An Australian influencer’s Bali “meat market” video briefly shocked TikTok (before being deleted), sparking debate over dietary ethics and cultural relativism.
Mikaela Testa, a TikTok vlogger, has posted an apology video after posting a clip to TikTok where she explores the squeamish delights of a “secret” Indonesian meat market.
The controversial video in question involved Mikaela visiting a meat market in Indonesia, which she says she visited on her taxi driver’s recommendation.
“We were in a taxi and we were on our way home. We were driving past a lot of local areas and there were lots of markets and we wanted to… have a look and we asked our taxi driver to take us to the best one.”
“Then the taxi driver started talking about rats and we were listening… we said take us to the best shop that you know of and he did. I knew before I went in that there was going to be monkey meat in the store. I know that a lot of warungs have monkey because that’s what Indonesians eat.”
“Although I don’t agree with that I would never want to disrespect anybody’s culture. I would never want to argue and start drama at these warungs because that’s what they eat. I don’t know what I can do and I feel like a lot of people are angry at me.”
“It’s just culture. I don’t want to disrespect anyone and I don’t want to say anything wrong and I’m really sorry to people that I offended. What makes me really upset is that there’s this narrative that I knew there was dog meat at this market…I had no idea and I never would have gone to this market if I knew there was dog meat.”
In the now deleted video, Mikaela said the market sold all sorts of meat, including monkey, crocodile, rabbit and frog. In the clips she appeared to purchase a bunch of products, before leaving and calling the experience traumatising.
Mikaela also shared her thoughts on sticking to your own morals while travelling, while also being respectful of other people’s cultures. She also spoke about how sometimes travelling can make you a bit numb to things you might have previously found shocking.
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“I like to see other cultures. I like to be part of other cultures. I like to learn about things and I understand that my audience may be very sensitive and not used to seeing things like this and I understand that in travelling I can become very insensitive to that because I’m so used to seeing stuff like this and so used to seeing different things all the time.”
“I definitely was not thinking straight and I definitely shouldn’t have posted the video at all and I am very sorry for that.”
In the comments below her deleted video, TikTok users argued over the extent to which it was bad to eat monkey and dog meat, and the extent to which it was bad Mikaela made a video about the meat market.
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According to news.com.au, one social media user said: “Going there just to film a video to profit off of, and buying the illegal meat just to toss it out, is WORSE than someone going there to eat.”
Another reportedly said: “Everyone saying she ‘didn’t eat it’ so what was the literal point of going to the location just to throw the meat away? She knew what meat they sold.”
There were also allegedly unimpressed comments like: “You knew what the place was and went there saying it traumatised you” and “The country isn’t as developed as others. Be respectful.”
Other comments included: “Ppl are acting like we don’t eat chickens and cows… Besides its Indonesian culture let them eat what they want” and “The people hating are so stuck in their own Western norms.”
Local media outlet Coconuts said that though this incident is proof influencers may not always be the most informed people, Mikaela may have actually done some good.
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Coconuts reports: “Indonesia is a Muslim-majority country so it is actually not common for the people here to eat monkey meat, which is forbidden for consumption by the religion. While Bali itself is not a Muslim-majority island, eating monkey meat is generally frowned upon – in fact, monkeys are actually deemed sacred animals by Balinese Hindus as you can see by how they are protected at the Ubud Monkey Forest and other areas, such as in Uluwatu.”
“There is one region in the northern part of Sulawesi where people regularly eat monkeys, but it definitely represents a tiny minority of the whole of Indonesia,” Coconuts adds.
“That said, the island does have a complicated relationship with dogs. In the grand scheme of things, Testa actually managed to point out a dark side of Bali – dog meat trade – that animal rights defenders have long been fighting against.”Coconuts
“While she may have done some good in Bali, perhaps this is a reminder that influencers may not be the most informed of people and that we shouldn’t believe everything they say.”
WATCH: Mikaela Testa talks about learning to be culturally sensitive in the Cocos Islands
This isn’t the first time Mikaela has gone viral after uncovering a cultural crevice that makes people uncomfortable – in March this year she made headlines for wearing a questionable outfit on the Cocos Islands, saying: “The lady who owns the Airbnb that we’re staying in received some calls from some locals [saying] that I should be wearing something more culturally appropriate.”
Mikaela was also reportedly slammed for her involvement in a cheeky Bali stunt in 2020. As Yahoo reported at the time: “An Instagram couple is getting slammed online following a selfish stunt that saw them bragging about tipping their Bali taxi driver $200 in cash just a week after one of them was reportedly sick with coronavirus.”