Aaron Scheibner is the creative force behind Phoenix Philms. His latest feature length documentary “A Delicate Balance- The Truth” is a film about how food affects our health and the environment. We spoke to Aaron recently to find out more about the film and the man behind the film.
1. Why did you decide to go vegan and how has it improved your health and well being?
I had never imagined that I would ever become a vegetarian let alone a vegan. It was around 2001 that I started to look at my diet, and began to make some small changes to it. That opened my eyes to what I was really eating or consuming. It was during the time of researching “A Delicate Balance” that I saw how devastating the landscape was being affected by animal based agriculture. It was while travelling in country NSW and around that same time watching an animated film called ‘Chicken Run’ that I made a connection. It clicked with me (at least where chickens were concerned) and I decided to never eat chicken again.
I looked into a vegetarian diet more and more as I always did love animals. I went on a blood group diet at one point and took my cherished dairy products out of my diet. I didn’t like this prospect as I loved my dairy- I loved my Brie, European style yoghurt, buttermilk ice cream, Cheddar cheese and so on. Interestingly enough I never did like butter. I was off dairy for about 6 to 8 weeks and I felt fantastic. I lost weight and felt better over all. I did go back to the dairy after I stopped the Blood Group Diet.
It was in 2003 when I became a vegetarian. I was learning all I could about the subject. I started to connect with various animal rights organisations. I watched the film ‘Meet your Meat’. It was during this time that I learnt what a vegan was. I knew for sure I did not want to become one of them! I told myself I would never become a vegan! And yet I eat my words everyday. I was a happy little vegetarian until I met Scarlett a cow who lived in the same town as me- Jamberoo.
The town is the birthplace of co-operative dairy production in Australia. Its a very picturesque town with rolling hills and black and white cows all over the place but it’s not a very happy place for these poor souls. Scarlett had just given birth to a calf. Unfortunately the calf died during birth. She couldn’t get up, she had calving paralysis. I came to visit her everyday. The local farmer gave her various different supplements to try to get her back up but nothing seemed to work. I even filmed her while all this was happening, it was so sad. I could see her body just wasting away. I could see her bone structure more and more. She was getting bed like sores and seemed like she was not very happy being in that state. It looked and felt as if she so desperately wanted to get up. The farmer tried to lift her frail body with a small tracker. It was very sad to see. After observing all this I decided I would never consume dairy products or eggs for that matter ever again. Everyday I pass a number of dairy farms and remember her but not only that, I see how unhappy the calves and cows are when I drive by.
I really wish I could help them. They can’t really do much except do what the farmers make them do. Just a note on Scarlett. The farmer was not intentionally cruel. He was doing only what he knew. That is his life and he doesn’t know any other way. I really feel that the farmers (at least the small time farmers) would be open to change, be open to maybe switching or reducing their dependence on the cows and other animals on their farms. They just need the support and I don’t think it can or would come from government.
2. Your film “A Delicate Balance-The Truth” has inspired many people to go vegan and others to go vegetarian and others to reduce their meat and dairy consumption, which makes you a super cool vegan indeed! What inspired you to make such a powerful documentary?
I do hope it has made a difference and encouraged people to look into what they eat and how it affects everyone around them. I don’t know about that though. All I want to do is share this information. I am just doing what I feel would best help the animals and the planet and her resources. I just want to make a small difference.
I was first inspired to make this film while I was travelling in country NSW. I saw how dry the landscape and bush was. Australia was in one of its perpetual droughts. It was around the time that wool sheep were being culled because there wasn’t enough food and water to keep them to raise them for their wool. Things are pretty bad when it comes to that. This is what prompted me to begin to create the story board for the film. I had all these great ideas in my head for the film. I had no idea how to turn them into a ‘reality’ but somehow I managed to make it happen!
I also made this film for the animals, I wanted to help them in some way, to stop them from being used for their bodies. I thought that if people educated themselves about the foods they eat that they would steer towards the non animals foods- the healthy and plentiful plant foods that nature intended us all to eat.
3. “A Delicate Balance-The Truth” has been nominated for several awards and you were the recipient of the Green Apple Award at the Green Lifestyle Film Festival in 2009. Your website is full of quotes of endorsement by many well known people such as Dr Will Tuttle (author of the World Peace Diet), Imogen Bailey (Australian actress and model), a couple of politicians, members of the media and many others. Do you think that more people are awakening to the Truth and are making the necessary lifestyle changes that will ensure better health for themselves and the planet?
I really don’t think so. I do hope this is the case but I don’t think it’s really happening. Humans can either be caring, kind and altruistic but there are some that are truly selfish and care about no one but themselves and what they desire. I do live in hope however that there are people out there that truly care for the well being of the animals, the planet and (oh this is such a cliché) but to take care of the planet for future generations.
4. What is the coolest thing about being vegan?
5. What is your favourite recipe?
I love potato mash!
Here is one variation on a old time favourite:
Peel a bunch of Kipfler, Desiree Heirloom, Purple Majesty Heirloom potatoes or any similar potatoes that you can get your hands on. AVOID buying supermarket potatoes. Grow your own if you can ( I grow some herbs and spices, potatoes, artichokes and tomatoes in my garden). Don’t peel the skin. Cover with water. Cook until soft, drain well & mash the potatoes. Add a little vegan margarine such as Nutellex or olive oil but this is optional. Add a bit of soy, rice, oat or any other ‘milk’ you fancy. Add some chilli flakes and some fresh parsley and voilà!
I know potatoes aren’t the best carbohydrate but I enjoy a good mash every now and then.
6. What’s next for Phoenix Philms?
7. If you could send a message to people all around the globe, what would you say?
Think, think, think! Think for yourself. Don’t let anyone give you information and blindly believe it. Don’t listen to the media (in any form). Question what is being said. Question everything. Search for answers. Live through different eyes every day and experience what each day has to bring you but remember think, think, think and question everything you see!
A Delicate Balance is available for a short time until the end of this month (August 2010) from http://adelicatebalance.vividas.com/ for only $4.95 per view!
Aaron is offering a free “A Delicate Balance – The Truth: The Book” (e-book) valued at $8 USD for anyone who emails 5 of their friends about the film. Send your email to firstname.lastname@example.org and he will send you the e-book!
For more information about Aaron Scheibner and his film “A Delicate Balance- The Truth” please see the following websites: