Yesterday, The Guardian posted a video titled as above as part of their Keep It In The Ground campaign, which aims to educate and and inform readers of the current climate change issues we face.
It’s just over the minute mark, and begins with some statistics about the emissions produced from the meat and dairy industry. The main message re-iterates: “it isn’t about cutting out but about cutting down” with regards to the population’s intake of animal products.
As a vegan-conscious, dairy-free pescetarian (yes, how complicated), I am currently sitting on the fence between herbivorous and omnivorous diets. Personally, I have a few qualms regarding this recent campaign material.
1)”Simply cutting down” will not suffice. The video addresses the issue of global warming, and our carbon emissions as a Western nation. Cutting down is the preliminary process of decreasing our emissions, yes, but the agricultural demands required for an ever-growing population are soaring out of our controls.
Those from poorer backgrounds tend to opt for meat and dairy products as an easy gateway to accessing the daily nutrients they require, whilst keeping themselves satiated; they can be at very low prices too nowadays, to meet all types of budgets. Thus, simply decreasing our meat and dairy intake is not a viable solution for many, especially if these products are priced very reasonably, and offer better nutritional values than a pack of quick stir-fry vegetables.
2) Sustainability? The video has failed to address one of the current pressures in the food industry. Sustainable and ethical farming practices are hot topics in many industries, and rightfully so, for animal welfare purposes. Yes, cutting out may not be the answer, but the message of “simply cutting down” is incomplete and unintelligible. Cutting down through means of selecting sustainable produce and ethically-farmed goods encourages the population to assess the practices involved with harvesting products, as well as their origins. These habits can lead to smarter buying choices.
3) Putting in place the ‘feel good’ factor. By placing the word ‘simply’ in the the campaign, there is no encouragement for viewers to push the boundaries and explore other ways to cut down their emissions. It is a lazy and sloppy slogan message which presents viewers with an easy certification of achievement upon completion, and no guidance for exploring further afield. The lack of motivation from a high impact source was most disappointing.
4) Veganism does not equate to bohemianism. The cover shot shows a globe with a bandana on, pursuing the ‘peace’ symbol with its hand. The backing track is a folk-psychedelic medley, and faded out yellow ochres dominate the scheme of the video. As noticed by many Facebook users, The Guardian seem to heavily presents veganism in the most distasteful cliché.
We cannot escape the fact that social conformity is desired by many. With the media’s heavy influence on just about everything, it is insulting that a large outlet should advocate hackneyed views of a particular lifestyle; it discourages the mainstream population from experimentation due to the associated social discordance implied, and encourages closed categorisation of an otherwise broad command of life.
5) What’s new? Apart from the carefully-placed statistics and numbers (as a science grad familiar with the workings of statisticians and operations of many marketing ploys, I am very skeptical about statistics), informing the reader of the emissions from the meat and dairy industries is not novel. We were presented with lacklustre, over-used statements and figures abused by many companies trying to promote the whole ‘change is necessary’ slogan, but fail to deliver at the last minute… and this recent video of The Guardian is part of this elite.
In conclusion and a little disclaimer: I am not vegan (or an omnivore-hater), but as someone conscious of the lifestyle, and fairly knowledgeable with regards to the environmental impacts of the food and agriculture industries, The Guardian created a disappointingly weak video for a high-impact source, merely educating the elementary.
Julia | themorningbowl.