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Think Being Vegan Isn’t Fun? Get Vegucated

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Kayla Coleman: How did you come up with the idea for Vegucated?

Marisa Miller Wolfson: I used to do grassroots screenings of other award-winning documentaries all over the country, and I had a sense of what worked with audiences and what didn’t work so well with audiences. When I saw Super Size Me in 2004, I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be great to see the reverse of that? Now that we know what not to do, wouldn’t it be great to see what we should be eating, and also cover some of the ethical aspects of food production — specifically animal production — that were not covered in Super Size Me?’ Even though I care about the health aspects and am certainly healthier and more health conscious now that I am vegan, my heart is really with the environmental and animal part of it. I wanted a nice film that people could really enjoy and engage with that covered these topics.

KC: When you first introduced Tesla, Ellen and Brian to the journey that is veganism, do you think they were motivated by health, environmental or animal welfare reasons?

MMW: Initially I would say that they were all motivated more by the health reasons. I think that’s why they did the project, because they did all express in their interviews that they want to look good, they want to lose weight, they want to feel healthier.

Ellen in particular as a single mother, a doctor…what really resonated for her throughout the process was the health stuff. And she was just blown away by what she learned. But Brian and Tesla also connected to the animal side of things, the environmental…even the human rights aspects of slaughterhouse workers and so on.

KC: In Vegucated, you focus on three people who are not vegan. Did they know anything about being vegan?

MMW: They started from zero. They had totally unrealistic stereotypes of vegan. Brian really thought they were kind of crazy. And Ellen thought they were these über crunch-y type people that were really healthy beyond recognition, that are so pure and wonderful. And we’re not! Tesla really had no vegetarian friends and family, so she was starting from square one. They were all started from square one!

KC: What was your own “vegucation” like?

MMW: I saw a documentary and went vegetarian, and three months later I read a pamphlet and went vegan. I do remember a mix of feelings. I was struggling, not knowing exactly what to eat, what to make for potlucks and parties…but also feeling excited by this whole new world of foods. I’d never even been to a health food store. I thought it was all patchouli and vitamins. And then when I went in there, it smelled really good and it felt really great, and I thought ‘Man, this whole world’s opening up!’ And of course it didn’t hurt that I lost 15 pounds after about four months. And I swear it was all cheese.

KC: Brian, Tesla and Ellen struggle a bit with resisting non-vegan temptations — like when Ellen goes to a (non-vegan) bakery and when Tesla said she felt like she had nothing to order at restaurants. Do you have any foods that you were — or are — tempted by?

MMW: That’s a really good question. I really missed cheese pizza — an oily, greasy, stretchy, rubbery cheese pizza. And then Daiya [a vegan cheese] came out and that was the end of that, and I said “Praise Cheesus!” I mean, every once in a while I’ll think that bacon smells good, and then I’ll remember that it’s the charred flesh of a sentient, intelligent animal and I’ll be grossed out. Like Brian says in the film, it’s amazing how adaptable our bodies are. When people have these fears, ‘Oh, I’m going to miss this or that,’ they might, but it’s going to be short-lived. People often just crave salt and fat and creaminess, and you can get salt and fat and creaminess from other things.

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11:00PM PDT on Aug 6, 2014

We have been eating meat since the Stone Age and most are not going to change.

5:03AM PDT on Jul 24, 2012

Thank you!

8:58PM PDT on Jul 19, 2012

I became a vegan during March after trying to do the Meatless Mondays for awhile. It still is a challenge for me at this point because of all the attitudes I have had to face from others who thought it was 'just a phase.' So far, I have done pretty good staying true to a vegan diet and lifestyle. I can't say I'm 100 percent because there are so many products that claim to be vegan but still contain processed sugar, which is not even close to being vegan. But I'm doing better and better with this, and I have seen some major improvements in my own health.

2:22AM PST on Nov 22, 2011

This film looks great! Can't wait to see it in its entirety!

1:59PM PDT on Oct 26, 2011

ooh, I really want to see this.

8:28PM PDT on Sep 24, 2011

Thanks for the post.

5:23PM PDT on Sep 1, 2011 she ate monkies it said. why didn't she die at 50?

don't forget people, kingdom animilia is huge. I still would like to see more people standing up for the little guy. like a sea sponge, coral. jellyfish. you don't want insect color in your food, but will support people who kill insects to protect crops. then yell at someone who shoots a raccoon for killing their birds.

5:18PM PDT on Sep 1, 2011

i truly believe that to be a vegan, one has to really be so in love with the animal world, the thought of eating, wearing or abusing animals for their pleasure is intolerable. it is a wonderful feeling to know there are people who feel as i do, on the other hand, anyone who is taking a step in the direction of veganism should be commended.

4:04PM PDT on Sep 1, 2011

Save it, Kathleen. Many of us are quite aware of the venom and vitriol you have spewed throughout Care2 ESPECIALLY when it pertains to the many benefits of being vegan. You refuse to grasp that you fool no one but yourself.

By the way, being vegan is better for human health, it is gentler to the environment, uses FAR less resources than animal agriculture, and it is the ultimate way to show genuine compassion, empathy and respect for animals.

7:51AM PDT on Sep 1, 2011

Any point of view that is different that the one of a particular, hateful, vegan agendist, will be considered without merit. Many vegans here obviously care about working, conversing, and respectfully conversing through these threads so there is absolutely no reason to allow this 'individual' to believe she has the moral platform in these threads. The vitriole is redundant and she is never civil. While she attacks everyone not agreeing with her, she's lost support because of her hatefulness, of even those who are devoted vegans. It is best not to engage her, even when she attacks you. There are too many other great people who do care about working together to effect change within the factory farming industry, to get too ramped up over her comments. Let's also continue to go after Monsanto and the USDA who does nothing to regulate this corporations GMO's.

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