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How to Steal Pigs and Influence People, Channel 4 review - the arcane world of the online vegan influencers | reviews, news & interviews

How to Steal Pigs and Influence People, Channel 4 review - the arcane world of the online vegan influencers

How to Steal Pigs and Influence People, Channel 4 review - the arcane world of the online vegan influencers

Fascinating tale of zealous vegans and militant meat-eaters

Piglet rescued by the vegan activists

Filmmaker Tom Costello’s opening question in this quixotic but fascinating documentary for Channel 4 deftly skewered the journey he was about to take us on. Was making change or finding fame more important? he asked, and by the end of the story it was crystal clear where the main protagonists stood.

Costello’s subject was the passionate, sometimes demented-looking conviction with which committed vegans advance their cause, in particular the way vegan activists are exploiting the potential of online channels including Instagram and YouTube. The likes of Earthling Ed and Earth Angel Jacqueline are racking up hundreds of thousands of online followers, and Costello homed in on 23-year-old “pignapper” Wesley Omar as he tried to bust into the big league of animal emancipation.

In his quest to amass 100,000 followers and reel in £10,000 a month in donations, Wes’s trademark was his daring nighttime raids on pig farms to “liberate” piglets, all filmed like a clandestine SAS mission and livestreamed on Instagram. There was no mistaking the buzz he got as the online likes poured in.

Rescued piglet - How to Steal Pigs and Influence PeopleSeeing the cramped and squalid conditions in which the animals were forced to exist was surely an unanswerable argument against eating them. Pigs are intelligent and sociable animals, and watching tiny piglet Hugo snuggling up to Wes on his bed would have melted the stoniest of hearts. Wes, diagnosed with Asperger’s in his youth, explained how he’d never had many friends but always felt an easy affinity with animals.

Yet the extreme emotions in this debate had created an anti-Wes in the form of Prem, a defector from the vegan cause now running an extreme raw-meat-eating operation. With what he’s dubbed his “Carnie Crew”, sneering, supercilious Prem loved goading vegans with ostentatious displays of devouring blood-dripping raw offal. He now derided a vegan diet as unhealthy, picked fights with vegans whenever possible, and paraded his carnivorous raps on YouTube.

But both Wes and Prem proved to be fly-by-night gold dust for Costello. By the end of the film, Prem had emigrated to Manila to rear his own fresh meat, while Wes had fled the vegan battlefield for a job as a luxury estate agent in Dubai. We never did find out what happened to poor Hugo. Still, Earth Angel Jackie had stuck to her guns, filling her garden with an ever-expanding menagerie of rescued animals and having a smooch with a turkey or being amusingly pecked by a clucking gaggle of chickens. Mind you, it helps that she lives on a spacious country estate paid for by her property-developer husband. Her love for her animals seemed sincere, but this was a luxury most people can’t afford.

Prem loved goading vegans with ostentatious displays of devouring blood-dripping offal

rating

Editor Rating: 
4
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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So, no mention of the fact that this is theft? No mention of the huge amounts of stress he caused to the pig he stole or the other pigs on the farm? The potential still births due to distress caused? No mention of the vast stress caused to the farmer and his family by this criminal activity? What about the bio security issue that could lead to every pig having to be slaughtered because he introduced a notifiable disease? Promoting criminal activity in this way, even through your rather lazy piece of journalism, causes untold harm to animals and people alike.

I have been Vegan over 30 years and this programme was far from the 'norm' . In fact it was a very disturbing programme about extremes of narcissistic behaviour, and social media competitiveness that was just that and lost sight of the animals. I know the cruelty genuine Vegans read about and see can drive you to direct actions and the nature of it can be adrenelin fuelling, but it is important to have a life as well as being compassionate.

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