Actor Hannes Jaenicke shows “In Action for the Pig” without shocking images what you should know about the exciting bristle animals.
Orangutans, polar bears, sharks, gorillas, birds, elephants, lions, dolphins, rhinos, salmon and wolves – Hannes Jaenicke (62) introduced these animals to his audience in the popular animal film series “In action for…” (since 2008) already brought closer. Now the first farm animal is on the program: “In action for the pig” (May 31, 10:15 p.m., ZDF).
In his new film, the actor and environmentalist shows “what a cute, intelligent, social and entertaining animal” the pig is. With Richard David Precht (57) he philosophizes about visits to slaughterhouses for 10th graders and why factory farming is a discontinued model. Without shock images, Jaenicke also explains what vegan shampoo has to do with pig farming. “I didn’t know that before the shooting either,” he admits in an interview with spot on news.
In your new film you are “in action for the pig”. What was the biggest challenge?
Hannes Jaenicke: Pigs really are a great topic. One challenge, however, was to tell about her without the usual shocking images. But we definitely wanted to do that, because otherwise too many would have switched off. Our goal is to pick up those people who basically find factory farming bad, but then reach for the cheapest meat in the supermarket.
Among other things, the audience will see a conversation between you and the philosopher Richard David Precht. He says that everyone should have been to a factory farm and a slaughterhouse. Preferably while still at school. What do you make of it?
Jaenicke: I find his suggestion that every 10th class in Germany should have seen these places sensational. The conversation was generally one of the highlights of the shooting. Richard David Precht is incredibly clever, has an enormous memory, quotes perfectly and speaks as we write. We talked to each other for three hours, the film shows three and a half minutes of it. But because the conversation turned out to be really interesting, ZDF decided to put the complete transcript online.
The interview took place in a slaughterhouse. What was it like conversing in it? Wasn’t it an extremely uncomfortable atmosphere?
Jaenicke: I’ve played a butcher twice, once in a Bremen “crime scene” and once I embodied a village butcher. For this filming, I was very involved in this profession, so slaughterhouses do not scare me at all. But I am also particularly interested in how the living animal is treated.
So if it’s treated well, are you okay with eating meat?
Jaenicke: I don’t mind if a cow that was kept outdoors on a beautiful Allgäu pasture is eventually killed by a professional hunter with a willow shot. Then please eat this cow, she had a great life. If a free range sow is allowed to choose whether she wants to be in or out, and is killed as “humanely” as possible at the end of her life, I’m fine with eating the meat too. On the other hand, if the animals have been standing in these halls, are sick, injured, contaminated with antibiotics, then keep your hands off it. We don’t need meat every day. A really great, healthy piece of organic meat once a week and everything would be fine.
What speaks against factory farming?
Jaenicke: The end of factory farming would also make a huge contribution to saving the climate. Meat production accounts for 23 percent of CO2 emissions. So the way we keep animals also has an impact on our planet.
In the film you talk about vegan shampoo, vegan detergent and the like. What do such products have to do with animals?
Jaenicke: I didn’t know that either before we started shooting, we always start these “In action for…” films as big ignoramuses. With gelatine and gummy bears, I knew it. It was a total shock for me to find out that there are pig leftovers everywhere – in more than 7,000 consumer products. Since then, I’ve actually made sure to use vegan shampoo and the like.
Would you say that at least a little has happened in the meantime?
Jaenicke: Yes, the vegan way of life is catching on – for example with top athletes like the Williams sisters or Lewis Hamilton or Hollywood stars like Angelina Jolie or Brad Pitt. In the meantime, there is actually not a single restaurant in the USA that does not also offer a good vegan alternative. I think a rethink has set in – in some countries, however, faster than in others.
In the film you do without shock images. What will viewers see instead?
Jaenicke: We show what a cute, intelligent, social and entertaining animal the pig is. However clean it is, if given the opportunity.
When was the last time you ate pork?
Jaenicke: I’ve been a vegetarian for exactly 40 years now. To be honest, I can only vaguely remember the last time I ate pork or any other meat. My grandmother always made a Sunday roast. And I still like the principle to this day. We don’t all have to become vegetarian or vegan, but we do have to radically reduce meat consumption. And anyone who now answers that people need meat is simply not telling the truth. Because maybe to come back to the Williams sisters: If you look at how they play tennis – I don’t think they’re missing that terribly much.
How is it on the set? Do you notice a change in catering?
Jaenicke: Yes, something has actually changed. Maybe 20 or 25 years ago I was one of three team members who didn’t eat meat. But I made it very easy to care for by simply leaving out the meat products. In an international production three years ago, about a third was vegetarian. It always depends a bit on where you’re shooting, it’s different in Berlin than in Munich. There is also a strong urban-rural divide. In the meantime I feel sorry for the caterers because they have to cook minced meat for some, vegetarian for the vegetarians, then there are the vegans and last but not least there are intolerances. I think it would be easiest if the productions just switched to vegetarian.
At the Best Brand Awards in April, Rügenwalder was honored for the vegetarian and vegan categories. Have you ever dealt with the company?
Jaenicke: Yes, I’ve met the bosses before and they really understood very early on where the journey was going. And thank goodness they make real money doing it.
Where do you see the future of meat production?
Jaenicke: The current type of meat production will soon no longer pay off and since the economy always wins, factory farming is a phased-out model. The meat will soon be out of the Petri dish. There are more and more start-ups that are driving this forward on a large scale. In the USA there are already steakhouses that only offer such meat. And the customers are enthusiastic.
Have you tried such meat?
Jaenicke: No. I do not need it. I also don’t eat substitute products like soy sausages or anything. I never missed meat.