Militant vegans made death threats to a farmer after he offered shoppers the chance to choose, name, feed and look after their Christmas turkey for two months before it is slaughtered.
Matt Carter, 35, of Greendale Farm Shop posted the offer on Facebook – and hoped it might simply attract a few extra orders and likes from local customers.
The farm post read: “Come and pick your own Christmas turkey at the farm shop.
“We will put a name tag on it and you come and feed it and help look after it for the next two months.
“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, in time for Christmas.”
Much to his surprise his post went viral – attracting more than 4,000 comments, shares and reactions – after it was picked up by angry vegans.
Farmer branded ‘psychopathic’
Some accused the farm, near Exeter, of murder and branded Mr Carter “psychopathic”. Vandals sprayed “Murder!” and “Go Vegan” on the doors of his farm shop.
The farm’s butcher has since received death threats, Mr Carter said, adding that furious vegans have been bombarding the Devon shop with phone calls to threaten staff.
However, many people jumped to Mr Carter’s defence online, thanking him for educating kids and branding haters hypocritical and ignorant.
Mr Carter said: “I think the one thing I want to get across is that I don’t think there is anything wrong with our proposition.
“I’m not going to remove the post or stop being a farmer because we’ve had a bit of opposition from vegan groups.
“Our proposition is we farm, we get the meat, we grow it, and then we sell it in our shop.
“The butcher got a phone call from someone who said ‘how would you like it if I cut you up and put you on the counter?’
“That’s verging on a death threat. The calls to the staff and the butcher are where I draw the line.”
The shop’s farm near Exeter rears pigs, beef cattle, sheep, turkeys and chickens. Some of the turkeys are free range, while others are kept in a large open barn.
Mr Carter added: “If you are going to eat meat, I think our way is the best way of doing it – where you can see the animals and then go to the butcher’s and buy the meat.
“It was the bit about naming it that they really didn’t like. I guess that’s because it brings it home to them that it’s a real animal – but that’s the whole point. That’s why we treat them with respect and look after them.”
He said people who had left messages of support had been targeted by critics – including a mother who said her autistic son loved the farm, and its sausages.
“They said she was a bad mother – that’s the lowest form of criticism and totally unjustified,” he said.
Turkey sales soaring
But Mr Carter said the criticism has backfired as sales have soared.
“In some regards they have made a rod for their own back,” he added. “Usually we have a real flurry of orders the week we launch our Christmas goods. That was last week and the week before.
“Then we usually have one or two a day until the next busy season. But we had at least a dozen on Monday, so the comments are doing the trick.”