Marisa Miller Wolfson. Picture: Supplied
Last night, while perusing Netflix for my daily fix of food shows, I stumbled upon 'Vegucated', an American documentary that explores the challenges of converting to a vegan diet.

It follows three meat- and cheese-loving New Yorkers who agree to adopt a vegan diet for six weeks. As someone who has always been on the fence about veganism, I can say it’s definitely worth a watch, even though it debuted in 2011.

The experiment and ensuing film is the brainchild of Marissa Miller Wolfson, a vegan and avid food activist. She follows the three omnivores as they take their first steps into the world of veganism.

We’re introduced to Tesla Lobo, a 22-year-old-college student from Queens who hates vegetables; Brian Flegal, a bartender living in Harlem who originated the idea that “vegans are from outer space”; and Ellen Mausner, a psychiatrist, single mother and stand-up comic who loves hot dogs, but hates cholesterol.

The three subjects begin their journey with a few simple medical tests to measure blood pressure, weight and cholesterol because rumour has it a plant-based diet will lower all three numbers significantly.

Dr Joel Fuhrman, the author of Eat to Live, is their doctor throughout their experience and he gives them a crash course in vegan nutrition before they set out.

One great thing I think Wolfston did was introduce her subjects to a vegan diet first, tasting new things, especially in the case of Lobo, who looked like she was going to burst into tears at her first taste of kale.

Wolfston pays particular attention to facing head-on the difficult task of fading out their food routines.

It’s only after a couple of weeks of being vegan that Wolfston, who uses the traditional scare tactic used by vegans, of revealing the horrors of conditions at cow, chicken, turkey and pig farms, including slaughter.

All the previous complaints about the new and weird foods they were exposed to seemed meagre in contrast and this void was quickly filled by an overt enthusiasm for embracing a vegan diet.

The beauty of this film is in the exploration of the emotions involved with going vegan. There are people who were sheltered from animal suffering and then still go vegan, as many do.

Wolfston’s subjects started from a point of dubiousness and moved to that of belief. Their mindset was intriguing to watch, and I rooted for them throughout the progression of the narrative.

It was apparent that Mausner was hooked. She is proof that once you hear the truth about the food industry, you can’t unhear it, you can’t unsee it.

But Flegal’s his enthusiasm had a ceiling. As the end of the experiment neared, it looked like he might go back to his omnivorous ways.

Lobo had the hardest time of all, because she didn’t have her family’s support. The meat culture in her house was strong. The impression I was left with was that her parents actually thought she would die if she didn’t eat meat. They even stopped cooking for her, ousting her from the family culture.

Lobo had to cook her own meals after everyone else had eaten and my heart went out to her.

Share this film with anyone who shows the slightest curiosity for veganism. Share it with someone who says, “I’ve always wanted to cut meat out but it tastes so good.” Share it with your vegetarian friends and maybe they’ll go vegan.

Either way we can all stand to be a bit more Vegucated.

IOL