(Pixabay)

(Pixabay)

Cyberbullying by vegan activists a source of stress for farmers: psychologists

Farmers say their kids end up being bullied at school

Cyberbullying by vegan activists is a growing source of stress for farmers and agricultural producers who already face significant mental health challenges linked to the job, a farmer and a psychologist working in the agriculture sector say.

Farmer Mylene Begin, who co-owns Princy farm in Quebec’s Abitibi-Temiscamingue region, created an Instagram account a few years ago to both document daily life on the farm and combat what she calls “disinformation and the negative image,” of agriculture. Today, she describes herself as the target of bullying from vegan activists.

Begin recently changed the settings on her account after having to get up an hour early to delete more than 100 negative messages a day — some of which made her fear for her safety, she said.

“There was one that took screenshots of my photos, he shared them on his feed after adding knives to my face and writing the word ‘psychopath’ on my forehead,” the 26-year-old said. ”It made me so scared.”

She said some of the messages compared artificial insemination of cows to rape, while others used the words “kidnapping” and “murder” to describe the work of cattle breeders.

The problem, she said, is that many city people don’t understand agriculture but become severe critics nonetheless.

“It affects you psychologically. It’s very heavy even if we try not to read (the comments),” she said. “The population has become disconnected from agriculture. We all have a grandfather who did it, but today in the eyes of many people we’re rapists and poisoners, and that’s what hurts me the most.”

ALSO READ: Experts alarmed after deer meat from diseased herd allowed into Canada’s food system

Pierrette Desrosiers, a psychologist who works in the agricultural sector, said bullying on the part of hardcore vegan activists on social media is a new source of stress for a growing number of farmers.

“At school, the children of farmers start to be bullied and treated as the children of polluters, or else the kids repeat what they see on social media and say breeders rape the cows (when artificially inseminating),” she said.

“It’s now a significant source of stress for producers, and it didn’t exist a year or two ago.”

Desrosiers, a farmer’s daughter and wife, is critical of the communications strategy used by certain animals rights groups and vegan associations.

“They use words like ‘rape’ and ‘murder’ to strike the imagination,” she said. “It’s anthropomorphism,” she added, referring to the attribution of human traits and emotions to animals and objects.

Beginning last year, the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food spent several months studying the mental health challenges facing farmers, ranchers and agricultural producers. The report, completed in May, found that farmers are vulnerable to mental health problems due to “uncertainties that put them under significant pressure,” including weather and environmental challenges, market fluctuations, debt, and paperwork.

“The isolation that many farmers experience and the stigmatization they sometimes face, particularly on social media, amplify this stress,” the report stated.

Their recommendations included an education campaign to combat cyberbullying and threats against farmers, as well as updating the Criminal Code to include cyberbullying against groups of Canadians based on their job or place of residence.

Frederic Cote-Boudreau, who recently completed a philosophy doctorate at Queen’s University and who studies animal ethics, said he’s a vegan who would like to see animals recognized as equal to humans.

However, he said, the language used by some animal rights defenders on social media is “counterproductive” to the cause.

“I’ve rarely seen someone get convinced by this kind of divisive approach,” he said. “When we’re told we’re cruel, we’re less receptive to what the other side is saying.”

But while he believes a peaceful approach is a more effective way to grow the movement, he said he shares the activists’ concerns and their strong emotions when faced with a society that appears to accept exploitation and violence towards animals.

His doctoral thesis defended the idea that animals should have the right to make choices, including where to live, who to develop relationships with and how to spend their days.

“We have ample scientific proof about the emotional life and capacity to suffer of animals,” he said. “It’s well-demonstrated that being coldly mutilated, crammed together, not being able to move normally, not being able to develop healthy social relationships, we know that it has enormous psychological and physical impacts on animals.”

Stephane Blais, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

A conceptual render of the proposed building at 955 Manhattan Drive. (Contributed)
Height not wanted on Kelowna’s Manhattan Drive

City staff said proposed five-storey building poses challenges

A for sale sign is shown in by new homes in Beckwith, Ont., just outside Ottawa, on Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Thompson-Okanagan population grew despite COVID-19: report

The Chartered Professional Accountants of BC said there are 8,462 new residents in the region

Kelowna General Hospital. (File photo)
COVID-19 outbreak at Kelowna General Hospital declared over

Three people tested positive for the virus — two patients and one staff — one of whom died

A crash at the intersection of Harvey Avenue and Leckie Road on June 15. (Amandalina Letterio/Capital News)
Traffic stalled by Harvey Avenue crash in Kelowna

One lane is open as crews clean up after crash at Harvey Avenue and Leckie Road

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan/Black Press Media file)
Rise in break-ins prompts Kelowna RCMP warning

Kelowna RCMP share steps on keeping your home safe

People watch a car burn during a riot following game 7 of the NHL Stanley Cup final in downtown Vancouver, B.C., in this June 15, 2011 photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Howe
10 years ago: Where were you during the 2011 Vancouver Stanley Cup Riots?

Smashed-in storefronts, looting, garbage can fires and overturned cars some of the damage remembered today

Orange ribbons are tied to the fence outside Vernon’s Gateway Homeless Shelter on 33rd Street. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
POLL: Low-key Canada Day in the works for Vernon

Councillor calling for Indigenous recognition for 2022

A conceptual design of Vernon’s new Active Living Centre, which will go to referendum Oct. 15, 2022. (Rendering)
Active living centre 2022 referendum planned in Vernon

City hoping to get Coldstream and Areas B and C back on board

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Closure of the 2900 block of 30th Avenue will allow restaurants and other businesses to extend their patios onto the street. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
Green light given to downtown Vernon road closure

Single block of 30th Avenue to close over summer months to boost business

Graduating Grade 12 student Savannah Lamb has been awarded an approximate $40,000 scholarship from the Beedie Luminaries foundation. (Contributed)
Dedicated Salmon Arm student earns scholarship to pursue post-secondary education

Savannah Lamb is graduating from Salmon Arm Secondary with a $40,000 scholarship

Travel Penticton went to city council for support in increasing the tax on short-term stays to fund a convention bureau and affordable housing. (File photo)
Travel Penticton seeks to grow through increased hotel tax

The increased funds would go to creating a convention bureau and to affordable housing

(Black Press Media file)
Dirty money: Canadian currency the most germ-filled in the world, survey suggests

Canadian plastic currency was found to contain 209 bacterial cultures

(pixabay file shot)
B.C. ombudsperson labels youth confinement in jail ‘unsafe,’ calls for changes

Review states a maximum of 22 hours for youth, aged 12 from to 17, to be placed in solitary

Most Read