“Mandrakes Feel Pain! And Other Magical Vegan Myths”: How One Fan Is Bringing Animal Rights Activism to the Grounds of Hogwarts
We’ve all wondered about the curious and wonderful creatures seen throughout the Wizarding World. How much fun would it be to have an owl deliver all your mail? Wouldn’t it be awesome to transfigure a mouse into a teacup? Mandrakes sure are noisy little flora, but the implications they have for Petrified basilisk victims are splendid! Right? But have you ever stopped to wonder what all this means in the context of animal rights? Can there be such a thing in the wizarding community? Courtney Crisfield of Melbourne, Australia, takes a hard look at some of the roles magical critters play in the day-to-day lives of Hogwarts students in her new YouTube series Mandrakes Feel Pain! And Other Magical Vegan Myths.
For the past several years, Crisfield has been a devoted vegan and animal rights activist, but she’s been an avid Harry Potter fan (and proud Ravenclaw) for most of her life. She draws the connections between real-life activism and storytelling to help unlock the realizations of those who do not follow a plant-based diet. We asked Crisfield about how some of those connections help her cause.
I’ve drawn the connection ’cause it’s fusing my three greatest passions: storytelling, [H]arry [P]otter and veganism. So I’ve started making [Mandrakes Feel Pain! And Other Magical Vegan Myths] because it’s what I would love to watch! I believe activism through fiction […] is JUST as important as activism through non-fiction […]. This is because every person’s key to unlocking the ‘oh, I don’t need to hurt/involve animals’ part of their mind is different. There is already so much fantastic non-fiction content on the topic of animal rights and plant-based eating, but for those out there who would never sit down to watch a documentary, there’s got to be a fun alternative! And how is an entertaining deep-dive [sic] into such a well-loved (and my personal favourite) magical world NOT a fun alternative?
The web series explores what it would be like for an animal rights activist to attend Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The story follows first-year student Emilia Foster as she engages with other students, teachers, and her classes and invokes inspiration for change. Crisfield says the series is a comedy but comes off as “VERY Ravenclaw,” if you catch her drift.
She says there is a lot to reflect on throughout the Harry Potter series. Her goal “is to connect with fellow Harry Potter nerds, fellow vegans and fellow vegan Harry Potter nerds whilst I curate this authentic, entertaining, original and hopefully inspirational adventure of a series.”
When you re-read [sic] the books or re-watch [sic] the films through an animal rights lens, almost everything gets impacted. […] The entire [w]izarding [w]orld really could do with some more cruelty-free options and alternatives. Not because animal rights advocates are the fun police, but because we’re saying ‘hey, is this “traditional” thing just as fun for the animals?’
Perhaps some of those ideals and alternatives could run off on us Muggles as well.
The trailer for Mandrakes Feel Pain! And Other Magical Vegan Myths is now online. We asked Crisfield if she could let us in on some spoilers about the upcoming episodes.
Well, the possibilities are absolutely endless… which is super cool. [In e]pisode one, we’ll see Emilia, receiving her Hogwarts acceptance letter and formulating a response – sort of an intro to who she is and how she thinks. Then [in e]pisode two, Emilia will head to Ollivander’s wand shop. Expect to see some very familiar faces along the way too. And that’s all I’ll say for now…
You can catch the rest of the series as it airs on the Northern Star Productions YouTube channel. If you have a creation you’d like to be featured, email all relevant information to firstname.lastname@example.org.