A new documentary by John Lewis (aka Badass Vegan) unveils the racism that lies within the food industry.
Have you ever wondered why healthy food is less available in communities of color? And not only that but why BIPOC are more susceptible to disease? These directly-related hard truths are built on an unjust food system that is exposed in the new documentary They’re Trying to Kill Us.
John Lewis is a Black vegan filmmaker and Ferguson native who has witnessed and experienced this issue first-hand. Lewis shared, “Even though I’ve been involved in athletics and sports since I was a little kid, I did reach a state of childhood obesity where I was 315 pounds as a freshman in high school. Many years later, I found out that it was not only the lack of activity that led to my obesity, but it was the foods I was eating at the time. I started my vegan journey once my mother was diagnosed with colon cancer. After I did some research, I saw that animal protein wasn’t just a cause of cancers but it was also the cause of many diseases within the human body and that’s what led me down my journey to becoming a filmmaker in pointing out what I’ve learned along the way to help out more people.”
For this documentary, Lewis teamed up with Keegan Kuhn, the co-director of Cowspiracy and What the Health. Lewis told us they met a few years back at a festival. “I had a booth for my protein shake, Vegan Smart, and he had a booth for his documentary at the time, Cowspiracy. When I walked over to the booth, he actually knew who I was and it just became a good friendship from there.” Years later, Kuhn reached out to Lewis about working together on a documentary. Kuhn expressed a desire to reach more people with this documentary but didn’t know how to do so.
That’s when Lewis suggested the idea of using hip-hop. “Hip-hop really runs the world and if we can appeal to the people who love it,” he shared, “then they would be more willing to listen to the message.” They’re Trying to Kill Us will feature interviews with numerous hip-hop artists, public figures, and doctors as they discuss veganism, health, poverty, systemic racism, and more. Ne-Yo, Raury, TxTHEWAY, Lola Monroe, King Los, Dame Dash, Grey, Angela Yee, Dr. Neal Barnard, and John Salley are some of the guests who make an appearance.
When we asked Lewis what message he hopes to get across with They’re Trying to Kill Us, he told us, “This documentary is solution-based. The main purpose of this is to actually show people that they have a way out if they use a plan of action. I want people to see that there is a way out from the dark and dismal portrayal of health that has been shown to us in the past.”
They’re Trying to Kill Us is set to be released by the end of the year. They have not yet announced what platforms it will be available on. For the most recent updates, follow @theyretryingtokillusfilm on Instagram.