[All links lead to Portuguese-language pages.]
A YouTube video of three-year-old Luiz Antonio explaining to his mother why he does not want to eat octopus gnocchi for lunch has become the latest must-see worldwide.
The young Brazilian argues that he doesn't like to eat meat because “when we eat animals, they die,” and that he likes to see the animals “on their feet, happy”, and explains that we must “look after them, not eat them.”
The original video in Portuguese, uploaded to YouTube on May 15, 2013, has reached nearly 1,500,000 views in only two weeks. The English version was published on May 29 and has been seen over 900,000 times in only three days.
In a country where only a very small percentage of the population has opted for a vegetarian diet, the viral video has sparked a heated debate about vegetarianism on YouTube and Facebook. Carlos Augusto Andrade explained the reasons:
O vídeo viralizou ontem no Facebook, daqueles que todo tipo de gente compartilha: sua mãe, sua tia, seus amigos descolados, os contatos da época do colégio… E apesar de alguns grupos no Facebook e no Youtube terem usado o vídeo para discutir o vegetarianismo, a gente entende que ele viralizou pelo que é, mesmo: um vídeo fofo de uma criança sendo curiosamente eloquente pra sua idade e refletindo sobre algo que nem todos nós nos damos ao trabalho de parar pra refletir.
The video has gone viral on Facebook yesterday [May 29, 2013], it is one of those you share with all sorts of people: your mother, your aunt, your hipster friends, contacts from school times… And although some groups on Facebook and YouTube have used the video to discuss vegetarianism, we understand that it has gone viral just for what is: a cute video of a child being curiously eloquent for his age and reflecting on something that not everyone among us bother to stop and reflect.
Flavio Giusti, the chef at the forefront of VegetariRANGO – a YouTube show on “Vegetarian Cooking Without Fuss” – published an homage to “the little boy who has touched everyone on the internet” on his Facebook page. This banner alone has been shared more than 1,145 times:
Inspired by the simplicity of the child's argument, some people have decided to adopt a meat-free lifestyle, such as many of the friends with whom blogger Viviane Zandonadi shared the video. A food writer, she wondered about what she is going to do when her daughter starts to ask the same kind of questions:
Fico apreensiva. Quando chegar a minha vez, se a Cata questionar a lógica da cadeia alimentar, não faço ideia do que vou dizer. O Luiz Antonio derrubou meus argumentos.
I'm apprehensive. When my turn comes, if Cata questions the logic of the food chain, I have no idea what I will say. Luiz Antonio has overthrown my arguments.
At the end of the video, Luiz Antonio's mother, moved to tears, asks her son to eat just the rice and potatoes. Writing for Acerto de Contas blog, Guilherme Carvalho hoped that other parents start to respect the sensitivity of their children, and stop resorting to lies or simplistic arguments to force kids to change their minds:
Portanto, em pleno 2013, já é tempo de parar de enganar nossas crianças e abafar seu sentimento de compaixão quando demonstram inclinação para não comer animais. Respeitemos, e valorizemos, essa postura altruísta e compassiva. Ter um filho vegetariano não é um problema, e hoje há ampla literatura científica garantindo os potenciais benefícios desta opção à saúde. O vídeo de Luiz Antonio tem deixado muita gente emocionada — e esperançosa.
So, right in 2013, it is time we stopped deceiving our children and suppressing their feelings of compassion when they show no inclination to eat animals. Let's respect and value this altruistic and compassionate stance. Having a vegetarian child is not a problem, and today there is extensive literature showing the potential health benefits of this option. Luiz Antonio's video has left many people moved – and hopeful.