Monday, 5 November 2012

Eat Me

Very few things makes me angrier than cartoon animals who act like they want to be eaten. I hate false advertising--often aimed at children--that shows happy farms and happy animals who would like nothing better but to end upon your plate

I recently picked up a free magazine from the our local Health Food Shop. It is mostly adverts, but it showcases new products as well. I was struck immediately by a colouring competition for a character called Krilly. Krilly in a cool little creature on a surf board, riding the wild waves. And what does Krilly want you to do? Eat him. That’s right because Krilly is the mascot for Cleanmarine Krill Oil for kids.  

The one page advert tells parents that krill oil can “improve concentration and possibly improve learning and performance of school aged children.”  But the advertising campaign is aimed at kids. It really makes me angry. Krill fill the oceans for whales and other sea life to eat. They are not there for us to over-fish and drive into extinction like every other marine creature we’ve managed to do it to.
Then the other day Spiderman and I were in the supermarket and we passed a carton of Happy Eggs. That makes steam come out of my ears. Everyone who eats eggs has heard about battery cages and the treatment of hens. Everyone wants to appease their conscience by buying free range eggs because isn’t that better for the chickens? We picture hens roaming leisurely about, pecking and scratching at the ground, having a good ole time. Who cares that they’ll go to an early grave when their egg production tapers off. Who cares that every one of the male chicks that hatch are killed (gassed, suffocated or worse--ground up alive) because they have no use. At least their lives are good, even if their deaths are not. Sadly, this is not the case.     
Look at that hen on the label. Doesn’t she look jolly? VIVA did an undercover investigation and the resuls were not pretty. Here are some highlights (or lowlights) from the article.
The Happy Egg Company’s TV advert feeds that belief, showing hens in sunshine, exploring verdant vegetation and even taking a ride on a farmer’s quad bike. They paint a picture akin to a holiday camp for hens. If the plants we visited are typical, they are more of a death camp.
Hens are not placed in the free-range units until they are 18-21 weeks old, during which time they are kept in intensive sheds in their thousands. This conditions them to stay indoors, something which is encouraged because of the ‘hassle’ of collecting eggs from outside. In their first weeks, young birds were shocked into submission by electric wires running along the feeders and drinkers to prevent them from defecating on their food.
Home for these hens are cavernous, industrial sheds with small ‘pop holes’ down the sides. Even when open, many birds are seemingly so traumatised by their first few months of life indoors that they never venture out.
Add to this the highly hierarchical nature of hen society, where one bird will not want to cross another’s territory, plus unnatural flock sizes in the thousands and it’s a wonder that any go out at all.
One shed was infested with red mite, which can cause stress, anaemia and even death. Our footage shows many bald and bedraggled birds and worker confirmed that there are big problems in another shed where hens “peck and kill each other.” We filmed plastic yellow bags full of dead hens being carried away. And this despite birds having the ends of their beaks seared off (beak-trimmed) at a few days old to prevent pecking.
The life of a Happy Hen, it seems, is far from happy – it is also far from long. They are slaughtered at just 72 weeks so once the weeks indoors after hatching are subtracted, they spend barely more than a year in this supposedly free-range system. Hens from one shed were to be slaughtered even younger because they weren’t making enough money.
You can read the whole article here:
Do you recall the American adverts for StarKist Tuna? Charlie was a tuna wearing a hat and coke-bottle glasses, whose goal is to be caught by the StarKist company. Charlie believes that he is so hip and cultured that he has "good taste," and he is thus the perfect tuna for StarKist. Charlie is always rejected in the form of a note attached to a fish hook that says, "Sorry, Charlie." The reason given for the rejection was that StarKist was not looking for tuna with good taste but rather for tuna that tasted good. (from Wikipedia)
Those adverts were really funny and you felt so sorry for him every time he was rejected. As a child I sincerely thought that fish wanted to be eaten. They must, because that funny cartoon fish said so, right? This is completely misleading.
Animals are sentient beings who can feel love and attachment for their young as well as pain and fear. When we take their babies away from them and torture them and kill them for our own needs, for our own plates, for our own appetites then we are the villain. They cannot speak to tell us of their suffering, but we can speak for them. We can choose to eat food that doesn’t involve suffering and death. We can pick up a fork and save lives.
There was some controversy several years back about Joe Camel. In 1991, the Journal of the American Medical Association published a study showing that by age six nearly as many children could correctly respond that "Joe Camel" was associated with cigarettes as could respond that the Disney Channel logo was associated with Mickey Mouse, and alleged that the "Joe Camel" campaign was targeting children,[2] despite R. J. Reynolds' contention that the campaign had been researched only among adults and was directed only at the smokers of other brands. (from Wikipedia)

 Why is it a problem that a cartoon Camel made children want to smoke, but a cartoon Krill is acceptable in hooking children in to taking a fish oil supplement bought by mum and dad? Or a cartoon hen misleads us into thinking that we are doing something better for animal welfare? Or a cartoon fish makes us believe that animals desperately want to be eaten?  
An animal who wants to be eaten only happens in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
So just be wise and wary. Unless you are at the Restaurant at the End of the Universe, if a cartoon animal tells you to EAT ME, don’t listen.

1 comment:

  1. Very good post Heather. As I get ready to go cast my vote, it just struck me that neither president has taken a stand on animal rights or really even about nutrition. Oh I know the 1st Lady has made school lunches an issue, but not from an animal rights point of view. Is this important to me, yes, but sadly not important to most Americans.