Kale vs. Cow: The Case for Better Meat

A film by Diana Rodgers

Kale vs. Cow: The Case for Better Meat A Project of Filmmakers Collaborative

About The Project

At a time when many in the health and environmental fields call for a world without meat, Kale vs. Cow makes the case for better meat—and shows how eliminating animals from our food system could cause more harm than good.

At our grocery stores and dinner tables, even the most thoughtful consumers are overwhelmed by the number of considerations to weigh when choosing what to eat— especially when it comes to meat. Guided by the noble principle of least harm, many responsible citizens resolve the ethical, environmental, and nutritional conundrums by quitting meat entirely.

But can a healthy, sustainable and conscientious food system exist without animals?

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.

WHY ME?

For the past 15 years, I've lived on a working organic farm raising vegetables and pasture-based animals. Because I realized the solution to my Celiac Disease and blood sugar roller coaster was to eat an ancestral-type diet back in 2010, I decided to change my career in order to help others through diet and lifestyle change. Today, I'm a Registered Dietitian with a busy clinical practice with two best selling books, but I want to do more... something BIG!

Through my writing and podcast, Sustainable Dish, I've been exploring the intersection of the foods we eat and how they're produced. I've interviewed experts in sustainability like Joel Salatin and Judith Schwartz, plus bestselling authors like Robb Wolf, Mark Sisson, and Gretchen Rubin. I've spoken internationally about nutrition and sustainable food systems. I helped to produce a short film, Soft Slaughter, which won a Real Food Media award. I serve on the board of Animal Welfare Approved, and deeply care about best practices in the humane handling of the animals we eat.

I've teamed up with Myna Joseph, an independent filmmaker whose family started Maple Hill Creamery, a 100% grass-fed, organic dairy company. Her previous film pursuits on the subject of food culture include "Pressure Cooker," an Emmy-nominated documentary released by Participant Media. Myna is fully engaged with the nutritional, environmental and ethical questions at the heart of this story. Her depth of exposure to this subject matter makes her the perfect director for the project.

WHY NOW?

As a practitioner, I've seen many people give up meat, thinking this is the best choice for their health and for the planet, only to see their health decline. But contrary to popular assumptions, well-managed cattle are one of our best chances at improving soil health and sequestering carbon. Red meat is also a superfood, rich in high-quality protein, vitamins, and minerals. And while eliminating animals from our food system may seem like the most ethical choice, from a "least harm" perspective, eating large ruminants, like grass-fed beef, may actually cause fewer total animal deaths than a diet focusing only on plants.

WHAT'S THE APPROACH?

It's difficult to sway people's worldview with merely facts, statistics, and logic. Rather than relying on the journalistic "talking heads" style typical of many food-centric, issue-driven documentaries, this film will employ a cinematic storytelling approach. We'll focus on the emotional stories of a select few whose lives are directly tied to the consumer/producer interface surrounding the meat we eat. With stunning imagery, carefully observed detail and intimate interviews, we'll explore the stories of compelling food innovators, producers, and thinkers.

We will not be highlighting companies or specific dietary or management dogmas.

We're looking to break out of the paleo eco-sphere to spread the word about the benefits of better meat. We'll illustrate how processed foods that encourage us to overeat are the real enemy to our health. Meat is NOT the enemy. Regenerative farming is good for the soil, and when compared to cropping, actually causes "least harm" to animal life.

WHAT'S THE CALL TO ACTION?

The main message of the film project is that well-raised red meat is wrongfully vilified as unhealthy, unsustainable and unethical and that those who are looking to cause "least harm" don't necessarily need to avoid meat.

Let's face it, it's unrealistic to think that the world will stop eating meat tomorrow, so even though some people don't want to consume meat for personal reasons (which is a completely respectable personal choice) it's still important that the meat others eat is raised well. Let's all build a bridge towards a more conscientious, nutritious and sustainable food system.

Viewers will be directed to a website with tools they can learn to make better food choices, fix the system (take-action), connect (with better meat producers), and donate to organizations that support real food nutrition, animal welfare and educate about regenerative farming techniques. Additionally, a portion of the film's proceeds will go to these nonprofits.

WHO WILL BE IN IT?

We're still working out the cast of characters to tell the most impactful and effective story. We aim to feature a small handful of health, environmental and ethics experts.

Nina Teicholz, Chris Masterjohn, Nicolette Hahn Niman, Dr. Rangan Chattergee, Robb Wolf, Dr. Frank Lipman, Seamus Mullen, Joel Salatin, Will Harris, Lierre Keith and JP Sears are among those who have agreed to support and/or participate in the film. Other early supporters include Gary Taubes, Dr. David Perlmutter, Melissa Hartwig, Michelle Tam, Mark Sisson, Chris Kresser, and John Durant.

We even have confirmed interviews with non-meat eaters who are helping fight for better meat!

The Savory Institute, Holistic Management International, Animal Welfare Approved and Food Tank are among our non-profit supporters. "Better meat" companies backing the project include Applegate, US Wellness Meats, Paleovalley, ButcherBox, Tribali Foods, The Honest Bison, Epic, The Good Kitchen, Dole & Bailey and Thrive Market.

HOW MUCH DO WE NEED?

In order to produce a fantastic film, we need a significant amount of support. Thanks to overwhelming support, we have already met our minimum of $75,000, which will allow us to cover our initial legal and development expenses, plus begin shooting two storylines. From this, we will edit a sample that will show potential funders how we intend to tell the story, so that we can complete our budget to make the film.

Our current new goal is $150,000, which means we'll be able to continue following our main storylines and also begin filming other potential lead stories. This is still just a small portion of what we'll need to produce the whole film. Once we complete our budget, we'll complete shooting, then the post-production, marketing, and distribution of the film to get it out to the public.