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Interview with Eric Prescott on I’m Vegan

VegNews chats with documentary filmmaker Eric Prescott about his latest project, I’m Vegan.

Eric Prescott is a busy guy. As head of the Boston Vegan Association, you’ll often find him organizing karaoke nights and preparing lectures, and as a blogger, he’s never too far from his trusty computer. Here and there he also works as an actor, freelance writer, and public speaker. But the project occupying most of his time these days is his in-the-works documentary film project titled I’m Vegan. Here, Prescott talks about what it’s like producing a vegan film that’s not like the others.

VegNews: What spawned the idea for I’m Vegan?
Eric Prescott: I’d been playing around with the idea to tell the story of veganism that would personalize it and make it more accessible. I was struck by the explosion of YouTube and other web 2.0 developments, particularly the social-networking phenomenon. More and more, the web allows people to generate and share content in new and affordable ways, which continues to evolve along with the increasing accessibility of near-professional grade equipment. Out of all this swirling creativity and potential, I’m Vegan emerged as a way to give veganism a face. Plus, hey, I love to travel and meet new people, so this ought to be a lot of fun!

VN: In what ways is this film different from other vegan-oriented documentaries?
EP: One is that it isn’t designed to beat you over the head with all the reasons you should be vegan, or all the things that are wrong with using and consuming animals (though of course it will be impossible to avoid these topics). I’m Vegan is about vegans as people who have committed to the idea that they don’t need to contribute to harming or otherwise dominating animals, and about how they integrate this commitment into their daily lives. It’s more ethnography than propaganda. The idea is to normalize veganism by demystifying it, by portraying a diverse array of vegans that bust stereotypes and connect with viewers on a personal level. It’s my hope that personalizing veganism this way makes it far more interesting and accessible.

VN: What’s your I’m Vegan story?
EP: Like many people, I had always considered myself animal-friendly. It seems like dogs and cats were an omnipresent if sometimes mystifying part of my family. I even spent one summer in my teens volunteering at an animal shelter. Having grown up in the Midwest, with animal products solidly at the center of my diet, I had never made the connection between the animals I ate and those I considered family. But several years ago I was procrastinating on a screenwriters’ web forum and saw another forum member’s link that simply said “moo.” I wish I could remember every page I clicked through that afternoon, but it’s all a blur today. Suffice it to say that I witnessed the many ways in which animals are used for human profit and pleasure and I learned that it was completely unnecessary. I started seeing animals as ends in themselves, not the means to our ends. I went vegan and I never looked back.

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