Chow Down and All-Star Veggie Panel! It Was Crazy! »
[Can’t see the video? Watch it at Vegansaurus.com!]
Like I mentioned on Friday, I went to a screening of Chow Down on Saturday. The movie was good; I liked it. It was hokey as fuck with all these cartoons and shenanigans but it was informative and comprehensive despite the scientific subject matter. The film focuses on two men who are faced with surgery for heart disease. Instead of surgery, both men opt to work with Cleveland Clinic doctor Caldwell B. Esselstyn and follow a “plant-based diet.” The results are very impressive; both men hadn’t had a single coronary indecent since changing their lifestyle even though they were told they would die without surgery.
The other aspect of the movie that was very interesting is it really goes into the business of nutrition in America. It has a lot of information about the hold that the milk and dairy lobby has on the USDA and the huge conflict of interest the government organization has when it comes to being a.) responsible for national nutrition recommendations and b.) in charge of promoting American agriculture. The film interviews the woman who created the first food pyramid and even then, the main component of the recommended diet—the bottom of the pyramid—was supposed to be fruits and veggies. The government rejected that and replaced the bottom with good old American grain. Ultimately, the first food pyramid was bagged altogether under pressure from the meat industry. What a tangled web we weave!
Guess what else: it was made by some Philadelphians! I knew the one guy in the movie was Philadelphian as soon as he opened his mouth. Hilarious.
So that’s the movie; it was fine, good even. But THEN! It was time for the Q&A with the all-star panel! This is when things took a turn for the awful. OMG I think I hate vegans! I know, I can’t believe I said that but these people were kooks! And so like cocky and self-promoting! Maybe I’m overreacting; it wasn’t really the panel that got to me, it was more the Q than the A. The panel included Gene Baur of Farm Sanctuary; Michael Parrish Dudell of Ecorazzi; Simone Reyes, some chick that’s on Running Russell Simmons (haaa, that was a hilarious inclusion); Victoria Moran, super-author; Alexandra Jamieson, super-author, Top Chef veganizer, and co-star of Super Size Me; and Gary Null, crazy-ass mofo. Also on the panel were Julia Grayer and Gage Johnston, the filmmakers.
I really liked Jamieson and Moran; Dudell was good and I liked him, but he said he would be a strict moderator and ended up being a total nancy. That was the problem: crazy people in the audience kept hijacking the discussion! They would make these barely understandable rants with the only question being like, “What are your thoughts on my rant?” I forgot how much I hate Q&As! I used to go to them for films all the time when my mom worked at the Philly Film Festival. You have these really interesting people there but all you end up hearing all about are the trials and tribulations of various audience members trying to get funding for their own projects. It’s the same with authors: “But how do I get my book published?” Oy! Give me a break.
The crazy audience was only half the problem; the other half? Crazy-ass Gary Null. Oh my god, I did a face-palm whenever he started talking. He’s a complete nut. Like Christopher Walken on crack. He only made sense half the time and he kept talking about getting people to be vegan through spirituality, which just isn’t my bag. The worst was that he was like making sermons with dramatic pauses and bringing in Martin Luther King and crap. And he kept directing his rants at the panel too—who the eff are you to lecture them? If I were the panel, I’d be like, Screw you, bro. And he barely let anyone else talk.
One theme that emerged in the questions was about inclusion and how to unite vegans; THEN at the end, this woman who organized the event came up to speak about this initiative she organized called NYC Goes Vegan. The whole event was supposed to kick off the start of this 21-day challenge. Granted, she was not the most eloquent and she really didn’t promote her initiative very well, BUT! The same people who were talking about uniting vegans and asking what we can do to reach the mainstream started talking straight-up shit on this woman WHILE she was talking! She was a very attractive, model-looking woman and she looked about 26—though she’s actually 38—and made a comment about facing old age and the older women around me like ‘bout had a mutiny! And they were talking trash on her “Valley Girl” speech. Is that how you spell inclusion?! Just petty. I was shocked. I wanted to stop being a vegan just to spite these people! Don’t worry, still vegan (I know you were worried).
Basically, your friend Megan was about to bust heads. It was a shame. I wanted to hear more from the filmmakers, like why they avoided the word “vegan” in the movie, and if the doctors are hesitant to talk about veganism and deliberately stick to “plant-based diet.” I would have also liked to hear a lot more from Moran, she was kind of awesome but didn’t speak much.
The movie was pretty good though and you can actually watch it RIGHT NOW on hulu. It’s only an hour long, you can handle it.