When I put the headset on I was transported to an animal slaughter house and as I looked around I saw many cows crammed into cages. Then a farmer walked towards me and stunned a nearby cow who immediately collapsed unconscious. After this the cow was strung up and bled to death.
When I took the headset off one of the men at the stall asked me how I felt about what I’d seen. I told him I was surprised at how painless the slaughter had appeared, and that it was surely towards the humane end of the factory farming spectrum. It quickly became apparent that the man was a vegan activist as he began questioning me about my ethical opinions and presenting stock philosophical arguments against factory farming. I made it clear that I had already considered and agreed with all of these arguments and after that we had a much more interesting discussion for around half an hour about tactics for reducing meat consumption.
The focus of his activism seemed to be mainly to apply moral pressure on individual consumers to change their behaviour. I told him this might have some value but that its effectiveness was limited. I argued in favour of combining these methods with campaigns which have worked to drastically reduce tobacco consumption, such as stricter advertising regulations, warning labels on packaging and public health campaigns. These tactics ensured that between 1974 and 2017 the proportion of British people who smoked fell from 45% to 17%. Given the known health risks of red meat, coupled with environmental concerns, there seems little reason that consumption of meat could not be driven down in the same way. He largely agreed with my views.
I found him impressive, interesting and engaging and very much enjoyed our exchange.
Before I left he handed me some promotional leaflets. I later looked him up online and discovered he is a popular internet personality, named Earthling Ed. He has become famous for his videos in which he engages members of the public in socratic dialogues about animal rights and veganism.
Below is a video of him debating a farmer which is worth watching: