It’s funny the weird landmarks you remember. Recently, I poured one out for the 50th former vegan influencer I laughed at. It felt like an important rite of passage we all must go through. Last week, Israeli TV had one such landmark. Right in the middle of commercials during Survivor Israel came an advert from the organisation Vegan Friendly, encouraging rasclaat omnis to “make the connection” between what they shove in their yaps and the unpleasantness that precedes it. It is estimated to have reached 3 million people – about a third of Israel’s population – and it caused something of a stir.
It begins with a happy couple, wandering around a supermarket, picking up groceries. They are both tolerably sexually attractive – not so much that it hurts to look at them but enough that you might say “they’ll do” at 10-to-2 on a particularly risible Saturday night. They have been specifically chosen so that a typical run-of-the-mill normie sack of shit might reasonably look at them and be all “that could be me – I too frequent supermarkets with my 7/10 borefriend wondering if I’m going to make it to the checkout without cutting his throat. As I have now identified with these people, I will unconsciously align myself with whatever actions and values they portray in the next 30 seconds.”
The dame takes control. “Nice, sweetie. Perfect for my apple pie,” she says as matey grabs a red Royal Gala from the fruit section.
His next gambit is to liberate a leg of lamb from the freezer. Foolish borefriend! It’s likely he has not done even the most basic research on his beloved. In offering her frozen lamb he may as well have defecated in his hand and hurled it in her face.
“Honey, I want it extra fresh!”
You better recognise. She wants this to be fresh. I mean yeah, why wouldn’t she? Perky of face and fine of fettle, she looks like the kind of girl who looks after herself. Sure, she let that gym membership lapse but she nearly always cooks from scratch, has taken to walking back from the pub when she’s not too pissed, and spent a month doing cross-fit before her ankle spazzed out on her. She lives consciously is the point – mindful of what goes into her body. She would go not so far as to say that her body is a temple but she is a firm believer in the garbage-in, garbage-out principle. That processed crap gets the dilznick.
She repeats the refrain when they get to the in-house butchers. Extra fresh. They know just the thing. From behind the counter, they bring her a living, breathing, epically cute sheep child – a lamb, if you will. As she hugs the adorable mite, her face is a study in contradiction. As she feels its warm body against her breast, she is struck at once by the horror of the reality of meat consumption and the desperate need to feel like she’s a good person. She looks at the lamb, to borefriend and back again. Borefriend looks sadly bemused, a look you suspect he is not unfamiliar with. What kind of supermarket is this? What kind of world? “Make the connection, f*cker” says the voice-over (words to that effect).
It’s a powerful 60 seconds. The point is memorably made and it’s the oldest trick in the book: tell the truth. The trick only works, of course, if the truth i) is undeniable to all but the mentally ill and ii) works in your favour. Pretty much every omni knows perfectly well that they could not put their recently deceased pet dachshund in a sausage roll and start chomping away and that they would regard anyone who could as a sick piece of shit, not fit for civilised company. They know that they can only eat the way they eat because of the mental disconnection between the torture and killing of animals necessary for meat to end up on their plate. They know it and it kills them.
So the instinctive reaction is to un-know it. Deny, distract, dissociate. It’s something we all do, regardless of diet or ethical choices. We need to feel good about ourselves to function or at the very least feel that we are not actively contributing to wickedness. If the idea of cognitive dissonance among meat eaters is becoming a cliché that’s because it’s a true one. We all experienced it when we are eating meat ourselves – that nagging feeling that our excuses were wearing thin. Like the saying goes: you can’t kid a kidder.
What’s striking about the advert is how obvious it is. You’d almost call it first-level creativity – raw, unedited, unsophisticated. It’s a point so manifest, it almost seems childlike to state it out loud. “You wouldn’t eat me to my face,” says the warm-blooded mammal, its heart visibly beating in its chest, daring you not to empathise, knowing you already have. While tryhard edgelords will bluster at this point, assuring you that they would kill a pregnant sow with their bare hands for a bacon sandwich, we all know that after five minutes in a pig pen they would be sobbing uncontrollably in the foetal position begging their pig overlords for forgiveness. Showing the reality of slaughterhouses is a classic for a reason.
The ad’s biggest strength, though, is its lightness of touch. There is not a drop of blood spilt, no need for the ‘no animals were harmed’ disclaimer and a gore budget of zero. Props to Vegan Friendly for not going the PETA route. You just know that if they had this opportunity the butcher would strangle the lamb (played by Joey Carbstrong) with his own innards before balancing his nuts on his still-twitching skull while taking a selfie. Cucknivores are human too and if you’re serious about reaching them rather than getting circle jerk back slaps from the vegan community, emotional minimalism is the way to go. Like your mom always told you, you’ll catch more flies with honey than vinegar.