Inspired by Morgan Spurlock’s Super Size Me and passionate to spread the vegan gospel, Marisa Miller Wolfson challenged three meat- and cheese-loving city folk to go vegan for six weeks. What resulted was the documentary Vegucated. WMNF is screening the film at the Roosevelt on Wed., Aug. 15 at 7:30 p.m. Miller Wolfson talked to Creative Loafing from her office in New York City (in her final trimester of pregnancy).
CL: How did the idea for Vegucated come about?
Marisa Miller Wolfson: I had organized grassroots film screenings about healthy eco-friendly topics across the country. I saw what worked and what didn’t. Morgan Spurlock’s Super Size Me really created profound change. When he detoxed from the diet, he did so vegan. I thought, okay, that’s the documentary. Why don’t we recruit people and watch the physical and emotional change of becoming vegan?
Where did you find the three people featured in the film?
Craigslist, like everything. We interviewed 25 different people. These three popped out on screen and represented different demographics and were from three different boroughs. Each of them had real challenges in going vegan. The single mom juggling two jobs, the bachelor who eats out all the time, and the college student living at home with her family.
Is Vegucated your first film?
Yes. This was my film school. I had to learn everything. It took seven years to make. If we had more money, it would have gone faster maybe. But we would have to stop, raise money, etc. I brought the film to a collective of filmmakers to critique because I needed feedback. They tore it to shreds, but the film ended up way better from it.
What inspired you to tell this story?
When I started, vegan wasn’t in the public discourse. When I first went vegan my family thought I was crazy, I wanted to create some understanding. The film has proven effective in at least helping people understand why their loved ones may choose a vegan lifestyle. It is making them think differently about food.
I have to confess; before I called you I was eating a huge barbecue turkey leg.
I feel like a priest in a confessional, here to absolve you of all your animal-product eating. I’m a meat and cheese lover from Indiana, we had meat and cheese in every meal growing up.
How did you become vegan then?
I had only been vegetarian for 3 months before I went vegan, but I had lived with vegetarians for 7 years before I went veg myself. But when it came to eating vegan I thought “I could never do that.” I thought vegans were loony-tunes. I couldn’t understand what was wrong with animal byproducts. But I got the rap on my head I needed to make the choice. I’ve been vegan for 10 years, but I had only scratched the surface before making the film. I was blown away by the business of animal agriculture and the effects of dirty politics behind those who set nutritional standards.
Why do you want people to see the film?
People don’t have a compelling enough reason to change. I’m trying to create reasons. It’s not just eating healthy; it’s the reality of animal agriculture. Your worldview really changes.
Are any of the three people featured in the film still vegan?
I won’t give any spoilers but they’ve all made lasting changes. And at least one is still vegan.