Ethical leftovers 

Vegetarian flicks for a meaty holiday season

The Indy recently published its annual holiday food issue, featuring eight mouth-watering recipes from some of Missoula's best new restaurants. The culinary celebration typically receives high praise from the paper's readers with one exception: vegetarians. Turns out, our area's best chefs aren't exactly eager to showcase Tofurky. Even the salad recipe this year included bacon vinaigrette.

Well, hold on to your garden burgers, turkey huggers. To help make up for last week's slight we've put together a cinematic celebration of your noble gastronomical pursuits. Feel free to binge watch these movies while your gluttonous relatives gorge themselves on meaty leftovers.

Fast Food Nation (2006)

I recently took a road trip to Wisconsin and had the misfortune to stop at a rest stop with four idling cattle trucks. As the truck drivers fueled up and hobnobbed in the convenience store, the cascading cow moans and the stomping of hooves drowned out the nearby highway traffic. My kids pleaded with me to help the cows. My wife's eyes welled with tears. The gas pump took approximately seven hours to fill our car's tank.

If you're looking to educate someone on the realities of our food chain in hopes of nudging them toward vegetarianism, you could aim for a similar experience at this rest stop outside of Albert Lea, Minn., or you could just watch Richard Linklater's multi-layered drama about a McDonald's-like company and one of its slaughterhouses. The best scene includes Bruce Willis telling company marketing guy Greg Kinnear, in defense of the slaughterhouse's sanitary conditions, "It is a sad fact of life, Don, but the truth is we all have to eat a little shit from time to time."


Food, Inc. (2008)

Basically the same as Fast Food Nation, except it's a documentary with less Kinnear and more Michael Pollan. Also, it's scarier. I'll always remember this as the film that made a post-cancer-surgery Roger Ebert thankful that he could no longer eat solid foods.


Charlotte's Web (1973)

The original call to consider where your food comes from remains a beloved classic to omnivores, carnivores and herbivores alike. What is also universally agreed upon is that the 2006 CGI remake starring the voices of Julia Roberts, Dakota Fanning, Oprah Winfrey, Robert Redford, Reba McEntire, Kathy Bates and Steve Buscemi is a bacon-grease fire of a film.


Babe (1995)

What is it about pigs that make them the poster animal for not eating meat? Couldn't filmmakers choose something a little less delicious and equally cute and not associated with bacon? Well, no. Pigs are actually excellent pitchmen for the anti-meat crowd. In addition to being adorable—I mean, Christine Cavanaugh's voice as the lead character in this film will melt even the biggest bacon-eater's tastebuds—pigs are quite intelligent. For instance, PETA reports that pigs rank higher than dogs and primates in playing some video games. Think about that next time you're choking down breakfast before restarting a game of "Call of Duty."


Year of the Dog (2007)

This largely forgettable romcom starring Molly Shannon and John C. Reilly retains some relevance for being one of the few films to feature an on-screen vegan. The character may be one small nibble for vegans looking to bite into the mainstream, but it doesn't overshadow the fact that this movie is more bland than tofu on a rice cake.


Delicatessen (1991)

I get it. Some people, no matter how many times they watch Food, Inc., will forever savor a juicy burger. And others, no matter how perfect a pork chop may taste, cannot bring themselves to bite into a piece of Babe. But we can all agree on at least one thing: Eating people, as they do in this Sweeney Todd-ish French black comedy, is bad.


The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)

I know, we sorta just covered the cannibalism corollary with Delicatessen. But allow me to explain. Or, rather, allow outspoken vegan Russell Simmons—yes, the music mogul—to explain. When discussing with PETA why he decided to no longer eat animals, Simmons mentioned this slasher classic, going so far as to call it a "vegetarian" movie. "The way that woman was screaming, 'Aaaahhh,' and she's running away—that's how every animal you eat is running for his or her life," he said. That's certainly something to chew on before you reach for a rod of jerky during your next road trip.

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