A respected South Australian pizza restaurant has faced a wave of criticism after its “utterly disgusting” decision to hang a dead cow from the ceiling.
Etica: Pizza al Tagilo has been bombarded by angry posts on social media for suspending an eight-year-old cow carcass, named Schvitzy, by her hoofs above where customers dine.
The restaurant claims the project is an attempt to raise awareness of the harsh realities of the dairy industry.
However, according to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), the suspension of Schvitzy is the wrong way to go about it and that it sends a conflicting message to its customers.
“Hanging a cow, who has been tortured, killed and stuffed, from the ceiling while continuing to serve up dairy products on the tables below is at odds with the restaurant’s ‘ethical’ message,” PETA spokeswoman Laura Weyman-Jones told The New Daily.
“Cows, like Schvitzy, are forcibly impregnated every year of their lives, only to have each of their babies ripped away at birth and killed, simply for wanting to do the most natural thing in the world: drink their mother’s milk.
“If Etica really wants people to know where their dairy comes from they should show calves being shot in the head and hit with hammers. This is what happens to many of the unwanted babies.”
The restaurant’s owners Federico and Melissa Pisanelli told The New Daily the display is intended to be “purposely confronting”.
“The idea of the installation is to convey important messages and the aim is to create awareness and discussion. It aims to draw a connection to the true consequence of consuming dairy,” the couple said.
“It is a challenge to the way in which our society tends to obscure from the origins of food.
“The purpose is to make consumers stop and think about the realities of the dairy industry.”
Mr and Ms Pisanelli, who said they support the dairy industry, posted a statement on Instagram to counter the growing protest.
However, the response received significant backlash online with potential customers calling out the restaurant’s ethical hypocrisy in hanging Schvitzy from the roof.
“How dare you hang a cow, the disrespect is unreal. Shame on you,” one commenter wrote.
“The place calls out for ‘Peace, love and pizza’ but hangs as decoration a dead cow from the hoof exactly like they do in an abattoir before they slit their throats … and then proclaims that they are ethical, wow,” another said.
“Etica Pizza doesn’t know the definition of ethical,” another commented.
Meanwhile, an online petition demanding the removal of Schvitzy had attracted over 4800 signatures as of Wednesday evening.
“This is unspeakable, atrocious, and shocking to see,” petition creator Jacqueline Woish said.
“It is a grand display of the cognitive dissonance in our society and creates a space for people to get more comfortable with the death and torture of other species.”
Mr and Ms Pisanelli said reactions targeting the project – which began in June – have misunderstood its meaning and are not a true representation of the effect it has had so far.
The Friesian-Hereford cow was the by-product of a dairy farm in South Australia and belonged to a family at Mount Barker, according to the couple.
She was killed on site by the restaurant owners, and all her meat was consumed before being stuffed and hung.