A Leap of Food

Vegucated, the new documentary from filmmaker Marisa Miller Wolfson ’98, tracks the lives of three carnivores who venture into the vegan frontier

by Jane Falla

What happens when three New York meat and cheese lovers adopt a vegan diet? That’s what Marisa Miller Wolfson ’98’s first feature-length film, Vegucated, is all about. The documentary, which Miller Wolfson wrote, directed, and edited shows the transformation that the three go through during a six-week period. Miller Wolfson was inspired to create the film, in part, due to her own evolution to a vegan lifestyle ten years ago—a dramatic shift from her pork-chop-loving childhood in Indiana, where factory farms were everywhere.

To promote the film, Miller Wolfson launched a community screenings campaign. “We’re really excited to partner with people and organizations all around the world to help bring the film to them,” she says. The film’s world premiere was at the Toronto Independent Film Festival in September 2011, and the film was selected to screen at the Environmental Film Festival in the Nation’s Capital in March 2012.
Marisa Miller Wolfson
Where is Vegucated being screened?
A third of our scheduled screenings are in Canada, but we plan to branch out beyond North America in 2012. We have had people from at least 17 other countries sign up to say they’re interested in hosting a screening, plus, every week we get offers from people volunteering to translate the film for us into their language. Our DVD has Spanish subtitles and is region-free, so it can be played anywhere around the world. We hope to translate it into many languages.

Any surprises about the impact the film has made so far?
Oh, there have been plenty of surprises. First of all, I’ve been floored by the response to the film across the omnivore spectrum. I set out to make a film that would appeal to non-veg folks, but I didn’t expect that hardcore meat-eating Midwesterners (like me before I knew about the issues) would enjoy it so much. I’ve gotten none of the defensiveness or questions I’d been expecting, and many people have said they were inspired.

On taking action
I set out to make a film that would help bring about more understanding at the dinner table between veg and non-veg folks, but I didn’t think so many people would actually want to make changes in their own lives. Now, every single day we get tweets, Facebook posts, and emails from people saying they’re going vegan, vegetarian, or more veg. This definitely gives me hope that once people have information, many of them will have the courage to take the next step. It has also made me realize how many people don’t know about the issues.

Next goals
A big goal in the New Year is to bring the film to as many high schools, colleges, universities, and law schools as we can. We have a classroom discussion guide written by Zoe Weil, the mother of the humane education movement, and we’re working on a high school version of the DVD that we hope to have ready in time for Earth Day. Of course, I’d love to bring the film to Smith. I’d be delighted to come up for it and sample some of the yummy vegan fare on campus. Smith is one of the vegan-friendliest campuses in the world.

Jane Falla is an assistant editor in College Relations