I’ve been wanting to put my thoughts down about the latest lamb ad filthying up our screens at the moment, but when I saw my old friend James say everything I wanted and more on Facebook I decided he needed to do a guest post stat! I’ll get to his thoughts in a minute but first….
Some background of the Australia Day campaigns
Each Australia Day Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) spends big marketing dollars to convince Australians they need to eat lamb on Australia Day. In fact, they want Australians to think they’re ‘Un-Australian’ if they don’t consume baby lambs at least once a year on this day.
Their previous ‘lambassador’ Sam Kekovich clearly hasn’t been doing them any favours – lamb consumption has decreased every year since he has been their spokesman. Their 2016 ad, which cost $1.2 million to make (yep!), replaces Sam with the charismatic Lee Lin Chin.
As they no doubt planned, the ad has received a lot of media attention. Some for appropriating an Indigenous term to celebrate the arrival of European settlers and some for the growing number of complaints for the treatment of vegans in the ad. See for yourself below.
The Aussie Male Perspective
James went vegetarian in 2011 and vegan in 2015. We previously worked together as young school goers at… KFC. Yep… you read that right.
Most of us share an inbuilt compassion for other living things; if we saw someone beating a dog or a cat in the street, most of us would intervene and be upset by this behaviour. So why then do we accept and even celebrate far greater injustices being committed on animals as part of our ‘Aussie culture?’
Australia Day is that special time of year where every vegan becomes even more outspoken against the meat industry and Sam Kekovich, and every passionate ‘meat eater’ tells them to bugger off. I’ve seen the ad and I find it completely inoffensive. I view it more as a desperate attempt to undermine the vegan message, which is the fastest growing social justice movement of our time.
What I do find disgusting, is the vitriol and hate spewed at vegans all over social media. Veganism is viewed as extreme and opinionated. What is more extreme, gruesomely taking the life of an animal that doesn’t want to die, to serve a nutritional need that doesn’t exist, or choosing to acquire this nutrition from plant based sources?
Some vegans can be passionate about their beliefs and this rubs people the wrong way. ‘How do you know someone is vegan? Don’t worry, they’ll tell you.’ Yes, every vegan on Earth has heard this. It has lost what little appeal it ever had, if it ever had any. I guess all I can do is try and explain this passion and perceived arrogance from my personal viewpoint.
The core of veganism is compassion and justice for all. Vegans have researched the statistics on animal slaughter and environmental degradation. They’ve watched videos of slaughterhouses, animal cruelty and live export atrocities that most turn away from as ‘out of sight out of mind’ or ‘too hard to watch’. They have spent their weekends publicly campaigning against the mistreatment of Australian ‘livestock’.
Vegans don’t do these things because they are easy. They don’t do them for any ounce of self-interest. They do these things because they care about their fellow earthlings. Vegans tend to be well informed because they are passionate about their beliefs and lifestyle choices.
Consider all of this. Then consider having your values system put in to question, often by people who are as informed on the issue as a brick wall. Sometimes it’s pointless piss takes, sometimes it’s absolute hatred. If I only had a dollar for every time a person engages me in the issues, abuses me then call me ‘extreme’ for being a vegan… Oh how many beach houses I could buy.
When someone sends me a Meme about vegans having protein deficiencies or vaginas, you can expect little respect back from me. I understand it might be all in good humour, which to my credit I tend to feign interest in, but when you align my belief – that we shouldn’t forcefully inseminate cows and steal their babies, we shouldn’t slit throats for the taste etc – with being less of a man, you’ll excuse me for thinking that deep down you’re either a dickhead or you have a shit sense of humour.
At some point it seems that male Australian culture became synonymous with meat eating and betting. My masculinity has been called in to question many times because I bring soy sausages to BBQs, I refuse to go to the races or I won’t go fishing. I’ve never been bothered by this, because I have never been ashamed to stand up for my beliefs, but geez it’s a dark day when this is what represents our culture. People consistently rant on about ‘Aussie Pride’ and being ‘Un-Australian’. The older I get, the more I’m content to detach myself from this culture if it continues down this path of alcoholism, over-supplies of testosterone and most importantly cruelty to other living things.
While most will enjoy their lamb chops this Australia day, I’ll enjoy devouring a meal that probably tastes better, is healthier, is cruelty-free and won’t give me early onset heart disease or bowel cancer. If you want to know more about animal ethics and agriculture I would strongly recommend ‘Earthlings’ and ‘Cowspiracy’. I used to think veganism was extreme, until I became one…