Last week I had the great fortune to attend the world premiere of Speciesism: The Movie. Vegan treats, a red carpet, and a handshake from filmmaker Mark Devries led us into the sold-out theater with a few hundred other viewers, and from what I could tell, the documentary was well-received by all.
Speciesism: The Movie is a journey into the hidden world of factory farming, but it’s much more than that. Interviews with animal rights organizations, philosophers, and men and women on the street lead to the question of whether humans are superior to nonhuman animals, and – if so – why they are. What I liked most about the film is that, while Devries traveled his own personal journey towards veganism while filming, he didn’t necessarily find the answers for the viewer. What he found were questions – questions which all of us: vegan, vegetarian, or omnivore, need to consider in a society that is set up in a way which makes us all think the status quo is just fine.
One scene that remained with me after viewing the film documents the camera man’s explanation of what it’s like to live in the world when you’ve opened your eyes to what really goes on out there. It was his Matrix moment, and hell if it didn’t resonate with me. Later, during the Q&A, a three-month vegan in the audience brought that scene up and mentioned how even a trip to the supermarket is different after you know how much suffering went into the products on the shelves.
I brought a vegetarian friend that I’ve written about before – I always find it interesting to attend vegan events with her as she’s in a different place in her journey than I am in mine. It should come as no surprise that I don’t always agree with the “big voices” in the animal movement – I have my issues with PETA and welfarism, but I also question some of the statements made by abolitionists. What’s great about films like Speciesism: The Movie is that they are accessible to everyone. We don’t want to just talk to vegans when we have something to say; vegans already know what we’re talking about. We should want to talk to those people who aren’t there yet – who are open to compassion, to reasoned arguments, and to change.