Become a vegetarian or we will kill your pet. That is the stark choice that will soon befall some British families taking part in a new Channel 4 reality TV show, Meat the Family. The show promises to cut through the euphemisms and cut straight to the core vegan ethics that confront us as a society. It promises to confront the reality of “an animal’s journey from field to plate”.
The ultimatum goes even further than that though. If the traditional carnivore family do not go vegetarian, then it will actually be asked to cook and eat the animal that they had adopted and presumably grown to love.
The choice is a stark one.
The family choose to go vegetarian and their new pet is sent to an animal sanctuary.
Or the unrepentant carnivore family will permit the pet they had adopted and presumably grown fond of to be sent to slaughter, and they will be forced to cook the animal and eat it.
A life challenging stark ethical choice
“Confronting the reality of an animal’s journey from field to plate, Meat the Family will be a life-changing and emotional experiment for all involved,” says Channel 4’s commissioning editor Nicola Brown.
The first few episodes of the Channel 4 series will include a lamb, a pig, a chicken and a calf. The animals will be looked after for three weeks during which time the families will take them for walks and play with them. The family will get the opportunity to discern the animal’s capacity for intellect and emotion. The question will then arise: does the family have the stomach to eat their new animal friend.
The series is being produced by Spun Gold TV which aims to confront the issues of ethical eating head-on with cutting edge research about animal intelligence.
The company’s managing director, Daniela Neumann, Managing Director at Spun Gold, asks:
“Why do we find it acceptable to eat a lamb but we wouldn’t eat our pet dog? Could you go back to meat once you’ve put a name and face to a meal?
Meat is the new taboo
“Meat is becoming the new taboo,” said Virginia Mouseler, the TV and media analyst as quoted by the Daily Mail. “It is not sex or drugs anymore. The question they are asking is how can you cuddle your dog while you are putting another animal in the oven?”
The programme will address the issues of animal agriculture and how meat is processed. It will address how eating meat affects animal welfare, the planet, and our health.
Meat the Family is one of a wave of reality TV shows dealing with social responsibility. Segregation Experiment, another Channel 4 programme will examine British schoolchildren with a focus on unconscious racism.
Meat the Family is certainly a hardcore experiment. It pushes the cognitive dissonance that is so real in eating animals right to the fore. The series will force the viewer to know more about the animals that we put on our plates. It is likely to surprise many as to the levels of intelligence that these animals demonstrate.
The series should make for compulsive viewing.