As a failed vegetarian and one-time vegan, I attended the premiere of Planeat, a new documentary by Shelley Lee Davies and Om Shlomi about the benefits of eating less meat, fully prepared for an hour long moral guilt trip…how wrong I was.
Through interviews with scientists, deeply passionate farmers and inspired chefs (and even cupcake makers) the film presents the global, environmental, health and culinary benefits of eating less animal protein. Never once did it feel like I was being told to give up meat, but it made me think twice about it in the way that no other film has done so far.
Offering no prescriptive or patronizing advice, the film rejects shock tactics, guilt and moral arguments to take viewers on an informative, inspiring and very human journey. Beware the trailer on the website though, it really over-dramatises the film.
Through interviews with nutritionists and scientists the documentary examines how diets high in meat and dairy can actually cause heart disease and exacerbate cancer growth, as well as how reducing meat consumption can dramatically reduce carbon emissions and biodiversity loss, since livestock requires not only land for its production, but also land to grow its’ feed. The message is that reducing our dependence on meat to a healthy level would also make us better able to feed a growing global population and lessen our impact on the climate.
The amount of research, evidence and the passion of the scientists and doctors featured is truly astonishing yet broken down and accessible. It deals with serious subject matter in a light, visual, humourous and non-arrogant way.
Planeat celebrates the fact that food is a core part of who we are, our identity, culture and communties. Going vegan is not realistic for a lot of people. For many meat is the only good source of iron available, just as dairy is the only source of calcium. Because of this the film speaks to an audience with money and choice, without being patronising about exactly what type of food we should buy or where we should buy it from.
As a final word of inspiration after the film the directors pointed to the fact that in the early eighties the concept of fair trade was new and niche, but it has made us widely reconsider our relationship with food, its producers and production. Let’s hope that the human health and environmental benefits of eating less meat become equally mainstream, and that the surrounding discussion can be as open, non-judgmental and engaging as this film.
Read more here (but again, beware the misleading trailer).