Simon Amstell’s Carnage is a must-watch for all aspiring vegans
It’s 2067, and the world is now fully vegan. The days of ‘carnism’ (the consumption of animal products) are a distant – and traumatic – memory. ‘It’s just a baby, a little baby, a little baby lamb’, whimpers a twenty-something when he’s told about his ancestors’ carnivorous ways.
That’s the future according to Carnage, a mockumentary written and directed by comedian Simon Amstell – himself a vegan – which premiered last week on BBC iplayer.
It’s a world where pictures of fried chicken provoke violent retching fits, and the act of naming a cheese bears all the trappings of a confession.
‘Camembert. Parmesan. Edam’, whisper reformed dairy eaters at a support group for people struggling to process their animal eating pasts.
The revolution had long roots. Amstell traces it all the way back to 1944, the date imprinted in every late twenty-first century person’s memory as the year of the first Vegan Society meeting.
It’s a stylish production which mixes Amstell’s playful brand of humour with serious points about the environmental and ethical impact of meat eating.
He doesn’t shy away from grisly images of battery farms and abattoirs, but these are intermingled with lighter segments and accompanied by Amstell’s deadpan voiceover.
That allows him to avoid a holier-than-thou tone and probably attract a wider audience than the more distressing genre of animal rights docs.
A message for vegans today?
Aside from politicians, newscasters, you tubers and celebrity chefs (‘what looks like a video of a lunatic…was actually a popular TV programme’, accompanies a video of Nigella Lawson crunching a chicken carcass), vegans themselves are at the butt of many of Amstell’s jokes. That helps Amstell dodge accusations of preachiness, and also land some points about the state of the contemporary vegan movement.
In the film vegans go from kooky minority to counter culture revolutionaries via a comprehensive image makeover. Amstell suggests that real-life vegans will struggle to go mainstream unless they too revamp their image and make veganism look less evangelical and more accessible.
Easyvegan verdict: 5*s
Carnage is available on the BBC iplayer.