'Farm animals are still animals': St Albans brothers campaign against factory farming
- Credit: Helen Furse
Throughout lockdown, St Albans-based brothers Benji and Oliver Furse, aged 12 and nine, have taken to raising awareness of factory farming through art and Lego.
Benji and Oliver, who attend Beaumont and Fleetville schools, have taken new steps in their activism by creating posters to put in windows and making Lego models of factory and free range farms, as well as writing to their MP, Daisy Cooper.
Oliver said: "Factory farmed animals are squashed together so much that they can hardly move and they never see sunlight. If everyone stops eating factory farmed meat it will still make a big difference."
Benji added: "Some people say that they would never eat a piglet but they would happily eat a 'big fat adult pig'. In fact, the truth is that in factory farms where most meat comes from the pigs have a miserable life and are still babies when they are killed for meat."
Benji and Oliver's mum Helen - who founded the St Albans branch of Compassion in World Farming - told the Herts Ad: "They were quite surprised that other people didn't know about it, and how awful the lives are of the animals that are kept in these intensive farms.
"I think the problem is, generally, that people see the packaging on meat and see pigs in fields looking happy and living nice lives, but the reality is completely different to that."
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Recounting a radio interview Oliver did as part of another campaign a few years ago, Helen added: "We can all make a difference if we all do a little bit. If everyone stopped buying factory farmed meat - even if you still want to eat meat - it will still make a massive difference to those animals."
Helen expressed her fear that not many people have an interest in animal welfare, and said: "Farm animals are still animals. Think how we spoil our pets and spend all this money on them and generally treat them so differently. We all say we love animals in this country; we're supposedly a nation of animal lovers, and yet we treat the majority of animals like that.
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"People really don't think it's important or a priority. There's a massive disconnect between the way we treat our pets and the way we treat farm animals. At the end of the day, they're all animals."
Benji and Oliver have taken a proactive approach to their own diets alongside their campaigning, with Benji cutting out all meat products and Oliver only eating meat that is ethically farmed. They have also started educating their grandparents about meal options.
"I think it's about transition," Helen said: "People have to find out themselves and make that decision, and that's what Compassion in World Farming is all about.
"It's not about telling people what to eat, it's about saying 'find out what you're eating and how it's produced, and then decide.' If people are educated, they can make their own decisions, hopefully, about what they want to eat."