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Thursday, May 16, 2013

Peaceable Kingdom

Okay, so now that you understand what Ridgewood is like - stodgy and old and conservative BUT STILL WONDERFUL - maybe you can get a sense of the audience viewing Peaceable Kingdom. Here's a long-winded review I wrote a couple days ago. (I apologize for the lack of photos - I came right from work and was a little frazzled + unprepared!)

As a vegan food blogger, I tend to focus more on the delicious, delicious food I eat and don’t often touch on vegan issues. Maybe I figure it’s preaching to the choir, or you can win more people to yr side with a vegan cupcake than a pamphlet, but animal rights are why we’re really here (Right? I dunno. There are LOTS of reasons to go vegan. Go vegan!)
On Friday I attended a viewing of Peaceable Kingdom: The Journey Home, a movie about the horrors of the farming business. It was held at a nearby Catholic high school, and sponsored by The Tablet, the Brooklyn/Queens diocese newspaper, but the movie itself was not a religious film. I suppose it was meant to appeal to the social justice issues of the church. Due to this sponsorship, the majority of the audience was made up of older (than me) people.
The movie itself was interesting. I don’t watch many animal rights clips or movies: I am aware of the atrocities and do not enjoy seeing the upsetting images. Peaceable Kingdom was not overly explicit but I do wish it came with a disclaimer or warning. That said, a lot of the film was heartwarming. Interviewees were mostly people who used to work in the farm business but eventually had an epiphany for and left. Two different couples were people who ran farm sanctuaries, another man was a veterinarian (I think.) One woman worked for the Humane Society but disclosed that they were often not very merciful in their dealings with animals. Also interviewed was Howard Lyman, author of Mad Cowboy, who now goes on tour speaking about his past as a powerful agribusinessman. He says that he probably sent more animals to their death than he the number of people he has spoken before. This information is disturbing but it is important that people own up to their past.
I especially liked that Peaceable Kingdom made many points about the different horrors of the meat business. Not only is it cruel to animals, but it damages our human bodies too. Lyman was basically poisoned due to his having worked with chemicals that treat the food given to cows.The movie is going on tour around the country (I think next it will be in Portland?) but it was especially important that it was shown here in Queens because in this urban situation, we are so far removed from the animals that produce our food. We hardly understand that meat on a plate comes from an animal that had to die, or that milk was taken from a baby cow under terrible circumstances so that we could drink it.
There was a Q & A session afterwards with the filmmakers and one of the interviewees, Harold Brown, and a good amount of people conveyed that they had learned some new information. We all received a little gift bag with a NYC vegan restaurant guide and some literature on how to help and get involved. The director, Jim, and Harold were very patient and nonjudgemental when it came to answering questions, which I think is especially important because it seemed like this was a lot of people’s first interaction and experience with veganism and animal rights. One man said he had changed many of his eating habits after watching movies like this but wanted to know if there was any “less bad” meat, or if there was a humane way of eating animal products. Jim responded that any change towards eating less meat was a good one but definitely made his point that “if I don’t need to eat meat to survive, why would I take a life?” He also talked about intersectionality, which is a huge deal with me. A feminist needs to support race issues, animals rights issues, class issues, and all of these things are interconnected! The movie specifically highlighted a mother hen protecting her chick at any sign of danger, showing a little chick nestle up underneath the mother’s wing. There was also an especially touching scene of ewes being reunited with their lambs, waiting and calling out for them after having been separated after a rescue.
After the Q & A there was a small reception in the cafeteria which was geared towards transitioning omnis (i.e. not exactly healthy vegan food): samples of Nate’s meatballs, Amy’s pizzas, Dunwell donuts, Justin’s peanut butter cups, WholeSoy yogurts, Field Roast sausages, Daiya cheese, Earth Balance butter on bread, and coffee and tea with Silk milk. I tasted the Nate’s for the first time (not really a fan), took a cheese cube, and snuck TWO Justins. My mother, who also attended, liked the donuts :) Anyway, it did all seem well-received.
Oh, super cool and serendipitous: I spotted Eric from Rumpshaker, a zine about Hardcore! I went to a reading of his at a record store not too long ago where he had vegan cookies! The crossover with the hardcore and straight edge vegan scene is pretty awesome and not something a lot of people think about. ALSO on the train heading to the viewing I actually saw a woman who I first learned about at the Veggie Pride Parade in March. She was doing her regular spiel, which is singing and handing out pamphlets and vegan literature. It was like spotting a celebrity! HowEVER, only one man took her flyer and once she got off the train car, he threw it out the door! What a jerk!  A litterbug AND a meat eater.
So yea, a successful night. I think some lives were touched, if not changed overnight. My mother is currently deliberating about going vegan (!), I ate a faux meatball, I got some cool literature, I reaffirmed my resolve to visit an animal sanctuary and maybe be a little more vocal in my animal rights stance.
Do you guys watch the animal rights movies? Not unless you want to cry, right? What was it that made you first turn vegan?

24 comments:

  1. Hey, that's awesome about your mom! I don't read/watch a lot of animal rights stuff anymore, just because I don't feel like I need any reminders and it's hard to watch. It was useful stuff back in the day though! I've never heard of this movie, sounds good though, and I'm glad the movie peeps were non-judgmental, because that can turn people off veganism for years.

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  2. Reading "diet for a new america" by john Robbins is what made me become vegan the first time (though I have since lapsed. Maybe I should read it again).

    It is pretty sensationalist but probably more or less accurate, though old.

    I read a chapter about chickens and the next morning my mother offered to make me some eggs. My face turned white and I said "I don't think I can eat eggs anymore."

    But yeah, It is pretty psychotic to straight up murder an animal for a taco or some such. It seems like something that no rational person should be able to do if they just consider it for about 5 seconds. So...I guess that makes that guy on the train an irrational psychotic and I am glad you made it out alive before he ate you.

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    1. Going vegan won't make yr teeth fall out.

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  3. sounds like an interesting event. I'd love to see that movie. Forks over Knives is what made me go vegan.

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  4. Great review. I kept identifying with everything you were saying about writing about animal rights vs. food, and viewing AR movies. I've read a lot and seen a lot and don't need anymore convincing, though I still sometimes watch the health-related stuff and will probably see peaceable kingdom. Sometimes seeing the films gives me new insight into how to talk to people about food issues. I just hate the way they make me cry. I can't even get through Charlotte's Web without sobbing. What made me become vegetarian was realizing what a horrible impact raising food animals had on everything else. Not only did the food animals suffer terribly and then lose their lives, but farm workers were poisoned, the air and water were impacted, etc. etc. Then I watched a film about cattle ranchers blasting away at prairie dogs because the prairie dog holes made the cattle fall and get hurt. It was very graphic, and it just made more clear what deep down inside I already knew.

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    1. That's a good point: I often don't have the patience or vocabulary to tell people why being vegan is so important. Watching films like this (or even talking to people who have seen them) is a great way to clarify things, or to get insight.

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  5. I just caught up on your last post and this one - first of all, Ridgewood does seem pretty awesome. I'll come visit, but not move there - don't want to crowd you out. ;)

    I think that's the point that many people don't understand - it hurts both the animal and the human body. I gave up meat (years ago)because my kidneys require a low protein diet. I gave up dairy because it made my allergies and the phlem. . .gross. And eggs went purely after finding out how horrific conditions are on chicken farms. As time went on, my body felt better and so did my heart. I've seen some animal rights films, but I really can't handle them - crying and anger being the main responses!

    I am so excited that your mother is considering making changes! That's so awesome!

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    1. A lot of people don't do well with dairy. It's because it's not meant for our bodies! So crazy that people drink other animals' milk.

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  6. Sounds like a very interesting and informative day, and that's great about your mom!
    I'm always nervous when hearing about vegan speakers since you really need to come from a place of non-judgement to get through to people and I've come across my far share of judgemental vegans, I'm happy that the speakers answered the questions in a non-judgemental way as I'm sure it had a positive effect on people.
    I haven't watched many animal rights movies since becoming vegan. I made it 1/3 of the way through Earthlings before I had to turn it off, otherwise I would have drowned in my own tears. I did download Vegucated and Forks Over Knives to watch this weekend, I don't feel like I need to watch the graphic movies anymore but I do like the health-related ones from time to time. I tried finding Peaceable Kingdom online, but no dice.

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    1. Good point - I do enjoy the health-related movies! Especially when they come with cookbooks :)

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  7. Love this post: spot on. I do not watch animal rights movies for the same reasons you don't. We, as vegans, are inundated with these images so we assume everyone knows what's going on; they don't. I'm thrilled that someone associated with religion saw the intersectionality between being religious and being compassionate and brought the movie to a new audience. Speaking of, feminists do not support the dairy industry! It's so hard to make people see what's so easy to ignore- not only in an urban setting, but in the suburbs and anywhere outside of the slaughterhouse really. So many folks feel they're not complicit if they're not wielding the knife.

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    1. Right, I'm always sort of wary of appealing to women's supposed nurturing and mothering "instincts" but I do think it strikes a certain chord with women who already are mothers. Or anyone with a lick of sense.

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  8. P.S. TAKE YOUR MOM TO A SANCTUARY! That's what finally got VM. When it comes down to it, moms can't resist animals.

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  9. Sounds like a great night. Hooray for Mom! I tend not to watch those movies anymore - I used to. But, every now and then, if my children are confused about something, I find a video very powerful. For them, I try to pick one that's not too graphic; they don't need to be scarred. Anyhow, I was veg for several years before turning vegan. But reading how dairy still contributes to animal suffering made me change to veganism when I became pregnant with my first child. Go Vegan!

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  10. What a great review! How great that your mom went with you AND is deliberating a transition! I love that there was a Q&A session after. I think patience is one of the most crucial traits vegans need to have because I think that very few people that aren't vegan understand it. I can explain the same things over and over and it's received with the same blank stare.

    I probably would have cried at the ewe/lamb reunion. I just kind of transitioned into being vegan after being a vegetarian for 8 years. I wanted to do is earlier but felt overwhelmed then I decided it was finally time :)

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  11. I was vegetarian from age 12 till the internet came into being, WhyVegan.Com alerted me to the reality about the dairy industry and I went vegan. I failed one day at Maggiano's (eggs in their pasta) 'gave up' and went back to vegetarianism, then I caught on to vegan bloggers and no longer felt alone in veganism so I went back to it. One of the best decisions of my life.

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    1. Vegan bloggers unite!
      I'm always surprised to hear how many people went vegetarian so young. Good for you.

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  12. That's very exciting about your mom! I hope she takes the plunge. She'll have some great support!

    We've watched some animal rights movies in the past but no longer do because it's too upsetting. Both of us went vegan together after listening to a bunch of Vegan Freaks podcasts. :)

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  13. I kind of can't watch those films.....
    When i was a kid we drove through the countryside and passed cows and sheep on my way to and from school. I became very attached to the animals somehow. I was in sixth grade (11?) when my dad explained to me that the big truck taking the cows away from the field was what turned into "beef". And that was that. I became lactose intolerant soon after and in the past six years or so stopped eating any eggs/other animal anything.
    I love that your mom is contemplating a change- i always enthusiastically support all of my friends and family eating more plant based meals without judgement, every animal free meal eaten gets everyone closer to the same goal.
    I always recommend mark bittman's "how to cook everything vegetarian" (all recipes have vegan adaptations noted) for new veggies, it is also an app now on itunes.
    The flier taking litering man will have kharma come back and bite him on the a$$.
    Ttrockwood

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    1. Yes, I gave my parents the Bittman book for Christmas! I think they don't have a ton of time, but he's great about giving people general ideas on what to do with what you have.

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  14. Great review and interesting read thank you. I have seen a few documentaries about farming and animal cruelty but I find them too hard to watch and will avoid them nowadays. They really upset me and I find it all a bit too much sometimes! Though I guess I wouldn't be vegan if they didn't have that sort of affect on me. Getting my rabbit made me go vegetarian and I kind of went from there really. Going vegan is the next logical step from that. I wanted to be straight edge for a bit back in the day! I got a bit into the scene but always found it hard to give up alcohol, though not in the kind of 'vodka on your cornflakes' way! I'd have to settle with listening to a Rise Above album lol. Although giving up alcohol is looking more and more appealing the closer I get to 30....I just can't seem to hack it anymore. What do you think about Straight Edge, would you ever go all the way?

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    1. I've always been really interested in the straight edge scene too, for kind of the same reason. I enjoy a good drink and it's kind of hard to go to a social situation with my friends where I wouldn't want to drink. Listening to Rise Above is a totally good second option though!
      I think I will never be completely straight edge, though I have given up alcohol for a month or so. I have total respect for anyone who is, though!

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  15. PS. My mum went vegan at Christmas and is still loving it :)

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