The documentary Vegucated follows three meat- and cheese-loving New Yorkers who agree to adopt a vegan diet for six weeks. Lured by tales of weight lost and health regained, they begin to uncover the hidden sides of animal agriculture that make them wonder whether solutions offered in films like Food, Inc. go far enough. This entertaining documentary showcases the rapid and at times comedic evolution of three people who discover they can change the world one bite at a time. One of the three was Brian Flegel, who happily agreed to be interviewed by Tofu Cat.
Brian was born in California, went to NYC to attend NYU, studying Philosophy and Theatre. He also studied in Dublin, Ireland. Brian lived in New York for 9 years and then moved back to California in 2006 (shortly after filming Vegucated). While in New York he worked in publishing and with several theatre companies, mainly doing Shakespeare. Currently Brian manages a family Interior Design Furniture company.
“I randomly found myself in Vegucated because I was dating a friend of Marisa’s and she asked me to sit in for an interview about food… The rest is history.” – Brian Flegel
TC- The biggest question people ask after seeing the film is, “Are you still vegan?”
Yes, I’m still 100% Vegan and feeling good.
TC-After the filming, did you immediately decide to remain vegan, or was it a process?
Shortly after the filming wrapped up I did stay vegan for about another 6 weeks. However I got into a relationship with a non-vegan girl and ended up adding fish into my diet for about a year… I know … I know… not good on a few levels, but it was a way that we could ‘meet’ across the dinner table. When that relationship ended I went back to being full vegan and have been ever since, and I will never sacrifice my choices for someone else again. I’ve been vegan for almost 6 years now.
TC- How has your life changed after your participation in the film?
My whole life has changed. I feel very connected to the vegan community and have made lifelong friends who think and act as I do and I’m constantly learning more from those around me.
TC-What are you doing now in your life?
I manage a furniture and Interior design company in Northern California. I work with the city of Menlo Park (the town I live in) to put on events and I volunteer whenever I can. In addition I make myself available for Vegucated screenings / talk backs and any vegan animal rights stuff going on locally.
TC- While making the documentary, what part of the process impacted you the most? What did you learn about that really had you reconsider your choices?
As soon as I watched the documentary about factory farming during the filming of Vegucated, my heart and mind changed. I knew going vegan was not only good for me, but important for the world as a whole.
TC- What surprised you most about yourself and your journey through the filming of Vegucated?
I was surprised to find out how easy it way to change my diet. Once the mental hurdle of my food habit was conquered everything else fell into place.
TC- What were some of the main challenges or confronting issues you faced along the way?
Just changing habits and incorporating what I learned into my everyday life. It was inconvenient for a little while, but with the support of Marisa and the project the day to day changes led to a life change.
TC- How did you work through those issues?
The more I learned about factory farming, the health of my body, and the reality of how good a vegan lifestyle is, the easier it got – just like a switch turning on that I didn’t want turned off.
TC- What advice do you have for someone who might be facing some of the same challenges you had?
If you truly learn the truth about veganism, then you only have to ask yourself if you are ready to make the change. Once you make that internal decision, you will find that there are a lot of us out there and the support is abundant if you need it. Of course where there are vegans there is plenty of good food with lots of excuses to get together and eat! That’s something I actually really dig about being vegan is that it frees you up to celebrate food without guilt or worry – it makes eating fun and light.
TC- Do you consider yourself to be an alien, since you concluded in the documentary vegans were from outer space?
Yes I do. I am hurtling through space with a bunch of nutjobs… ;)
TC- How did your friends, family, and co-workers react to your being in the film, and your eventual transformation?
My parents and some friends were dubious and disagreed at first with the logic of it all. However as we know from Gandhi and other great leaders that it’s better to live by example and become the change rather than trying to argue and push opinions. After a while everyone comes around.
TC- Are you healthier than before you became vegan? How did it affect your health?
Less weight, more energy equals healthier. Everything Dr. Fuhrman says in the movie is true.
TC- What other positive changes have you noticed in your life?
More stamina, better sex, better sleep, even my brain feels better. Also, it’s definitely connected me to a higher sense of connectivity to the world around me. I see animals differently obviously and feel that compassion ruling my life.
TC- What is your favorite, easy to prepare, go-to meal?
I’m like a sandwich, wrap fiend! I like to get a whole wheat tortilla, roasted garlic vegenaise, cracked pepper, German mustard, gardein chik’n strips, sliced heirloom tomatoes, diced red onions and a whole heap of raw fresh Kale! That is a perfect lunch. J
TC- What are some of your favorite vegan foods?
Of course anything with Kale, Spinach, Chard, etc. I dig the Vegan Cuts company, they send me a sample box every month and I try new things out and I have found a bunch of great stuff that I love to eat. I highly recommend it and you support a lot of cool vegan businesses.
TC- Do you remain in contact with Marissa, and the others in the film?
Yes, Marisa will always be my friend and I am so lucky to have met her as well as Tesla and Ellen. Facebook keeps us all connected.
TC- Please tell us a funny story that occurred during the making of Vegucated. Any interesting outtakes?
If you notice that when we are at the Farm Sanctuary and everyone is checking out the goats I’m hanging back on the other side of the fence because I have a fear of goats that goes back to childhood. I think I might need to get on Maury Povich to confront that issue, but I just don’t trust goats… There were a lot of funny outtakes and a lot more of me working out with Kenneth Williams, thanks for reminding me, I need to get Marisa to send them to me…
TC- Any other tips especially for the guys out there?
Learn the truth about veganism – don’t end up a fat useless dude that no girl / guy wants to date. Becoming vegan gets you to a better place.
TC- Tell us something about yourself that most people don’t know.
I have a hairy chest, I have dual citizenship with Germany and I know how to tap-dance.
TC- Any other thoughts you would like to share with your fans?
Do something good today.
TC- Thank you for your honest, heartfelt, and humorous contribution to Vegucated, and for taking part in this candid interview!