Comedian, author, and podcast host Russell Brand discussed veganism on the latest episode of his podcast “Under the Skin,” with guest Kip Andersen, co-director of controversial films “Cowspiracy” and “What the Health.”
2014’s “Cowspiracy” directed by Andersen and Keegan Kuhn, looked at the environmental impact of the livestock industries. Andersen attempted to interview a number of environmental groups on the issues; the filmmakers were interested in why organizations working to combat climate change weren’t more focused on promoting a plant-based diet as a means to reducing global warming. According to the filmmakers, livestock industries produce more greenhouse gases than all transportation sectors combined, yet an overwhelming majority of environmental groups focus on transport and industrial pollution instead of livestock production.
2017’s “What the Health” takes a dive into the connection between diet, chronic diseases, and the medical industry. The film has been highly criticized for a number of claims, like meat’s influence on diabetes. But, they are claims Andersen says the filmmakers and a number of medical professionals stand behind.
Ethics and Eating Animals
Brand, a longtime vegetarian, recently returned to a vegan diet, a move spurred on mostly by his spiritual pursuits. “When people are awakened, they don’t want to have the blood of people or animals on their hands,” he said to Andersen.
According to Brand, coming to a reckoning with the ethical issues behind eating animals means questioning one’s own upbringing, because parents teach children to eat meat. Brand says people need to “dislocate and relocate who they are.”
Brand, a recovering addict, has dived deep into meditation and spiritual pursuits to support his self-awareness and sobriety. He posits that the majority of people are unaware of what’s going on in their realities, an unconsciousness that is both an “unawareness” and an “unawakeness.”
This willful ignorance is fodder for unhealthy choices in both lifestyle and in diet. It also leads people to become heavily critical of veganism and It’s a sentiment shared by fellow British comedian Romesh Ranganathan, who recently appeared in a BBC video talking about why people “hate” vegans. It’s because they realize vegans are “right.” And that’s a tough reality to face. That guilt over meat-eating can become a “reflective surface showing [their] own inadequacies.”
Brand’s full podcast episode with Kip Andersen can be found on Luminary.