Okja – A Movie Review

After watching Okja twice in one day and giving it another day to read up on all the reviews while letting the movie sink in some more, I am ready to review it myself.

Let me start by saying I had seen the movie trailer and poster circulate for some time before the official Netflix release on June 28th 2017. I had some idea of what it was about and was curious how they would portray animal rights, animal liberation in particular the ALF (Animal Liberation Front). At first my thoughts were skeptical, would it be a movie that would only tackle welfarism and let the activists seem like violent terrorists? I was ready for anything.

After 2 hours it had left me with many different emotions, the last 10 minutes were filled with tears, and the movie came full circle, I was positively surprised. Reading a variety of reviews and some click bait headlines, I agreed with some and disagreed with others, there were truths in all, yet somehow I felt it depended on what the writer or viewer was looking for. Was this a vegan movie? Maybe, what matters the most to me is how it makes you feel, the lack of veganism being mentioned doesn’t mean it’s no vegan movie. Story telling does not have to be literal, scenes and gestures don’t have to be spelled out word for word, sometimes powerful messages are portrayed in the most subtle ways. Why so? Because nobody wants to watch a movie where they feel it’s being biased.. Although we all want people to be able to have empathy, we cannot underestimate the large machine and power behind the selling and exploitation of sentient beings. Is one movie going to make it all up for the billions of dollars in yearly advertisings? Most likely not, but to tell a story that is impactful with just the right amount of subtle messaging and powerful imagery, top notch acting and CGI (especially Okja’s expression in her eyes), cannot be undervalued.

In the opening scene we clearly see a corporation that needs a rebranding, and you can detect the wisely selected wording. If you are more aware of the current state of our large scale agriculture and chemical agriculture, you most likely have picked up on many lines. The name and the logo reminded me so much of “Monsanto”. Let’s review what Lucy Mirando’s (The CEO of Mirando Corporation) speech reveals:

Environment, “eco” seems to be the theme, minimal footprint, less feed, producing less excretion. All these points are the exact reflection of our animal agriculture industry’s flaws and always will be. It didn’t take long to uncover the first lie, she said they “miraculously discovered” the Super Pig, which is completely false as you will later realize. Okja her mother and siblings were all created in a lab, they were far from being miraculously discovered.  Then lies after lies follow in her speech, “non force natural mating”, as you will have to connect the dots later as the movie progresses and exposes her lies. Lucy calls the piggies “a new species, mother natures gift, a revolution in the livestock industry”, a typical marketing strategy, just like those we are daily exposed to in our own lives. Throughout the film you will discover reflections of our world, even if at times over exaggerated, it is pretty clear it’s not far off from what corporations try to hide and whitewash in our reality.

The bond between Mija, one of Mirando’s selected farmer’s 14 year old granddaughter, and Okja is very strong, as it would be with any 4 year old growing up with a smart, loving and caring companion. They were both young and grew older and closer over the 10 years together (10 years being the time Mirando corporation gave the farmers to raise them before sending them back to the corporation). In a very early scene we see how Okja risks her life to save Mija, a gentle whisper from Mija to Okja after the heroic act shows they have a way of communicating with each other.

I have read that the film is far from being vegan because Mija eats Fish and Chicken in the movie. However, let’s point out that Mija, who has lost her mother and father and is being raised by her single grandfather, has been like many of us, indoctrinated to eat animals (even Okja’s, although she isn’t aware of that at this time), Okja is symbolic to how we are raised with our cats and dog companions, although Mija’s grandfather knows the fait of Okja, as he later on in the movie he explains to her the different cuts of “meat”. Just because a 14 year old farmer’s daughter is eating fish and chicken, would be denying the reality of millions of people growing up eating animal products that later on embraced veganism. It’s a story and the story follows a teenage girl that has compassion for another sibling species from a young age, Mija is a child growing up removed from city life and seems to have little interaction with other people.

Throughout the movie you can see the propaganda. When the “Face of Mirando”, an outdated, narcissistic veterinarian (Dr. Johnny) picks Okja as the winning pig to be featured in Mirando’s festival in New York, you can tell that he is sent to promote the company and highlights the “free range” method of the farmer’s choice to raise Okja. The same as our “humane, free range myth” in advertising is portrayed.

After Okja is being taken from Mija to be transported to Seoul and then to New York, Mija sets out to rescue Okja and bring her home, an action packed chase and break in results in her meeting the ALF group. A group of people who have certain sets of values and one goal to get Okja captured, outfitted with a hidden camera and recaptured by Mirando to end up in the lab for testing. Although Mija is against the plan, the only translator named K lies to the other ALF people for the cause. They want to expose Mirando’s abuse at the lab and to shut them down by causing economic damage. The ALF interference causes a huge media uproar ending with a lorry chase and Mija being dragged off by the authority, resulting in the Mirando corporation needing another PR campaign to get them out of the bad press.

Soon thereafter Mirando corporation starts by planning on bringing Mija from Seoul to New York, using her as the face of Mirando and to reunite her with Okja on stage, pretty much the exact marketing campaign we see with the “farmers love their animals”. Although Mija doesn’t speak English, she notices she is being used by the corporation, yet all she wants is to get Okja back and knows the ALF group has promised to help her at the festival. She’s been told by J from the ALF group to not look back at the screen during the event, because the ALF would showcase the undercover footage of the lab where you see Okja being forcefully mated against her will by a much larger Super Pig Alfonso. Okja also gets probed for meat samples from her muscles by Dr. Johnny who is acting in a very unpredictable way. The lab is dark, disgusting and scarry and exposes the different pigs being tested on, many different from Okja, since Okja is the “Perfect Super Pig” to be shown as the corporate example representing all Super Pigs, omitting that the others suffer from many ailments.

At the event you can see that the ALF group strategically place themselves in different roles at the parade, one of them marches in the parade being given a Super Pig sausage and pretends to take a bite to “fit in”, it is clear that they do not eat animal products and have said they freed animals from slaughterhouses, labs, circus, zoos etc.

Okja is being released from another float onto the one where Mija waits to be reunited. Immediately you notice how Okja’s spirit has been broken from the abuse at the lab, her blood shot eyes, the scars from the probes all over her body and she acts aggressive and angry not even recognizing Mija. Chaos erupts and Okja grabs and bites down onto Mija’s arm, immediately one of the ALF group members named J grabs a rod to strike Okja to release Mija’s arm, Mija grabs the rod and protects Okja, even though she is being bitten. As she whispers into Okja’s ear, you can tell she understands, let’s go and licks Mija’s bleeding wound. Now they race against the time to rescue Okja.

Lucy Mirando’s plan of her reveal and PR event fails and her more despicable twin sister Nancy appears and takes over, immediately focusing on profit, greed and power, where she responds to the negativity of this event in “If it’s cheap they will eat it”. Mirroring again our society, no matter how much undercover footage we reveal, people keep on buying cheap meat because they are constantly reinforced and indoctrinated. Animal products are being shoved in our faces all day long, everywhere we look. Nancy immediately calls for a special ops and private security to capture Okja and all ALF people.

In an earlier scene we saw one ALF group member K, the translator who lied to Mija and to the other ALF group about Mija not wanting to let Okja go into the lab, getting immediately banned from the ALF group after confessing. However he reappears in rescuing Mija and J (the leader of the group) and they barely escape from being captured too. In the lorry they make their way to the “production plant” where they expect Okja to be held.

And here is where the movie took a complete turn for me, if until now it seemed to be over the top, at times humorous or fictional, everything we see from this point forward is what gives this movie it’s strong emotional impact. We see hundreds upon hundreds (if not thousands) of Super Pigs waiting to be forced up a ramp, electric prodded into a building. Mija sees the second pig in line to go up is Okja. As she runs into the building she encounters all workers speaking Spanish, one guy sweeping blood down a drain. She looks up, sees corpses hanging, she looks down she sees cut up body parts on a conveyer belt, and when she finally arrives on the kill floor she watches a Super Pig in the death-contraption being stunned with a bolt gun, the body rolls out of the contraption and falls lifeless onto the side before the next Super Pig within seconds gets forced into the chamber. As the slaughterhouse worker sets the bolt gun to Okja’s head, Mija pleads for her release. Nancy shows up with her corporate entourage, her words are again, the powerful message that many who are aware notice, and others hopefully get subtly influenced.

As Mija asks in the little English she has learned “Why do you want to kill Okja?” Nancy replies: “We can only sell the dead ones. We are hard working business people.” She goes into the different body parts of the animals that are favorited by restaurants and hispanic people and says, “all is edible except the squeals, this is business.” A perfect and honest example of our reality, sentient beings are reduced to commodities and it’s about making money, nobody cares, all the lies that are being told are soon forgotten and all that really matters is keeping people in the dark, their conscious fed with lies and the body parts of once sentient beings cheap and accessible for everyone and everywhere.

Mija offers Nancy a 100% golden pig, that she receives earlier in the movie from her grandfather. Nancy bites down on the gold to make sure it’s real, she gives instructions to release Okja and asks for the client (Mija) and her purchase (Okja) to be escorted safely out.

The next scene from the movie was the one that was the hardest to watch. As Mija and Okja walk alongside thousands of pigs waiting for their brutal death, on the other side of the electric fence, you can feel the energy, the emotions and the pain. Mija does not walk off thinking this was a win or a success, she knows the limited power she has and that this is all she was able to do. Her gaze back to all the Super Pigs is heartbreaking, the screams of all the other pigs is gut-wrenching. As a last chance for a little piglet, being pushed under the electric fence, a selfelss act by possibly the mother pig, to be rescued by Okja and Mija. They immediately hide the piglet so security doesn’t notice, this may be the one little extra part that shows that we would do anything to make people see how important these messages are. At that point the audience would clearly root for the little one and all others to have the same happy ending as Okja.

This being a “kid/teen-friendly” movie it had to have some sort of happy ending, although we all know that overall it mirrors our reality, the  animals rescued from the exploitation industry is extremely minimal, it means the world to those individuals but it is nothing in comparison to the 56 billion land animals and trillions of aquatic animals. Those rescue individuals can only serve as ambassadors to create a better world, and that is what Okja is, a small symbol to open peoples hearts and for them to recognize that they have compassion for animals, that they care for them and that they don’t wish them harm. It is a process to unlearn everything we have been told and to go against the status quo every single day, to be true to ourselves and stand up for justice.

In the the final scenes we see utopia,  Mija, Okja and the new piglet enjoying life. However, we are left wondering “Is Mija now Vegan?” “will she become an ALF member?” We don’t know, all we know is that Okja can communicate with Mija and the end scene shows Mija and her grandfather enjoying a meal, the first meal they didn’t mention “fish stew” or “chicken stew”, we see greens and rice. As in all story telling, some is left to your interpretation and I will interpret the lack of mentioning of animals as food as a sign that they have changed.

Does it matter if the director, actors, producers are all vegan? It sure would be desirable if they all were, since you would expect them to think more about their own actions after being involved in such a project and hopefully it’s a start. Just like most of us that weren’t born into a vegan world we had many interactions with animal use and exploitation before we made the connection. I can recall so many times I tried to shove all my feelings under the rug, how many times I wished images away and fought the inner feelings of guilt. Although we think we can recall the exact moment we went vegan, I strongly believe there were many instances before, even if subconsciously and in different forms, that ultimately led us to make the conscious and final decision. With the mass advertising influences, obstacles and reinforcement of the exploitation ideology being very strong, it takes exposures like this movie to counteract the constant normalization of violence and exploitation. We are not all fortunate enough to have had the truth explained to us and options available the moment we were born.

Finally my opinion is, this movie wasn’t a regular Hollywood movie, it had many aspects that we never see in the typical run-of-the-mill films, let it sink in, watch it again with your friends and family and each time you may discover something new.

Easter Poem

Easter is a time of joy,
For all the kids expect a toy.
Even if the toy’s a bunny,
You paid the fluff-ball for little money.
A novelty attraction so much enjoyed,
Yet soon to be discarded or destroyed.
For you the soul was mere an object,
Not a lifelong commitment but a project.

Searching for those red eggs to crack,
A religious tradition that goes way back.
Hens, they lay your eggs for cheap,
Their two year lives cut short for meat.
One day old males ground up alive,
The egg industry’s profits continue to thrive.
Hurray you found a chocolate bunny or two,
Hidden is the slave labor, and milk stolen for you.

And as you sit at the table to pray,
Thank god for life over the lamb you slay.
The season of hypocrisy celebrating life,
While baby’s destiny met her throat with a knife.
Year after year we celebrate this tradition,
Silently participating in its cruel mission.
Instead, celebrate compassion and resurrection,
By choosing vegan and honour life with true affection.

-DR

 

 

Open Letter: To Laurenne Schiller 

Last Tuesday Laurenne Schiller wrote an open letter (read her whole letter at the bottom of this post) about the Vancouver Park Board’s (March 9th) decision to unanimously amend the current bylaw that allows cetaceans to be displayed at the Vancouver Aquarium. This is my response to Laurenne’s letter:

I am not a scientist, but I am a concerned citizen of this world. I did not attend the meeting in person but that is ok, because there was nothing my friends said, that I could have said better. They are the people who have been fighting to end animal captivity for longer than me.

If you truly study people, you should know that humans mostly think about themselves and what benefits them. You say you work on the Ocean Wise program of the Vancouver Aquarium. You support humans eating fish. Yet fishing is a problem, a huge one, one that affects us all. And if you study humans and corporations and fishing fleets, you should know that the ones truly fighting for fish, are organizations that are advocating people to eat plant based and to end animal exploitation. Those fighting illegal fishing and the barbaric whale slaughter is Sea Shepherd, not the Vancouver Aquarium or any other Aquariums. You know what causes overfishing? Power, greed and consumer behaviour. It is humans who think they have the right to fish and consume fish. Corporations don’t care about human or non-human animals, they care about money. So no matter how you want to twist it to fit your agenda, in the end over fishing and exploitation, is is just a symptom of human greed and the public being completely misinformed. Labels such as “Ocean Wise” is just another greenwashing agenda to make people stay complicit in the atrocities we commit as a whole. It allows consumers to feel better when they order fish (any fish) because somewhere they saw your feel good logo and think they are always eating “Ocean Wise”.

For you to compare this decision and activism to Trump, I would say that is jumping the shark (pun intended). What is radical? The belief that humans should care about this planet, care about individual beings and evolve to be more compassionate? Did you by chance have a Vancouver Aquarium Staff meeting and discuss with the balloon man outside to use “Trump” as your only strategy?

I just have to point out your letter being filled with fallacies from appeal to authority, anecdotal and appeal to emotion fallacies, you just cannot win an argument by relying on them, they are too easy to pick apart. I can sense the same flawed arguments we read from any type of institution that profits off of the backs of human or non-human animals, dating back any time in history to this day. So let me give you an example that may put this a bit into perspective:

In the not so distant future, earth has taken a huge toll due to human activity, interference and greed, our oceans have been almost depleted, our air pollution is causing people to get severely ill and our water and soil is toxic, we are facing a human mass extinction. We face extremes in weather which is causing parts of the world to be inhabitable. 

We suddenly receive help from these creatures we don’t understand, but we see that they are trying to solve our issues, they seem to care and help us when we are sick, some are treated in hospitals and let go, but a few of us have injuries that make it a bit hard to get around, but we still want our freedom to go and leave the hospital. One of them is you. However, they decide your injuries are too severe and you are transferred to another facility, it has everything you need, food, water, shelter, medical care and it’s all on display, for those creatures you don’t understand, to come and see. The size of your room is tiny but tended to, it is cleaned daily, but at times the bleach from cleaning your cell is strong, it burns your eyes and makes you cough. You are stuck in that room, not of your free will, not on your terms. Even if your environment isn’t what it used to be, you could still go about your daily routines if you only got out and back to your own species. 

You had a family at the time you were taken away from the hospital and transported, you miss them, you wonder where they are. You walk back and forth in your cell and do a few sit ups and exercises, you get bored, you don’t have anything that stimulates you. But every now and then you are allowed into another room where you are being touched by these creatures you don’t understand, especially their little ones, they like to take pictures with you, although you don’t know their language, they are not harming you, at least not willingly. They give you a special treat and when they are done you go back to your cell, doing the same sit ups and exercises. Maybe you recall a song you used to sing with your loved ones, you repeat it over and over. Maybe you are lucky and you get a mate, I hope you get along. And maybe that mate is supposed to get you pregnant, it’s all in the name of research and science, because they want to see how you have a baby and study your baby. If you have your baby you at least won’t be alone, but neither your baby nor you and your baby will be set free. You can circle the same cell and teach your little one how to do sit ups and be brave through the meet and greets with the little creatures. 

And your future, no matter how many babies you birth, is the confinement of that cell, for display, for research, science and education. And for some unexplainable reason it will help your dying population out in the world. You may live another 50 years in that cell, day in, day out. But they are doing all they possibly can, trust me they don’t make millions and sell tickets and take money from corporations that are actually killing your people and planet. They have good hearts and intentions, they will do anything for their own species education.

Do you value safety over freedom? We all face dangers every day, we drive a car that could kill us, some of us have injuries that make us more susceptible to further injuries, we may be limited in what others can do due to our injuries, disabilities or certain threats, yet we don’t get locked away for that, and we wouldn’t want another species to lock us up either, no matter the circumstances. What would you choose, being locked up yet “safe” or have your freedom?

In your open letter, you are basically saying your rescue centre isn’t good enough. And I have seen it, it is completely sub par to other rescue and rehabilitation facilities, what you should be advocating for is a sea side sanctuary. The millions of dollars going into Vancouver Aquarium vs the money invested into the rescue centre is one of the biggest shames. And no, children and adults do not need to see a physically injured dolphin or whale to understand how to be better human beings. These humans need to learn that daily actions, like consuming animal products, has a detrimental impact on our environment, health and sentient individuals. They need to be taught compassion and how to truly care for our planet and fellow earthlings. We need to encourage them to create a better world, a world with hopefully less narcissism and greed. You could have all the information about whales, dolphins, fish, porpoises etc on a large screen (even interactive) and kids would learn the same amount if not more. There is no difference if those individuals are physically swimming around or not. Kids learn everything about dinosaurs and have never seen one in real life.

A $300 price tag for whale watching in the wild does not justify animals being exploited and on display in tiny tanks just so it’s affordable for a wider audience. Again, a screen does enough to teach humans about the oceans, animals, pollution, health, habits, science, etc. Being an ambassador for ones species does not need a physical mascot, it needs proper educational material and communication.

I am always amazed how people think their own satisfaction and wants are above everything else. This same thinking repeats itself no matter when in history, the superior human complex. Actually, the superior white, straight, able body, middle-aged, male human. It has been the cause of all oppressions to this day. By you taking such a stance, you are playing into the system of oppression responsible for all ills of this world. I understand that you try to justify your actions with using your Nana and your experience and now with your textbooks from school. You play into what you have been indoctrinated by, you play to the system of oppression who will finance your career by speaking on behalf of those who benefit the most. It’s clearly not the animals, its the organizations and corporations that use people like you.

Public pressure and cardboard signs have been a necessity in the past to make change, change that you benefit from today and that you will continue to benefit from going forward. The only thing future generations of our society will suffer from, are those greedy institutions and corporations that you are employed by and speak on behalf. By those donors that green- and whitewash their immoral and unethical business practices through institutions like The Vancouver Aquarium. You are just a tool within their game, you offer the system “Ocean Wise Research and Approval” and your science badge, but you could do so much better, you could use all of that to do real good, to teach our next generation to boycott animal products and to dismantle those systems of oppression. Be a true hero, not a spokesperson for the oppressors.

I have read your personal blog about the Taiji dolphin slaughter. Actually you said something that was completely true, although you missed the point in the end. The truth you said, was that people who get so outraged about the dolphin slaughter are often meat eaters and that is hypocritical and the only ones who deserve to criticize are vegans. You are right, but then you went on to basically say, if you eat meat (like yourself and while posting meatballs under the post) you are telling people to just shut up, eat their meat and not say a word about the dolphin slaughter. However, that is the two wrongs make a right fallacy. What you should have said is, since you care so much about the dolphins, try to see your own participation in animal exploitation and end it, by expanding your own circle of compassion. Your attitude is that humans are a superior species and should go ahead and destroy it all, as long as we are all consistent in destroying everything, god forbid we started to care for all living beings as much as we can.

As a female scientist who understands some concepts of animal rights and vegansim, all you have to do is make there right step into the right direction. I trust you will come to see eye to eye if you are really true to yourself.

Please, for the future generation of our society, be a hero for all earthlings!

Regards,
VeCan-Team

Below is the initial open letter written by Laurenne Schiller:

OPEN LETTER: FROM A SCIENTIST TO THE PARK BOARD

Last Thursday (9 March), the Vancouver Park Board Commissioners voted unanimously to amend the current bylaw that allows cetaceans (whales, dolphins, and porpoises) to be displayed at the Vancouver Aquarium. In response to this decision Laurenne Schiller, Vancouver Aquarium scientist and PhD student, wrote this letter to the Park Board. 

I work as a research analyst for Ocean Wise yet I could not attend the meeting in person last week since I am currently living in Halifax and working on a PhD in fisheries management. It’s all right though, because there is nothing my colleagues said that I could have said better. They are the experts on marine mammal care, I just study tuna. Actually, that’s not totally true: I study people. Because fisheries management has almost nothing to do with fish. Rather, it’s about the power struggle between different nations and fishing fleets, and how they contort policies and overlook scientific facts to meet their unique political agendas. So, as painful as it was to listen to your decision last week, it was a shock but not a surprise. I’ve seen it before in the research I do, time and time again. In a practical sense, politics is the reason that overfishing continues at a global scale and harmful subsidies threaten the recovery of fish stocks. Like the rest of the world, I have also seen the triumph of slanted politics in recent months through the ongoing abuses of power, rejection of science, and reliance on unfounded radical perspectives by the Trump Administration. As I read your statement from Thursday’s Park Board meeting and listened to Commissioner Mackinnon’s interview on the CBC Early Edition, I could not help but see many parallels.

 Activists say our practices are cruel and that we kill whales. I can assure you that neither are true although human activity does kill whales regularly. In the Northwest Atlantic, entanglement in fishing gear was the primary cause of large whale deaths between 1970-2009. Since 1998, 70 orcas from the endangered BC Southern Resident population have gone missing or died. The infant mortality rate in this group is also incredibly high (13 deaths of juveniles one year old or younger), and the bioaccumulation of toxic chemicals — from human systems — is a key threat to the health and survival of these cetaceans. Similarly, the population of belugas in the St. Lawrence has been declining since 2000; it is now estimated at less than 1,000 individuals and 32 calves have been found dead in the last four years alone. Loss of habitat and human-induced noise are believed to be key contributors to this problem.

 The day Chester was moved to the Wild Coast exhibit many of us shed tears of joy. When Qila and Aurora died, our collective heart broke. As I heard Commissioner Mackinnon suggest that our current rescued animals be moved to a different facility, or back to the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre on Main Street, I realized just how little the Park Board understands what we do. I also wondered why — if you are so deeply moved by the plight of these animals — you are comfortable with their captivity away from the public eye and off city property. I wondered why you would be comfortable moving our rescued animals to a site that is designed to be a temporary home and in so doing prevent the public from learning about and being inspired by them. A dolphin who lost her flippers in a drift net instantly teaches about harmful fishing gears. A false killer whale who is the first of his species to survive stranding as an infant conveys the importance of veterinary research and care. I have worked for a whale watching company in Vancouver and yes, seeing whales in the wild is incredibly powerful. But at $300 a person, a day trip is also unrealistic and inaccessible for most families. The importance of the animals at the Aquarium is second to none. Why do you not understand their value as ambassadors for their species?

 Without a shadow of a doubt the reason I became a marine biologist is because my Nana took me to the Aquarium every month when I was young. The belugas captivated my attention from the very beginning and, since then, learning about and protecting the ocean is all I’ve ever wanted to do. I wonder if you can imagine how hurtful and infuriating it was to hear someone with no formal education in marine biology, no practical experience in veterinary care, and a tainted, erroneous view of our facility attack my colleagues and paint our work as immoral and unethical. Please try to consider what that must have felt like. The decision you have made — all of you — is unfounded in anything but political power and cardboard signs. And due to your desire to make a name for yourselves, it is the marine mammals of the Canadian west coast and the future generations of our society who will suffer from this decision.

MEET DR. HEATHER SHENKMAN, IRONMAN TRIATHLETE & VEGAN CARDIOLOGIST

This article appeared first on collective-evolution.com by ARJUN WALIAFebruary 3, 2017

In the past few years alone, a tremendous amount of information has emerged outlining the health benefits that can be achieved from a vegan/vegetarian diet. In fact, as Harvard Medical School points out, “studies are confirming the health benefits of meat-free eating. Nowadays, plant-based eating is recognized as not only nutritionally sufficient but also as a way to reduce the risk for many chronic illnesses.” (source)

The American Dietetic Association has also weighed inwith a position paper on the subject, concluding that “appropriately planned vegetarian diets, including total vegetarian or vegan diets, are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases.”

Many athletes are also making the transition to veganism, including Kendrick Farris, the only American male weightlifter to compete in the Rio Olympics. You can read more about that here.

There is a lot of information out there on this topic, and I’d like you point you toward a couple of articles we’ve published before moving on with the rest of this article:

Below this paragraph is an article inspired by  Michelle McMacken’s piece on veganism, “7 Things That Happen When You Stop Eating Meat.” A bit more information has been added in, along with a few slightly different points. She’s an MD, a board-certified internal medicine physician, and an Assistant Professor of Medicine at NYU School of Medicine.

Even  Kim A. Williams, M.D., President of the American College of Cardiology, has  adopted a vegan diet.

 

9 Things That Happen When You Stop Eating Meat

Plant Based Protein vs Protein From Meat: Which One Is Better For Your Body? 

So, the next time somebody brings up nutrition, make sure they understand that it’s well established in scientific literature that our bodies can not only survive, but thrive on a vegan or vegetarian diet, and will see innumerable health benefits from doing so.

An another side note, an article by Rob Dunn written for Scientific American titled “Human Ancestors Were Nearly All Vegetarians” goes into great detail about this issue, from an evolutionary perspective, raising multiple points about how our guts might actually be evolved for eating just plants, with perhaps the occasional piece of meat here and there as a rare treat.

Dr. Heather Shenkman

Dr. Heather Shenkman is a vegan cardiologist in West Hills, California. In July of 2010 she completed Ironman Lake Placid, which was her first Ironman-level triathlon (2.4 mile swim, 112-mile bicycle ride, 26.2 mile race). She also competed  internationally at the Maccabiah Games in the summer of 2013 and earned a bronze medal for the United States as a Masters (adult) level triathlete. And in August of 2015, she completed Ironman Boulder.

Below, she offers her reasons for becoming vegan and her protocol for helping patients move toward this diet themselves:

I started exercising so that I wouldn’t be a hypocrite when I gave lifestyle advice to my patients. I had no idea it would become such a fulfilling, incredible part of my personal life. It was a happy surprise.

I encourage my patients to have healthy lifestyle habits and am tell them I would not ask them to do anything that I myself do not do. To help guide them in the right direction, I advise them to watch Forks Over Knives and frame a whole-food, plant-based diet as the healthiest choice. Since no other diet has been shown to reverse heart disease, I tell them that the closest they can come to this diet as possible is best for their heart.

I recognize that not every patient who walks in my office is going to walk out a vegan. In fact, most won’t. My goal as a cardiologist is to provide my patients with the best information on how to improve their heart health and reduce their risk of cardiovascular events. What they do with that information is up to them. When I start talking to patients about diet, a common reaction is: “I’ll never become a vegetarian!” I don’t expect most of my patients (who eat meat, butter, and cheese at every meal) to give it up all at once. Instead, I talk about how their diet and lifestyle habits have led them to their present disease. We agree that years of animal products, fast food, junk food, lack of exercise, and smoking have all contributed to their current state of health. We also agree that in order to do better, some of those habits need to change.

For more resistant patients, I start out with simple and easy steps like: Eat more fruits and vegetables; eat less meat and dairy; walk for a few minutes every day. A plant-based diet is ideal, but some people need to start small with attainable goals. At the next visit, we take it a few steps further. On the other hand, I have patients who take on lifestyle change with vigor. They adopt a plant-based diet and start exercising. And without much effort, excess weight seems to come off. They tend to feel better as well. Of those motivated patients, I have not seen a single one of them have a recurrent cardiac event—not one has needed another stent or another bypass surgery.

JME will star in comedian Simon Amstell’s movie about a vegan utopia

This article appeared first on factmag.com written by , FEB 1 2017

The loudest vegan in grime will play himself in Carnage: Swallowing The Past.

JME has signed up for a role in comedian Simon Amstell’s first feature film, which is set in a vegan utopia 50 years in the future.

Carnage: Swallowing The Past “looks back at a time when human beings ate other animals. In the future, this will be considered an unimaginable bloodbath of unnecessary suffering,” reports Chortle.

Narrated by former Popworld presenter Amstell, the film will see proud vegan JME playing himself in a cast that also includes Martin Freeman and Joanna Lumley, Dame Eileen Atkins and Lindsay Duncan, with other cameos from Kirsty Wark, Lorraine Kelly and Vanessa Feltz.

Amstell, who is of course a vegan, said: “I have written and directed a film about veganism. I’m sorry.”

The film will launch on BBC iPlayer this spring. And remember, if you don’t like G-R-I-M-E, then you got no taste like vegan cheese. [via Fader]

Dr Oz: The Vegan Diet Is ’The Single Biggest Movement of 2017’

This article was first published on plantbasednews.org and written by  January 29, 2017

The popular TV show continued its vegan coverage – this time with an epic sound bite

The Dr. Oz Show just dedicated an entire episode to the vegan diet. A three minute segment can be seen in the video below.

In the episode, “The Beginner’s Guide to Going Vegan Without Going Crazy,” Dr. Oz confidently told his audience that the vegan diet will be the “single biggest movement of 2017,” before busting a few myths about the lifestyle.

Dr. Oz noted that over 3 million Americans now eat a vegan diet, and that the lifestyle has increased significantly in popularity in recent years: “we all probably know someone who’s vegan,” he noted on his show on Thursday.

“And here’s the big deal,” he said. “Studies continue to show people who live like this end up being healthier, feeling better, and living longer.”

The segment is the latest of Dr. Oz’s recent discussions of vegan diets, including an appearance earlier this month on The Wendy Williams Show where he touted the benefits of ditching animal products for the new year as part of the “21 Day Weight Loss Breakthrough.”

Canada Is About to Open One of the World’s Largest Plant-Based Protein Factories

The following article was written by Joe Loria and published on Mercy For Animals’ website January 25, 2017.

According to CBC News, French company Roquette announced it would open the world’s largest pea protein plant near Portage la Prairie.

The project will cost an estimated $400 million and will employ around 150 people full-time. Roquette’s stated aim is to meet the growing demand for plant-based protein around the world.

Company chair Edward Roquette said in a statement:
It is the largest global investment dedicated to pea protein to date. And it constitutes a key pillar of our strategy in plant protein in general and in pea protein in particular.
Pea protein is a great protein source used in a variety of meat alternatives. In fact, many companies, including Beyond Meat and Hampton Creek, rely on pea protein to make the high-quality products so many of us love. It’s high in fiber and low in fat, making it heart healthy unlike artery-clogging animal-based proteins.

Health Canada, along with many other public health agencies, recommends eating more plant-based proteins, such as those found in peas, lentils, and beans, for better overall health. Meat consumption has been linked to a number of health concerns, including diabetes, cancer, heart disease, obesity, and stroke.

In addition to damaging our health, meat’s literally killing our planet and causing unthinkable animal suffering.

Thanks to great companies that are investing in humane and healthy alternatives, it’s easier than ever to ditch meat and other animal products.

For delicious recipes and tips on adopting a compassionate vegan diet, click here.