Who wants to watch an entire film about veganism? Well, I do but I am already converted to the cause so I don’t really count.
Comedian Simon Amstell is aware that preaching to the choir isn’t going to change hearts, minds and eating habits. His savvy BBC film is therefore aimed at the not so silent majority who still cling to the outdated notion that being a vegan is unachievable, extremist and faintly ridiculous.
Amstell knows how easy it is to portray vegans as smug, self-righteous, sentimental, humorless and unfashionable. There’s plenty in the film that acknowledges these stereotypes yet also manages to effectively portray non-vegans (‘Carnists’) as complicit in the “bloodbath of unnecessary suffering”.
The film purports to be a vision of the future (2067) where a plant-based diet has become the norm and therefore documents “the story of how people became compassionate”. Stomach-churning footage of ‘past’ fast food consumers and celebrity chefs is presented as a catalogue of horror and a source of shame.
As the enlightened now know, a vegan diet makes sense not only from an ethical and environmental perspective but has proven health benefits. Worthy arguments explaining how and why have previously been presented in brilliant documentaries like Earthlings, Forks Over Knives and Cowspiracy but Carnage is an important addition to this canon because it is more likely to reach a mainstream audience. There’s no attempt to preach to or shock viewers yet it still surreptitiously includes all the key arguments contained in those ‘straight’ documentaries.
Above all, Carnage shows that it’s cool to be compassionate and gently invites viewers to regard human carnivores as the true freaks of nature.