FARM activists pay Aztecs to watch video

by Stacey Oparnica

When San Diego State students are in the mood for chicken, beef or seafood, they don’t have to walk far to satisfy their cravings.

Meat dominates the menus of most on-campus restaurants, including Rubio’s, So-Cal Chicken, Panda Express and Taco Bell.

But, last week, SDSU students were given a different option: skip the meat—at least once in a while.

The Farm Animal Rights Movement promoted this concept by bringing its 10 Billion Lives North American Tour to SDSU last Wednesday and Thursday, during which students were paid $1 to watch a four-minute video about the treatment and living conditions of animals raised for food in the U.S.

On Campanile Walkway, a van fitted with eight touch-screen monitors allowed 32 students to watch the video simultaneously. Afterward, participants were given the opportunity to ask questions about the video and discuss various benefits of vegetarianism and veganism.

FARM launched the 10 Billion Lives Tour last summer to educate consumers about the realities of factory farming and to advocate meat-free diets.

However, FARM’s approach is slightly different than that of the renowned animal rights organization, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, which is widely known for protesting the consumption of meat for any reason.

The outright message of the 10 Billion Lives Tour isn’t necessarily to pressure consumers to eliminate meat entirely, but to simply reduce their meat intake, which some studies suggest may lead to reduced risk of heart disease, cancer and diabetes.

FARM, which is touring college campuses across the country, has garnered considerable media attention for its pay-per-view tactic of compensating students monetarily for watching a video, and has made national headlines.

“Through video outreach, we inspire students to reflect deeply on their food choices and boycott the inhumane treatment of farm animals by reducing their consumption of animal products,” tour coordinator Ryan Frazier said in an email. “We believe that personal action is critical to shifting demand toward a more compassionate and sustainable future.”

To learn more about the tour, visit 10billiontour.org.