It’s National Vegetarian Week in the UK this week. And thanks to the wonders of the world-wide web and social media (I’m looking at you Twitter), the week-long celebration of a meat-free lifestyle has made its way to the states. Unable to resist the opportunity to make a list of the top 10 vegetarian propaganda movies, I quickly dove into researching and re-watching some of my favorite veggie-centric films. Tongue planted firmly in cheek, I set out to make a comical list of movies that failed to suppress my carnivorous blood-lust. Turns out, the joke was on me.
Now, I love bacon . . . LOVE it. Pork products in general are kind of amazing. Yes, there was an ill-advised, Malcolm X-inspired period when I swore off pork altogether, which–for a time–I referred to as “the tribulation.” And I’ve even dabbled in vegetarianism once or twice, but never for the right reasons (read: I became a vegetarian for the ladies). But for the most part, I’ve been able to stick to my guns . . . until now. In making this list, I’ve finally passed the point of no return. So, without further adieu, I present a list, nay, a personal chronology of the movies that made me vegetarian.
10. Charlotte’s Web (1973) – Dir. Charles A. Nichols
& Iwao Takamoto
“Get ’em while they’re young.” This is where it all began, the movie that planted the seed of doubt about eating meat. Charlotte’s Web set the stage for other movies to suggest that maybe I shouldn’t eat meat, pork in particular.
9. Babe (1995) – Dir. Chris Noonan
Again, aiming for the kids. I was 12 when this movie came out, and you know what, I still love Babe. I don’t care if you eat meat or not, who doesn’t like Babe? It was even nominated for a Best Picture Oscar. And James Cromwell was inspired to become a vegan after working on the film.
8. Super Size Me (2004) – Dir. Morgan Spurlock
Thanks to reading Eric Schlosser‘s Fast Food Nation, I had already pretty much sworn off fast food by the time I saw Super Size Me. Sure, it’s more to do with examining the fast food industry and less about convincing you to become a vegetarian, but Super Size Me definitely motivated me to give up meat for a while after watching it.
7. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) – Dir. Tobe Hooper
If seeing people slaughtered like cattle doesn’t give you at least a moment’s pause the next time you go to grab a rare burger or steak, then I think eating meat is the least of your worries.
6. Poultrygeist (2006) – Dir. Lloyd Kaufman
I love Troma, and with their brand built on the frequent use of gloriously egregious gross-out horror-humor, I could probably put any Troma movie on this list. But, being that Poultrygeist is specifically related to eating meat, with its KFC-esque evil-doers, American Chicken Bunker, incurring the wrath of the spirits of both man and beast alike by building a fried chicken restaurant on an ancient Indian burial ground, I can think of no better film. Even if zombie-chicken/human hybrids don’t motivate you to become a vegetarian, you might take a break from food in general after watching Poultrygeist.
5. Food Matters (2008) – Dir. James Colquhoun
& Carlo Ledesma
This fascinating documentary looks at the correlation between the traditional western diet and poor health. For those of you who could care less about how cute and cuddly animals are, this doc might shed some new light on the way what you eat effects how you feel. For me, this movie was the beginning of the end of the age of meat, when I started to seriously think about what I was eating and how I was feeling afterward.
4. Food, Inc. (2008) – Dir. Robert Kenner
This Oscar-nominated look inside the American food industry is beyond entertaining, beyond eye-opening, it’s engrossing. Of course, in the interest of full-disclosure, I’m a huge geek when it comes to Michael Pollan (author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma, In Defense of Food, The Botany of Desire)and Eric Schlosser, both of whom are big contributors to the film.
3. Fast Food Nation (2006) – Dir. Richard Linklater
Speaking of Eric Schlosser, Richard Linklater’s big-screen adaptation of his book (Fast Food Nation: the Dark Side of the American Meal) is also quite entertaining. It reminds me a lot of Traffic, but with food instead of drugs. If nothing else, see this movie for Bruce Willis‘ scene-stealing tirade about beef.
2. The Cove (2009) -Dir. Louie Psihoyos
This real-life Ocean’s 11 operation to reveal the truth about dolphins being slaughtered in Japan is simultaneously entertaining and enraging. Seriously, don’t mess with dolphins!!!
1. I Am An Animal (2007) – Dir. Matthew Galkin
I don’t agree with some of PETA‘s practices. And I always wrote off Ingrid Newkirk, the founder of PETA, as something of a kook. But, after watching this engaging documentary, I’d have to say that I have a new-found respect for Newkirk and her organization. I still don’t agree with everything that PETA does, but I can appreciate their goals. I Am An Animal is an intriguing (and surprisingly evenhanded) account of Newkirk and her organization, highlighting both the pros and cons of PETA. Forget what you think you know about PETA–or at least put it to the side temporarily–and watch I Am An Animal with an open mind.
So, that’s it. That’s how I became a vegetarian. I’m not quite ready to make the leap and watch Earthlings (aka “the vegan maker”). In spite of my love of horror movies, I’ve heard about some of the truly disturbing things featured in Earthlings and it sounds like a lot to handle. I’m sure I’ll get around to it eventually.
Whether you’re thinking about giving up meat or not, these are all great movies. It just so happens that they all contributed to my giving up meat. And I’m not gonna lie, it’s gonna be tough. I’m gonna miss it, especially bacon . . . oh, god will I miss bacon. For those of you die-hard meat-eaters, enjoy some bacon for me.
Damn you National Vegetarian Week, motivating me to investigate vegetarianism further!!! Fortunately, it’s for the best.
Here’s to your health.