteers handed out the fake “samples” to willing students leading to many conversations — the actual samples were of oat milk and vegan meats. The event was hosted by Allied Scholars for Animal Protection, a national advocacy group with chapters at 13 campuses in the US.

Benny Smith, project coordinator for ASAP, told The Brown Daily Herald, “The breast milk and dog meat stands are partly for the shock factor. If you just make a poster that says Go vegan, people don’t talk to you. This gets people to talk to you…People like dogs, and they don’t like the idea of their companion animal being slaughtered. Pigs are even more intelligent and emotional than dogs. And they’re tortured for their entire lives on factory farms. The same stuff happens to cows, chickens and fish … horrific abuse that happens to tens of billions of animals every year.”

Gabriel Herrera, one of the students who stopped to chat with the activists, told The Herald, “I guess it’s a fair comparison, but I just think they can go about it a different way. I would want to go plant-based for more positive reasons rather than ‘stop hurting animals.’ And I feel like phrasing it as a negative like that is less constructive than, ‘Let’s build a more sustainable world.’”

Marcello Calamandrei, another student who stopped to chat, said, “If you want people to engage with really serious things like the ultra-confinement of animals, straight-forwardness is oftentimes an ineffective strategy.” 

“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’.