Shoppers at a large outdoor mall in Sydney, Australia were shocked by a demonstration led by animal rights group PETA on Saturday in which they barbecued a prop dog in an attempt to turn others to veganism.
"If you wouldn't eat a dog, why eat a lamb?" a sign below the lifelike charred dog read at the Pitt Street Mall. The stunt was reportedly intended to cause outrage, as a man wearing a chef's hat surrounded the dog with vegetables on Thursday. It took place as Australians nationwide prepare for annual barbecue celebrations for Australia Day this coming Saturday.
The group hopes to call attention to what they believe is unjust differentiation made between domesticated animals and those we eat.
"Anyone who’s repulsed by the prospect of chowing down on dog meat should question the incongruity of their compassion towards other animals," the group said in a statement.
"This is called speciesism – a form of discrimination based on nothing more than species – and like all forms of discrimination, it cannot be justified. As humans, we instinctively feel compassion and empathy for animals, but we’re taught that it’s OK to enslave and eat some of them, without a second thought as to who they are as individuals," it continued.
Regardless of their intent, the stunt was labeled disturbing by some Sydney residents, who said there were schoolchilden enjoying the summer break present at the shopping mall who were visibly distraught.
PETA remained unphased, and hope that the display will make Australians think twice before firing up the grill for the upcoming holiday.
"To care about animals – as most Australians claim to – should be to care about all animals," the group said. "‘Many animal-free options (which are also better for your health and the environment) are available for your Australia Day barbecue."