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Back on July 12, Shane Close launched something that has become a familiar experiment: he began 90 days of meatless living. His journey started with a month as a vegetarian, then he went vegan for 45 days, finally spending the last two weeks eating a raw vegan diet. But Shane, a filmmaker, added a twist, chronicling the process in a documentary. The final day of his journey was October 9, and now Shane hopes to get Meatless: The Movie into the festival circuit through his company, Big Happy Films.
It was after reading The Omnivore’s Dilemma that Shane decided to accept his wife’s challenge: could he give up meat? The longtime meat-lover made daily blog posts on his culinary adventures, documenting both the highs and lows of navigating a brave new world. Here’s what he told me about his three meatless months.
Why document your journey on film?
Personally, I think there are a lot of average Joes out there like myself who are completely ignorant to vegetarian diets, what it means, why people do it and especially how easy or difficult the transition is. Since there are so many forms of vegetarian diets, I felt that it was important to explore a few and document what I found and how I felt along the way.
Had you tried being vegan before?
Before embarking on this journey, I had never even considered a vegetarian diet, let alone a vegan diet. To be honest, I think I was just as ignorant as a lot of people out there and thought it was a hippie, New Age, animal-rights-extremist way of eating, and I wanted no part of it. When you don’t grow up in major cities, typically coastal, or in progressive communities, it’s hard to grasp any informed perspectives or gain any understanding of these types of ideologies. You only know what the media portrays and what those around you have to say ― who, I might add, are equally ignorant on the subject.
What have you found the most difficult part of being vegan?
I think after getting over the initial hump of making the transition, figuring out what you can and cannot eat and how difficult navigating a grocery store can be, the most difficult part would have to be traveling, eating out or anytime you are out of the comfort zone of your own kitchen. If I have control over the stovetop, I can make a mean vegan dinner. Take me away from that level of control and I get confused, frustrated and grumpy, as the film will show.
What’s been the easiest?
The easiest part has to be when you realize just how often you are eating vegan, or near vegan, and with slight modification, meals you regularly enjoy can be completely vegan. Everything from Italian food, Japanese, Indian, Mexican and even some down-home country cooking.
What kind of support did you get from friends, family and the veg community?
That has been the most amazing part of this journey, by far. The people who have opened their hearts, homes, voices and support have been incredible. My family has been incredibly supportive, and my wife has been absolutely amazing. The participants in the film continue to surprise me with their willingness to get involved in this project. But by far, the vegan community has been the most supportive. They post regularly on my blog or Meatless: The Movie Facebook page with information, uplifting messages when I am in a rough stage, and even send me care packages full of everything from DVDs and books, to vegan foods and deserts. I can only say, vegans should be proud of their peeps in Boulder, Colorado. I have also received emails from people all across the world wanting to see the film. As far away as Europe, Australia and the UAE.