As you will be aware, this has been a Year Like No Other and has stood out even among years that have been Quite Noteworthy. Plant Based News released their yearly documentary on the state of play in the vegan world and they’ve really been spoilt for choice. PBN founder Klaus Mitchell fronts the doc and there’s a palpable anxiety about how he’s going to fit all the shit into 55 minutes. He bears a poorly hidden nervous twitch from hours in Adobe Premiere editing the thousand miles of shit that was The Year of Our Lord 2020 into something approaching a coherent narrative. With a movie like this, there’s a particular tightrope you have to walk. You want to bring home the gravity of carnivore hell as much as possible but you don’t want to leave people in despair. So there must be hope because if there isn’t hope then there’s no point and if there’s no point then – well, you get it.
Klaus does a good job, fuelled by a remorseless focus on the Kung Flu – the biggest propaganda victory for veganism since Piers Morgan condemned a sausage roll. Moody, dread-soused incidental music beckons us in as we learn of the courageous Dr Li Wenliang, the Wuhan whistleblower threatened into silence by the state who died after contracting the virus, aged 33. Wenliang spoke out on the deadly virus dropping pensioners like Harold Shipman but was swiftly told to button it by the Chinese Communist Party. You know how every disaster movie begins with everyone ignoring the scientist? Unfortunately for Dr Li Wenliang, he was that guy and the very least we can do is pour one out for this hero and his sacrifice.
Vegan 2020 excels by establishing early the facts the indisputable truth that the meat trade caused the coronavirus, just as it caused SARS, bird flu, swine flu and BSE. “The rising consciousness this year has been unrivalled,” says Klaus and it’s hard to argue with that. It seems that the prospect of your gran dying terrified and alone focuses the mind on fundamental causes much more than some ecological horror on the other side of the world.
We know this because as the Wuhan flu was unfolding, there was an ecological horror on the other side of the world. The Australian bushfires raged like Leonardo DiCapreteen when he finds out his date is old enough to drive. We see a barbecued koala, coming out of the bush looking like Al Jolson all “thanks, fuckface” at its human bros and a bunch of kangaroos running away like Dwight Yorke every time he sees Harvey Price.
Could it be climate change causing this? Obviously it could and obviously it is. But who could be behind the greenhouse gas emissions and habitat destruction that triggers these catastrophic infernos? Might it be the scorched earth, death and torture merchants of Animal Corpse Corp? Yes it could and yes it is. It wasn’t all bad in January as 23 per cent of new food launches were labelled vegan and Veganuary got a record 400,000 pledges. Frankly, I’ll blow myself if that isn’t bettered in 2021.
The rising tide of coronavirus deaths that became a tsunami is starkly portrayed. There’s a ticker going from 0 to 87,000 over Joaquin Phoenix’s Oscar acceptance speech. Body bags pile up over Boris Johnson squirting out his banalities. In fairness, it was his (and everyone’s) first pandemic – a steep learning curve for us all. Who could have foreseen such a thing? Vegan 2020 shows how the scientific community have been predicting a pandemic for years based on the intensification of farming systems. So quite a few people actually.
Klaus manfully resists making any “chickens coming home to roost” jokes as dairy farmers dump their milk, and meat processing plants are closed down. Then of course came the inevitable animal culls. Pigs were drowned and suffocated and chickens were euthanised. Let’s take the opportunity to salute our feathered and hooved brethren. You deserved better.
But even as their depravity was laid bare for all to see, the cow killers showed no shame. They went on the offensive with a public relations blitz and Mitchell covers factually challenged propaganda such as Farmers Weekly‘s “8 reasons why becoming vegan is the wrong choice”, providing further evidence of the increasing desperation of the cucknivore lobby. Could they get any worse? Sure they could! The EU veggie burgers labelling fiasco was Big Meat at its dirty, disingenuous bratwurst, dressing up its desire to stymie the ever-expanding plant-based sector, as sincere concern for the confused consumer. If only there was a House of Lords select committee to find that veggie burgers weren’t confusing to consumers at all. Wouldn’t that be a thing?
No wonder they were shook. Vegan 2020 impressively demonstrates how vegan talking points once relegated to the margins now barely elicit a flicker of protest. Klaus shows us U.S. Senator Cory Booker from New Jersey brutally cornholing factory farming. Then we have Jonathan Safran Foer’s “How the meat industry became a global health liability” and then comes Nick Cohen’s “Surely the link between abusing animals and the world’s health is now clear” in the Observer. Veganism was discussed more seriously than ever before in the mainstream press – not as an option, a fad or a lifestyle choice but an imperative.
As the ‘rona infections declined, our faces turned to the summer and racial violence. The film depicts the explosion of the Black Lives Matter movement after Minneapolis PD killed George Floyd after 8 minutes and 46 seconds of torture, an event videoed and distributed worldwide. It leads us onto a discussion of dietary racism, an oft-neglected subject. There is a systemic downplaying of lactose intolerance, which is much higher among black, Hispanic and Asian people. The official recommendation in America remains 3 glasses of milk a day. Sadly, this is to be expected in the Cucknited States of Cuckmericuck. In brighter news, we learn that the altogether more civilised Canada excluded dairy from its dietary food plate in 2019 – a victory for cows and common sense everywhere.
The summertime slump could not defeat the ‘rona, however. As the dark nights drew in, infections, hospitalisations and deaths skyrocketed like Alec “Mi esposa es Españiels!” Baldwin’s conversions in Glengarry Glen Ross. As the second wave hits like a viral bitchslap our old buddy Doctor Michael Greger is on hand to remind us that “the leading candidate, according to the CDC, of the next pandemic is… H7N9.” H7N9 folks, that’s a virus 100 times more fatal than Covid. It sounds like a real laugh riot.
The overall feel is upbeat, though. Santa Klaus has come bearing gifts even if they are buried in human effluent. Those gifts are hope and the prospect of change. All liberation movements have defining moments – The Boston Tea Party, The Storming of the Bastille, The 1916 Uprising, The Stonewall Riots, The Sharpeville Massacre, Nicole Kidman divorcing Tom Cruise. After such moments, there can be no turning back. The 2020 pandemic will go down as a watershed in the movement – our moral authority spelt out in dead bodies. Things will never be quite the same again.