Lukas Buricin from Manchester Animal Action explains his shock at Tesco’s ‘Eat Happy Project’, which promotes meat and dairy products to schoolchildren.
The day we received the email from school telling us that our five-year-old daughter would be going on a trip to Tesco to learn about food, I started to get a bad feeling.
“Why would Tesco, whose primary aim is profit, want to work with school kids for free? Unless their motivation is more profit, of course…”, I thought. My partner and I really hesitated over whether to give consent for our daughter to go on the trip.
We still vividly remembered how, three days after our daughter started school, she came home and explained that “Other children have chicken, but it’s not like a real chicken – it’s a chicken on a plate, to eat”.
The purpose of the trip to Tesco was to take the children from shelf to shelf and explain things about different foods. We didn’t want our daughter to feel isolated, but because we were worried about her visiting the meat and dairy shelves, we gave our consent only under the condition that our daughter would not be attending the talks about meat and dairy products.
As part of the trip, children were given an activity book. It’s called “Your ‘Explore the Store’ activity book” – and when we looked at it, we found the content really upsetting. Whilst it does include pages about fruit, vegetables and bread, our impression was that whoever had written the book had made an effort to manipulate the children’s minds and hide the truth about the way in which meat and dairy come from animals.
Of course, people often say that we are only protecting our children from the ‘cruel truth’ – but my question is always: the truth about what, and who? The reality is that it’s the cruel truth about ourselves and our society. It is we as parents who ‘protect’ children by lying to them and who keep feeding them meat and dairy, until they grow up and become just as ignorant as we are.
Nobody will tell the children that the chicken stickers represent a once-living animal who was bred, fed with antibiotics and hormones, brutally killed and then neatly packaged like a product.
Nobody will explain to the children that the cows, sheep and goats in the photos provide us with milk only because they were artificially impregnated and had their babies stolen from them and killed.
We found the hypocrisy of this ‘Eat Happy Project’ particularly shameful because it was aimed at children. We agreed that this would be the last school trip our daughter ever made to such an event.