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I was doing some doodling of tasty snacks and I was about to draw an icecream cone for a character, but then I thought in my head "Is this a cow's milk icecream cone or something else? Wouldn't anyone looking at it automatically assume it's a milk-based icecream?" And then I didn't draw it. I thought to myself "maybe I can draw more vegetables, or even write the words "vegan" on some of the more ambiguous things. But then, would that make my art political? I don't normally draw a lot of food or anything. But the thoughts are still there.

I watch cartoons with my friends daughter often when I watch her and I just can't help but notice all of the animal-based product imagery that is constantly in everything. Animal products aren't just something we feed children since they are capable of eating, it's something that is visually put everywhere. I don't know if I would call it subliminal messaging, since the intent isn't to be deceptive or devious. Meat-eating is something that is just thought as normal and okay by the vast majority of society. But I wonder if kids saw cartoon characters happily eating vegetables and fruits without complaint if they would be more inclined to accept them?

Something that did surprise me though was one show.
There is a cartoon called Steven universe. There was an episode where the characters were stranded on an island (I know lol) and at one point they have to get something to eat to survive or whatever. Steven, the main character and others start catching these happy fish. Then when it came time to eat them their faces changed to sad faces, and the main character looked at his "kill" with regretful and sad eyes. This got me thinking that maybe the writers intentionally wanted their audience to think about the consequences and the sentience of the creatures that they eat. That or they just wanted to paint the MC as very sympathetic. I'm not too sure. (Pic related)



So yeah I suppose I'm mostly rambling but thinking about how meat eating is portrayed out there in art and in television. It would be cool to have more pro-vegan and animal welfare messages out there just in the form of example in the shows we and children consume and such.
 

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I love Steven Universe and I'm 32! Ditto for Regular Show and Adventure Time.

This is an oldie, but when I was a kid one of my favourite shows was Count Duckula, about a vegetarian vampire duck who liked to eat carrots. There's also Lisa Simpson, of course.
 

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This is really interesting. I'm outlining a middle-grade novel I want to write and I've been wondering if I should make the main protagonist vegan, or at least have a scene where she has a moment of realization about where meat comes from. It is a political choice, to do something like this. It's kind of scary, for some reason -- just to take a stand, I guess. It puts you in a position where you might have to defend yourself. I don't want to be afraid of that, though. I kind of feel like it's my duty. It might even help my story.

As far as that cartoon you saw, the writers might have wanted kids to make a connection to where meat comes from, or, sympathy and empathy might have had something to do with the greater theme of the episode. Or, like you said, they might have just wanted to make the characters more likeable. Probably a combination of all of those things.

Food is such a big part of culture, of our everyday lives. Some of what we see in media -- especially in movies and TV, is product placement. As if kids (and adults) don't get enough of that zapped into their brains during commercial breaks. And of course, most of the commercials are for highly processed foods -- mostly animal based. To counter that message in the media is no easy task. I wouldn't have any qualms about using subliminal messaging. This doesn't have to be a negative thing, as long as you're trying to get people to think for themselves, and not telling them what they should think or do.
 
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