It's Not Food, It's Violence
DxE coordinates monthly days of action, in which grassroots activists from around the country come together to protest violence against animals and "speciesism" (the idea that non-human animals, simply by virtue of the species category they are thrown into, do not deserve equal rights and consideration).
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The focus of these actions is Chipotle. And some ask, why protest a company that appears to be “making an effort”? Here are four reasons:
It’s big. Chipotle is one of the largest and fastest-growing restaurant chains in the world. Its market capitalization is over $17 billion. In its most recent 3-month quarter, it took in an incredible $827 million (18% growth from the year before), and it is growing far faster than other animal-killers. We need a big and ambitious target to attract nationwide attention.
It’s at fault. Over 98% of Chipotle’s sales involve violence against animals, which amounts to billions of dollars in blood money. And as the company grows, more and more animals are killed to serve its bottom line. There are not many companies with more blood on their hands than Chipotle.
It’s a leader. Due to its size and growth, many other companies look to Chipotle for guidance in their own practices. Chipotle doubled its sales of carnitas after switching to a so-called "natural" supplier, and other chains are following its lead. Taco Bell, for example, recently released a Cantina Bell line of items that mimics Chipotle's marketing. If we can change Chipotle, we can change the world.
It’s a fraud. Chipotle has the audacity to claim that it is killing with “love” and “integrity.” It financed the distribution of a “pro farmer” documentary called American Meat that was well-received in theaters all over the country and described by the Village Voice as “exemplifying the history of meat production in the U.S., especially its innovations, by arguing that the industry is essential to the sustainability of our civilization.” It put on a nationwide Cultivate Festival that purported to show how the company was making a better world by killing animals, while featuring chefs who have been publicly unapologetic about their disdain for animal welfare. (“You put tripe in a bowl and tell them it’s from a humanely raised cow, and they’re going to eat it,” said one to the New York Times.) And most recently, it invested millions into an animated short, The Scarecrow, with idyllic scenes of humane and sustainable farming—but, notably, no images of slaughter. The film, which was viewed by millions, was decried by even mainstream press as “rife with chicanery” and ridiculed for its absurd marketing claims by Will Ferrell’s outfit, Funny or Die, in a powerful parody: The Honest Scarecrow.
Chipotle has, in short, preyed on its customers’ good intentions. And while its corporate propaganda has succeeded in making it one of the most successful businesses in the world, it has also left it vulnerable – particularly when even meat industry publications have noted that the company purchases meat from the same concentrated animal feedlot operations (so-called “factory farms”) as other buyers. More than any other restaurant, Chipotle has tied its fortunes to the myth of “humane meat.”
What are our objectives?
Our days of action are primarily focused on creating effective memes – spreading the idea of species equality far and wide, by using creative nonviolent protest. Chipotle is, first and foremost, a powerful metaphor and tool for these memes to spread, and to achieve four ambitious goals.
To pop the humane bubble. There is no such thing as "humane slaughter," and yet mainstream discussion of animal abuse is dominated by questions of "care" rather than "killing." We need to shift this debate away from bigger cages and better deaths, and back to the central issue: whether we should be killing animals at all.
To trigger public dialogue. As a prominent target with an international footprint, Chipotle presents an unparalleled opportunity to create public dialogue, not just on humane slaughter, but on the moral status of non-human animals.
To empower our movement with a strong and honest message. Chipotle, in private communications, has told us that we are all on the same side. But a movement that cannot marshal the courage and conviction to stand against one of the largest animal killers in the world, simply because it offers a few vegan options, is not a movement that will succeed. We need a strong and honest message if we want to see our movement grow. And Chipotle provides a perfect opportunity for us, as a movement, to develop it.
To change the company’s violent and deceptive practices – and many other companies’ too. Countless consumers are deceived or reassured by Chipotle's marketing and practices. Our protests will make the company's corporate chieftains think twice about perpetuating these lies -- and, given Chipotle's leadership position, will affect many other companies, too.
What are some of the notable actions that have been taken against the company?
- A nationwide "Die-In", in which activists in six cities converged in Chipotle restaurants and collapsed to the ground, to represent the animals who die for food.
- Disruption of a Chipotle-financed documentary at Stanford University -- the film American Meat. The disruption received press attention in almost a dozen outlets, as far away as Arizona.
- Disruption of a talk by Chipotle's Nate Appleman (famous for mocking animal advocates in the New York Times) at Chipotle's Cultivate Festival.
What can I do to help?
1. Join a day of action. DxE can assist you with anything from a simple leafleting (download the leaflet here; banner images and placards below) outside of a local Chipotle location, to organizing more sophisticated street theater. If you don't have a Chipotle location near you, don't worry! We can help you choose another suitable target. Chipotle is the focus, but the myth of humane meat extends far beyond any single restaurant's walls.
2. Write to the company, or local media, about your concern over Chipotle’s practices. If you buy vegan food there, let the employees and management know that you do not support their violent and deceptive practices. Make sure you reference DxE’s campaign, and say to them, “It’s not Food. It’s Violence.”
3. Share and discuss media from our campaign, in your local social network. Our campaigns are a platform for you to discuss the ideas behind animal liberation in your local community! Share our most dramatic actions, and explain to your friends, family, and co-workers why you support strong action against animal abuse!
Select Campaign Materials
Banner Images (For printing, use the high res images downloadable here.)
Placards and Leaflets
"Chipotle - Dangerous to Animals" (Placard for printing on letter size sheet.)
"It's Not Food. It's Violence." (Placard for printing on legal or letter size sheet.)
"Until Every Animal is Free." (Placard for printing on legal or letter size sheet.)
Chipotle Leaflet (Tri-fold, two sided.)
Earthlings Leaflet (Tri-fold, general liberation leaflet for those protesting anywhere.)
General Campaign Promotional Posters (Place at vegan restaurants, coffee shops, etc.)