KANSAS CITY – At a time when plant-based foods are popping up on menus around the country and the meat industry is being constantly scrutinized, Diana Rodgers, RD, is on a mission to make a case for meat. The “real food” nutritionist, podcast and blog author of Sustainable Dish and sustainability advocate is developing a documentary film called “Kale vs. Cow: The Case for Better Meat” that aims to examine the ethical, environmental and nutritional conundrums of eating meat.
“’Kale vs. Cow’ probes the fundamental moral, environmental and nutritional quandaries we face in raising and eating animals. In the film, we focus our lens on the largest and perhaps most maligned of farmed animals, the cow,” according to the film’s website.
In an interview, Rodgers discussed her film and why she feels the need to take on the project.
MEAT+POULTRY: What is your documentary “Kale vs. Cow” about?
Diana Rodgers: We are going to be focusing on the producer/consumer relationship. Really asking a lot of questions about why are people are so freaked out about eating meat. I think it comes down to people being disconnected from food production. They don’t know their farmer anymore. They don’t live in the country. They’re not raising their own chickens in their backyard anymore. The only animals they’re connected to anymore is their own pets. And so, they anthropomorphize animals and think that they’re like children.
M+P: What topics will the film focus on?
Rodgers: We’re going to be diving into the three areas of nutrition, environment and ethics around eating meat. And why a plant-based diet is not actually causing less harm. Eliminating meat doesn’t necessarily mean no blood was spilled for your diet. We’ll be diving into the stories of meat producers, butchers and consumers and telling the story of what does better meat production look like and how this can actually be a solution to climate change. We’ll also examine and our moral dilemma surrounding our food choices.
M+P: What’s the inspiration for developing this film?
Rodgers: It’s from the anti-meat media out there. I don’t even like to name the film because it just sends more people to go watch it – but they’re showing it in our high schools. They’re making schools vegan and vegetarian. They’re vilifying the wrong thing. It’s processed foods that are the real problem, not meat.
M+P: Why name the film Kale vs. Cow?
Rodgers: Kale is really seen as the super food of the plant-based world and cows are the most vilified of the farm animals which is really misguided. Cows are our best chance at reversing climate change if managed well, and kale can’t do that.
M+P: Where are you hoping that this film will be viewed?
Rodgers: We’re hoping to get picked up in theaters and online. We’re open to online streaming through Netflix and Amazon. We’re hoping for release in 2019, if everything goes well.
M+P: Do you have your subjects picked out?
Rodgers: We have some picked out but it’s very budget-dependant. Nicolette Hahn Niman who wrote “Defending Beef” has already committed, as well as Nina Teicholz, author of “The Big Fat Surprise.” And we’ll be weaving in stories from butchers and consumers and other who are intimately involved with the meat industry.
M+P: Will you be focusing on or promoting a certain type of diet or eating plan in the film?
Rodgers: We’re not promoting a dietary dogma – no promotion for one type of diet or another. We are just delivering the message that meat is good. Meat is not the enemy here – the big problem is processed foods. People have been eating meat forever. Meat is what got us our big brains – meat is good.
People are so stuck in the low-fat, plant-based dogma. I’m really hoping this film will open some eyes. That’s why I’m not making it about one particular dietary dogma – I’m casting a really big net and just trying to let people know that meat is okay. I’m sure the message is going to be met with a lot of resistance, but it’s a story worth telling.
To find out more about the film, “Kale vs. Cow,” go to www.sustainabledish.com/film.