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The Movie Okja Just Might Make You Go Vegan

Netflix’s new flick, Okja, just might make you reconsider eating meat.

When I first saw the trailer for Okja, I thought it must be a delightful kid’s movie about a large hippo/pig. Well, I was kind of right. Director Bong Joon-Ho’s film on Netflix is about a large “super pig”. But I wouldn’t exactly call it a walk in the park. Rather, this movie makes you question your lifestyle choices regarding whether or not you choose to eat meat.

The movie begins with Lucy Mirando (played by Tilda Swinton) and her family company, The Mirando Corporation, genetically modifying pigs for human consumption.

tilda swinton

Each of these “super piglets” is sent to live and grow for ten years with a farming family. And each family is located all over the world. Okja is sent to live with Mija (played by Seo-Hyun Ahn) and her father.

mija and okja

After ten years, the super pigs are sent back to The Mirando Corporation and Mija must rescue Okja from certain slaughter.

This film is not a happy kid’s movie, make no bones about it. Rather, it offers an insider’s glimpse into what really happens inside slaughterhouses. Indeed, Paul Dano’s character, Jay, even says that kids need to understand where their meat really comes from. Many of us view meat as coming from the grocery store packaged neatly in sanitary Styrofoam containers with plastic on them. There is a disconnect between the meat we see in stores and how it actually got there.

Okja shows super pigs being shot in the head, kept in overcrowded lots and treated not like living beings, but like property.

There is one particularly disturbing scene where Okja is forced to breed with another super pig. Although it is not seen, you can hear it and is upsetting to say the least.

Co-writer Jon Ronson said, “Own your lifestyle choices and own your positions. If you’re going to eat meat, this is what happens in the slaughterhouse. Don’t trick yourself. I think that’s something you can take into life. If you’re going to bully somebody, don’t trick yourself into thinking you’re not bullying them. Understand your actions.” Ronson, who eats fish, wants people to make the decision to eat meat or not after fully understanding what really is behind the commercial meat industry.

slaughterhouse okja

This is not a feel-good film. Rather, it is a movie designed to make you uncomfortable. It is also meant to make you think and re-consider your choice to eat meat if you do. Ronson went on to say,”I think the movie will turn people vegetarian. I think there’s a whole load of 16-year-olds who don’t realize where their food comes from or don’t realize that within five weeks time they’re going to be vegetarian. I think that is going to happen. But I really don’t think that was my intention or Bong’s intention.”

In Okja, Mija is seen catching a fish for dinner. She and her dad also eat a stewed chicken. So the act of eating meat is still in the film. However, Okja seems to take a stance against the commercial meat industry and the injustice that many have not been privy to in the past. The team that created Okja believes they didn’t design the film to turn its viewers vegetarian. However, the impact of this film might just do it anyways.



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Photo by Yama Zsuzsanna Márkus







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