Meat is one of the most commonly consumed food groups in the world, and the global meat industry generates hundreds of billions of dollars each year. The “big four” livestock, the ones that are most consumed, are cows, chickens, pigs, and sheep. But while a great many people eat meat, a lot of people don’t. In fact, even some gods don’t.
That’s a lesson one Australian organization is learning the hard way. The group Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) aired an ad featuring the Hindu God Lord Ganesha consuming lamb. The commercial’s subject matter, how meat can bring people together no matter their religious beliefs, nationalities, or differences, was overshadowed by who was at the table.
Sitting at the table in the commercial are Gods like Zeus, Lord Ganesha, Dionysus, and even Jesus Christ. They represent billions of believers, with the only thing in common being the lamb they’re eating. And that’s the problem — Lord Ganesha doesn’t eat meat.
The advertisement led to the Indian government filing a formal complaint with the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Communication and Arts and the Department of Agriculture over the offensive lamb advertisement. The complaint stated that the way Lord Ganesha was used for the ad was considered by the Indian community to be “offensive and hurting their religious sentiments.”
“The Consulate General of India in Sydney has taken up the matter directly with Meat
and Livestock Australia and urged them to withdraw the advertisement,” noted the complaint. And while the ad’s original intention may have been to show unity and inclusivity through the act of eating meat, it appears to have done the opposite. Hindus all over the world are threatening to boycott the meat industry in Australia over the offensive commercial.
The president of the Universal Society of Hinduism, Rajan Zed, condemned the clip and called for an apology.
“With ads like this playing with the sentiments of communities worldwide resulting in boycotts, how long Australia would keep its position as one of the largest exporters of red meat,” he said.
A spokesman of the MLA, Andrew Howie, said that the ad was the result of “extensive research and consultation.”
“Our intent is never to offend, but rather acknowledge that lamb is a meat consumed by a wide variety of cultures and capture how the world could look if people left their differing views at the door and came to the table with open arms, and minds. No matter your beliefs, background or persuasion, the one thing we can all come together and unite over, is lamb,” he said.