Dede's Green Scene: MorningStar Farms Presents The Veg Effect by Dede Tabak, July 13 2016, 12 Comments

What does a hip-hop artist, professional stuntwoman, tap dancer, butcher and craft brewer all have in common? They’re all staring in the new documentary series The Veg Effect now available on iTunes, Amazon and Vimeo. The five episode docu-series documents the lives of vegetarians from all different walks of life as they share their stories of changing his or her eating habits for a better today and a much better tomorrow. Directed by award-winning filmmaker Alison Klayman, The Veg Effect takes a unique approach and demonstrates how people can make small choices to improve the lives of animals, their health and the planet.

Each episode of the series focuses on individuals whose diets span the vegetarian/vegan spectrum. The Veg Effect is sponsored by MorningStar Farms, a leading plant-based food brand that’s been around for 40 years. The first episode focuses on hip-hop artist Khnum “Stic” Ibomu, of the rap group Dead Prez, and his wife, Afya Ibomu, both of whom are dedicated vegans. “Stic,” diagnosed with gout when he was 20 years old, was nudged into eating a plant-based diet by his wife. After that decision, Stic’s gout improved dramatically and he now inspires others in the hip hop community to be healthier and take care of their bodies. He works with Scott Shelter, a vegan trainer, showing that a plant based diet can make people strong and muscular. Stic is also working with other hip hop artists to highlight health as one of the ten elements of hip hop.

Episode 2 shares the story of Danielle Burgio, a professional stuntwoman, who eats a mostly vegetarian diet, but who still occasionally eats meat. As part of her career as a professional stuntwoman, Danielle needs to be in great shape, but also connected to her body. She believes that she has to sometimes allows herself to eat animal protein in order to maintain her fitness level. In the episode, however, Danielle reveals that she has met other athletes who prefer a vegan/vegetarian diet, and was inspired to ease her way into the same lifestyle. She doesn’t eat vegetarian all the time, but she feels better and stronger when she does, so each year she eats less and less meat.

“The more healthy that I eat, the more in touch with my body that I am," said Burgio. "For what I do, that’s really important.”

In episode 3, Baredu Ahmed is a vegetarian, who eats meat occasionally as part of her family’s traditions and rituals. Ahmed, an Assistant Director at American Embassy of Dance tell us about meeting her vegetarian boyfriend, tap dancer Joseph. Baredu always wanted to be vegetarian, but was inspired by Joseph’s generous and kind attitude to non-vegetarians which encouraged her to finally make the switch. In turn, she is educating her family on substituting vegetarian meals with their mostly meat heavy diet due to their Ethiopian background.

Episode 4 is about Trey Nichols and James Holtslag, two butchers who own a butcher shop called Heart Trotter, but ironically two men who also practice Meatless Mondays. They preach eating higher quality meat, just not every day. Also, their shop is closed on Mondays to drive home the idea that people don’t need to eat meat every day.

Dave Thibodeau, featured in episode 5, is co-owner of Ska Brewery in Colorado. In the series, Dave discusses how he realized that the choices he made about what he ate made a difference on the environment. In Colorado, people are frequent meat eaters. One day, Dave entered a chili cook-off with a vegetarian chili and surprised everyone when he won. It opened his community’s eyes to the fact that vegetarian food can help make a difference and also be delicious.

The creators of The Veg Effect want to inspire people in the world to be a little more vegetarian, even in their own lives. The series is doing its best to show that there is no wrong way to be vegetarian. This message is properly supported by the MorningStar motto, “ And remember, no matter how you veg, it’s just what the world ordered.”

“We’re on a mission to show people the many different ways to veg and how even one simple change can lead to a world of difference,” said Todd Smith, Director of Brand and Innovation Marketing at MorningStar Farms.

In addition, MorningStar created the Veg Effect Calculator, which considers an individual’s diet and lifestyle and shows instantly how eating less meat can decrease his or her carbon footprint and benefit the environment. If you want to calculate your own meat consumption's affect on the environment, check out the Veg Effect Calculator.

If you're taking nothing else away from this read, maybe consider this, as stated on The Veg Effect Web site, “This isn’t some scare-you-into-a-rage film about the food industry or about regretting yesterday. This is a documentary series about how we can change the world by answering one simple question, ‘What are you going to eat today?’”