BERLIN, Germany -- A Berlin entrepreneur has launched a web project in cooperation with a German farm in which users can see the face of the pig they're going to eat, reported Deutsche Welle.
The initiative makes a reality of the popular satirical comedy sketch "Is the chicken local?" from the American television show Portlandia, in which an overly conscientious dining couple go from ordering chicken to visiting its farm.
Entrepreneur Dennis Buchmann launched MeineKleineFarm.org (My Little Farm) in November in cooperation with organic farmer Bernd Schulz, who opened his 200-strong pig unit just south of Berlin in the mid-1990s, according to a report in Germany's Taz.de.
The concept is simple: look your food in the face.
MeineKleineFarm.org displays the photos of nine pigs who are now sausages. Their presentation is not meant as a broadside against the meat-eating culture, says Buchmann, but simply as information that needs to be...digested.
"If you want to eat meat, you need to kill an animal," the 34-year-old, who also works at the think tank BetterPlace, an ideas lab focused on digital technology in the social sector, told Deutsche Welle. "I think that's ok if you have an animal that had a quite ok life. If you cannot look the fact in the face that animals have to be killed for meat, then you need to become vegetarian."
Critics say the initiative doesn't go far enough. The head of the animal protection Albert Schweizer Foundation, Mahi Klosterhalfen, praised the idea as helping humanize animal products but told Deutsche Welle that "[y]ou could just leave them alone."
His comments come amid reports today that animal cruelty in the nearby UK is on the rise, with nearly a 25% increase in the number of people convicted for cruelty and neglect of animals in England and Wales over the past year, reported Agence-France Press.
But animal rights are not what Buchmann is after. He says the pig pictures are not given names in order to avoid anthropomorphizing them, saying the project is not meant to shame meat-eaters -- Buchmann himself is not vegetarian -- but to encourage them to think harder about their eating habits in a world of ever-increasing meat consumption.
"I want to get people to eat less meat with more awareness," Buchamann explained, telling Deutsche Welle the project is an invitation for people to "think about their meat consumption."
In other words, he's just helping people avoid pigging out -- literally.