This holiday season, there’s a new documentary you’ll want to add to your “must-watch” list. Set for release on December 26, I Could Never Go Vegan seeks to explore the various arguments against veganism, ultimating taking a deep dive into why such arguments exist in the first place and whether or not they are justified.
Produced by brothers Thomas and James Pickering, I Could Never Go Vegan takes a closer look at the health impacts of meat-centric diets, plant-based diets for athletes, and the environmental impact of modern day animal agriculture.
Throughout the film, Thomas Pickering—who directed the documentary—sits down with vegan athletes, health professionals, and scientists to break down the most common arguments against veganism. Olympic medalist Dotsie Bausch, European powerlifting champion Sophia Ellis, David and Stephen Flynn (the recipe creators behind The Happy Pear), best-selling author Dr. Alan Desmond, and social psychologist and founder of Beyond Carnism Dr. Melanie Joy are among the leading experts featured in the film.
I Could Never Go Vegan
I Could Never Go Vegan doesn’t just seek expertise from doctors, athletes, and scientists. The film also features first-hand insight from slaughterhouse workers into the treatment of farmed animals sent for slaughter and those employed to kill them.
“I want people to watch this film and feel informed,” Thomas Pickering tells VegNews. “I want them to understand what the science tells us regarding plant-based diets. I want them to feel inspired by the professional and non-professional athletes doing extraordinary things on nothing but plants. I want them to understand the catastrophic impact animal agriculture is having on our planet.”
The making of I Could Never Go Vegan
For brothers Thomas and James Pickering, I Could Never Go Vegan is personal. Raised vegetarians, the Pickering brothers are no strangers to hearing, “I could never go vegan,” from their non-vegan friends and family.
“I’ve never eaten meat,” Thomas Pickering reveals in the film’s trailer. “But I can’t seem to go a day without hearing from others about why they could never go vegan.”
The brothers, both of whom are now vegan and have never eaten meat, credit their parents for instilling a meat-free ethic and love for animals from a young age.
“We were raised in a family of animal lovers. My parents made the connection between caring for animals and the food on their plates in the mid ‘80’s when my mom was pregnant with me,” James Pickering, the film’s writer and producer, says. “Vegetarianism, and later veganism, was very much based around welfare and health […] I loved the two dogs we had growing up, but I recognized there was no difference between my dogs and the cats I came into contact with, or cows, or birds, or whatever else.”
From a young age, this compassion for animals often drove the brothers to question those around them who continued eating meat.
“When round at a friend’s house, if they were eating meat, I wouldn’t be tempted to try some, but rather, I’d question why they were eating it,” Thomas Pickering says.
“I actually remember as a young child, I couldn’t walk down the meat aisle in a supermarket because I hated to look at the products on display—I’d clearly made the connection from a very young age, and as a result, really had no desire to even try meat.”
Along with animal welfare, health was another factor that ensured the Pickering brothers maintained their meatless diet throughout childhood and into adulthood. The brothers played a variety of competitive sports, and early on, attributed their superior athletic performance to their plant-based diets.
“Like James, I was very competitive with sports and competed at a high level in football, athletics, and tennis,” Thomas Pickering shares. “At some point, it dawned on me that maybe I had a slight advantage over other kids because I was fuelling my body in better ways. Not that people listened though—this was over two decades ago, and at this point, even vegetarianism was a concept that scared people.”
Vegan documentaries can drive change
Despite being barraged with skepticism throughout their lives, the Pickering brothers never backed down. With I Could Never Go Vegan, they hope to educate the masses to the realities of animal agriculture and its consequences: mass animal cruelty, unhealthy diets and illness, and environmental destruction.
Director Thomas Pickering hopes that watching the film helps audiences realize “everything they thought they knew about the food system is not as it seems [and] that every argument they’ve heard against veganism is simply not true.”
Sharing factual information to help others make informed decisions is the director’s ultimate goal. “Mainly, I want people to watch this film and feel informed,” he says. “I want them to be presented with the facts, so at the very least, they can make up their own mind as to how they now choose to live their life.”
And while people have been refuting veganism for as long as the term “vegan” has been around, the filmmakers believe there’s never been a better time to tell this story.
“We desperately need to change our ways. So many people continue to say the words ‘I could never go vegan,’ but I honestly put this down to a lack of awareness more than anything else,” Thomas Pickering says. “We’re surrounded by so much misinformation and conflicting headlines that it’s easy to understand why people might be confused by veganism.”
While the film is set for release on December 26, the filmmakers are yet to announce where it will be available for viewing. Updates can be found on the film’s Instagram page.