Many people seem to be scared away by the term “vegetarian”. They think that vegetarians and vegans are a different species with bizarre cultural values. The documentary Vegucated, directed by Marisa Wolfson, is determined to change that point of view. It does just that and more. It evokes feelings you may have never felt before while it informs you of current practices that you may have had no idea about. The persuasive documentary leaves you touched, tearful, horrified and a little more “green”.
The film focuses on three people who volunteer via Craigslist to go vegan for six weeks. These people love meat. The journey is hard for them all at first, especially for a college student named Tesla. Her family is from Honduras and she is used to her father’s meat-filled dinners. Brian, a 27-year-old bachelor, seems to be on the same page. His fridge is full of ribs and burgers. Ellen is the third volunteer and she has two children of her own. They have a lot of meat and dairy in their diets. The transition these three individuals go through is extraordinary.
With little knowledge of a vegetarian diet, the three volunteers are taught the ways of finding the right food in the grocery store. Surprisingly, there are many options at regular grocery stores that aren’t like Whole Food or Trader Joe’s.
The volunteers seem to struggle with this very different diet through the beginning. This all seems to change right in the middle of the film. We are shown actual footage from factory farms showing the horrendous treatment of farm animals. The three volunteers are shown the same footage. Cows and pigs being castrated without anesthesia, piglets being tossed through the air, and chickens living in crammed spaces next to other dead chickens. If you don’t have tears during this part of the film, you may just be the strongest person alive. I never once thought I would be so emotionally distraught seeing how birds are treated in factory farms, but I was wrong. All three of the volunteers feel this way after watching the footage. Tesla, with a look of disbelief, furiously asks, “How is this allowed?”
After this scene comes the part where Tesla and Brandon travel with Marisa Wolfson to a sanctuary for farm animals. The animals are safe at this farm and will not be slaughtered or mistreated. This is a great moment for the audience as well because it creates an emotional attachment to these farm animals. When I saw a pig on the screen, it was like I was looking at my own puppy. Why would anyone want to hurt, or even eat, such a harmless, friendly creature?
A sanctuary worker brings both Tesla and Brandon to an abandoned slaughterhouse from the 70s. She gives them a tour and walks them through each part, detailing exactly what was happening to the animal at that particular point. At each stop, footage is shown of exactly what she was describing. It gives the audience a vivid picture to go along with an awfully vivid description.
“If slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would be vegetarian.” – Paul and Linda McCartney
As they are all driving home from the abandoned slaughterhouse, they decide to stop at a farm that they have been talking about all along. Though they could not go inside, they take a look around the outside of the farm. They make gruesome discoveries of dead pigs, rotting and covered in flies. This is not even a slaughterhouse, it’s a farm. It proves how animals are now seen as numbers and not living, breathing creatures.
Vegucated is absolutely touching and extraordinary. There are so many facts and actual footage that make the documentary’s point so clear and strong. At the end, we see that all three volunteers continue to have either a vegan or vegetarian diet. It gives people hope that they too can follow through with such a diet. It gives them hope that they can change and save innocent animal lives.
Check out Vegucated on Netflix!
Check out the website http://www.getvegucated.com