Animal Crossing: New Horizonsis providing some much-needed escapism for many people during the coronavirus pandemic. However, Peta has taken issue with some of the main elements of the game and – to remedy the situation – produced its own “vegan guide to Animal Crossing”.
First of all, the animal rights group unsurprisingly objects to fishing and catching bugs, which you can use to populate a museum collection in the game. “Sure, unlike in real life, the fish in the game don’t feel pain, but fishing is harmful to animals and the planet,” reads the guide. “This is your island, and it’s your job to protect it.”
It also points to the kind of odd fact that, on an island populated by anthropomorphised animals, the fish and insects don’t seem to count (which, to be fair, does raise some pretty dark questions).
On that note, Peta also recommends avoiding building a doghouse on your island, or capturing hermit crabs, which will actually trigger a message in-game: “I think it wanted to be left alone!”
Digging for virtual clams is also off-limits: “Although it’s unclear whether they feel pain, in the real world they play an important role in the ecosystem.” (Presumably, the idea is that taking them out of the ecosystem in Animal Crossing would normalise doing the same in the real world.)
The guide does have some positive words to say about what you can eat on your island, though, as a fruit-based diet obviously fits with the ideal vegan lifestyle. As does the variety of pleather lewks available to your avatar.
Peta also suggests some of the ways Animal Crossing could be utilised to spread an animal rights message (a practice that has proved effective for political messaging among Hong Kong’s pro-democracy activists).
Suggestions include giving your island a vegan-friendly name (Veganville is Peta’s not-incredibly-creative example), customising your in-game passport with a pro-animal welfare message, or crafting custom designs.
Sure, Animal Crossing hardly ranks alongside Grand Theft Auto in terms of problematic video games, but a bit of animal rights advocacy can’t hurt, can it?