Despite threats from vegans, controversial Facebook post drums up business

By Tim Nelson
Updated November 08, 2018
Credit: Photo by Isabelle Plasschaert via Getty Images

The Christmas turkey is the centerpiece of a cherished holiday tradition, bringing families come together to share in glad tidings during the holiday season. And though it’s a great opportunity (perhaps facilitated by some boozy eggnog) to get to know your loved ones a bit better, it seems like a lot of people are less enthused by the idea of spending quality time with the actual turkey itself.

That’s at least if the online—and offline—threats levelled at farm in Exeter, England, in the wake of a recent Facebook post are any indication. In an effort to goose up holiday business while touting their status as a small, locally owned farm, the Greendale Farm Shop offered patrons the chance to pick their own Christmas turkey. “We will put a name tag on it and you come and feed it and help look after it for the next 2 months,” the post reads. “You won’t need to get involved in any of the difficult bits at the end and we will even bone and stuff it for you when you come and pick it up.”

Because there are vegans on the internet, the post was flooded with more than 2,400 comments in a matter of days, many of which chastised the small Exeter, UK farm for the cruelty and sadism of their proposal. Admittedly, the idea of naming and befriending an animal who you’ll eventually kill and eat is pretty off-putting, and the current top comment make a compelling argument that if you’re too squeamish for the “difficult bits,” you probably shouldn’t be eating meat. One can at least understand where the 1,600+ “angry” reacts were coming from.

But getting ratio’ed on Facebook was far from the only consequence for Greendale. “MURDER” and “GO VEGAN” were spray-painted on the shop’ door sometime between closing time on Sunday and the opening of business on Monday morning. They also received a flood of angry phone calls, at least one of which threatened to cut up the shop’s butcher and serve the meat.

Shop owner Mat Carter asserts the post wasn’t a serious offer as much as a nuanced joke that didn’t quite hit the mark on social media. "To be honest the original offer was a bit tongue-in-cheek," he told the news outlet Devon Live. "I didn't really expect people to bring their kids in after school every day and look after their own turkey.”

Though disheartened by the vandalism and the phone-based harassment and death threats of his staff, the fifth-generation farmer ultimately kept the post up because he wanted to show off his shop’s commitment to raising the meat it sells as humanely as possible.

“I think anybody who eats meat should know where it comes from,” Carter stated. “Our proposition is we farm, we get the meat, we grow it, and then we sell it in our shop.”

Even with all the opposition from militant vegans, Greendale ultimately had the last laugh. Despite what social media metrics might lead you to think, the farm shop has made a killing in the days since the post. “Today will be a record-breaking day in the shop,” Carter said on Tuesday. “Business is absolutely booming."

So there you have it: The fact that vegans can inadvertently help sell more turkeys definitively proves that all press is good press. Pick your fights this holiday season accordingly.