about the project
The Case for Better Meat
At our grocery stores and dinner tables, even the most thoughtful consumers are overwhelmed by the number of considerations to weigh when choosing what to eat—especially when it comes to meat. Guided by the noble principle of least harm, many responsible citizens resolve the ethical, environmental and nutritional conundrum by quitting meat entirely. But can a healthy, resilient and conscientious food system exist without animals?
Sacred Cow probes the fundamental moral, environmental and nutritional quandaries we face in raising and eating animals. In this project, we focus our lens on the largest and perhaps most maligned of farmed animals, the cow.
COMMON ASSUMPTIONS ABOUT MEAT...
Red meat causes cancer, obesity and heart disease.
We’re eating too much meat.
Humans don’t need to consume animal products to be healthy.
Raising livestock is bad for the environment.
It’s unethical to eat animals.
If we can produce meat in labs, then why should we eat animals?
The connection between nutrition and ecosystem health is starting to make some headway into mainstream media. Everyone is trying to figure out how to feed the world in the most sustainable and healthy way. However, we've allowed corporate interest, big food, flawed science, click-bait media and naïve celebrities to steer us away from what a truly nutrient-dense, ethical and sustainable, and regenerative food system really is. The mantra that “all meat is bad” influences how we're training dietitians, shaping our dietary guidelines, designing school lunch policies, and funding for nutrition-related research.
As we’ve become more globalized, the entire world is now pushing towards the "heart healthy" (and highly processed) Western diet. In the process, we're destroying entire ecosystems and human health through industrial, ultra-processed food.
Sacred Cow comes at a critical point in the nutrition and sustainability story. A meat tax is a very real possibility. Well intended yet highly misguided, The EAT Lancet Global Dietary Guidelines are calling for less than 1/2 an ounce of red meat per day, for human and planetary health.
Meat is being vilified as causing cancer, heart disease and diabetes, yet there are no solid studies to back this up. Meanwhile, Silicon Valley has invested millions in highly processed meat alternatives, with the assumption that engineering our proteins in factories will be a better alternative to something nature has already figured out: grazing animals, restoring land while converting cellulose into protein.
The solution is regenerative agriculture.
The truth is, well-managed cattle are the unlikely heroes of this story. We can increase biodiversity, improve soil health, increase the water holding capacity of the land and raise high quality, nutrient-dense protein, while preserving family farming communities. Removing these animals from our food system could cause more harm than good.
It’s not the cow, it’s the how.
James Connolly is an artist, chef, non-profit founder and documentary film producer. He co-founded The Bubble Foundation, a non-profit focused on issues of wellness and food insecurity in inner-city public schools. The documentary film production team at Archer Gray Productions has produced films from Transmilitary, a film that explores equal opportunity and discrimination for the over fifteen thousand active duty transgender soldiers serving in the military to Michael Moore’s latest documentary, Where to Invade Next, where Moore explores issues like mass incarceration, school food, criminal justice and student debt.
Abby Fuller is a documentary filmmaker whose work includes four seasons on the Emmy nominated series Chef’s Table and the award winning feature film, Do You Dream in Color ?She is a member of the D&AD Impact Council, and the recipient of the NYWIFT Loreen Arbus activist filmmaker award. She directs films for clients such as: Disney, Apple, NatGeo, Starbucks, Amazon, Google/YouTube, MTV & Netflix. Additionally, she is the co-founder of APD Farm, a Virginia based cattle operation focused on biodiversity, water infiltration and soil health.
Film Advisory Team
Kristin Canty, James Connelly, John Durant, Abigail Fuller, Myna Joseph, Chris Kresser, Mike Geary, Trent Hendricks, Michael Matheson Miller, Andrew Rodgers, Nelson Walker and Michael Wentz