On Saturday afternoon, local vegan activists in Norwich began the city’s very first ‘Anonymous for The Voiceless’ demonstration – a ‘direct action’ method of activism inspired by the now widely-established Earthlings Experience in which blank-masked people hold signs and devices showing the documentary Earthlings with the aim that passers-by are then able to make informed consumer choices when confronted with the reality of how animals are used as products.
The most obvious difference with Anonymous for The Voiceless however, is the use of the ‘V for Vendetta’ Guy Fawkes mask. As I observed the scene and heard snippets of conversations from the public as they passed the four-person cube of activists holding laptops, it seemed to me that the link between veganism and the group Anonymous had a few pros and cons when it came to first impressions. However, for those that had the time to stop and watch the footage shown, it seemed that all were willing to ask questions and learn more. Either way, the masks are certainly attention-grabbing and do a great job in piquing curiosity, whether they are linked to Anonymous or completely blank.
With the documentary Earthlings now over ten years old, it’s now arguably beginning to lose some of it’s relevance to people who would prefer to convince themselves that ‘things are different now’ and that somehow we’ve since found a humane way to kill someone who doesn’t want to die (spoiler: we haven’t). Most of Earthlings is also set in the US, so it was very important to find something we could show that is recent and from farms and slaughterhouses in the local area. Addressing this has had a huge positive effect. Chris Hines did an excellent job in editing all the footage with locations and dates in a way that creates such an impact that many people who stopped to watch were instantly made to question if they wanted to carry on supporting such an industry. Not only were undercover investigation videos used, but many of the clips were taken from what The Save Movement has seen over the past few months recording animals being transported to slaughter. It’s this combination of many different form of activism and people coming to together to share ideas that really makes it effective.
Around the cube of tablets and laptops, there were activists willing to answer questions from the public on what was being shown and to explain why they were there. Along with the ‘cube’ formation, the location in the centre of a wide walkway so people could view from all sides, the amazing teamwork of all the activists involved and the more recent footage used, I’d say Anonymous for The Voiceless is a fantastic activist movement that can only get better as it grows.
This method of outreach is extremely important. The seeds planted in people’s minds will encourage them to think about their consumer choices based on what they have seen and perhaps even do some research of their own. Sometimes all it takes is to simply present others with the truth that all male chicks are killed at one day old in the egg industry; That male calves are killed for veal in the dairy industry; That piglets are routinely castrated and have their tails and teeth cut all without anaesthetic. They just need to know in order to make an informed choice and to consider the possibility that all of these acts are in fact, completely unnecessary if we stop using animals.
The situation is too urgent to simply be vegan. Being vegan is the least we can do. Do the most you can do.
Watch the footage we showed the city of Norwich here (edited by Chris Hines):