Aussies love nothing more than a barbecue on a toasty summer’s day, but there was a major exception to this in Sydney’s Pitt Street Mall today.
As shoppers, including young children on the few remaining days of their school holidays, made their way through the bustling retail epicentre of the city’s CBD, they caught a glimpse of something horrific.
Animal rights group PETA held a confronting demonstration — in which its activists barbecued a “dog” as part of a nausea-inducing campaign to encourage Sydneysiders to go vegan.
Don’t worry. The simmering animal was a fake made by a British prop designer, but the organisation was adamant it would still send a strong message.
PETA set up the gruesome stand slap-bang in the middle of Pitt Street this morning — and photos from the scene show the fake dog cooking over a banner that reads “If You Wouldn’t Eat a Dog, Why Eat a Lamb? Go Vegan!”
Pictures also captured the horrified faces of shoppers — including young children — as they passed by.
Some took to social media to vent at PETA for exposing children to such horrific scenes on a school holiday.
“Keep them out of public places. It should be classed as public nuisance! Kids around? That is further reason to stop this! Exposing them to this??? Cruel,” one person wrote on Twitter.
“PETA stopping (sic) to new lows with their stunt in Martin Place today — terrifying children on school holiday outings by barbecuing a (very lifelike) dog,” another wrote. “I saw some visibly upset kids.”
However, PETA’s Emily Rice told news.com.au the demonstration was “thought-provoking”.
“It’s not gruesome but it’s no different to when you’d walk past a Peking duck hanging in a shop window or a pig on a spit at a wedding,” she said.
On occasion, PETA has been forced to defend itself for its demonstrations, however Ms Rice said the organisation was used to mixed reactions.
“It’s always mixed, it can be confronting to challenge what people think of as normal and it will be an emotionally charged day but if we manage to plant some seeds and start a conversation about speciesism then that’s a good thing,” she said.
“We want people to think about why they’re happy to love one animal but eat another.”
During the protest today, the organisation simply tweeted: “If you care about animals, try not eating them.”