Long-running late night skit show Saturday Night Live aired a skit last week delivers a cringe-worthy, but all-too-real look snapshot of the public’s increasing awareness of farm animal sentience.
The show opens with host Colin Jost sharing the story of a real pig named Pigcasso who was saved from a slaughterhouse and gained fame for her painting skills. According to CBS, her paintings sell for thousands of dollars.
To comment on the story, Jost welcomes the owners of the fictional Smorkey Farms Meat Gift Delivery Service, Vanita and Wylene Starkie (played by Kate McKinnon and Aidy Bryant), to talk about how positive stories about farm animals are hurting their business.
“All these amazing animal stories might be heart-warming for y’all, but they’re not great for us meat farmers,” says Bryant.
“That’s right. People going vegan left and right ‘cause the damn internet keeps showing people videos with titles like ‘Pig Teaches Deaf Dog to Bark,’” McKinnon opens.
“Yeah, or ‘Chicken Reminds Man What He Loves About His Wife,'” Bryant interjects.
“You see, every time a cow salutes a veteran, our stocks take a hit,” says McKinnon.
The pair go on to explain that going forward, their farm will source its meat only from animals that are “individually stupid or bad.”
The farmers then pull out a giftbasket of raw and cooked meat – the actors are noticeably struggling with the scent – and Bryant shares the individual stories of why animals ended up in the basket. The calf who became a veal cutlet, for example, didn’t know any tricks and “refused his Halloween costume.”
“So you’re gonna feel no guilt when you soak him in milk and feed him to your children,” Bryant says with a smile.
“In a study of chickens, all but one couldn’t identify himself in a mirror – so we don’t got one,” McKinnon said. While chickens might not pass the mirror test – a test designed to determine whether animals have self-awareness – they can recognize up to 30 different faces. One study found that chickens may forgo an immediate reward for a later larger reward, suggesting that they have the capacity for foreplanning.
“Your mouth must be watering for dumb, mean, worthless animals,” McKinnon tells Jost at the end of the segment.
Apart from Pigcasso mentioned in the segment, Brianna the cow is another former farm animal who gained mainstream media attention from the likes of PEOPLE and the Huffington Post when she escaped a slaughterhouse truck last December. She gave birth to her baby, Winter, at Skylands Santuary & Animal Rescue in New Jersey.