From the Ground Up is a vegan documentary featuring top athletes - and looking at how they power their bodies through plants.
Former meat-eating college football player Santino Panico directs, going 'on a journey to rediscover the athlete within - this time, as a vegan'.
According to the production team: "As he meets with vegetarian and vegan elite competitors, this story about food and sport expands to confront the social norms and the far-reaching impacts of food choices."
It is perhaps unlucky timing that From the Ground Up and the upcoming Game Changers (produced by heavy-hitter James Cameron due to be released later this year) which cover a similar topic are coming out so close together.
Add to that the relatively high cost of From the Ground Up ($17.99 to buy or $6.99 to rent on iTunes) and the fact that it comes from unknown director Santino Panico, and this excellent movie may unfortunately get overlooked by the plant-based community.
Even I, a vegan-documentary junkie, waited more than weeks before finally ponying-up and purchasing the film, but I can honestly say now that I am very glad I did.
From the Ground Up focuses on the relationship between diet and athletic performance and the majority of the footage is comprised of interviews with plant-based athletes.
Participants include ultra ironman Rich Roll and bodybuilder Torre Washington, the latter of whom delivers one of the best lines, saying: "Do I look like I'm not getting protein?
"I mean, really?"
The filmmakers wisely chose to feature athletes from a wide variety of sports (from MMA to dance to base jumping to ultra-marathon) with unique stories dietary journeys (from raised vegetarian to newly vegan) which prevents redundancy and maintains interest.
The interviews are spliced with stunning footage of each athlete in action and tasteful background music which keeps the film visually engaging and fun to watch.
Short animated clips add to the visual appeal of the movie, and are an effective device to emphasize points artistically.
Although the concept of the film may at first seem very one-dimensional, it delves much deeper than expected with other plant-based narratives woven throughout.
Watch the trailer here
The most pervasive subplot follows Panico's personal journey from failed meat-head football player to environmentalist vegan distance runner.
Other topics presented include the history, ethics, social implications, environmental effects, and health impacts of eating meat.
Each of these issues is presented succinctly, providing key background information without hijacking the movie. Short interviews with authors, plant-based doctors, and animal activists are also peppered throughout to bolster these points.
The film expertly combines the primary plot and subplots that builds toward the final message: veganism much more than a diet, it is a transformative lifestyle that is beneficial for the individual, the animals, and the planet.
Although this movie has many, the biggest strength of From the Ground Up lies in its ability to engage a broad audience of vegans and non-vegans alike.
The tone of the movie is humble and informative rather than inflammatory and controversial, even subtly offering tips for effective vegan activism.
In order to quell sceptics, when a statistic or study is presented, a source is cited directly in the corner of the screen.
Interviews with non-vegan friends and teammates of featured athletes are included which creates relatability for non-vegan viewers.
Each person who watches this movie is bound to learn something thanks to the variety of topics covered (even vegan-documentary aficionados like yours truly).
Overall, the only major downside of this movie is the potentially prohibitive cost to purchase it.
In my opinion, it is worth the $17.99 for the repeated viewing that this film will get by showing it to friends and family.
Rebecca Marchand-Smith is a passionate health care professional and an avid cyclist. She lives in Ottawa, Canada with her husband, new baby, and two crazy dogs.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are prepared in the author's capacity and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Plant Based News itself.
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