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Friday
Jul072017

Netflix Movie Okja

Like Wonder Woman, the new Netflix movie Okja starts in a tropical paradise full of love and isolated from the cruelties of the outside world. In both, a young heroine leaves to confront evil and shows bravery, physical prowess, and compassion despite her innocence. But in Okja, the heroine doesn't have superpowers or warrior training. She's a teenaged farm girl who loves her close companion, the superpig Okja.

[Minor spoiler alert!] Alas, the Big Food conglomerate that owns Okja comes to take her away. After all, the superpig was bred to taste $%#&^ good. Watch the Okja preview clip here to get a feel for the beauty and horror of this riveting film.

This clip hints at the power Okja has that Wonder Woman lacks: the power to change your life. As the movie goes on, superpig Okja faces the horrific plight of most pigs raised for meat today. You'll want to rescue her too. I suspect many people who leave Okja will be inspired to think twice about who their meat comes from and to seek other options. (Try my delicious Tomato Tahini Toast instead of a BLT, for example). Okja has plenty of action but is blessedly free from Wonder Woman's drawn-out noisy slugfests.

Okja, like the book Charlotte's Web and the movie Babe, reminds us of how smart, lovable, and funny pigs can be. The blend of live action and animation is so convincing you'll believe Okja is real. It's a great film to share with others (but not with young children). It naturally leads to a discussion about how our eating choices matter, especially to those whom we are eating. Some of the characters are cartoonish, but others display a welcomed complexity, with the bad guys having some good motives and the good guys not always behaving well. This makes it easier to talk about with others. You can focus on love, not on good vs. evil. If you don't already have a streaming account with Netflix, you can try it for free for 30 days. (This is not an ad, just a helpful tip.)

The cast includes weird and wonderful Tilda Swindon, madcap Jake Gyllenhaal, and a driven Paul Dano as the head of an Animal Liberation Front cell. Seo-Hyun Ahn stars as Mija, the farm girl who goes to extraordinary and thrilling lengths to save her beloved superpig, as you can see in the clip below:

Why am I writing about a movie on a food blog? Because the Cook for Good project is about making a difference. Eating the plant-based recipes here lets you withdraw support from raising animals as food, particularly in factory farms.

Okja's not real, but normal pigs are super in their own ways: playful, smart, and emotional. They may be smarter than dogs or three-year-old humans, but it's hard and maybe meaningless to compare across species. It took me a long time to understand this and even longer to act on it. After all, my Taster and I used to plan vacations based on the locations of barbecue joints! Now we look for VegFests. The food is at least as good and it doesn't leave me with heartburn or heartache afterwards.

Every meal is a chance to vote with your fork for the world you want. You don't have to do it all at once or all the time, but I hope watching Okja will inspire you to give plants a chance.

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