What do a butcher, a hip-hop legend, a stuntwoman, a dancer and a beer brewer all have in common? As random as it sounds, these five very different people from very different backgrounds have all made the choice to adopt a more plant-based diet into their lives (yes, even the butcher). Directed by award-winning filmmaker Alison Klayman (“AI WEIWEI: NEVER SORRY”), “The Veg Effect: When Less Meats More” is a new documentary series that follows the personal paths that led each of these individuals towards living a more vegetable-based lifestyle. It’s important to note that the film was produced by Morningstar Farms, a company that makes meat alternative foods and therefore stands to profit from people eating less meat, but the series presents a balanced take on the subject that sidesteps the guilt and scare tactics so commonly employed in other “why you should give up meat” films and instead observes people (some of whom have not even given up meat completely) eating more plant-based foods and living happy and healthy lives. Read on to see “The Veg Effect” trailer, and learn more about why you don’t have to be a full vegan or even a vegetarian to make a difference for animals, your health and the planet.

If you love eating meat, it’s easy to get turned off by terms like veganism or vegetarianism, even if you want to help animals or the planet. Instead of focusing on what you can’t or shouldn’t eat, “The Veg Effect” explores lifestyle changes that anyone can incorporate in a way that feels comfortable and natural.

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The five-part documentary follows Stic of Dead Prez, hip-hop artist and vegan; Danielle, stuntwoman and reducetarian; Baredu, dance instructor and vegetarian; Trey and James, butchers and reducetarians; and Dave, brewer and vegetarian, through the various paths that led them towards incorporating more plant-based diets. In case you’re wondering, a reducetarian is someone who still eats meat but opts to eat less of it. I’m not in love with the term itself, but the practice is an attainable middle ground that allows more people to work towards a common goal of saving more animals from slaughter and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

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“I think the series as a whole is designed especially to encourage people to know that you don’t have to be strict vegan or vegetarian, and to feel comfortable being part of the mindset that you’re going to try to reduce the amount of meat that you’re going to eat,” director Alison Klayman, who is a vegetarian herself, told us at the premiere of “The Veg Effect” last week in New York City. “And I felt that that really resonated with me and my experience. I personally became a vegetarian when I went to college and I had a lot of friends who were vegan and even stricter, and now as time goes on, I’m about to go to my 10 year reunion and there are a lot of people who were vegans who aren’t even vegetarians anymore and the idea that people change the way they eat and that can be fluid but they’re still being positive by trying to eat less meat and have an impact without necessarily being dogmatic about how you approach it. So if you’re worried that you could never be a full vegetarian or a full vegan, you can still feel like there’s a reason to be mindful about what you eat and that reducing can have the same impact as being a vegetarian who then lapses. So there’s a spectrum of how to approach it, and that’s the way that the series tells that through individual stories.”

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So if you’ve seen all of the gory factory farm videos on Facebook trying to guilt you into becoming a vegetarian but still feel that there’s no way that you can give up meat completely, check out “The Veg Effect” here to learn about what you can do to reduce your environmental and ethical impact instead of focusing on what you can’t do.

+ The Veg Effect