Pantomime Removes Song That Calls Vegans ‘Anemic’ And ‘Annoying’ After Complaints

The pantomime has been accused of reinforcing harmful stereotypes towards vegans


4 Minutes Read

Children in the audience of a stage show A family-friendly pantomime featured a song making fun of vegans - Media Credit: Adobe Stock

A pantomime in the UK has removed a song that labeled vegans “anemic” and “annoying” after audience complaints. 

A performance of Mother Goose at Everyman Theatre in Cheltenham featured a song that contained the lyrics: “G in vegan stands for gassy, while the A stands for either anemic or annoying.” 

Pantomimes are a type of musical comedy show that are traditionally performed in theaters across the UK at Christmas time. They are generally understood to be family shows, meaning the audience would have been full of children. One girl watching the show, who was vegan, later stated that her classmates had sung “the vegan panto song” to her at school. 

According to Gloucestershire Live, her father said that she asked him: “Why did the actors think it’s okay to be horrible to kids like me, who just want to be kind to animals and not eat them?”

Her father added that the humor was “cheap,” and went on to say: “I must admit, it did seem quite unnecessary to have a whole song at the end of the panto dedicated to spiteful jibes towards vegans – as entertaining as it was for a certain section of the audience.”

A rear view of rows of red velvet seats in an empty theatre
Adobe Stock Pantomimes are taking place across the UK

The pantomime removes the song

Following complaints, the pantomime removed the song. In a statement, a spokesperson said: “Our pantomime Mother Goose, is a live production, which is constantly being refined and improved. The creative team behind this year’s production continuously evaluates all aspects of the performance in order to create the best, most entertaining experience for the audience possible.”

They added that pantomime is a “uniquely collaborative art form” where audience is “very much a part of the show.” They went on to say that they “respect” audience views and comments. 

Plant Based News has contacted the theater for further comment.

Harmful stereotypes

While vegans are used to having jokes directed at them, some have argued that such a song – particularly in an audience of children – reinforces harmful and inaccurate stereotypes directed towards vegans.

“Words matter, and song lyrics that lazily perpetuate tired, untrue stereotypes of vegans need an overhaul – oh, yes, they do!,” PETA’s Vice President of Programmes Elisa Allen told Plant Based News (PBN).

Issy Acosta, campaigner at animal advocacy organization Viva!, agrees. “When it comes to pantomimes, there is always a delicate balance between humour and insult – and this performance of Mother Goose is no different,” she told PBN. “The trope of the annoying, anaemic and gassy vegan is an outdated insult and one that ignores the reasons why more and more people are switching to plant-based each year.”

Anemia is a condition where the body does not have enough healthy red blood cells or hemoglobin to carry oxygen to body tissue. It can be caused by a number of things, but iron deficiency is perhaps the most well-known of these. Vegans and vegetarians are often believed to suffer from it due to the false belief that iron can only be derived from animal sources. In fact, iron is found in plant foods including beans, lentils, tofu, fortified cereals, and many others. While some meat-free eaters may suffer from iron deficiency due to lack of planning, plenty of meat-eaters do as well.

In the UK, around 1.2 billion land animals are slaughtered for meat each year. Most of these are raised in factory farms, and investigation after investigation proves that farmed animals suffer brutal lives and painful deaths. The vast majority of children – and adults – have no idea what happens to animals in our food system.

“Instead of creating a factually incorrect song attacking vegans, perhaps the producers would like some accurate lyrics,” Acosta said. “Instead of a Gassy G, how about G for Generosity, and the Anaemic and Annoying A, let’s replace that with A for Animal freedom.”

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