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Vegans Are Cyberbullying Canadian Farmers Into Depression

Where do we draw the line?
Vegan activists protest agricultural industry

Vegan activist cyberbullies have become a growing concern for Canadian farmers, who face aggressive accusations, criticisms and even physical threats online every day. For agricultural professionals already dealing with mental health issues like isolation, psychologists agree that cyberbullying puts farmers at risk for depression. So, when it comes to animal rights advocacy, where do we draw the line? 26-year-old Mylene Begin, a co-owner of Princy Farm in Quebec, told the Canadian Press that after starting an Instagram account for her farm, she received over 100 negative comments from vegan activists daily.  “There was one that took screenshots of my photos, he shared them on his feed after adding knives to my face and writing the word 'psychopath' on my forehead," Begin said. “It made me so scared.

”Some agricultural experts argue that a lot of the cyberbullying they encounter from vegan activists has to do with misinformation and scare tactics.

Pierrette Desrosiers, a psychologist focused on agricultural communities, told the Canadian Press she believes certain hardcore vegan activists rely on the shock-factor to promote their cause. After all, many vegans argue that since animals can’t speak for themselves, extreme messaging can be necessary. “It's now a significant source of stress for producers, and it didn't exist a year or two ago," Desrosiers said. 

According to a report by the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food, "The isolation that many farmers experience and the stigmatization they sometimes face, particularly on social media, amplify this stress.” As with most extreme behaviours, not all vegan activists condone the cyberbullying of Canadian farmers. Frederic Cote-Boudreau, a recent post-grad from Queen’s University, believes the aggressive communication used by many animal rights groups is “counterproductive,” and that a more peaceful approach may be more effective.

That said, he totally supports the advocacy of animal rights in agriculture.    For many Canadian farmers, changing up their privacy settings online is the only option to combat the issue. Otherwise, as Mylene Begin shared, “it affects you psychologically. It's very heavy even if we try not to read (the comments)."

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