“You don’t have to be vegan to try vegan food,” says a customer at a vegan food truck says in the new film Vegan: Everyday Stories directed by Glenn Scott Lacey. This is just the jumping off point for the film which is divided into four segments that are interwoven – a vegan ultra-marathon runner, a cattle rancher’s wife who turns the ranch into an animal sanctuary in Texas, a vegan food truck owner, and an 8-year-old girl who convinces her family to go vegan.
Throughout the film there are talking heads that explain the mechanics of veganism, what it is, common misconceptions, and why choosing veganism in today’s food system is important. The film is not overly dramatic or persuasive. Its heart is clear – these are four people connected by their veganism who want to share their personal experiences with audiences.
One of the best moments in the film is an elderly veteran who accompanies his daughter to the vegan food truck for dinner. After taking a bite of a vegan burger, he munches for awhile before saying,”It’s pretty good.” After a cutaway to shots of food preparation and other customers, we return to the veteran who has almost finished his meal, saying to the camera, “It is very good. I will finish it.”
Vegan: Everyday Stories aims to show the diversity of people who choose vegan diets. This is helpful for people who may understand veganism in only a narrow sense. For already vegans and conscious eaters, the film is a fun sampling of stories that may be reaffirming.
As a society when we think of a vegan diet, we almost automatically think of depravation. While he is not featured in the film, L.A. Chef Tal Ronnen, who owns the acclaimed vegan restaurant Crossroads Kitchen, writes in his newest cookbook about seeing veganism as both an ethical quest and a culinary one: “As a lover of food, I realized it wasn’t the animal products I actually longed for, but the texture, the flavor, the heartiness, and the satisfaction I feel when I indulge in a favorite food […]The challenge in vegan cooking lies not in cheapening the food by making it feel like it’s a knockoff of itself or a shadow of the original, bur rather in making vegetables shine in their own right while still satisfying those cravings.” This is indeed a good summation of where our desire to eat more ethically can go, and the four narrators of Vegan: Everyday Stories work to dispel the common misconception that a vegan diet is devoid of nutrition and satisfaction through their own stories and experiences.
Vegan: Everyday stories is for vegans and non-vegans alike. It’s for those who are curious and those who are already committed. Overall, it’s almost a “slice of life” style documentary that asks us to think about our own choices and celebrate the possibilities of eating ethically.
Vegan: Everyday Stories screens on Friday, June 24 at 6:00pm, at the Uptown Theater in Kansas City, Missouri.