On 21st October 2023, five women from the animal rights groups Speciesism.Wtf and Radically Kind staged a piece of performance art in front of the Tate Modern Museum of Contemporary Art in London, UK. Titled “Dairy Is Not Human(e),” the event aimed to challenge the notion that animals are commodities and highlight the ethical implications of speciesism.
Created by Stephanie Lane, the founder of Speciesism.Wtf who worked as a filmmaker before setting up the group, the piece depicted the chained women pretending to be “milked” by machines, and then explaining to people passing by that they were artificially inseminated every year to meet the demand for milk. Samples of this “Human(e) Milk” were available for the public to try (but they were in fact oat milk).
Lane told Plant Based News (PBN), “It’s mind-blowing to find that most people have never heard the word ‘speciesism’ before, and the demo was super effective in educating members of the public about this… Most humans naturally will have more empathy for their own species… “So using humans in this context was so powerful because it paved the way for connecting the next dot of compassion towards nonhumans in what seems a very linear way… As a renowned institution dedicated to showcasing contemporary art and pushing the boundaries of cultural expression, the Tate Modern provides a fitting backdrop for an artistic exploration of speciesism.”
The concept behind this performance is not new. In 2022, Lane put up billboard posters around London depicting a woman with milk machines hooked up to her breasts. Lane said at the time, “I woke up with this idea to create a project which primarily focuses on placing human subjects in the same barbaric and unjustifiable situations that non-human animals are subjected to in the animal agriculture industries. And use advertising platforms which can reach the public on a mass scale, to counter-condition society into creating a more compassionate world for all sentient beings.”