If you’ve visited the Utah State Fair this year, you may have seen goats, pigs, and cows, but have you seen the animal activists?
Meet Jeremy Beckham. He’s a volunteer for PETA, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. This year Beckham and other volunteers set up a booth right next to the petting zoo, talking to Utahns about animal abuse.
“Chickens and turkeys have their throats cut open while they’re still fully conscious,” said Beckham. “They’re scalded alive. This is what Utah Animal Agriculture doesn’t want the public to see.”
PETA was originally going to show a graphic documentary narrated by Sir Paul McCartney about the meat industry, but decided that person to person conversations would be more effective.
“People were very shocked to learn how animals are abused on factory farms, how meat is a disaster to their own health, and how it’s a catastrophe for the environment as well,” said Beckham.
PETA says they’ve had a positive response at the fair so far, but neighboring vendors complained that they scare away their customers. In addition to that, just a few steps away is the fair’s annual Beef Feast, held by the Utah Cattlemen’s Association.
“I really struggle with someone that wants to push their ideals onto someone else,” said Wallace Shulthess, president of Utah Cattlemen’s Association. “If PETA wants to come in and present their material, as long as they do that in a safe manner, I think its perfectly good and fine to have them here.”
“We haven’t really gone up to [meat vendors] and they haven’t gone up to us,” said Beckham. “What we’re trying to do really is just educate the fair-goers, the people that may eat animal products but have no idea how animals are treated on factory farms.”
This is the first year that the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals have been settting up booths at state fairs. PETA hasn’t had any major problems here in Utah, but earlier this year the Iowa State Fair temporarily kicked them out, and the Kansas Fair sued them over vulgar content in the documentary.