We've all seen the data about how many more resources it takes to produce food based on animals, compared to plants. We also know that many animals today are raised in conditions that are abhorrent to the average person, and the pollution from concentrated animal agriculture.
But, most Western cultures and others around the world are serious meat eaters. This meat-eating habit is tied up in seemingly every aspect of our history and family traditions, as well as current culture.
If you are someone who is concerned about this and wants to bring about change, what can you do? How can you even bring up this topic that seems so sensitive?
In this episode, we look at how to use film to facilitate those tricky conversations.
Talking about meat shouldn't be seen as a "sacred cow".
How to Use Film to Spur Discussion and Action
Guidance for using film:
- Allow the film and the people in the film to present the issue and raise the tough questions.
- You don't have to agree with everything said in the film.
- When you advertise that you'll be discussing or watching the film, acknowledge up front that it's controversial.
- Try one or more approaches: provocative, wellness, plant-based challenge
- Don't shy away from sharing about the conditions that animals are experiencing.
- Films typically show a transformation journey. Talk about that transformation. Films allow the viewer to experience that transformation viscerally, first.
- Use discussion questions provided by the filmmaker and tailor them to meet your needs.
- If you don't feel confident leading a discussion, find a skilled facilitator to do so.
- Focus on solutions.
- Ask people to share their own journey, and their experience with recipes, Meatless Mondays, school gardens or other strategies that are working.
- Provide recipes and samples of vegan dishes for tasting.
- Connect people with resources for vegan menu planning and dining.
- Have multiple levels of calls to action.
My favorite place for films about the food industry, nutrition and overall wellness is FMTV. Here are just a few of the dozens of films that might work to spur discussions with your friends, family and team.
Definitely watch the film yourself beforehand to decide if it's a good fit for your team. Some of these are more provocative than others.
Not sure where to start? Start with At the Fork...
At the Fork
Filmmaker and omnivore, John Papola, together with his vegetarian wife, Lisa, offer up a timely and refreshingly unbiased look at how farm animals are raised for our consumption. With access to large-scale conventional farms, Papola asks the tough questions behind every hamburger, glass of milk and baby-back rib. What he discovers are not heartless industrialists, but America's farmers - real people who, along with him, are grappling with the moral dimensions of farming animals for food.
Vegucated is a guerrilla-style documentary that follows three meat-and-cheese-loving New Yorkers who agree to adopt a vegan diet for six weeks and learn what it's all about. They have no idea that so much more than steak is at stake, and that the planet's fate may fall on their plates.
If you're looking for a film that raises the question about if we should be eating animals at all, this might do it. Speciesism asks us to consider if the assumption that humans outrank other species is true, or is it a moral mistake.
One Man, One Cow, One Planet
Farmers in India are fighting back against the environmental and human devastation caused by globalization. This film tells the story of revising biodynamics to save their poisoned lands.
The Farmer & The Chef takes viewers behind the scenes to see how two creative geniuses struggle to grow and serve the perfect meal in America. It’s about the passion two people have for farming and cooking in a biodynamic way; that is, in a manner that respects the environment and is sustainable. It’s the ultimate farm-to-table experience, and viewers will have a front-row seat to see how it’s done. The possibilities are endless, but so are the potential pitfalls. The success of the restaurant is inexorably tied to the success of the farm. If one fails, both suffer. It’s about a return to old values with new technologies. It’s about respecting the land and the environment while still making a good living. It’s about a farmer respecting a chef and a chef respecting a farmer.
May I Be Frank documents the transformation of Frank Ferrante’s life. He unknowingly stumbles into a local restaurant in San Francisco, Café Gratitude, a raw, organic and vegan café. As he becomes friends with the staff, he keeps returning to the café where he feels welcomed and free from his collapsing personal life. On one such visit, Frank is asked by Ryland, one of the servers, “What is one thing you want to do before you die?” Frank replies “I want to fall in love one more time, but no one will love me looking the way I do.”
Plant Pure Nation
From the Producer and Writer of Forks Over Knives, the documentary film PlantPure Nation tells the story of three people on a quest to spread the message of one of the most important health breakthroughs of all time. After renowned nutritional scientist and bestselling author T. Colin Campbell gives a stirring speech on the floor of the Kentucky House of Representatives, his son, Nelson, and Kentucky State Representative Tom Riner work together to propose a pilot program documenting the health benefits of a plant-based diet.
- Forks over Knives
- Food, Inc
- Allan Savory's TED Talk about Eating More Meat
Note: Some of these links are for my affiliate link to FMTV. If you choose to purchase something from FMTV, I will earn a commission. This does not impact your price.