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Review: Running For Good

Over the past few years there have been some amazing films following runners doing all sorts of absurd yet inspiring things. You can watch Karl Meltzer break the AT speed record in “Made To Be Broken.” There’s “Finding Traction” which follows Nikki Kimball as she tries to break Vermont’s 273-mile Long Trail record. One of the craziest one’s I’ve seen is “The Barkley Marathons: The Race That Eats Its Young” and if you know anything about the race you know the film will be just as unpredictable. It’s easy to find inspirational stories if you are looking.

There’s one film that kind of sneaks up on you and is as unassuming as the runner herself. What I mean by that is Fiona Oakes, the focus of “Running For Good.” She  is one of the most modest people to build a story around. But her unpretentious nature is what makes her so fascinating. The premise of this story is intriguing as we follow Fiona on one of her biggest challenges to date, to run the Marathon Des Sables. The MDS is a multistage, 250km race based in the Sahara Desert. Ya, its hardcore! But then, so is Fiona in her own plainspoken way.

In Fiona’s own words. she is not a runner. She runs for the animals. In order to understand that, let’s peek at what that means. Fiona is owner and operator of Tower Hill Stables Animal Sanctuary. The sanctuary is home to over 400 animals ranging from cats, dogs, pigs, sheep, goats, cows, peacocks, turkeys, horses… You get the idea, there are lots of animals. She cares about animals and it drives everything she does. While running the MDS she compares the heat and stress that “food” animals have to deal when being transported in trucks to some of what she is going through and uses their suffering as fuel to push past her own.

Her approach when it comes to her running success is humbling to the end. She holds multiple world records, course records at a plethora of marathons and is as elite as they come. On a whim she ran a marathon at the North Pole and won it. She is that amazing but you would never know it from her mousey character. She doesn’t try to win these races for herself, she is doing it to spread the message of veganism.  In an interview for Viva La Vegan she says, “Once, when I won a Marathon in a massive course record, the Mayoress who was presenting the prizes told me her daughter had wanted to go vegetarian but she was against it as she was not convinced it would be ideal for a young girl who was still growing. Seeing what I had just done on a vegan diet had convinced her that it was okay for her daughter, which was the biggest prize I could ever want!”

“Running For Good” is also a visual masterpiece. If you’ve seen “What The Health” or “Cowspiracy” than you know the work of Keegan Kuhn can be visually stunning. This film is quite different from those in that he doesn’t rely so much on graphics and info-graphics to tell the story, Fiona’s story is as authentically pure as it gets. The film captures the beauty of her life at home and the visually stunning locations in which she runs. The footage of the MDS alone is beautiful.

If you are looking to be inspired this film will leave you awe-struck for quite a time after viewing. It’s certainly lit a fire in my belly to do more. I am not the best advocate that I can be for the animals, I’m not a sign carrying protester. One of the biggest things I take away from this film, though, is that we all have some form of advocacy and activism we can stand behind and do well. Fiona Oakes is a force for the animals when she is out on the course, whatever location that may be. This film shows the world you can be a compassionate and caring person and stand up for animals in any way possible.

For more info on the film go to https://runningforgoodfilm.com/

For more info on Fiona and Tower Hill Stables go to http://www.towerhillstables.com/

* poster image from Running For Good website, animal photos from the Tower Hill Stables Facebook page.

Review: Eating You Alive

I feel like “Eating You Alive” took a while to come out, it had been pretty hyped up for some time. While they were in the beginning stages of the film they were soliciting folks for personal stories to share. Three years I had sent them an 8 minute clip of my story which was not chosen so I made the video public about, oh, 15 minutes ago. It’s an awkward video so I can see why they didn’t pick it.

Unlike a lot of vegan/ plant-based documentaries, there are not many moments in EYA that leaving you cringing. With that I mean there’s little to no footage of animals being killed which is a far cry from films like “Earthlings”. This film stands up without that and approaches the topic from a health perspective. While we all want the general public to understand the suffering that animals face every day, there are other approaches that work and “Eating You Alive” speaks in a way that is more genial than in your face.

You’ve got some of the usual suspects in this film like T. Colin Campbell, Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, Dr John McDougall, Dean Cornish. There are a couple new faces, at least when it comes to documentaries go. One of them, Dr Michael Greger, has a growing following as he presents evidence based studies that prove plants can not only keep disease at bay but can sometimes reverse it. He started an amazing website called Nutrition Facts and like I said, has a following that expands by the day. He is also the man behind the book “How Not To Die” which is worth a read on your part.

There are also a couple of surprise folks in the film like Samuel L Jackson, one of Hollywood’s biggest bad asses! Who would have known he was vegan? I guess it makes sense because the dude just keeps getting more and more badass as he ages. Penn Gilette, from the magic duo Penn & Teller, shares his story and talks about things we all know; that big industry is what controls our food and keeps us sick so we can buy into the big pharma scam.

Another big name that is involved with EYA is film maker, philanthropist, deep-sea explorer and vegan activist, James Cameron. His wife Suzy joins him in the film as well. After viewing the film “Forks Over Knives” they both became vegans and went full-bore into the lifestyle. They even helped fund the first vegan school in America.

The big take away from “Eating You Alive” is the same message your mom always told you growing up, “You are what you eat.” If you eat garbage then you feel like garbage and are susceptible to toxicity. If you eat well there is health and abundant happiness. The choice is simple.

Find more info at: https://www.eatingyoualive.com/

Review: The Last Pig

This film screened today in Chatham, MA which is local to me, but, since I coach soccer for my sons team I was unable to attend. Thanks to the kindness of the Last Pig folks, I was able to watch a screener in order to provide this commentary.

Where to begin…

The synopsis from the website says, “THE LAST PIG is a lyrical meditation on what it means to be a sentient creature with the power to kill. Deeply immersive, the film follows a farmer in his final year of slaughtering pigs. Through sparse, intimate musings, the farmer reveals his growing conflict over a life spent “peddling in death.” As the story unfolds, his struggle becomes our own. The Last Pig is a poetic snapshot of a seminal year in one man’s life as he journeys beyond the slaughterhouse.”

That’s a pretty spot on 82 word narrative on a film that, to me, was engaging in its profound simplicity. I really enjoy the fact that the film maker, Allison Argo, let the story play out as organically as possible.

It’s certainly difficult to watch knowing that the subjects of the movie, the pigs, are on borrowed time. That’s not the only struggle here though, you truly feel the inner strife of Bob Comis, the pig farmer. His face is anguished, his very is very monotone; it’s gut-wrenching!

I watched with my jaw open for most of the film. Not only because of what is playing out on the screen but how it is playing out. Like I said, it’s very organic in the way the story plays out but the cinematography and editing is mind-blowing. The film is a work of art through and through. I’ve never watched any of Argo’s other films but I will be making a point to do so soon.

I think this movie is good for everyone to watch, vegan or non-vegan.

From a vegan perspective it solidifies a lot of the things we believe. Bob Comis believed at one point that he was a “humane” farmer and that by caring for his animals and being more loving toward them that it was somehow ok to deliver them to the slaughterhouse each month. As we know though, there is no such thing as humane meat. He comes to see just how incorrect that mindset is. In his own words, “Pigs are incredibly complex beings. They’re not just animals. They are beings in the most profound sense of the word.”

For non-vegans I think this is an extremely important film as it brings the argument to completion about killing animals for food and shows exactly what we’ve been saying all along; their lives belong to them.

You can find info about the film at:

Website: http://www.thelastpig.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheLastPig

What The Health; a Review

Having just finished a screener for “What The Health“, I felt like I needed to write something up real quick to give my input and share the reason why I think you, and everyone else, needs to see this film.

Without spending too much time on the back story; Kip Andersen & Keegan Kuhn, the guys that brought you “Cowspiracy” are the same behind “What The Heath.” While the visuals and presentation is similar, the production has become more polished and eye-catching. And while it may seem too over done, the value outweighs the melodrama. Sometimes you have to put a pretty little bow on the ugliest of subjects in order to get the message across; they’ve done that.

Another glaring similarity is the message; animal agriculture is a big issue and is not going away anytime soon. You’d think that the investigative journalism they uncovered in “Cowspiracy” that it would have created some sort of change; yet the message was not taken to heart. With overwhelming statistics, interview and actual real science is it absolutely mind-blowing that it was not the catalyst for change. Yet, our country votes in dimwits who have the gall to say it isn’t real. But I digress…

I think the major difference with the two films is that one hits home on a more personal level. Let me explain that because for me, and many others, both hit home. But maybe, just maybe, for the climate deniers; this film can be an eye opener to the value of a plant-based/ vegan diet. Why would that be?

For one; health reasons. With corroborated material by some of the top medical leaders in the country, it’s hard to deny the truth that is laid out. You’ve got Dr Caldwell Esselstyn who is one of the most well-known doctors for helping to reverse heart disease in patients using a plant-based diet. Neil Barnard, founding president of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, gives his opinion on an array of topics related to plant-based healthcare. You’ve even got the verbose and kinetic Dr Michael Greger who is behind NutritionFacts.org; one of the fastest growing resources about plant-based/ vegan health on the internet.

Besides doctors and researchers, there are also dozens of well-known names in the plant-based scene. If you are on any social media platform, or have seen other documentaries, then you know them. They are endurance athletes (Tim Schieff) , NFL stars (David Carter) ultra-runners (Rich Roll), bodybuilders and FAIO ninjas such as Ryan Shapiro. Having a decent cast of folks who can humanize this lifestyle helps those that think it’s hard to do, they see people who have had success living this way; knowing they didn’t have to give things up, just animal products.

Getting off track a bit but the fact remains, What The Health does come from a different angle besides just parading big names in the community and it will horrify you to learn the things that Kip dug up. You’d think groups like the American Diabetes Association would align itself with legit companies that are trying to impact those suffering from diabetes in a good way. But to find out that major pharmaceuticals are pumping money in and putting their name on research should scare anyone. And Susan Komen being supported by major dairy producers? Seriously, this film will wake up even the most sleepiest of souls, those that believe everything is ok and good intentions are enough; collusion and corruption are not. It’s not a conspiracy theory, the proof cannot be any more clear.

I hope you will take the opportunity to watch the film and that you will share it with your friends and family. The information is important and eyes will be opened if this film is given the opportunity it deserves. Kip and Keegan put their hearts and souls into this and it shows. Find out more at http://www.whatthehealthfilm.com/

What to Watch 11.3.16

What’s the cable guy doing telling you what’s on Netflix? I get it, it sounds weird I know. The truth is, and I will admit it without any trepidation, Netflix has the best content when it comes to documentaries and educational films. Most, ok some, of the content did originate in cable-land but after it’s aired once, twice or however many times the network decides, it goes into the ether and either sits there or goes over to a content provider such as Netflix.

Anyway… I hope to post more of these as new films and shows air, so check back from time to time.

Right now, as of the beginning of October, there is some great stuff on. You’ve got the stuff that’s been on there a bit like Forks Overs Knives and Vegucated. There’s also Food Inc and the Katie Couric narrated film Fed Up. Some, like Cowspiracy and Plantpure Nation, have been on for a few months but are relatively new. All of the latter should be watched, they are super important.

You’ve got some others though that I don’t see mentioned everywhere and I wanted to give them a moment. For instance, Plastic Paradise should be watched with as much of a sense of urgency as all the other films I just mentioned. I know that you know plastic is bad, but this film exposes the true scope of just how horrendous this shit is for the planet, and where it all goes. From the site:

Thousands of miles away from civilization, Midway Atoll is in one of the most remote places on earth. And yet its become ground zero for The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, syphoning plastics from three distant continents. In this independent documentary film, journalist/filmmaker Angela Sun travels on a personal journey of discovery to uncover this mysterious phenomenon. Along the way she meets scientists, researchers, influencers, and volunteers who shed light on the effects of our rabid plastic consumption and learns the problem is more insidious than we could have ever imagined.

It’s dark and gloomy, but it’s a hard reality everyone should see. Just like More Than Honey. The title, like Plastic Paradise, is self explanatory. It’s about bees and hows they are disappearing/ dying off. You and I know what happens when the bees die but maybe your friend doesn’t and they are interested in seeing the film; make a date and watch it with them.

What truly prompted me to put this post together though is the fact they finally released all of the episodes of Truth And Power on Netflix. Truth And Power is a series of shows that focuses on some sort of activism or cause. You’ve got an episode on Black Lives Matter (important), Corporate Prisons (yes, important) and the fifth episode titled “Activists or Terrorists?” This episode follows activists Will Potter, Ryan Shapiro and others into vegan activism and how the government, and other agencies, view them. How is it someone who leaflets about veganism can be lumped in as a domestic terrorist? Yeah, I had the same question.

This episode did air on Pivot, a cable station, but it seems to no longer be viable. I am going to have to dig a bit more to see what happened. Regardless, it’s really worth the effort and it’s only a 20 minute episode, so you really have no excuse as it can be watched in no time. The other episodes in the series are great too.

Ok, so while those are inspiring and eye-opening, they are dismal as all hell. So here’s a flick that’ll lighten it up.

Watch “The Barkley Marathons.” Trust me, do it!

You are welcome, it’s hysterical!


Vegan: Everyday Stories

veganmovieIt seems most documentaries in the  plant-based/ vegan realm are starting to all melt into each other. It’s hard telling one from the other when the characters are all the same. Don’t get me wrong, I love the fact that evidence is provided via doctors and reputable scientists, but they are just saying the same thing over and over.

I understand that not everyone has seen every documentary, and it’s good to have a fair amount of them available. You never know where someone is going to start. I mean, my first was Forks Over Knives as I’m sure tons of others have seen it too. Maybe your first was Earthlings. Maybe it was Vegucated, or Food Matters. I would just like something new, something human and dare I say; real. Not that those aren’t but, moving along.

Vegan: Everyday Stories follows four separate characters on their journey to veganism. From a young girl who convinces her family to take on a compassionate lifestyle to a cattle ranchers wife who convinces her husband to convert to a working sanctuary; this film is as real as it gets.

You’ve got some of the usual vegan celebrity suspects such as Moby, Russell Simmons and Ed Begley. Of course there is the plant-based doctor that every documentary needs, Neil Barnard hasn’t been to over exposed yet so I appreciated his appearance.And while he has been pretty exposed on social media platforms, the 300 pound vegan, David Carter, is in the film as well. David is a huge animal rights advocate and seeing him work with Genesis (the young girls who convinces her family) and passing out pamphlets with her was inspiring.

What character really caught me though, was Yassine Diboun. Yassine is an ultra-runner and a solid one at that. I appreciated the honesty in telling his story. From battling addiction to placing in the top 10 at most ultra races, Yassine’s story is truly inspiring, it not only shows what you can do as a vegan athlete but that the heart is truly stronger than addiction and negativity.

If you are looking for something to show your friends that isn’t over the top and doesn’t contain any graphic slaughterhouse footage, Vegan: Everyday Stories is what you should be showing them. They aren’t going to be overwhelmed with research, charts and figures either. What the will see is real people with real stories and how this lifestyle has helped them change their lives, and those around them.

Watch the movie at http://veganmovie.org/

PlantPure Nation, Final Edit?

12107808_10153757386022845_4453994871148328060_nFor a while now, I’ve been helping to promote PlantPure Nation. I even got my Kickstarter copy of the film in the mail yesterday, woot! PlantPure Nation is a film by T. Colin Campbell’s son, Nelson. That will be made evident time and time again within  the film and the marketing. It makes sense to build upon the successes his father had, the science that he provided is as solid as any thing published. Nelson expounds upon the facts and takes the information his father gathered and runs multiple clinical trials to prove the effectiveness of it.

I got to see it a couple of nights ago here on Cape Cod. The cinema it was hosted in was sold out, which was great. Afterward there was a fantastic Q&A.

The film follows groups of folks who take on a 10 day plant based jump start. The findings are way better than expected. The folks involved in eating the foods are able to take themselves off certain medications because they have reduced their risk of heart disease, cholesterol, etc. I’m not quite sure the exact number, but over ten days most people dropped their bad cholesterol by 50-60 points. That is huge! Read more

Got my ticket!

Did you get yours?

If you are local to Cape Cod, or even live somewhat close to the Cape, you should try to make it to this. It’s only $10 and in one of the coolest cinema’s in the area. It’s not a Regal or an Entertainment Cinema, it’s quaint and only seats about 300. After screening the film there will be a Q&A and one of the presenters is my primary care doctor, Dr.  Kumara Sidhartha.

Order your tickets at: https://www.showclix.com/event/plantpurenation



cowspiracyed. note: Just caught word this will be available for viewing on Netflix starting September 15th!

We’ve all seen the undercover investigation videos. The one’s that show you the horrifying torture of animals. You know, the stuff that nearly makes you either want to vomit or bury your fist in someone’s face. Even though the title entails this could be THAT film, it is far from it.

Rather than shock and disgust you, Kip Andersen (the man behind Cowspiracy) wants to blow your mind with staggering facts and downright scary figures. We all know where your hamburger came from. It was first a harmless cow that was enjoying it’s life, maybe hoping to continue grazing the fields and basking in the sun. Instead, it was torn from it’s herd and had it’s throat cut before being ground up into chuck for that hamburger. But, did you know all the other stuff? Like how much water it took to bring that one burger to your plate? Read more

Plant Based Documentaries

How did I educate myself when I first made the switch to a plant based diet? Simple, I watched a lot of Netflix. Because of the matrix Netflix has developed, offering “more like this” recommendations, I was able to watch countless documentaries on the subject. At this point I’ve watched many of them over and over, finding information I missed each time.

There’s more to watching movies. Education only happens with deep research, but the catalyst for change has to come from somewhere. These films will inspire you, if not just to do more research to find out the truth.

So what are my favorites?

Below is a list of my top 5, with links to the website of each*. They are all available on Netflix, but I highly urge you to purchase a copy as it helps them all continue their research. I seriously hope that if you are thinking of making the jump, that you take the time to watch them. Your life will be changed, it changed mine.


fokForks Over Knives: Forks Over Knives examines the profound claim that most, if not all, of the degenerative diseases that afflict us can be controlled, or even reversed, by rejecting our present menu of animal-based and processed foods. The major storyline in the film traces the personal journeys of a pair of pioneering yet under-appreciated researchers, Dr. T. Colin Campbell and Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn. The idea of food as medicine is put to the test. Throughout the film, cameras follow “reality patients” who have chronic conditions from heart disease to diabetes. Doctors teach these patients how to adopt a whole-food, plant-based diet as the primary approach to treat their ailments—while the challenges and triumphs of their journeys are revealed.”


vegucatedVegucated: “Part sociological experiment and part adventure comedy, Vegucated follows three meat- and cheese-loving New Yorkers who agree to adopt a vegan diet for six weeks. Lured by tales of weight lost and health regained, they begin to uncover the hidden sides of animal agriculture that make them wonder whether solutions offered in films like Food, Inc. go far enough. This entertaining documentary showcases the rapid and at times comedic evolution of three people who discover they can change the world one bite at a time.”


foodincFood Inc.: “In Food, Inc., filmmaker Robert Kenner lifts the veil on our nation’s food industry, exposing the highly mechanized underbelly that has been hidden from the American consumer with the consent of our government’s regulatory agencies, USDA and FDA. Our nation’s food supply is now controlled by a handful of corporations that often put profit ahead of consumer health, the livelihood of the American farmer, the safety of workers and our own environment. We have bigger-breasted chickens, the perfect pork chop, herbicide-resistant soybean seeds, even tomatoes that won’t go bad, but we also have new strains of E. coli—the harmful bacteria that causes illness for an estimated 73,000 Americans annually. We are riddled with widespread obesity, particularly among children, and an epidemic level of diabetes among adults. ”


fed upFed Up: “Everything we’ve been told about food and exercise for the past 30 years is dead wrong. Upending the conventional wisdom of why we gain weight and how to lose it, Fed Up unearths a dirty secret of the American food industry-far more of us get sick from what we eat than anyone has previously realized. Filmmaker Stephanie Soechtig and TV journalist Katie Couric lead us through this potent exposé that uncovers why-despite media attention, the public’s fascination with appearance, and government policies to combat childhood obesity-generations of American children will now live shorter lives than their parents did.”


hungry for changeHungry For Change: “HUNGRY FOR CHANGE exposes shocking secrets the diet, weightloss and food industry don’t want you to know about; deceptive strategies designed to keep you coming back for more. Find out what’s keeping you from having the body and health you deserve and how to escape the diet trap forever.”


* All link descriptions have been cut and pasted from the website of the particular documentary, or is a snippet of a review of the documentary.