Don’t misjudge the extent to which young people align with anti-industry activists on the basis of low turnout at protest events. Only a few may be marching, but many more are believing.

To a certain degree, one expects college students to embrace causes that later on in life seem, shall we say, a bit extreme.

That’s what college is for.

As Winston Churchill famously stated, “Anyone under 30 who’s a conservative has no heart. Anyone over 30 who’s not a conservative has no brains.”

Nevertheless, a recent — albeit thinly attended — demonstration at Ithaca College in upstate New York is troubling.

According to a story in the college newspaper The Ithacan, 15 students spent a day “passing out pamphlets and fasting to protest factory farming on World Day for Farmed Animals. ‘End factory farming #alllivesmatter’ was written on five signs held by members of the IC Animal Rights club as they protested factory farming on Oct. 2.

“The group protested at multiple locations around the college campus informing students about animal welfare and factory farms. According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, factory farms are farms that focus on profit and efficiency at the expense of the animals’ welfare.”

First of all, World Day for Farmed Animals is a creation of FARM, the Farm Animal Rights Movement, which is run out of somebody’s basement office in suburban Maryland. At this point, FARM doesn’t even have a website up and running, and if you’ve watched more than 15 minutes of television programming in the last 12 months, you know that building your own professional website is free and easy!

Doubtful if there were any worldwide demonstrations taking place on World Day for Farmed Animals, especially if 15 people are all that could be mustered for the cause on a major college campus. Who’s got more free time than college students?

What’s more troubling is the ease with which bot protestors and their sympathizers these days seem to absorb the “factory farming is evil” meme without even a momentary pause to consider the bigger picture.

And let’s make no mistake about the overt goal of groups like FARM or Mercy For Animals, which supplied the pamphlets students handed out: It is to turn the word into some vegan paradise where all food production proceeds without any livestock, and everyone on earth happily subsists on soybeans and salad, with no thought as to the consequences of such a drastic reversal of agriculture as it’s been practiced for the last 20,000 years.

Pulling a fast one

Even worse are the fallacies that are being disseminated by the activists pulling the puppet strings on the well-meaning college students and upper middle-class do-gooders who embrace the veggie message. For example, the story quoted one protestor explaining why she also fasted, in addition to toting her protest placards around campus.

 “Usually two days before animals are taken to be slaughtered they are not given any food or water, so it is in remembrance of their pain and suffering,” she said. “Fasting in itself is difficult, but if you have a good enough cause, it is easy.”

The protestor noted that — according to mercy for Animals — that it requires 13 pounds of grain and 520 gallons of water just to produce one pound of poultry. That is ridiculously inaccurate, of course, and does not consider what the water cost would be to produce one pound of poultry-like soy-protein-based meatless “Chik’n Strips” or Tofurky. I don’t know how you plant, irrigate, harvest, process and package enough soybeans to concoct a pound of fake vegetarian analogs without using at least several hundred gallons of water.

But try telling that to a 20-something who’s come of age in a society that has never had food shortages, someone who’s never experienced hunger other than voluntary short-term fasting, and who has every reason to believe that any food product you care to eat is readily available, affordable and mere moments away from microwavable enjoyment.

One student, a senior named Adam Monzella, voiced the classic company line that anti-industry activists use to camouflage their real intentions.

“I think there is a way to raise animals that can be considered ethically permissible,” he said, “but I think that factory farming just isn’t, and it is really sad how the industry has so much power that they are able to get away with a lot.”

No, Mr. Monzella. The groups that feed you their messaging do not want livestock to be raised in any ways that might be “ethically permissible.” They want livestock production shut down totally, permanently and irrevocably.

Sure, some of those 15 protestors will grow up, smarten up and move on from their naive belief that livestock liberation is the solution to the world’s food production challenges.

But in the meantime, a lot more of their demographic cohort will be buying into the deception that raising food animals is an evil loosed upon the world.

And buying all the pricey, processed, pre-packaged vegetarian food products right along with it.

Dan Murphy is a food-industry journalist and commentator.