The food movement occasionally seems skewed toward the super-serious (Michael Pollan), the sexy (PETA) or the surreal (Supersize Me). But Marisa Miller Wolfson, a fairly new vegan, is bringing a little levity to the issue with her new film Vegucated. Her unique perspective and six-week experiment trying to persuade three carnivores to embrace a more produce-based diet caught our attention, so we reached out to her to learn more.
Can you tell us more about your personal transition to veganism? I lived with vegetarians for seven years and rabidly defended my right as a Midwesterner to eat my meat. I thought vegans were from outer space—way too radical. Then I saw a documentary that showed how animals are treated on farms, and I went vegetarian on the spot, and went vegan three months later after I read more about health and environment issues. The whole process felt crazy: to have all these stereotypes of vegans and then suddenly call myself one. The first few months were a little tricky, but I lost 15 pounds and felt amazing, so I stuck with it.
There have been a few movies and books recently related to the topic of eating less meat, but Vegucated seems to be told in a different "voice" than many others. How did you decide to make your film stand out? I had toured around the country showing award-winning documentaries on this topic and decided to make a film that appealed to a slightly different, younger crowd. I wanted to make it highly entertaining, charged with personality and I wanted people to laugh more than they cry, even when they're getting exposed to powerful information. I used to do comedy. Keep reading to discover how the film's stars are eating now and to learn how you can find a happy veggie medium.
How are the three subjects of the movie doing today? Two are vegan and one is vegetarian, but I'm not saying who is doing what!
At the end of the movie, you seemed to be saying that a vegetarian or vegan diet doesn't have to be "all or nothing." Is that the case? As long as you're moving towards plants, you're actively being part of the solution to some of the world's most serious problems while lowering your cholesterol and blood pressure. Take it one day at a time. Integrate new foods as you start to phase out old staples. You won't love everything, but you'll find your favorites soon enough and you'll be surprised that you won't crave the old stuff anymore. Consider it an adventure. You're a culinary and cultural pioneer, helping to create a new paradigm for what healthy sustainable living looks like. Savor it and enjoy it!
So what are some of your favorite foods? I love a good raw lasagna with fresh basil, tomatoes, zucchini noodles and cashew ricotta. My easy-to-prepare comfort food is a bowl of beans, steamed greens and quinoa smothered in a yummy peanut ginger sauce. For holidays, I like to make hearty, nut-crusted seitan with garlicky greens and mashed potatoes.
What are your goals for the future? The "Let's Get America Vegucated!" Fall Tour is going to be super-fun as we travel all over the country and hold screenings leading up to our DVD and digital release before the holidays. We have 150 people from 11 countries signed up to hold grassroots screenings of the film in their communities in 2012. We hope these numbers just grow and grow. Click here to learn more and see if there is a screening coming up near you.