If you’re considering taking the vegetarian/vegan plunge (or just generally interested) there’s a plethora of media awesomeness eager to translate and back up the hype. Never before has being a vegan been so popular, convenient, and cool. Celebrities are doing it. Restaurants and supermarkets are catering to it. Doctors, scientists and politicians are advocating for it.
Whether you are, you might, or want to be a vegan, living – and staying – on the veg can be tricky. It involves dedication, planning, and breaking a life-long cycle of daily habits. But just like we skim through fitspos on Pinterest when we’re trying to drag our asses to the gym, there’s plenty of badass vegspos out there to keep us inspired and on track.
Even if you have no problem sticking to your conscientious guns, it’s important for newbies to know the lay of the land from health, economic, and ethical perspectives. These vegspirations will also give you an awesome arsenal of information you can spew off to the next anti-veg meathead that attempts to scold you at your next bbq (so…where do you get your protein?). Plus, they all serve as perfect, easy-to-watch or read weapons to convert your meat-loving friends and family to the vegan camp – or at least to offer a deeper understanding of your views and fabulous new lifestyle.
To show your meat-loving friends: Forks Over Knives
Watch veganism reverse disease, kick cancer’s ass, and support lifelong health. Forks Over Knives slaps every loud-mouthed meathead in the face. This documentary gem is the very best thing ever featured on Netflix (yes, that’s saying a lot) and is perfect for showing anti-vegetarians. The film packs a powerful punch in advocating veganism because it comes from a purely health- and science-based perspective. The film follows two docs (both of which, ironically, grew up on traditional family farms) that come to the conclusion that a raw, vegan diet can control, counteract, and/or reverse modern-day cancers and diseases. Physician Dr. Esselstyn uses a vegetarian (and later vegan) diet to make disease disappear and medications become obsolete in individual patients. Professor and nutritional biochemistry badass Dr. Campbell worked from a scientific angle & examines the link between chronic illness and the consumption of animal products. He spearheaded the landmark China Study, which studied the eating habits of 6,500 people in China. Dr. C discovered that villages that had adopted a more “western” diet (i.e., more meat, dairy and eggs) had significantly higher rates of “western” diseases, such as coronary heart disease, diabetes, and different forms of cancer. If the fam won’t stop trying to force feed you steak, make ‘em watch this.
To keep yourself inspired: Veguated
This cute, quaint little documentary takes more of an ethical standpoint, and is best for keeping yourself on the animal-friendly wagon. The film follows three meat-loving volutneers that go vegan for six weeks; because they’re from different professions, age groups, and demographics, Vegcated shows that no matter who you are, you can go vegan. Tessla is a college student living with a multi-cultural family that considers food part of who they are and where they come from. Brian is a young bachelor living on his own, and is limited by money, time, and a penchant for steak and ribs. Ellen is a busy single mom that loves kosher hot dogs and fancy cheese and brings her two young children on the journey with her. Watch as they struggle through the day-to-day challenges that going vegan entails. They can’t find anything to eat on the menu; they chow down on vegan fare while their family eats something else. They try to explain their views to family and friends, suffer meat withdrawals, go on vacation, face cultural differences, and undergo inner questioning and strife. In addition, Vegucated somehow manages to represent the unfathomable suffering of factory-farmed animals without being too graphic or going too far. The basic message: being a vegan can be hard, but it’s absolutely worth it.
To take the plunge: Skinny Bitch
This damn book is actually the first thing that ever made me become or even consider veganism. I picked up the book looking to lose a little weight and ended it as a vegetarian. The eff just happened?!
This wildly popular book (including four spinoffs and a box set) is sneaky: it looks like just another weight loss fad, but is a massively successful, well-founded and unexpected champion for a vegan lifestyle.
Authors Rory Freedman and Kim Barnoiun aren’t just pretty faces that managed to put together a book; they’re factual, impeccably researched, and plain-out mean. They yell at you and rip all of your I-need-meat/sugar/caffeine notions into tiny little pieces. And then they burn them. For example; “Perhaps you have a lumpy ass because you are perserving your fat cells with diet soda,” or “Whenever you see the words ‘fat free’ or ‘low-fat,’ think of the words ‘chemical shit storm.’”
Freedman and Barnouin aggressively destroy processed and “diet” foods, but delve even deeper into the evils of factory farms, contaminated milk, and the USDA. The book will not only make you a vegan, it will make you fucking terrified to even touching a piece of chicken, diet soda or fat free muffin ever again.
To get back on the wagon: Eating Animals
If you’ve recently broke down and devoured an eight-ounce steak with your bare hands, this is the book for you. Jonathan Safran Foer changes up the vegan/vegetarian game because he explores the cultural depth of what we chose to eat with objectivity and eloquence. What we eat is part of who we are; the food our parents and grandparents make for us, the turkeys we eat on religious holidays, the ethnic dishes that we make to remember where we came from. The recipes that link one generation to another.
Foer also examines the horrors of factory farms, from the treatment of workers to the negligence of the USDA to the treatment of the animal. He establishes that factory-farmed meat is dirty, and that the industry itself is unimaginably greedy, careless, and evil.
He also visits a handful of family-owned farms that still use heritage chickens and turkeys, treat their animals well, care for the land and slaughter humanely. It features letters from vegans that run farms and build slaughterhouses to ranchers that do so humanely, but still with a guilty conscience. Even the most successful farms, however, struggle to make ends meet as the infrastructure they need (slaughterhouses, feed, baby chicks) to keep their operations humane fall to the power of the factory-farm industry.
This book gives hope that traditions and culture and holidays can be re-shaped to preserve the planet and respect the animals that occupy it. After all, a little research shows that the American thanksgiving wasn’t even the first, and they didn’t even eat any turkey.
What are your favorite inspirations?