(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.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

People skate on a lake in a city park in Montreal, Sunday, January 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
The end of hugs: How COVID-19 has changed daily life a year after Canada’s 1st case

Today marks the one year anniversary of COVID-19 landing in Canada

SARS-CoV-2 virus particles, which causes COVID-19, emerge from the surface of cells isolated from a patient in the U.S. and cultured in a lab in a 2020 electron microscope image. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-HO, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases - Rocky Mountain Laboratories
Alberta adds 463 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday

The central zone has 818 active cases

As of Friday, Alberta has under 10,000 active COVID-19 cases. (Image courtesy CDC)
Alberta identifies 573 new COVID-19 cases, 13 deaths on Saturday

There are currently 9,727 active cases of the virus in the province

As of Friday, Alberta has under 10,000 active COVID-19 cases. (Image courtesy CDC)
Three new COVID-19 deaths in Central zone, Alberta under 10,000 active cases

The Central zone sits at 849 active cases, with 52 people in hospital and 10 in the ICU.

Black Press File Photo
Maskwacis RCMP lay charges for attempted murder, kidnapping, and flight from police

Female victim remains in hospital in serious condition.

Terrance Josephson of the Princeton Posse, at left, and Tyson Conroy of the Summerland Steam clash during a Junior B hockey game at the Summerland Arena in the early spring of 2020. (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
QUIZ: How much do you know about hockey?

Test your knowledge of Canada’s national winter sport

A registered nurse prepares a dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine in Halifax on Monday, Jan. 11, 2021. Yukon’s Minister of Community Services, John Streiker, says he’s outraged that a couple from outside the territory travelled to a remote community this week and received doses of COVID-19 vaccine. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan-POOL
Couple charged after travelling to Yukon to get COVID-19 vaccine

The maximum fine under the emergency measures act is $500, and up to six months in jail

Metis Nation of B.C. President Clara Morin Dal Col poses in this undated handout photo. The Metis Nation of B.C. says Dal Col has been suspended from her role as president. The Metis Nation of B.C. says Dal Col has been suspended from her role as president. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Metis Nation of B.C. *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Metis Nation of B.C. suspends president, citing ‘breach’ of policies, procedures

Vice-president Lissa Smith is stepping in to fill the position on an acting basis

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks in the in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Payette shouldn’t get same benefits as other ex-governors general: O’Toole

Former governors general are entitled to a pension and also get a regular income paid to them for the rest of their lives

A woman injects herself with crack cocaine at a supervised consumption site Friday, Jan. 22, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Drug users at greater risk of dying as services scale back in second wave of COVID-19

It pins the blame largely on a lack of supports, a corrupted drug supply

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
Blackfalds RCMP investigate fatal collision

Preliminary investigation revealed a south bound pickup truck collided with an eastbound car

Jennifer Cochrane, a Public Health Nurse with Prairie Mountain Health in Virden, administers the COVID-19 vaccine to Robert Farquhar with Westman Regional Laboratory, during the first day of immunizations at the Brandon COVID-19 vaccination supersite in Brandon, Man., on Monday, January 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Tim Smith - POOL
Top doctor urges Canadians to keep up with COVID measures, even as vaccines roll out

More than 776,606 vaccines have been administered so far

Dr. Jerome Leis and Dr. Lynfa Stroud are pictured at Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto on Thursday, January 21, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
‘It wasn’t called COVID at the time:’ One year since Canada’s first COVID-19 case

The 56-year-old man was admitted to Toronto’s Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre

FILE - In this Feb. 14, 2017, file photo, Oklahoma State Rep. Justin Humphrey prepares to speak at the State Capitol in Oklahoma City. A mythical, ape-like creature that has captured the imagination of adventurers for decades has now become the target of Rep. Justin Humphrey. Humphrey, a Republican House member has introduced a bill that would create a Bigfoot hunting season, He says issuing a state hunting license and tag could help boost tourism. (Steve Gooch/The Oklahoman via AP, File)
Oklahoma lawmaker proposes ‘Bigfoot’ hunting season

A Republican House member has introduced a bill that would create a Bigfoot hunting season

Most Read