As the popularity of independent media outlets surge, the audience for mainstream media is shrinking, and the latter’s acts of desperation are getting even harder to stomach. We see this expressed through a set of predictable anti-vegan formulas to create stories that the media hopes will titillate its readers, hike ratings and elicit engagement. Here are four common story formulas and examples of each.
Formula 1. Hone in on the most sensational or salacious comment from a vegan activist and then present it as if it represents an entire movement made up of millions of people from all different walks of life in diverse cultures across the globe. At the same, paint the exploiters or abusers as false victims. Titles often contain “vegan sends death threats” such as BBC’s popular “Farmers ‘sent death threats by vegan activists’”
Formula 2. Find the vegan failure story that appeals to the public’s fears of not getting sufficient nutrients or endangering one’s health from a vegan diet. Frame it to serve as a cautionary tale to anyone who might be thinking about making the vegan transition. “Vegan Parents Left Infant Daughter Severely Malnourished After Placing Her on Strict Diet” was recently devoured by several major outlets.
Formula 3. Present a story that is squarely targeted at shooting the vegan messenger, whining about how annoying or aggressive vegans are, while completely ignoring the substance of the vegan message. “Are Militant Vegans Going Too Far?” is one such example on the This Morning TV show featuring vegan activist Earthling Ed.
Formula 4. Spin a story about an animal exploiter who claims to have sold more animal flesh because of the attention from vegan protestors, in an attempt to stifle vegan activism, sending the message that vegans who speak out will actually make matters worse for animal victims. “Farmer sells out of turkeys after ‘vegan mafia’ sends him death threats” published in Yahoo News seems to relish in the possibility that the animal victims pay more when people vocally express their concern or opposition to their suffering.
While we should never excuse harassment or threats from anyone, vegan or otherwise, it’s important to recognize that these anti-vegan formulas are intended to intimidate vegans into silence, stoke division between vegans and the rest of society, or simply target vegans with ad hominem character attacks rather than deal with the very real and urgent issues that veganism raises. What can you do? Take the time to write a letter to the editor. Leaving a comment is okay, but sending a message to the editor might just get you published and reach thousands of readers!