A young mother has rounded on vegan activists who she says exposed her three-year-old son to gruesome graffiti depicting butchered animals in Loughborough.
The pair had been out on a walk when they came across images showing a blood-soaked cow and pig moments after their slaughter.
The woman, who is in her early 20s but didn’t want to be named, said the incident happened yesterday morning, Tuesday June 29, as they approached the Belton Road canal bridge, north of the town centre.
WARNING: This story contains images and video some people may find upsetting
The sight greeting the little boy and his mum included “life-size posters” depicting the maimed livestock, accompanied by the slogan – written in large capital letters – “It’s not food, it’s violence”.
Red paint representing blood dripping from the creatures’ wounds was also daubed over the bridge wall.
The mother turned to social media to express her outrage and posted a message, including a photograph taken at the scene, on the Spotted Loughborough Facebook group page.
“Can I ask how this is appropriate advertising?” she said. “My three-year-old spotted this before me and asked me why the cow was upside down, and why his head was falling off!”
“I don’t mind bringing awareness to things like animal cruelty or promoting veganism, but there’s surely better ways of doing it than sticking images like this to a wall with fake blood dripping down.”
Speaking to LeicestershireLive, the woman said she thought the activists had gone “way too far”.
She said: “We’d were out on a walk and were just going down some steps by the bridge, down to the canal, when we came across this life-size image of a cow hanging upside down, with blood dripping from its neck.
“Next to it was a similar poster of a pig, also with blood dripping from its body. There was also what appears to be fresh blood dripping down the wall from the posters.
“I imagine, of course, it’s fake blood but the effect is chilling.”
“The bit that distressed me the most was that my three-year-old boy saw it first,” she added. “He pointed it out saying ‘Mummy, why is that cow upside down – and why is it’s head coming off?.
“I was horrified and took a photograph of it which I later shared on the Spotted Loughborough Facebook page.
“My other half and I were going to go down and take the posters down ourselves, but there’s no way of actually getting to it, unless you have some kind of boat.
“The point is, you don’t want children witnessing something like this – especially at such a young age and when they’re simply out for a walk and some fresh air with their mum.”
The Facebook post, which has since been taken down, sparked a fierce online debate over the ethics of the activists, veganism, food production and animal cruelty.
“I simply don’t think it’s right for a three-year-old child to be confronted by something like this – or a child of any age in fact,” she said.
“My intention was to warn other parents and to try and get the images removed. I didn’t realise it would have such an impact.
“Many people were messaging me with support, to say that they agreed that the images were absolutely disgusting.
“But some comments from other people, presumably vegan activists, told me that the protest was needed and that even children need to be shocked into realising what goes on in the food industry.
“They were actually quite aggressive in telling me what they believe and why I should do too.”
She added: “Others said things like ‘It’s a way of sparking a discussion with your child’, or ‘You need to teach children about these things and where their food comes from’.
“I thought ‘are you joking?’. I fully understand young people have to learn about the real world at some poin, but I suggest the age of three is a bit too young.
“It’s simply not acceptable and it’s offensive. There is a way of doing it, of discussing issues like veganism and animal cruelty.
“And it’s not by scaring a little boy and giving him nightmares.
“It’s almost as if the means, however extreme they are, are justified by their noble aims. I totally disagree with this. These images are not something just anyone, no matter what their age, should be confronted with, without warning.
“My little boy was very confused last night – when I was trying to put him to bed he kept saying ‘I don’t want to see the cow by the water’.
“It’s really upset him.”
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“I called the council to see if anything could be done and they said they’d look into it,” she said.
“I also go in touch with the police after someone commented suggesting there was something similar, but worse, planned for the town centre.
“It went something along the lines of ‘If you think this is bad, just wait until you see what is happening in the town centre’.
“That’s why I felt I needed to report it to the police.
“They advised me to take down the post while they investigated the comment.”
The woman added: “I’m fully aware of how issues such as veganism and animal welfare are important to discuss, and that some things need highlighting.
“I class myself as an animal lover too, but this is most definitely not the way to get the message across.”
Charnwood Borough Council said that its officers had reported the incident to the Canal & River Trust, whose responsibility they said it was to remove canalside graffiti.