IT was a tongue-in-cheek segment on radio that generated an online petition, an industry outcry, international attention and an assurance that the original comments were mostly misunderstood by both sides.
During a Nova FM radio show last week, former Warrnambool resident and media personality Dave Hughes was challenged to give up drinking milk for a week, prompting an online petition on www.change.org to quit it entirely.
Its creator, identified as Kirsten Ann, listed 13 reasons for ditching dairy products, prompting Dairy Australia to launch its own list of 13 reasons why milk is good for you.
The petition had reached 1200 supporters by yesterday, 300 shy of its 1500 goal.
Almost 7000 people read at least one of The Standard’s four online articles about the Hughes/dairy “controversy”, more than 1000 residing overseas and at least half from outside Victoria. With an expectation that south-west readers would rally behind the local dairy industry, The Standard launched a poll asking “do you think Dave Hughes should stop drinking milk?”.
With 1452 responses, 1162 people (80 per cent ) voted yes, while 1197 supported the statement that “milk is for baby cows”.
The world’s vegans didn’t just make themselves heard by the numbers — they used the stories as an online forum to speak vehemently on animal rights issues against the dairy industry.
Demonstrating the international accessibility of online news to those who seek it out, each of The Standard’s articles was flooded with web comments from pro-vegan readers. More than 100 comments were left on the four stories, most taking up the anti-dairy position.
But many of those encouraging the comedian in his “stand against dairy” did not appear to have followed the issue, continuing to praise his effort even after he told The Standard his milk abstinence was only for one week.
“No one’s drunk more milk than me over the years,” Hughes said.
“I’m a big supporter of the dairy industry.”
Winslow dairy farmer and lobby group Farmer Power leader Jock O’Keefe described the anti-dairy crowd as “radicals” and called the petition “propaganda”.