Last Sunday evening while browsing Netflix, searching for a show worthy of being watched in a state of utter disinterest, I received a message that Zondag met Lubach had a topic on animal slaughter. Along with the message came a picture of a television screen showing pigs’ carcasses and the word ‘slacht’ (slaughter).
“I’ll rewatch it once it’s online,” I replied, my mood shifting from disinterest to feeling curious and enthusiastic, though somewhat skeptical.
I could barely wait for twenty-two minutes, which was the exact time it took for the episode to be published online.
During the episode, Arjen Lubach talked to approximately 1.2 million viewers about how 1.7 million animals are slaughtered every day in the Netherlands. He detailed how pigs are rendered unconscious after being led into a room with carbon-dioxide gas, making a joke about how doing so would spontaneously lead one to speak German. Moreover, he displayed his disbelief that the industry and Dutch ministries deem such slaughter ‘humane’. Notably, he did not only label cases in which animals are slaughtered in illegal circumstances (e.g. slaughter of a pregnant cow or an improperly stunned pig) as such. Rather, he labeled all slaughter as inhumane.
Some may recall that back in September 2017, Lubach already made an episode on animal farming in the Netherlands. After this episode, Lubach went vegetarian himself, due to the miserable circumstances in which animals were being held. Two years before that episode, in November 2015, Lubach had an item explaining why he was eating less meat due to climate change.
Not only do we follow Lubach’s journey from eating less meat, to becoming vegetarian to now showing wrongdoing in the dairy sector. We also see a general trend of Lubach using his platform to inform the viewer on different topics. Previously, he has informed his viewers on topics such as the clothing industry. In a capitalist system in which it does not serve industries to be transparent in regard to their supply chain, Arjen’s role in informing the greater public is paramount. That is, if one values that consumers can make thoughtful and ethical decisions.
informing consumers is a necessity
In the episode shown on the 24th of November, Arjen gives the example of slaughtering a pregnant cow and throwing their unborn calf in the trash. He refers back to this example multiple times for comedic effect, which ultimately serves to show the insanity of the reality – even, perhaps unintentionally, giving the episode a vegan message. He does not, however, tell the viewer what to do with the given information.
Now, why is Lubach mentioning such an example a necessity?
On November 1st 2018, Esther Ouwehand submitted a motion in the House of Representatives to increase transparance in the lives of animals in the meat, egg and dairy industries . This motion was turned down. Carola Schouten, the minister of agriculture, said that ‘it is the responsibility of the consumer to inform themselves on the origin of the food products they buy’. In other words, the consumer should inform themselves on an industry that will not be transparent about what is going on behind closed doors. An impossible task, indeed. Consequently, only consumers that actively seek out information and video footage about the industry (that is often difficult to acquire), are being informed adequately. The average consumer will not seek out such information. Thus, Lubach performs a very necessary role in ensuring that consumers know about unethical sides of industries.