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‘COMPLETE ANIMAL LIBERATION’: Tash Peterson on disruptive activism, its benefits and fallouts

Anthropocentrism is so ingrained in society that non-humans are not even seen as victims. I'm not asking for animals to be given the right to vote, just for them to live free from harm.

SAMANTHA FERGUSON: Notorious. Militant vegan. Serial pest. That’s how media outlets have described Tash Peterson. The 27-year-old animal rights activist has made waves in Australia – particularly in Perth – for the last four years… When Tash’s vegan journey started, she took part in public outreach programs to engage people in conversation. “I started having these conversations, it was quite mellow and people had the option to engage. “It’s not like what I do now, which is very disruptive – people have to listen. “In that sense transitioning from that form of activism to this disruptive activism has been empowering.”

Tash said this form of ‘disruptive activism’ gave her access to a media platform she never had access to before. “I love all kinds of activism but that form is making such a big impact – especially the media attention, it’s something Perth had never really seen before.” While Tash maintained that the disruptive activism made her feel empowered and heard, the general public has balked to her methods, which have included attending butcher shops and restaurants smeared in fake blood holding prosthetic pig heads and storming high fashion stores almost naked to protest the materials they used in their clothing.

“Disruptive activism has been used throughout history for various social justice issues,” she said, when asked why her means are so confrontational. “It is the most powerful weapon for social change.” Tash admitted that her methods cause a great deal of anger to the public, with many of her protests ending in her being forcibly removed from the location. “I’ve been assaulted on numerous occasions from staff members of supermarkets and butchers and the general public too,” she said.

“Most of them are older, larger men who… think they are able to do that because the majority of the public hate me. “That’s when you know they are coming from a place of anger – which I completely understand in many circumstances. “Because someone is coming into someone else’s business trying to bring attention to something which is all they’ve known their entire lives and they feel threatened by that… “I just want to convey a message, I’m speaking up for animals who can’t speak up for themselves.”

Other responses to her protests have included death threats, her home address being leaked, and people showing up at her home. “I’ve had people come to my house and throw meat and cheese all over my car and bones in my driveway. “I have actual screenshots of death threats I have received”…

Tash’s more recent protests which have seen her being physically grabbed and pushed have made her decide to pursue further action towards filing an official report. “I’ve had some bad experiences – I’ve been told I was bringing it all upon myself. “A big issue is, the moment someone hears my name, they have this preconception of me that I’m this insane, violent person and they don’t want to help me. “If nothing gets done about it, people are going to think, ‘well I can do that to her and no one will care because it’s Tash Peterson'”…

When asked what her endgame was, and what she was working towards as a result of her protests, Tash answered swiftly and confidently. “Complete animal liberation.” She agreed that her disruptive activism had led to scrutiny and endless court battles, but said she always brought it back to the animals… “A world where we see humans and non-humans as equal, because we are all sentient beings at the end of the day. “Anthropocentrism is so ingrained in society that non-humans are not even seen as victims. “I’m not asking for animals to be given the right to vote – just for them to live free from harm. “It’s time for us to evolve. We can thrive and survive on plant based options. We can live without harming animals.”

While Tash admitted her methods were intense and caused some disturbance to the public, she said it was the way in which she could reach a global audience. “And I think that’s the main purpose of the disruptive activism to get that media attention, to reach people across the globe with this message and hope that they will educate themselves and watch documentaries like Dominion”.  SOURCE…


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