Animation and vintage film clips add pizzazz. Vegucated is now streaming at Amazon, iTunes and Vudu.
Three meat eaters on a mission
Tesla Lobo, a 22-year-old college student, lives with her parents in Queens, New York. Meat is ever-present at Lobo family dinners and celebrations. Tesla would like to lose weight.
Brian Flegel, a “bacon-loving, bartending bachelor” from California, wants to be an actor. Always on the go, he eats out frequently.
Ellen Mausner is a psychiatrist by day and stand-up comedian by night. A single mom raising her son and daughter, she has little time to cook. Ellen wants her whole family to develop healthy eating habits.
The trio learns that vegan nutrition includes vegetables, fruits, grains, beans, nuts and seeds. Many vegans don’t wear leather, fur, wool or silk.
Week 1: Check-ups
The three receive check-ups from family physician Dr. Joel Fuhrman (Eat to Live). They’ll be getting more nutrients and less calories as they begin eating green vegetables, berries, beans, eggplant, mushrooms and tomatoes.
On a vegan diet, “you can’t be overweight even if you overeat on these foods,” he tells them. The incidence of heart disease and cancer drop to almost zero for vegans, he adds.
Fuhrman introduces them to his patient Julia Spagnoli, who survived three heart attacks. She later lost 80 pounds as a vegan. At Fuhrman’s home, a chef serves the group vegan cream of pea soup and carrot cake.
The director, who is a vegan, takes the group food shopping. They are happy to find that cookies and cereals are vegan as long as they contain no whey or other animal products. Soy yogurt and veggie burgers look appealing.
During week two, Wolfson takes Tesla and Ellen to one of New York City’s many vegan restaurants. Ellen is beginning to lose weight. She doesn’t feel tired after eating anymore. Tesla is feeling social pressure from family and friends to eat meat.
Meanwhile, Brian works out with vegan body builder Kenneth Williams, who gets his protein from spirulina, soy, tofu, tempe and seitan.
In the past 50 years, the world’s meat production has increased five-fold. If you want to continue eating meat, stop watching this film at Week 3.
The group watches undercover footage of the practices and conditions at meat and dairy processing plants. The images are horrific.
Tesla, Brian and Ellen are shaken. In tears, Tesla asks how such practices can be legal. Most states have “common farming” exemptions which allow inhumane practices on animals being used for food and clothing.
Vegan nation: road trip
The group visits a small family egg farm. The chicks and hens don’t fare much better than those at large factory farms, they learn. They are given two “spent hens” which they bring to Ooh-Mah-Nee Farm Animal Sanctuary. Living free in the sunshine, the animals seem very happy.
The three attend Vegetarian Summerfest, where they hear T. Colin Campbell, professor emeritus of nutritional chemistry at Cornell University. Campbell conducted The China Study, considered the most comprehensive nutritional study ever conducted. It shows that eating animal foods is linked to increased cancer and heart disease.
With forests being destroyed for cattle grazing, many believe that it is beneficial for the future of the earth to adopt a plant-based diet.
Vacationing while vegan
Tesla visits relatives in New Orleans. Brian visits his mom and stepdad in New Hampshire. The two face skepticism from relatives about their food choices.
“I wish everybody I knew was vegan,” Tesla says. Ellen takes her kids to London, where they find some excellent vegan restaurants.
Animal advocate Moni Woweries reassures Tesla. Veganism is not a religion, she says, but a way to minimize suffering. “It’s not about being perfect,” Woweries adds. She suggests that Tesla attend a Vegan Meetup in New York City to find support and understanding.
Week 6: Medical results
The trio visits Dr. Fuhrman after six weeks. Tesla loses two pounds. Her blood pressure drops 20 points. Her bad cholesterol drops 26 points. Ellen loses 10 pounds. Her bad cholesterol drops by 20 points. Brian loses five pounds. His blood pressure drops by 30 points.
You can make a difference by living consciously as a vegan, according to the film. Some famous vegetarians in history include Susan B. Anthony, Gandhi, Rosa Parks, Coretta Scott King, Cesar Chavez and Gloria Steinem.
Albert Einstein became a vegetarian towards the end of his life. “Nothing will benefit human health and increase chances for survival of life on earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet,” he said.
Vegucated / 2010 / NR / 1 hour, 16 min
Cast Overview: Tesla Lobo, Brian Flegel, Ellen Mausner, Marisa Miller Wolfson, Joel Fuhrman, Julia Spagnoli, Kenneth Williams, Jayson Tracy, Cayce Mell, T. Colin Campbell, Stephen Kaufman, Howard Lyman, Milton Mills, Jasmin Singer
Director: Marisa Miller Wolfson
Genres: Documentary, Health, Nutrition, Vegan