Paul McCartney famously said, “If slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would be a vegetarian“. Marisa Miller Wolfson’s directorial debut Vegucated puts such a statement to the test.
Compared to all its many hard hitting counterparts, Vegucated is a somewhat gentle introduction to veganism and animal welfare. The film follows three meat and cheese loving New Yorkers who agree to adopt a vegan diet for six weeks. Unsurprisingly they each stepped up to the challenge for reasons of self-interest – to shed pounds and ultimately feel better about their health. However, these everyday people got a whole lot more then they bargained for.
This compelling piece of work shows what happens to normal people when they are given the truth about food that the government, corporations and media try so hard to hide. Admittedly going into the challenge claiming that they would never give up meat or dairy, all three participants can be seen having extreme emotional and physical reactions to the realities of animal suffering.
Vegucated is a powerful movie about seeing regular people make the connection between the meat wrapped in plastic that they buy in the supermarket and the reality of how it actually got there. Distraught Ellen Mausner, a single mum, declares “Why didn’t I know about this before? It’s not something that I really consciously thought about“, and 22 year old Tesla Lobo, a college student, says “How is this allowed? I’m never eating meat again“. Director Wolfson really does put up a good case that given the right information anyone can make big dietary changes and maybe even become vegan. This in turn demystifies negative stereo types that veganism is a fanatical religion embraced only by punks and eco hippie types.
Though the film does have its fair share of stomach churning moments I would say that it is definitely a great beginners movie for anyone who wants to dip their toe into the subject without having a full-on nervous breakdown. What’s surprising about this film is how humorous and lighthearted it is, a real first for a foody/ethical documentary dealing with such a controversial and upsetting subject. The film moves effortlessly between scenes and does a great job of weaving together all aspects of animal agriculture, including its environmental affects and the relationship between dairy and meat consumption and disease.
We follow the New Yorkers on their journey, abundant with ups and downs as they try their hardest to maintain their veganism in a culture where meat and dairy is omnipresent. By the end of the movie I was entirely emotionally invested in all three characters. I was rooting for them to stay convicted in their morals and sustain their new lifestyle changes in the face of overwhelming negative feedback from their family and friends.
Vegucated is by far one of the most ‘digestible’ food-related documentaries I’ve seen to date. There are regular screenings of the film around the world and it can also be easily bought or rented digitally online via Getvegucated.com
This guest post is contributed by Sarah Maguire, she is an artist, political activist and book fiend. Her special interests lie in non-violence towards all living beings and progressive art to bring about social and personal change.
photo credit, (above right): Jessica Mahady