Dr. Jude Capper is a “livestock sustainability expert” (an oxymoron) and the person behind the Februdairy initiative (her "brainchild"), an unofficial pro-dairy response to Veganuary that's gained more popularity for the hashtag being hijacked by vegans. She goes by the handle @Bovidiva. She’s a Bovine Diva... get it??
On her blog, she describes herself as being dedicated to “giving farmers and food industry stakeholders the data and messages to explain why we do, what we do, every single day.” It goes without saying that this woman clearly has vested financial interests in animal exploitation.
But she doesn’t consider using and killing individuals for profit to be “exploitation.” Riiiiiight.
Here's her Tweet that began the initiative:
Let's make #Februdairy happen this year. 28 days, 28 positive #dairy posts. From cute calves and #cheese on crumpets, to belligerent bulls and juicy #beef #burgers - who's in?
Welcome to dystopia, in which newborn animals pictured being lovingly fed are innocently included in the same sentence as their juicy flesh.
Bait & switch
Word to the wise, friends: Capper’s Twitter account is essentially functioning as a sort of self-serving cybertrap for vegans.
Under the guise of kindness and fairness and tolerance, she puts out one obtuse and intellectually dishonest Tweet after another in praise of dairy, mixed in with condescending microaggressions against veganism and vegans, sprinkled with praise for certain “fabulous vegans out there” that the others are giving a bad name (presumably the ones who don’t actually oppose animal exploitation, meaning they aren’t actually vegan). The focus is on how much dairy farmers care for their animals, but never are the routine aspects of dairying that are less palatable, like maternal deprivation or slaughter, ever boasted about.
Overall, the effect is pretty downright infuriating for the average vegan – and it seems that it is her intended effect. Although plenty of vegans calmly and clearly call her out on her lies of omission and refute her central points, some inevitably resort to responding to tone or worse, name-calling. (Welcome to the internet. This is certainly not a behavior exclusive to vegans by any means).
Then the trap is set. Capper then uses those response as proof that vegans are cruel and rude, while typically ignoring or blocking the calmer ones (yours truly included). Tada! She is now the focus and the victim instead of the “dairy” cows, who are literally parasitized and killed, or their orphaned offspring. (See Reverse Victimization in Robert Grillo’s book Farm to Fable.)
Let’s take a look at some examples, as well as some of the other patterns of recurrent tactics she uses to try to mischaracterize vegans and delegitmize veganism, and to rationalize making a living from perpetuating the exploitation and slaughter of innocent individuals.
The goal here is not to draw more attention to this person or to wander into her trap and take her bait (please don’t), but to recognize and call out these tactics being used in general by her and by similar pro-dairy social media accounts, who are getting more and more desperate as dairy declines in popularity each year. In many of these spaces, blatant censorship is rampant, as any record of critical thought or dissent is swiftly eliminated from many of these posts, with only praise allowed to remain.
Why she blocked me
First, I am not a big Twitter user, but her posts are so icky that I was inspired to comment on some of them over the past few days, until I was blocked. Here are all my comments to her Tweets, including responses to other comments on her post that she was therefore tagged in, that led to me being blocked. As you can see, I never called her names or made comparisons to humans or anything like that, I just stuck to the facts.
A vegan commented something about baby calves, and she replied something like “Why so emotive? Biology 101: cows have calves, humans have babies.”
(I believe she deleted that after she saw my reply, because that Tweet is now nowhere to be found.)
I replied (as @BrainOnHugs), quoting the emotive vegan propagandists who must have taken over vocabulary.com:
"Cattle are not the only animals whose BABIES are called calves. You can use the word to mean a BABY whale, baby elephant, camel, bison, elk, giraffe, gnu, hippopotamus, moose, ox, reindeer, rhinoceros, and yak." calf - Dictionary Definition: http://Vocabulary.com
In the responses to one of Capper’s Tweets, someone claimed “Cruelty is not inherent in animal production.”
If parasitizing someone and then having them killed once you can no longer profitably do so isn't "cruel," I don't know what is.
In the responses to one of Capper’s Tweets, someone wrote, “If you all abandoned your animals tomorrow what would happen to them? A complete lack of acceptance of the cycle of nature.”
Are you suggesting that continuing the cycle of exploitation & slaughter of special breeds of animals not found outside of human confinement/control in perpetuity would be better? Are the only 2 options to continue to breed/exploit/kill (repeat) them forever, or "abandon" them?
@Bovidiva would you be opposed to doing what we do to cows, to humans?
Making sure that #cows are given shelter, comfortable bedding, balanced and targeted diets, excellent veterinary (medical) care, a good life... No, I think those are all things that most people would enjoy @bluemorphovegan. #Februdairy
I see you have omitted routine aspects of dairying like maternal deprivation and slaughter. I can’t imagine why.
Replying to @BennyMalone
Farmers care for their cows while they are alive, yes. Obviously dead animals do not have welfare issues.
(Note: Ick, ick, ick. She actually said this. The fact that an animal is killed for profit, even if just to keep costs down because she could not longer be profitably used, means that her welfare, a.k.a. well-being, was gravely disregarded, even if she had remained unviolated up to that point, which she wasn’t.)
Replying to @Bovidiva
Slaughtering is part of caring? #Februdairy #Desperate
Yes @Bovidiva, the "dead animals" the farmers killed. If you've deliberately killed someone in decent health, it's safe to say their "welfare" (state of being or doing well especially in relation to happiness, well-being, or success) was solely contingent on their profitability.
Animal agriculture slaughters animals as soon as possible. The younger the better isn’t it, as soon as it is profitable. Wouldn’t make much business sense to keep animals alive longer than necessary for their purposes. So you kill animals as young as possible.
Me replying to @BennyMalone @Bovidiva
Here's a typical example of how much dairy farmers "care" for their animals that I just came across on https://www.facebook.com/MyBeefCheckoff/videos/10156098915044717/ …
David Z: i shipped a dairy cow who wouldnt breed back 2 weeks ago beautiful cow nice and big and got .46 cents a pound.
(No response from Capper)
Here's when I get blocked!
In the comments of one of Capper’s Tweets:
Farmers are not the opposite of vegans. As Paul said, we all need farmers three times a day no matter what diet we're sticking to. Massive thanks to @Southacrefarm #BackBritishFarming
You're conflating animal exploitation with farming. We need farming three times a day, but we don't need animal exploitation at all.
(It was here that @Bovidiva acknowledges me, for the first and last time. She “hearted” my Tweet, meaning apparently she’s pretending that using and killing animals for profit isn’t exploiting them? So she was confused and thought I was pro-dairy?)
We definitely don't need animal exploitation, you're right 👍
(This person too apparently agreeing that using and killing animals isn’t exploiting them?)
Using and killing animals for human consumption and profit is exploitation.
...aaaand I'm blocked. As you can see, I did not resort to name-calling whatsoever. Guess the truth hurts.
Singling out hostile responses / vegan trap
So while she ignores and blocks people like me who calmly stick to refuting her points and don’t insult her, Capper instead amplifies vegans calling her, for example, “vile” or a “monster” or a “psychopath” by retweeting them, telling them smugly and condescendingly to “be nice” and eat some cheese. Like clockwork, a chorus of her sympathizers, apparently mostly dairy farmers and fellow industry schills, quickly chime in, offering moral support and reassuring her that vegans do things like “create drama” and “don’t live in the real world.” The impression is that vegans are all mean and angry and clueless and sitting at home on the internet, without knowledge or jobs or lives, but dairy farmers are out there hard at work parasitizing cows and and busting myths. How DO they do it?
News flash: there are always going to be some people who don’t know how to follow “Graham’s Hierarchy of Arguments.” Making a big show out of pointing those people out out so you can become the victim is unnecessary, and simply a diversion from the real victims. But please don't give people like this ammo to work with.
She Tweeted, “I have been amazed by the intolerance and hate shown by activists opposed to #dairy over the past two weeks. Civilisation is founded upon peaceful co-existence, yet the degree of intolerance towards omnivorous diets has been staggering. Celebrate #februdairy and diversity!”
(Speaking of diversity, 75% of the global population can't digest milk after weaning, which is part of how being a mammal is defined. To those who point this out, she says people who have developed the gene mutation to never ever wean themselves of mothers' milk are "lucky.")
She also retweeted someone claiming:
“I have been threatened exclusively by vegans. No other group. Just vegans.”
Really? Literally just hours earlier, someone had told me to “go eat some meat you c*nt.” Later, I had someone comment in an exchange that they want to kill and eat vegans. I’ve even heard radio hosts say without any repercussion that vegans should collectively be “rid of,” as in exterminated. EXTERMINATED.
Let’s not pretend that intolerance, hate, and threatening doesn’t happen “on both sides.” (Remember: one side is doing the exploiting and killing, and the other is speaking out for those being exploited and killed. Not quite a moral equivalency there.)
Might makes right, it’s ok to subjugate “the other”
When forced to rationalize the fact that farming animals means using and killing them for profit – dairy entails a constant stream of animals slaughtered after being deemed unusable or or used-up based on things like their gender, age, fertility, disabilities, etc., and to keep the herd a manageable and profitable size – she comes up with some real gems.
I can’t find this thread now, but someone had asked her why it’s okay to use and kill cows, and she said something like “Because they are animals, and we are humans.” This sentiment comes up with her again a few times. She retweeted on January 30, “Animals aren't the same as people.”
So because they are different from us, and we have power over them, might makes right. Gee, never seen that kind of mentality before to justify various attrocities throughout history.
She also retweeted someone claiming that animals “can’t reason.” (And she is an “animal scientist?") Of course animals can reason. But even if an individual really can't reason, isn't that even more reason to not take advantage of (and kill) the most vulnerable, who are completely at our mercy?
Hypocritical contradictions / Accusations of being "emotive"
She mocks vegans for technical errors, retweeting when one posted what they thought was a photo of Capper but wasn’t, as well as another’s malfunctioning gif. Yet she gives dairy supporters who make rampant grammatical errors a free pass.
She retweets that transportation of vegetables is harming the planet (yet research shows that transportation only accounts for 11% of the total emissions produced by a food while 83% are released during production), then later supportively retweets someone who boasts of buying cheese imported from the UK.
Additionally, “emotive” is one of her favorite words. As demonstrated above, to Capper, simply using accurate descriptives like calling a calf a baby animal, is being “emotive.” Yes she omits or glosses over the highly unpalatable aspects of dairying, presumably because of the emotional response she is apparently so intent on suppressing.
Instead she talks constantly of the “care” the animals (who, remember, are all killed) get, doing the very thing she is accusing vegans of. Emoting. So it's okay to have positive emotions about dairy, but not negative ones.
It is especially ironic that she makes this accusation, because she certainly tries to go for the feels by bringing up often that she couldn’t breastfeed her baby when she had cancer treatment, so she used cows’ milk formula.
Tell me one positive thing about milk production, please.
Just 1 positive thing about #milk production? Ok. When I had my baby, I was unable to make enough #milk to fulfil her needs because of #breastcancer treatment. Luckily, she was able to get all the nutrition that she needed through supplemental formula - produced from #dairy milk!
She also wrote a blog post about it.
Of course, it really sucks that she got cancer. You could basically say anything in the same sentence as "I got cancer" and get off the hook for whatever else it was you said. I lost my dad to cancer ten years ago, and one of his sole comforts in the final days of his life was smoking cigarettes, so I guess that would be the one positive thing I could say about tobacco production if I really had to. But that doesn't rationalize the continued production of tobacco.
But of course, the lacteal secretions of hooved mammals are not the only option for mothers who can’t breastfeed, so positioning dairy as a lifesaver in this context is a false dichotomy. The scenario presented is that her daughter would have suffered if not for systemic interspecific kleptoparasitism (a scientific term, lest I’m accused of emoting by using it), yet of course, other options are abundantly available.
In this post, she even makes an astonishingly amateur, misinformed assumption based on a fundamental lack of the most basic understanding of what veganism is by asking: “surely breast-feeding is non-vegan?” Really? Doctor? Let’s hope she knows better and is just being intentionally obtuse to piss us off. She goes on:
“There’s not doubt that ‘breast is best’ but, for those Mothers unable to produce enough milk (in my case because of cancer treatment), the dairy cow really is the foster mother of the human race.”
Oh my. The foster mother of the human race???!!! Good lord. This is one of the most anthropomorphic, emotive, deeply offensive, and downright creepy rationales for animal use I’ve ever heard. And it’s incredibly hypocritical coming from someone who claims even just calling a calf a “baby” animal is “emotive.”
Projecting that cows are the foster mother of the human race is the epitome of true anthropomorphism, something vegans are often accused of using. Author and activist Karen Davis, PhD (the woman who inspired Ira Glass to stop eating animals) would call this kind of statement “the imposition of humanized traits and behaviors on other animals for purely selfish purposes, forcing them to behave in ways that are pathologic to the animals themselves.” Surely no mother cow would prefer to be a perpetual surrogate wet nurse for strangers of another species rather than nurse and raise her own babies.
I could go on, but I'm so over thinking about this. Her Twitter page actually makes me want to cry. (Yes, Dr. Capper, I have emotions, I'm not ashamed to not be desensitized to animal suffering or to no longer disassociate as I along with most were raised to do.) I just ask my fellow vegans, please do not give her the ammunition she is looking for. Don't name call, just stick to the facts, because truth and justice is on our side. You will get blocked, but at least you won't get snared in her trap. And please continue to hijack #Februdairy and #ShoutAboutDairy all month long. She is actually helping veganism, by saying things like, “If consumers don’t buy our products—milk, cream, butter, cheese, etc.—we will not have a dairy industry in five to 10 years."
Amen. Let's only hope it goes away sooner, as more former dairy producers like Elmhurst and Oatly suppliers shift to vegan business models. Oat farmer Adam Arnesson believes plant-based innovations can help transition farmers away from livestock and offer better opportunities, and his own experience proves that. In the words of Elmhurst's 82-year-old CEO, whose dairy-turned-nut-milk company is selling twice as many units per week than originally estimated, "It’s about transforming with the times."
Februdairy is scary. The future is vegan.
By Lorelei Plotczyk
*Postscript added 2/4/18* - Classic distancing devices
Capper is using all the classic "distancing devices" as described by James Serpell in his book In the Company of Animals: A Study of Human-Animal Relationships (London: Basil Blackwell, 1986) to a T:
- Shifting the blame
These devices are also described in Jim Mason's fascinating book An Unnatural Order. To briefly summarize, various gross betrayals of trust that are an inevitable aspect of animal production (like maternal deprivation and slaughter) will inevitably cause deep feelings of guilt and remorse for those responsible. So per Serpell, they "have learned to cope with this dilemma using a variety of essentially dishonest techniques." Plus, since many of their betrayals are outsourced and carried out by other business entities, such as the act of slaughter itself, individuals and firms can diffuse the feeling of being responsible for the gross reduction and elimination of another living being.
(It's especially easy for someone like Capper to absolve herself of responsibility, as she is simply an industry shill and not even a dairy farmer. And it's equally convenient for the dairy farmers who are carrying out many of the betrayals directly to be able to defer to someone like Capper as their spokesperson. It's a guilt-distributing match made in heaven!)
As has been long been practiced by herding cultures, Capper and her army of dairy farmers and fellow shills are merely carrying on the grand tradition of perpetuating, in the words of Serpell, "a defensive screen of lies, myths distortions and evasions, the sole purpose of which has been to reconcile or nullify the conflict between economic self-interest, on the one hand, and sympathy and affection on the other." Such a smoke screen has no place in modern society, and it's time to critically question and evolve beyond this ages-old charade.
Tell It Like It Really Is (Response to Februdairy website Tell It Like It Is)
Dairy is scary. The public are waking up to the darkest part of farming (The Guardian)
Milk Hurts (Facebook page)
Mothers Against Dairy - A collection of stories from around the world about Mothers Against Dairy