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Marc Pierschel and Jeff Wirth: The End of Meat
Jeff Wirth is a filmmaker, photographer, and all around documentarian from the Pacific North West, United States. Jeff spends most of his time traveling around the world doing video and photo work for a handful of grassroots and NGO groups and organizations. Although he likes to document many different things that catch his eye, Jeff has a soft spot for anyone trying to better this world.
Marc Pierschel is a sociologist (M.A.), author and filmmaker from Muenster, Germany. He is the co-founder of ‘roots of compassion’, the author of ‘Vegan! Vegane Lebensweise für alle’, an introduction to veganism and ‘Vegan lecker lecker’, a vegan cookbook with over 40,000 copies sold. He also the co-director of ‘EDGE – perspectives on drug free culture’, a documentary about the US Straight Edge subculture, and director of ‘Live and let live’, a documentary about the ethical, environmental and health reasons that move people to go vegan.
Caryn Hartglass: Hello everybody! I’m Caryn Hartglass. And it’s time for It’s All About Food! How are you today? Huh? I don’t hear you. How are you? I’m good. I’m really good here in New York City on this lovely— It’s another one of those hot, humid summer days, and I’m digging it. It just seems to be right. I want to get started. I’m very excited about my guests today, and I want to get right to the meat of this show because it’s all about the end of meat. The end of meat. Are you ready for the end of meat? The End of Meat actually is a film, and we’re going to be talking about it right now with two of my guests. We’ve got Mark Pierschel. He’s a sociologist, author, and filmmaker from Muenster, Germany. He is the co-founder of roots of compassion, the author of Vegan!: Vegane Lebensweise für alle, which is “Vegan Lifestyle for All: An Introduction to Veganism,” and Vegan lecker lecker, which is “Vegan Yummy Yummy,” I believe in English, a vegan cookbook with over 40,000 copies sold. He also is the co-director of EDGE: perspectives on drug free culture, a documentary about the US Straight Edge subculture, and director of Live and Let Live, a documentary about the ethical, environmental, and health reasons that move people to go vegan. We’re going to talk a little bit more about that in a moment. And we’ve got Jeff Wirth. A filmmaker, photographer, and all-around documentarian from the Pacific Northwest, United States, Jeff spends most of his time traveling around the world doing video and photo work for a handful of grassroots and NGO groups and organizations. Although he likes to document many different things that catch his eye, Jeff has a soft spot for anyone trying to better this world. Hello Mark!
Mark Pierschel: Hi, Caryn! Thanks for having me!
Caryn: How are you today?
Mark: I’m great, thanks.
Caryn: Great, thank you for joining me. And Jeff, formerly known as ‘Jack’ for a few minutes on my social media pages, how are you?
Jeff Wirth: I’m wonderful, how are you?
Caryn: Very good. Okay. Well, let’s jump right in and get started. So, tell me about The End of Meat. What is it? Why do we need to know about it?
Mark: Sure. It’s going to be a documentary. It’s not filmed yet. We’re still funding it to be filmed, and we’re starting in August. The idea is to explore how a world without meat would look like. Basically, how could we live in a vegan future? We will be talking to philosophers, to scientists, to artists, and to activists who are working in some way or another on that idea. And yeah, we’re really excited to start filming and work on the documentary.
Caryn: Well, this is a very different kind of approach, seeing what the world would be like, and I love it because it’s positive. Unfortunately, to get this message across about what’s going on in the world today about meat production, there’s so much violence and horror and just, horrible images. I really love focusing on the positive, and I love this idea of imagining what the world could be like. I’m imagining it’s going to be a happy story.
Mark: Yeah, yeah. Absolutely, I hope so as well. We have several ideas on how to approach this. We’re going to be looking at the ethical side. How will we treat animals in a world like this? What kind of rights would they get? There’s a very interesting book by Will Kymlicka and Sue Donaldson to Canadian authors, and the book is called, Zoopolis: Its Citizenship Approach for [A Political Theory of] Animal Rights. It’s very interesting, a very interesting read. We’re going to explore that a bit; we’ll talk to them. We’re also looking at ways of representation for animals. Since animals can’t talk to us and communicate with us directly, we will need someone who can represent them. For example, there are pro-animal rights parties in various European countries already working towards that approach. We’re also going to be looking at what we’re going to eat in a post-meat world. Obviously we know that as vegans. But we’re going to be looking at lab meat, if that’s an alternative to change and alternative for vegan future, and how this would impact the environment and our health.
Caryn: Let’s go back a little bit. You’ve made a few other films. What moved you to do this work?
Mark: It was during the shooting of our last film, Live and Let Live. We were on the road with two activists from Animal Equality, and they were doing an open rescue. They’ve rescued six hens from a battery farm. I was in the car with them when they took them to their new home, and it was a really inspiring experience. At that time I was wondering how could a world look like where we don’t exploit these animals, how we live together with them in peace? That was the idea of The End of Meat.
Caryn: Right, lovely. Now Jeff, how are you today? You’re good?
Jeff: I’m good, I’m good. All things are good up here in Portland, Oregon.
Caryn: Yeah, you’re in a really groovy spot.
Jeff: I like to think so as well.
Caryn: I’m sorry that I had you as ‘Jack.’
Jeff: No worries.
Caryn: I tried to correct it on all my pages and whatever. I do that from time to time, I’m not quite sure. We were filming a little promo piece on a local vegan restaurant here in our neighborhood a few months ago, and I was interviewing one of the staff whose name was Henry, and I kept calling him Brian. I don’t know why. But maybe there’s something to ‘Jack’ with you. If you ever figure it out, you can let me know and I won’t feel so bad about making that mistake.
Jeff: All right.
Caryn: Okay. Now I noticed in the picture that I have of you, you’ve got a lovely little Sea Shepherd hoodie on.
Caryn: Are you affiliated with Sea Shepherd?
Jeff: Yeah, I’ve been doing media work for Sea Shepherd the past two years. The picture you’re referring to was taken on the last campaign, Operation Icefish, where Sea Shepherd went down with two of our ships, the Sam Simon and the Bob Barker, and we went down to try to catch six illegal poaching vessels known as the Bandit 6. That picture was taken when the Sam Simon was spending five weeks retrieving illegal gillnet that one of the poaching vessels put in the waters of Antarctica.
Caryn: Wow. Sea Shepherd does some incredible work. Everyone that’s involved with that organization has to be very, very brave.
Jeff: Yeah. Sea Shepherd’s definitely doing work that no other ocean conservation organization would dare to do. Going down there with two ships facing six ships is pretty overwhelming and a daunting task for any organization to take on, for sure.
Caryn: Yeah. I thank you for your involvement with that. Anybody who’s not familiar with the Sea Shepherd organization, Google it and start learning. I want to say, this organization not only—this is going to be silly, but I just feel like saying it—not only do they walk the walk, they swim the swim.
Jeff: Yeah, it’s true.
Caryn: Yeah, in deep dangerous waters. Okay, now, you’ve got—
Jeff: And cold.
Caryn: Excuse me?
Jeff: I said, and cold waters.
Caryn: And coooold waters, yeah. It’s deadly if you’re not careful.
Caryn: Those waters, they’re really not meant for us. We’re not supposed to be messing around in there. Those are for very, very different individual species out there to live their lives, and not for us to be torturing them and then eating them.
Jeff: I agree.
Caryn: Or doing something else with them. I mean, it’s just crazy what we do with other live beings for all kinds of strange reasons. Now, you’ve got a new project. Mark, tell me what’s going on with your Indiegogo project. How far have you gone, what’s the reaction been, and what are you planning on doing with the funds?
Jeff: Yeah. A few weeks ago, Mark and I started the Indiegogo campaign to help with travel expenses and post-production expenses. We are a month or so into the campaign, and we only have five days left. We’re trying to raise €30,000 and right now we are around €18,000. We have around sixty percent completed, so we still need quite a bit more within five days. I can’t express how important this support is to our film. Mark and I are two broke filmmakers, and we can’t afford to travel around the world and pay a camera crew a living wage to make this film happen. We think this film is a very, very important animal rights film, and we can’t wait until we start shooting.
Caryn: Yeah. Well, I don’t know much about it, but like I said at the beginning of this program, I really love the concept of showing us what the world could be like rather than showing us what the world is like right now, which in many cases is not very pretty. There was that film, The Secret Law of Attraction. There’s a lot about that film I didn’t care about; there’s a lot of woo-woo wa-wa stuff that I don’t think has been supported. But I do believe in this idea of putting forth positive ideas in order to make them happen rather than focusing on the negative aspects of some particular idea. Focusing on the positives, talking about it, putting the images out there. This is so important in order for it to happen. And this is the first step.
Jeff: Exactly. That was one of the sole reasons why I signed on to help Mark film this movie. I didn’t want to help Mark make another animal rights film that’s just like every other animal rights film showing what’s going on that’s bad. We know what’s bad. With The End of Meat, we’re trying to move past that and show what we’re working toward, show what kind of world is possible. I’m very excited. This is a new, original take on animal rights filmmaking, and I’m very, very excited to be a part of it.
Caryn: It’s an interesting world that we live in. Art is so important. I’m an artist in different ways. I think it’s part of what life is all about. It’s unfortunate here in the United States and many other parts of the world where we don’t encourage creativity and we don’t encourage the arts in our young people today. It used to be more important years ago, but now because of cost-cutting in all kinds of weird ways, we’re cutting back on something that I think is so essential to humanity: the arts and creativity. Most artists know we hear that expression all too often, “the struggling artist,” because it’s so true. We don’t want to support our artists, and we need them desperately. Not only to understand ourselves, express ourselves, but also to see what our potential is.
Jeff: I agree.
Mark: Yeah, absolutely. Regarding the last question, I’m also hoping that this film will be an inspiration for everyone who is working towards a better future for animals because then there’s another reason if we actually show that there’s another way of how we treat animals in this world, that more people will start working towards a better future.
Caryn: Now in the United States, we have all kinds of new regulations. Laws that’re coming into play where we’re not allowed to film inside factory farms, CAFOs—Confined Animal Feeding Organizations—Operations, excuse me. There are more and more laws that are actually squashing our concept of freedom of speech to be able to show what’s wrong so that we can take action against it. I know other countries are learning, unfortunately, from this and are starting to make similar kinds of regulations. What’s going on in Germany?
Mark: In Germany, over the last two to three years we’ve seen a rise in veganism. The number of vegans actually has doubled in these two years or three years. We’ve seen a lot of new vegan restaurants opening up and we’ve seen a lot of cookbooks coming out. There’s new vegan products coming out almost weekly. The reception to veganism in the mainstream media is really positive at the moment. There is really a positive movement going on also as well regarding animal rights, people interested in animal rights and working towards animal rights. I think it’s a really positive thing right now and I really hope it gets going.
Caryn: Can we talk a little bit about your film Live and Let Live?
Caryn: Great. I remember—I’m not sure when I first saw the trailer, but my partner Gary and I, we both really loved it, especially with the person rushing the cage. There was some really lovely images. I didn’t realize that it was available to watch on YouTube.
Mark: Oh yeah, yeah.
Caryn: It’s an excellent film, and I recommend people watch it, especially if you’re curious about this next film, The End of Meat. You can watch Live and Let Live, see the kind of work that you do, Mark, and then be moved to support this next project.
Mark: Yeah, thanks. It’s also available on DVD. You can get it from Food Fight! and from Amazon. There’s some extra material on there, like extra interviews and a few bonus features.
Caryn: This is a film that local groups can get the DVD and then they can show it at an event and talk about it.
Mark: Yeah, we’re offering a screening kit on our website. People or organizations can write to us if they want to screen the film. We’ve had lots of screenings all around the world with the film, and we have had a lot of positive reactions towards it. It’s just a basic introduction to veganism. We followed around some people who have really interesting stories. There’s a chef in Portland, Aaron Adams, who used to be a butcher and then he opened up a vegan restaurant. Or there’s a dairy farmer in Germany who opened up a sanctuary. All of these are very inspiring stories. It’s a really nice film to watch.
Caryn: Yeah, I agree. Those were two very heartwarming stories. Of course you interviewed a lot of people that we’re familiar with here in the United States: T. Colin Campbell, Gary Francione, my favorite friend Tom Regan, Peter Singer, Will Potter. All great activists in the movement doing wonderful work. It’s a very nice film, so thank you for that.
Caryn: I encourage people to check it out. Live and Let Live. Okay. You’re not quite at your goal. I want to put it out there and say that in the next four days, you’re going to make your goal. This is the kind of project, Indiegogo, you get to keep what you raise whether you meet the goal or not.
Mark: Yeah, that’s correct. The goal of €30,000 is our ideal goal. That’s how we want to make the film and how we think the film should look like. In the worst case, we can work with less, but we’re going to have to make a couple of changes and it’s not going to be quite as the way we want it.
Caryn: Yeah. Now, can you just give me maybe a little teaser or something? How do you see the world in the future if we’re not eating meat? Is there like one little image that I can twirl around in my head?
Mark: We’re also going to be looking at animal sanctuaries, farm sanctuaries. We’re going to ask the question if that’s going to be an example for a way how we can live together with farm animals or animals in general. How can we organize communities around animals so they are safe, they don’t get harmed, they don’t get hit by cars or by other kinds of traps that are all around us? Birds hitting windows or pollution or habitat destruction, all these kinds of things. We’re going to be looking at these small examples because right now there’s no larger example we can look at, but I’m hoping that in the future these sanctuaries can be examples for larger communities.
Caryn: Mark, tell me. What does a vegan eat in Germany? And what do you like to eat?
Mark: I like to eat pizza.
Caryn: Pizza! Okay.
Mark: I love pizza. There’s lots of vegan restaurants right now. In Muenster where I live, I have four vegan restaurants now and lots of vegan options. It’s really easy to eat out and you can get lots of vegan products, lots of cheese alternatives, meat alternatives. It’s really easy to be vegan here.
Caryn: Amazing. It frustrates me— I mean, I’m really excited to hear about this, but I lived in Europe in France in the early ‘90s for about four years and I visited Germany quite a bit. Munich mostly, but all around. There was a vegetarian restaurant here or there. You could always go to a “Reformhaus” and buy some soymilk or maybe a package of some sort of veggie paté, but it was difficult. I ended up eating a lot of spaghetti mit öl und knoblauch.
Mark: Yeah, absolutely. It was really, really difficult ten or fifteen years ago. I remember when I first became vegan, I had no idea where or what I could eat. It has changed tremendously over the last couple of years.
Caryn: What I just said was that I used to eat a lot of spaghetti with oil and garlic. Which was good. Not the healthiest, but that was really all I could get in a lot of places. I’m so glad to hear that it’s changing. Jeff. I remember speaking to Laura Dakin a while back. Do you know her?
Jeff: Yeah, of course.
Caryn: Of course. She is the cook for the Sea Shepherd and she has a new cookbook out.
Jeff: Yeah, Cookin’ Up a Storm.
Caryn: Right, right. What do you eat when you’re traveling on a ship?
Jeff: We eat the exact same things that we eat when we’re not on a ship. The cooks that’re on the ships are— The galley is the heart of the ship, they’re the masterminds of the ship. They have to plan out three vegan meals a day for thirty to thirty-five people every single day, no matter how rough the weather is, no matter if we’re getting rammed by a ship. They have to be there in the kitchen, in the galley, making the food. We have cold rooms and dry rooms that we keep all of the food in. For example, this past campaign we were at sea for 144 days and we were eating fresh fruit the entire time.
Jeff: Yeah. The first thing that we start to run out of is greens, so we’ll run out of our spinach and lettuce. But apples and oranges and kiwis, we were eating the entire time.
Caryn: Well I think that’s a really important bit of information for people who think how difficult it is and how often they have to shop. There’s plenty of food that you can keep at home and be ready, or you can go days and months eating healthfully without even going shopping. Although fresh greens are very nice and nutritious to have around.
Jeff: Yeah. We were growing and eating our own mushrooms throughout the campaign. We got a few mushroom starter kits, so we would water our mushrooms every day and every few weeks we would pick some new ones. That was pretty fun.
Caryn: Wow, I love that. You guys are amazing. Okay, just a few more minutes. Let’s just wrap this up about The End of Meat. What do you want us to know that we don’t know already or repeat what you’d like us to do.
Jeff: For starters, I think the most important thing is for us to tell you that our Indiegogo campaign ends in five days. Without your support, this film won’t be possible. Every dollar that you give us goes toward travel costs or post-production. We want this film to be the best it can be, and we can’t do that without your support.
Mark: Yeah, and you can already pre-order the DVD or the digital download.
Caryn: Okay, so all you have to do is go to Indiegogo and then search for The End of Meat.
Jeff: Yeah, we have lots of awesome perks that you can get when you donate to the campaign. Like Mark said, you can reserve your DVD. We have insider packages where you can get T-shirts or stickers, the digital download. DVDs including The End of Meat and Mark’s last film, Live or Let Live. And we have the behind the scenes diary where you get pictures of production of us filming on set and lots of interesting things that you wouldn’t be able to get otherwise.
Caryn: Okay. Well thank you. I want to encourage people to support this project. I really think it’s an important idea that needs to be born and come alive and grow so that we can have it in our consciousness and make it a reality.
Jeff: Thank you very much.
Caryn: That’s The End of Meat. You’re welcome. Thank you for joining me, Mark Pierschel and Jeff Wirth.
Jeff: Thanks for having us.
Mark: Thanks, Caryn.
Caryn: Okay. Take care, be well.
Mark: You too, bye.
Caryn: Okay. That was that. And I hope you do check them out and visit the website, The End of Meat. Let’s see—I didn’t mention that before, and I want to make sure I get it right. theendofmeat.com, how simple is that, theendofmeat.com. That will lead you to the Indiegogo project if you don’t want to go to Indiegogo directly. You can sign up for their newsletter. It’s in German and in English, so you can have fun with that. And I give this a big thumbs-up. All right. Let’s take a little break, and we’ll be back in a few minutes.
Transcribed by JC, 8/6/2015