Much about Sunday’s Golden Globes ceremony was the same as it has always been: dazzling fashions, diamonds dripping from the surgically smoothed necks of starlets, and plenty of golden statuettes and thank-yous to go around.
But the night boasted one much-touted innovation. The Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which hosts the glittery annual event, made a big show out of serving a vegan meal to the crowd, a move organizers said was meant to “send a signal” about the impact of animal products on climate change.
The menu didn’t just offer a vegan option to those who might choose it, but rather the entire meal was animal-product-free, served to all. So the folks in tuxes and gowns slurped chilled golden beet soup and noshed on king oyster mushrooms and wild-mushroom risotto, with nary a rubber chicken in sight.
That was applauded by some of the evenings’ stars. Actor Joaquin Phoenix, a longtime vegan and advocate, called it a “very bold move.” “I would like to thank the Hollywood Foreign Press for recognizing and acknowledging the link between animal agriculture and climate change,” he said onstage while accepting his best actor award for his eponymous role in “The Joker.”
Veteran awards dinner attendee Brad Pitt also endorsed the offerings, saying in a red-carpet interview that he was “all for the vegan thing,” though his reasoning seemed to be that he didn’t like the steak served at previous awards ceremonies and that the fish that’s often served gave people bad breath.
But not everyone was as sanguinely agnostic about the menu as Pitt was; the all-veg move seriously irked some people. For Golden Globes host Ricky Gervais, it fit with his motif of the evening, which was to call out Hollywood for hypocrisy. (In his opening monologue he joked that if the Islamic State started a streaming service, they would all be calling their agents.) “I think it’s a good idea that 800 people are trying to save the planet,” the comedian deadpanned in a pre-show interview with “Access Hollywood.” “And arriving all in separate limos to have some veg.”
He wasn’t alone. Conservative radio host Mark Simone, too, noted that many of the celebrities in attendance had arrived at the ceremony via modes of transportation that probably weren’t so kind to the environment.
Others piled on, and not all of the criticism focused on the hypocrisy angle. Dan Wootton, an editor for conservative British paper the Sun, saw “vegan extremists” at work.
Others shared criticism on social media in such terms as to make them unprintable here.
Proponents of the vegan meal, of course, clapped back at the critics. “Good thing you’re not going to the golden globes then lol,” wrote one in response to a profanity-laced tweet. “Don’t hate on what you dont know,” suggested another commenter, who defended the deliciousness of vegan cuisine.
The criticism seemed to fall into two camps, one being that Hollywood celebrities might say one thing and then do another, and the other being just a general annoyance about veganism.
Melanie Joy, a psychologist and author of “Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows,” says those aren’t actually separate categories. She sees the labeling of vegans as hypocritical as just another way of discrediting their message by people who are conditioned to “carnism,” which she describes as a dominant belief system that eating certain kinds of meat is the norm. Vegans might also be accused of being overemotional or holier-than-thou, she noted.
“It’s a way of shooting the messenger, and then we don’t have to deal with the message,” Joy said. “When we talk about the limos, it somehow invalidates any of a person’s animal-friendly behavior.”
Most people, she said, have to make choices about how to navigate our messy world. For example, she said, she might wear vegan shoes, but she doesn’t love that they’re made in China. “It’s dangerous to accuse someone of not living up to moral perfectionism,” she said.
Lisa Lange, senior vice president of communications for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, said the cries of hypocrisy are a distraction — and a deflection. Going vegan is one of the few ways that individuals can do something about climate change, she said, instead of waiting for governments to act. “But it’s hard for people to change their habits,” Lange said. “It’s easier to call on governments to make changes, and it’s easier to talk about taking private planes.”
As for why the very idea of veganism seems to bug people so much, she says it’s … well, complicated. “People have a strong connection to their food — it’s what your family fed you, it’s about your community, your holidays,” Lange said. “There’s so much tied up in what you eat, and then vegans come along and tap you on the shoulder and say, ‘Not only are you participating in extreme cruelty to animals, but, oh, by the way the planet is on fire.’ ”
Maybe the answer to all those people clutching their (borrowed) Cartier necklaces over a bunch of celebrities forced to give up animal flesh for one night is to put it in a little bit of perspective. Even the dinner’s organizers had modest aims. “We don’t think we’ll change the world with one meal, but we decided to take small steps to bring awareness,” HFPA President Lorenzo Soria told the Hollywood Reporter.
In other words: Guys, it’s just a meal.
More from Voraciously:
Is fonio the new quinoa? One chef hopes the tiny West African grain will be.
Who makes the best store-bought hummus around? We tried 11 top brands to find out.
Tyson, America’s biggest chicken producer, now makes a plant-based ‘nugget.’ Is it any good?
Source: Thanks https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/voraciously/wp/2020/01/06/why-that-vegan-meal-at-the-golden-globes-set-off-so-many-critics/