Hanging cow at Australia restaurant sparks controversy

An Australian pizzeria that hung a taxidermied dairy cow (hanging cow) from its ceiling to call attention to the industrialisation of the farming industry has been criticised on social media for cruelty.

Owners Federico and Melissa Pisanelli, who are passionate about animal welfare, defended their decision to hang the large Friesian-Hereford cow from its hind legs, saying they wanted to remind patrons of how meat was sourced.

“We have worked hard to educate on the origins of the food we are serving,” Melissa Pisanelli told AFP at the Etica restaurant in the southern city of Adelaide, which has meat and dairy on its menu.

“It’s talking about how the industry has become industrialised, and how it’s moving in a way that doesn’t keep up with consumers’ perceptions.”

Federico Pisanelli said they also wanted the confrontational installation, which is right above dining tables, to challenge the “idyllic view of happy cows and green pastures”.

“It is confronting to look at a cow like that because it contradicts our usual representations of a dairy cow”.

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The installation has sparked debate on the restaurant’s Facebook page, with one user accusing the owners of promoting “cruelty, ignorance and dissonance”.

“If yours was a vegan restaurant, this would make a little sense…. Since yours aren’t, you are subjecting the cow as a pure decoration piece,” another person wrote.

But not all commentators were critical.

“Very few restaurants are willing to start a conversation about where their food comes from”, one user wrote.

“We have to stop seeing meat as something that comes from the supermarket and understand the pain and suffering animals sometimes go through,” another person wrote.

The Pisanellis said they had encountered a lot of “misinformed views” on social media about the installation, but also received many supportive emails.