Vice, being Vice, visited the Internet Cat Video Film Festival, held last week in Minneapolis, Minn., and made a full-length documentary about the entire experience. It’s called Lil Bub & Friendz, was directed by Andy Capper and Danilo Parra. We asked producer Juliette Eisner, who keeps us up to date on all of Vice’s animal videos, to tell us a little bit about her experience at the festival, and why internet cat videos are so terribly interesting.
When one of the most renowned establishments chooses to create an event about felines, that is buzzed about all over the world, we think it would be crazy NOT to go see what’s up. Plus we are obsessed with cats. Meow.
We wanted to get some insight into why internet cats have taken over the world (and YouTube). But most importantly, we wanted to meet the very people behind the driving force that is the ever-growing cat obsession: the uploaders, the cat owners, the festival organizers, and the internet geeks.
Highs: Having drinks with Lil Bub at the hotel bar. Best. Date. Ever.
Lows: The gross hippie band that played the opening set before the festival. They thought they could distract people from their terrible music with some cat t-shirts and ears. Nope.
Internet cat video people are probably different than cat people who came before them in the sense that they now have machines that allow them to share their cats-periences on the interwebz… Equally as obsessed, though, I’d guess. Helllooooooo…. Egyptians painted cats on their walls ALL THE TIME.
I am zero percent a cat person but I am 100 percent on board with Lil Bub & Friendz. Based on this preview, it’s going to be super-adorable and super-weird.
Find out more about the Internet Cat Video Film Festival in the New York Times. Watch the award-winning internet cat videos on YouTube. And get ready for Lil Bub & Friendz, coming in fall from Vice. Thanks to Juliette Eisner for talking to us.
This is Nikki! A proud mama pig who was saved with her babies from the floods in Iowa. This is a very sweet video. It’s part of The Ghosts in Our Machine, a ”cross-platform social issue” documentary by Liz Marshall. This documentary seeks to personally acquaint you with animals that would otherwise be invisible cogs in our industrial machine.
The project sounds pretty amazing and I easily fell in love with Nikki in that two minutes and 47 seconds—imagine a whole feature length film! The film is supposed to air in 2013 on a Canadian station. I see no word of when it will make it’s way to the states but you can see other clips on their vimeo page and interact with the project on their site.
Holy crap, this looks intense. This is the preview for Street Dogs of South Central, a documentary that aired on Animal Planet this past Saturday. It’s narrated by Queen Latifah (U-N-I-T-Y!) and follows, “a mother and her pups’ extraordinary journey through an American urban jungle.”
I didn’t catch it on Saturday, did any of you? Good god though, I don’t know if I can handle it. I promise you the preview doesn’t really have anything graphic, it’s just like…mean fucking streets. It looks like Boyz n the Hood but with puppies.
I can’t tell if Animal Planet will be airing this movie again but I hope so. You can follow Street Dogs on Facebook for updates on the pups in the doc and info on when it’s playing next.
My Life as a Turkey! Anyone seen it?? »
Has anyone seen My Life as a Turkey? It’s a documentary about this guy, Joe, who raises wild turkeys from hatchlings to adulthood. My friend Staci sent me an email about it last night and was all, “OMG AMAZING!!” but then also, “I didn’t see the whole thing.” STACI! Anyway, the full thing is on PBS’s Nature site, so uh, anyone want to watch it and tell me whether or not to tell Staci to watch the whole thing?
I just love the guy who does the voice over. “And became their turkey mother,” is probably my favorite. Or, ”The journal Joe kept of his life as a turkey ultimately became a book.” SO THAT’S HOW YOU GET A BOOK DEAL! Someone bring me a bowl of turkey eggs, I can do this. Also, I’ve got a feeling that this documentary is chock full of quotable tidbits. I wonder if Joe eats turkeys? Or did? Or still does? Also, does he successfully learn to talk turkey? Because I’m dying over here.
Here’s Joe and one of his turklets:
One more thing, when I was in Sea Ranch last year, I saw some wild turkeys flying and that shit was amazing. They are so fat! And yet they get major air! It gives me hope.
Vegucated premieres in NYC! Everyone loves it! You must see it! »
Vegucated entertainingly captures all the obstacles, thrills, confusion, guilt, joy, passion, and frustration that we experience once our eyes have been opened to the truth of animal exploitation. Our hero’s tales are intercut with artfully placed and deliberately chosen images of slaughterhouses and factory farms. These images are incredibly effective. Vegucated is not hard to watch, although there are hard moments, but the selective use and poignant placement of such footage makes it even more powerful. Whenever the images get too intense you are whisked back to the compelling test subjects and their delightful adventures. When the credits rolled the audience leaped to its feet in a standing ovation for this wonderful movie. A brief Q&A with the cast afterwards revealed that two of the test subjects are currently vegan and the third is vegetarian. Amazing. A show of hands revealed the audience was primarily vegan, with about 20 declared omnivores. Obviously, I was specifically interested in an omnivore’s reaction, so I found one at the after party and pressed him with questions. I was not supposed to be at the fancy after party, as I did not have a VIP ticket (‘cause I’m poor). However, Brian, one of the stars of the documentary (who is even more charming and adorable in person than in the film, if that’s possible) saw me wistfully gazing at the party filled with vegan food/celebs and offered get me in as his plus-one. As if I weren’t already in love with him. [Ed.: OMG YOU HAVE TO GET MARRIED!] JACKPOT. I hobnobbed with the vegan elite and noshed on Foodswings’ mac and cheese. There were also veggies, hummus, cookies, So Delicious ice cream treats (So Delicious is sponsoring the film, because they ROCK) and most importantly, Sweet & Sara Rice Krispie treats, which I repeatedly dunked in the chocolate fountain. That’s right, you heard me: THE CHOCOLATE FOUNTAIN. This is what I hope it can do for many more non-vegans. It is so funny and stimulating, it will captivate any audience. The humor can be a bridge for people who would never have approached a film like this otherwise. Last night’s show was the first in a tour, so check out the website to see if it’s coming near you—if it is, GO SEE IT. It is radical. You can also pre-order copies of the DVD or arrange to host a screening in your town. [Ed.: Oct. 24 in Berkeley and 25 in SF!] This movie is awesome. Watch it. Send it to all your family members as Christmas presents. (or Hanukkah or birthday or whatever presents). I loved it and extend my congratulations to all involved.
After seven years of work, Marisa Miller Wolfson has triumphed as a filmmaker. Her documentary shows the journey of three volunteers who go from entirely traditional (roughly, Standard American) diet, and zero experience with vegetarianism, to a completely vegan lifestyle for six weeks.
I digress. My omnivore, a good friend of the Vegucated test subject Brian (my future husband), said he had come to support his friend. He currently eats a totally SAD and had never looked into anything regarding veganism or vegetarianism before. He told me the film had shocked him, and that he was unaware of most of the information presented. He said that it had never occurred to him to think what these farms and slaughterhouses must be like. It truly seemed to have affected him in a positive way. As a vegan, I thought it was great and it touched my heart, but to see that a non-vegan audience member thoroughly enjoyed it as well was inspiring.
Vegucated entertainingly captures all the obstacles, thrills, confusion, guilt, joy, passion, and frustration that we experience once our eyes have been opened to the truth of animal exploitation. Our hero’s tales are intercut with artfully placed and deliberately chosen images of slaughterhouses and factory farms.
These images are incredibly effective. Vegucated is not hard to watch, although there are hard moments, but the selective use and poignant placement of such footage makes it even more powerful. Whenever the images get too intense you are whisked back to the compelling test subjects and their delightful adventures.
When the credits rolled the audience leaped to its feet in a standing ovation for this wonderful movie. A brief Q&A with the cast afterwards revealed that two of the test subjects are currently vegan and the third is vegetarian. Amazing. A show of hands revealed the audience was primarily vegan, with about 20 declared omnivores. Obviously, I was specifically interested in an omnivore’s reaction, so I found one at the after party and pressed him with questions.
I was not supposed to be at the fancy after party, as I did not have a VIP ticket (‘cause I’m poor). However, Brian, one of the stars of the documentary (who is even more charming and adorable in person than in the film, if that’s possible) saw me wistfully gazing at the party filled with vegan food/celebs and offered get me in as his plus-one. As if I weren’t already in love with him. [Ed.: OMG YOU HAVE TO GET MARRIED!]
JACKPOT. I hobnobbed with the vegan elite and noshed on Foodswings’ mac and cheese. There were also veggies, hummus, cookies, So Delicious ice cream treats (So Delicious is sponsoring the film, because they ROCK) and most importantly, Sweet & Sara Rice Krispie treats, which I repeatedly dunked in the chocolate fountain. That’s right, you heard me: THE CHOCOLATE FOUNTAIN.
This is what I hope it can do for many more non-vegans. It is so funny and stimulating, it will captivate any audience. The humor can be a bridge for people who would never have approached a film like this otherwise.
Last night’s show was the first in a tour, so check out the website to see if it’s coming near you—if it is, GO SEE IT. It is radical. You can also pre-order copies of the DVD or arrange to host a screening in your town. [Ed.: Oct. 24 in Berkeley and 25 in SF!]
This movie is awesome. Watch it. Send it to all your family members as Christmas presents. (or Hanukkah or birthday or whatever presents). I loved it and extend my congratulations to all involved.Laura Yasinitsky is a writer, comic, waitress, and animal-lover based in New York City. She has appeared on Comedy Central’s Open-Mic Fight and writes for US Weekly’s Fashion Police. You can follow her silliness on Twitter @LaraYaz and read about her animal-friendly adventures here.
Movie review: Forks Over Knives »
It was probably a good idea to see Forks Over Knives the night before starting an
elimination diet that’ll help me figure out my allergies; I left the theater feeling like I should just eat kale forever.
Okay, that’s not 100 percent true; I went to Whole Foods afterwards and got a pre-diet chocolate bar. But I bought some eggplants too! And the documentary’s presentation of the evidence supporting a diet that eliminates animal products—or at the very least, greatly reduces them—was pretty compelling.
Forks Over Knives isn’t from the Morgan Spurlock-school of documentaries—there are no gimmicky experiments here, just the stories of real people who are seeing some of the doctors interviewed in the film, and information from decades of research. So you know, it sometimes feels like you’re watching something educational—you are, but maybe sometimes we like to be tricked into that? Stick with it, though. It’s still a satisfying viewing experience, just in a different way.
The United States spends more per person on health care than any other country in the world. They also have some of the worst health outcomes among industrialized countries. There are former Soviet bloc countries with lower rates of infant mortality, and that is kind of messed up. It’s undeniable that there’s access to a lot of health-related good in the U.S.—world-class medical facilities, cutting edge treatments, delicious and healthy American-grown produce, great land for farming. But even with all that at their disposal, Americans are gaining weight, becoming diabetic, getting cancer—at alarming rates.
Forks Over Knives claims that we can prevent—and even reverse or cure—the majority of what ails us by getting the animal products out of our diets and switching to plant-based eating. This case is built largely on the work of Dr. T. Colin Campbell and Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn. Campbell is likely best known as the co-author and lead researcher of The China Study, now a popular book that outlines his research of the diets and causes of deaths of thousands of people in China. Esselstyn works at the Cleveland Clinic, where he counsels heart patients on halting and reversing their diseases with a plant-based diet.
Campbell and Esselstyn’s work is fascinating, and their findings are some serious food for thought, but what really stuck with me were the personal tales of lives that were changed with a plant-based diet. Most of the people highlighted don’t present the image that pops into your mind when you think “vegan”: they included a diabetic mother of four, a meat-loving middle-aged man, a company of Texan firefighters, and a mixed martial arts fighter. But they all switched to a plant-based diet for one reason or another, and they all had impressive results that included serious, life-extending changes to their health.
I was impressed that the people featured in this doc had clearly made some health related choices that they shouldn’t have, but they weren’t treated like they were dumb or lazy or gross or failures. They were just following what they’d always been told about how they should eat, and trying to get through the day in an environment where the worst of food is always immediately available. The overall message of control over our own destinies was balanced with a realization that our environments have changed drastically in just a few decades, and it can be hard to make good choices even with the best information and intentions.
The film can get a bit repetitive at times—though admittedly, they were kind of preaching to the converted in my case. I’d like to see it with someone who is new to most of its information, who has never seriously considered that all this protein we’re told we should eat is maybe not the best idea. The message that meat and milk are the best way to go for protein—the only way to go, as many people see it—is so pervasive in our society that it can be hard to shake people of it. The first thing most people asked me when I stopped eating meat was “How will you get protein?” I think the tales of these healthy, vital people—some of whom were near death before going vegan—could change some minds.
Terri Coles lives in Toronto, Ont., where she enjoys barbecuing, feeding feral cats, going to local music shows and getting really mad about hockey games. She blogs about her adventures in plant-based eating at The Vegina Monologues.
Roger Ebert reviews Forks Over Knives! »
Roger Ebert has a review of Forks Over Knives up that’s worth reading. There are some truly insightful bits, but I really really really hate this part:
Hey, I’m not going all holier-than-thou on you. Think how fat I was for years. I knew the solution, I was weak and lazy. Over 12 years I was eventually able to lose about 70 pounds with a proper diet, but my current weight and superb physical condition can be attributed to my illness. I am unable to eat or drink anything, and my (therefore) perfect diet of canned nutrition has given me an ideal weight and incredibly good blood numbers.
Fat people aren’t “weak and lazy,” they’re JUST FAT. That’s all. Lots of fat people are quite healthy, just how lots of skinny people are quite healthy, and lots of “average-sized” people are quite healthy. Losing weight isn’t a health panacea that suddenly means you’ll live forever and be a better person and win the lottery, it’s just LOSING WEIGHT. That’s GONNA COME BACK ANYWAY. Sometimes the weight loss helps with certain health things, sometimes it doesn’t. Same with gaining weight! The deal is, your body will reset itself to the weight it wants to be eventually. I mean, how many people do you know who have tried to lose a large amount of weight (I’m talking more than 20 to 30 pounds) were able to keep it off for five years or longer? I bet that number is VERY small, if you can even think of anyone. Ebert is in the unique position of not being able to eat food—that sucks and is the worst and I completely feel for him, and it also makes it pretty easy to stay at goal weight, knowwhatimsayin?? Many of can eat anytime we’re hungry—that’s why there are fat vegans and skinny vegans and fat meat-eaters and skinny meat-eaters. If we have access to the amount of calories our bodies want, we’ll get as fat as our bodies wants to get. In fact, fat people are fairly awesome because if there’s ever a food shortage, our shit is gonna live way longer than the skinnies. Fat apocalyptic dance party, y’all!
Anyway, I’m off track, but the importance of a film like Forks Over Knives is that eating a plant-heavy vegan diet is healthier than eating the garbage that passes as “food” today. It’s a much more complicated issue than EAT AN APPLE, FATTY. Our entire food system—including food availability—is set up to fail our health, the health of the planet, and certainly the health of animals. Every step a person can take towards eating a diet less filled with animal products and more filled with fruits, veggies, and grains, the better. Let’s leave it at that, and quit making it a weight thing. I know GET SKINNY FAT-ASS is what motivates people to consume consume consume and cash is king and blah blah blah but I’ll still get upset every time I see shit like this and I hope you do, too. ALSO, I’m bummed to hear this from Roger Ebert, who I thought was a friend to fatties. Well, I guess I knew he was a self-loathing fatty when he gave fucking Shallow Hal a good review, but then I thought he came around! He’s got an ADORABLE chubbers wife and he’s always defending Gabourey Sidibe. I don’t quite understand his whole thing. Someone help me. Ludditerobot, you got anything?
Anyway, the rest of the review is right on, and he’s even switching to a liquid vegetable and fruit diet now, and that’s awesome. Roger Ebert is vegan, y’all. Maybe he’ll even write an all vegan version of his AWESOME rice cooker cookbook?? That would be neat.
How smart are animals? Find out tonight on PBS! »
The Nova airing tonight, Wednesday, Feb. 9 (8 p.m. on KQED, or check your local listings!) is all about animal intelligence. Think they’ll address the fact that most apes can probably correctly spell “intelligence” in fewer tries than I just did? WELL WE’LL HAVE TO WATCH AND FIND OUT! I mean, we already know how fucking brilliant and amazing animals are but it’ll probably be pretty interesting and you can watch it with meat mouths and afterwards, when they’re all, “WOW ANIMALS BE SMART DER DEE DER?!,” show them the new Mercy for Animals factory farming video. BAM! Done and done!
You guys. IT IS A BABY DOLPHIN MEETING A PENGUIN. Do you even understand this photo?? My brain can’t…it’s too much. I was planning on administering street justice via random public beatdowns and committing mail fraud until I saw this bullshit. This ridiculously adorable bullshit. Thanks to the multi-talented and extremely prolific Stephen Fry for RUINING MY DAY WITH CUTENESS. Of course, he shares equal blame with Livia because she sent it my way. Bitches.
Sharks of Kuwait, sharks of D.C. »
Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) spent the second-to-last day of the Senate before its “autumn recess” complaining about Sen. Harry Reid’s (D-Nev.) attempt to pass, among other animal protection legislation,* S. 850, the Shark Conservation Act. This is the Senate’s version of H.R. 81, which passed the House in March 2009; both bills would “prohibit removal any of the fins of a shark (including the tail) and discarding the shark carcass at sea,” and make even possessing shark fins unattached to shark bodies illegal. This is good stuff! But could Sen. Dr. Tom “rampant lesbianism” Coburn allow the Senate to save hundreds of thousands of sharks? What are you, new? Apparently the bill has “been proffered for special interest groups,” but not special interest groups that give Tom Coburn money, so it’s not worth his precious time.
All over the world, actually, sharks are being slaughtered at an obscene rate. In this episode of Witness, Al Jazeera’s documentary show, a small crew chums the waters of the Arabian Gulf off Kuwait looking for sharks. It’s narrated and filmed in an almost emotionless manner, but some of the scenes are heart-wrenching. Shark embryos are said to be a source of virility, so even though adult sharks aren’t usually eaten, the unborn babies are. It’s 22 minutes long, and completely astonishing. As one of the researchers says, anyone can go to South Africa and see a white shark, but who even knows to go to Kuwait? Definitely watch it in full screen.
[can’t see the video? watch it at vegansaurus.com]
*The other legislation ol’ Harry Reid was looking to get passed was “the Crane Conservation Act, marine mammals rescue assistance legislation, the Great Cats and Rare Canids Act, and the Southern Sea Otter Recovery and Research Act.” Man, fuck that Tom Coburn. Fuck him right in the ear.
Update: Let’s not forget that Sen. Coburn has also placed holds on legislation that would give $1 billion to Haiti; make settlements worth $3.4 billion with Native Americans and black farmers; allow the government to purchase land to build a National Women’s History Museum; give aid to victims of the Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda; provide financial aid and training to caregivers of disabled veterans, investigate “unsolved Civil Rights-era crimes from before 1970”; help prevent veterans from committing suicide; and also, the Genetic Information Non-Disclosure Act. Why? Who knows? Maybe Jesus told him to be a hateful human being with no compassion whatsoever! Fuck that guy in both ears.
Scandals, stupidity, and some really clever sheep in this week’s link-o-rama! »
Pilot whales in the Straits of Gibraltar! This was the only calf in the small pod, don’t you want to give it a hug? YES OF COURSE YOU CAN’T HUG A WHALE. But in my Lisa-Frank-colored childhood dreams, this whale and I would be pals and it would love hugs, so there. [picture by Rory Moore via the Telegraph]
Things for a vegan to do!
Tomorrow, Saturday Aug. 14, Harvest Home Sanctuary is having a work party! Go put together “Harvest Home Hay Boxes” and “Barndog Beds” from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m., eat veggie dogs, and feel virtuous. Email to RSVP and get directions.
On Thursday, Aug. 19 the Asian Art Museum is celebrating the drunken dishes of Shanghai cuisine with chefs Nei Chia Ji and Martin Yan. They will be making vegetarian goose with been curd and rice wine; pickled cucumber in Huang Chiew wine; and some chicken thing no one cares about because duh. It’s the AAM’s bimonthly MATCHA event, so there’ll be a cash bar, music, and you can make your own art, too—but your Vegansaurus is mainly excited about the food, obviously. It costs $10 and runs from 5 to 9 p.m. at the Asian Art Museum, 200 Larkin St. in San Francisco.
Things for a vegan to read!
Let’s look at horrible food news! Valley Meat Co. of Modesto, Calif. (our neighbor to the east!) recalled 1 million pounds of frozen ground beef this week! It had been produced in late 2009 and early 2010 and has already made seven people sick with E.coli poisoning! NPR did some math and figures about 2,300 cows/steers were killed to make 1 million pounds of ground beef—wonder where they all came from? We’ll probably never know! Still, according to a CDC report, 17 percent of “food-borne illness outbreaks reported to the government” are caused by dead birds in your kitchen, compared to the 16 percent caused by dead cow and 14 percent by “leafy vegetables.” Although of course leafy vegetables carry no deadly bacteria or viruses inside of themselves, unlike say chickens or cows. Your tiny baby children are sick because they’ve been eating salmonella-ful dry pet food! Maybe these statistics will decrease a bit, as Ohio farmers have agreed to give some of their food-animals (“livestock,” if you will) a little breathing room.
Ben and Jerry’s, so full of lies. You really can’t trust anyone who uses that font. Shockingly, their “all-natural” label includes ingredients like dextrose, corn syrup, and hydrogenated oils, none of which are officially “natural.” The New York Times, another bastion of truth, notes a trend in farmers seeking organic certification, motivated primarily by the money. Motivated by being awesome, a former Mad Man is working to make Meatless Mondays a national habit. Even this crazy “barbecue whisperer” who calls himself Meathead Goldwyn has decided to eat vegetarian for a month, and Mario Batali plans to write a vegetarian cookbook, inspired by the “beautiful people!” [sic] of Italy. Maybe they’d enjoy this easy-peasy recipe for carrot bacon!
New Zealand really is as full of sheep as you’ve heard. Sheep, however, are much smarter than is generally assumed. It shouldn’t be too surprising, then, that sheep living in Matamata, NZ, have moved into the Lord of the Rings hobbit homes set. [image by Tara Hunt, via Laughing Squid]
We’re eating very well in the Bay Area these days. There’s the fancy-pants, super-delicious tofu of Oakland’s Hodo Soy Beanery (take a tour!); the second Garden Fresh—vegan Chinese!—in Palo Alto got a good review in the Chronicle; and Sutton Cellars in San Francisco makes only vegan wines and vermouth that SFoodie really enjoyed.
The SF SPCA won its lawsuit to claim $500,000 for its hearing dog program, despite its sort of not having one—it’s all very strange, as SF Weekly explains. The Humane Society’s lawsuit against Olivera Egg Ranch, originally filed in 2008, will go ahead! Olivera Egg Ranch is a massive polluter (not to mention chicken-torturer on a grand scale) and was fined $143,057 in 2009 for “destroying evidence related to air pollution on its property.” On Thursday, defendants in the Bushway Packing trial entered not-guilty pleas to misdemeanor and felony counts of animal cruelty. Even Canada’s not perfect: No Country For Animals is a new documentary about the country’s “deplorable record on animal welfare,” and you can watch it online.
Despite its best intentions, the Times hosted a decent discussion of the ethics of catch-and-release fly-fishing, including a biologist who said, straight-up, that it’s shitty because fish feel pain. Some other biologist contradicted that “theory,” but Wikipedia contradicts him, and Vegansaurus says, just because you CAN do a thing doesn’t mean you SHOULD do it, cowboy. Discover magazine wonders how many orangutan there would be in the world if the Victorians hadn’t been so keen on shooting everything with a heartbeat. To wit: the Galapagos giant tortoises didn’t get a Latin name until 300 years after their “discovery” by Charles Darwin because they were so delicious and easy to kill. Hey Michigan! Your private stock of non-native, feral shootin’ hogs—upward of 5,000!—have broken free from your game ranches and are rampaging wild across the lands, eating fawns and carrying pseudorabies. Michiganders with hunting licenses are encouraged to shoot them. Way to go, guys!