Australia’s most notorious vegan activist Tash Peterson has revealed the moment she was put off meat aged just three – but didn’t ditch it for good until 20 years later.
The Only Fans star is known for her “can’t-look-away” protests, including holding a severed pig head in front of a butcher and walking topless, covered in blood into a Louis Vuitton boutique.
But childhood snaps showing a blue-eyed six-year-old with her brown hair in pigtails paint a very different story from Tash’s current life in the spotlight.
The 28-year-old told NCA NewsWire that she was put off eating meat when she watched hit 1995 hit movie Babe the Pig.
“When I was a kid, I didn’t really care to be around other humans at all,” she said.
On Thursday the protester turned up at Sydney’s busy Pitt Street Mall almost entirely nude, covered in blood and wrapped up in plastic like a slab of meat.
“It was strange, I was just laying there in silence,” Ms Peterson said.
A typical protest will often attract a barrage of aggressive threats and occasionally violence – but usually she is able to talk back.
“The moment I’m more disruptive – going inside a supermarket or restaurant – I’m often faced with a lot more aggressive reactions from the public,” she said.
“I’ve been assaulted by men on multiple occasions, including really bad assaults where it’s caused bruising in my groin region”
“People have walked past calling me a whore.”
She said that despite reporting the assaults to the police, no one has been charged.
The 28-year-old raised in Perth said she has always had “a special connection” with animals, but only made the life-changing decision to become vegan five years ago.
She remembers sitting in front of the television watching Babe at three years old and telling her parents that she didn’t want to eat meat anymore.
“Unfortunately they just didn’t know any better and said well you need to eat them,” she said.
Ms Peterson said she went from not even understanding what it was to becoming vegan overnight after watching the 2016 documentary Food Choices.
“I just had never given it that much thought,” she said.
Her mum transitioned to veganism six months later but her dad and brother are still meat-eaters.
“I still have a close relationship with all my family members, but it certainly has been difficult for me,” she said.
Ms Peterson has claimed to earn $40,000 a month from her OnlyFans account which she opened last year to fund her dream to commit all of her energy to animal activism.
Her profile account reads: “My Only fans is modelling content in lingerie and bikinis, and some nudity as well.”
The protest on Thursday drew shocked reactions online with one passer-by taking to Twitter to call it “vile”, “unhinged’ and “does less than nothing for animal welfare”.
“I wouldn‘t be doing it if I didn’t feel like it was doing something,” she said.
When asked if she thinks the graphic nature of her protests is taking it too far, Ms Peterson simply said that’s the point.
“The message needs to be confronting, because that‘s exactly what animals are subjected to”, she said.
“I have never once actually seen a concerned or scared child when I’ve been doing my protests.
“They’re often the most mature ones.”
Ms Peterson, who recently relocated to Melbourne after she was banned from all licensed venues in WA after one of her protests, said she doesn’t have any future protests planned.
However, she did hint that with the Melbourne Cup coming up in November, she will be sure to make a statement.
Originally published as Life of a vegan protester: Violence, online threats and empowerment