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The Green Life: Movie Review Friday: Planeat

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November 25, 2011

Movie Review Friday: Planeat

Planeat, another film about why meat is bad for us and the planet, delivers a message that by now seems age-old: If you go vegan, you and Earth will feel a lot better. This film, however, is more encouraging than its peers. There's no vendetta-stirring against factory farms, no sense that tiny individuals are lost in the shadow of the agriculture lobby. Instead, we leave the film rapacious to explore the bright-colored world of vegan cooking.

Indeed, Planeat makes us crave vegan food without making us hate meat. Think sandwiches of hummus, sliced lemon, and steamed kale on crisp bread; a cashew-based ice-cream sundae with candied nuts and agave syrup; or hearty squash soup, all without the cattle prods and lobbyists out to feed us toxic gunk. Our appetite is sparked, not squashed.

There is an anti-meat thread in Planeat, but it’s woven with a deft, light hand. The calm scientists do all the talking; Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn’s testimonies are especially convincing (he's famous for getting Bill Clinton to go vegan). During a 12-year study, he prescribed a vegan diet to 18 heart-disease patients, and 17 convalesced (the person who didn't get better had strayed from the vegan plan). We see before-and-after X-rays of clogged arteries that got cleared, and the good doctor’s wife teaches us a thing or two about vegan cooking.

If Planeat lacks anything, it’s narrative structure: The film is more like a collage than a story. But it still works. We are thankful for — and energized by — its concise 68 minutes. The extra time might be just enough for us to learn a new recipe before dinner.

There are no scheduled screenings in the U.S. but you can organize one or, for $6, watch Planeat online. For group screenings and educational use, contact Bullfrog Films.

--Jake Abrahamson

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