Eating (with) Your Friend
Made by Sam De Armas and Dror Margalit
You wait for your order in a restaurant, and your friend, a lovely urban pig, shows up late. As he tells you about his experience when he suffered from spending 5 minutes in a packed subway, you are served a plate filled with bacon. Now you have a choice: what do you tell your pig friend as you are eating bacon?
Eating (with) Your Friend is a virtual reality (VR) experience exploring the absurdity of meat consumption in today's world. Participants are invited to sit at a (physical) restaurant table and put on a VR set. Once they do so, they are placed in a restaurant where they order bacon and justify it to their pig friend, who expresses dissatisfaction with a great deal of "attitude." In creating this absurd reality, we wanted to shed light on the absurdity of meat consumption in three main aspects.
First, we explored the cultural dissonance between cuteness and meat consumption. In one story, for example, we drew attention to how dogs are perceived as cuter than pigs. In doing so, we wanted to create connections between people's tendency to treat some animals with extra care while eating others.
Second, we presented the absurdity of humans' pleasure in eating meat and the cruel conditions of animals on farms. In this story, we did not want to present cruel imagery. Instead, we chose to make the pig's experience more relatable to humans' experiences living in what some people consider poor living conditions.
Last, we wanted to make the environmental aspects of meat consumption more tangible. Because some might perceive sustainability as a vague contempt that is "out there," we wanted to bring it to the table, showing how large of an issue meat consumption is.
Two core choices for this experience were to personify the pig (giving him a very distinct attitude) and make people justify meat consumption to initiate the conversation. We believe that these choices made the story more engaging and approachable. That said, the pig's actions do not make people feel guilty or ashamed, and at parts, he can even make them laugh. While participants might feel uncomfortable at parts, we wanted the overall experience to be positive and absurd.
Overall, Eating (with) Your Friend does not attempt to educate people or make them feel guilty about meat consumption. Rather, the project attempts to draw connections between meat consumption and some of its consequences in an approachable and friendly way.