As a promoter of ideas and of content creators and their work, I spend a lot of time pondering the way things are presented to the public, especially online. And one night last month, over dinner in Phoenix, I had a moment of Zen that took me to a video that’s been all over the internet of late.
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In a delightful Japanese restaurant, I had the supreme pleasure of ingesting some of the most flavorful asparagus I’ve ever eaten in my life. Japanese restaurants don’t always offer such delights to an avowed vegan. After it was all gone, I asked the waiter what was in the sauce. He listed a number of ingredients I expected and then, to my horror, he said, “and crushed sea urchin.” I had two choices: gag and run to the bathroom to rid myself of the offending offal or remind myself that next time I’ll ask before I order and in the meantime will simply savor the delight of the moment when it hit my tongue. I rolled my tongue over my teeth and smiled contentedly.
We can be a curious lot, vegans. We make many people uncomfortable because they think it’ll be hard to feed us, which, of course, is as far from the truth as it gets. But we can also be a bit judgmental, a bit self-righteous, a bit dogmatic when it comes to our diet. I personally have always been of the belief that I do what works for me and want others to do the same, so I never suggest to anyone that they adopt my epicurean bent, but I know only too well that others of my group are not always so.
Enter PETA, and all of a sudden there’s this insane “join us on the other side” campaign, depicting veganism as yet another form of hedonism. Maybe that’s not the idea, but that’s the message.
The implication was not clear to me at first – I thought the young woman was a victim of rape and that the ad was actually a plea for her and her mate to return to animal cruelties in their diet rather than in their sex life, but after I watched it another time and got over my initial horror, I realized it simply implies (her smile at the end clearly indicates she’s turned on) that being a vegan has turned her boyfriend into an insatiable animal who can’t sit still and can’t get enough of her. Hmm. Maybe it’s still a bit pro meat eating.
I firmly and religiously stand with PETA and their campaign to rid the world of animal concentration camps, to do away with animal torture and hideous death for food and fashion. But somehow having Kevin Nealon’s voice extoling the virtue of what appears to be the ravishment of a dangerously think model and the debt of gratitude the act owes to veganism is odd at the very least. Is it offensive? I’m not offended, except by its abject of inanity. As a SNL routine, it’s hysterically funny. But as an evangelical call to foreswear the pleasures of carnivorism in favor of the true pleasures of the flesh, it’s just absurd. Then again, I haven’t gone to the farmer’s market pantsless in years, so maybe I’m missing the point.