Salt Bae for the vegan cause

The photo from the buffalo facility is not the first time that Nusret’s Instagram post caused arguments. Nusret’s marketing strategy is built on the insatiable human appetite and the desire for destruction.

Turkish social media recently exploded after seeing the latest picture of the famous restaurateur Nusret. In it, Nusret is in the middle of an industrial buffalo factory, standing proudly like the master of the numerous buffalos surrounding him. The animals are constrained in very narrow compartments, and seem like they cannot move. The photo indicates eerily that the animals’ heads will be chopped off very soon and parts of their bodies will become props for Nusret’s numerous meat cutting viral videos. Through later analysis of the photo, it was determined that the buffalos were in the compartments for milking, so they supposedly did not present the main “target group” of the famous butcher.

Nusret is the owner of a famous steakhouse restaurant chain that bears his name. Besides serving enormous amounts of meat to his customers, Nusret is also a social media personality. He posts flashy Instagram photos and videos, sometimes doing intense sports, petting the head of a little lamb, or often chopping some meat. He developed his trademark moves of stroking the meat aggressively before cutting it. Nusret has built a global recognition as the “Salt Bae,” sprinkling salt down his elbow onto the meat.

The photo from the buffalo facility is not the first time that Nusret’s Instagram post caused arguments. He built his brand by acting out arrogant performances with and around animal products; he loves showing off with his butcher knives while making a spectacle of cutting and grilling meat, and feeding it directly to the people. Some are creeped out by his videos of petting a lamb with an unnerving smile on his face.

His restaurants, however, are always packed, with customers eating exquisite dishes and waiters doing their best to impersonate their boss by cutting and salting the meat and feeding the customers. 

Nusret is one of the latest and most lucrative Turkish exports and a symbol of the existing zeitgeist. This brand of meat-cutting spectacle symbolizes the arrogance, thoughtlessness and banality of cruelty. Nusret’s marketing strategy is built on the insatiable human appetite and the desire for destruction.

He made going to his restaurants and eating enormous amounts of meat until one feels sick into a kind of new, cool trend. 

However, occasionally, this unchallenged arrogance puts Nusret’s brand to the test. The latest social media post, for example, may have unexpectedly created some unwanted perspectives in many. Seeing an animal who is about to be killed irks even many meat-eaters. As it is often said, “Many love to eat sausages, but do not appreciate the insight into how the sausages are made.” Linking Nusret’s props of dead meat in the videos with live and magnificent animals, over whose lives Nusret stands like some sort of an illegitimate ruler, stirs up many uncomfortable gut feelings.

His well-organized photos probably lead to many unwanted reactions. Through this performance, Nusret likely unintentionally hinted at the very cruel process behind the meat industry. This arrogance pushed the people to again question whether it is ok to let such a great animal become a marketing tool before it gets killed and turned into a chunk of dinner meat. 

As people have become more urban, human consciousness has evolved as well. Acts that were perceived as quite natural for rural life are now considered to be very cruel in our postmodern world. The industrial killing of animals is one of those acts. Even though the origin of the meat plays a big role in meat marketing, many who enjoy devouring animal parts prefer not to know exactly where those parts came from. There is certainly a level of hypocrisy in this. Ironically, Nusret’s posts sometimes sprinkle this hypocrisy onto people’s faces, just like salt rolls down his elbows. Sometimes people like Nusret help the cause of veganism more than the vegans themselves.

Is Nusret himself aware of this fact? Probably not. In a recent interview, he stated that the first time he wanted to travel to the U.S., he was not granted a visa. But now, as he had become the undisputed meat cutter, he claimed, he was being greeted at the entrance by both the CIA and FBI as a global VIP. So Nusret seems to be living in his own reality.

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