Why shouldn't film be made vegan-friendly?
It is not surprising that the Berlin-born actor Steffen Groth still lives in the capital today with his girlfriend Anna and his youngest child. Berlin has always been a sought-after place to live for artists of all kinds and so there are also numerous well-known faces from the actor's profession. We meet Steffen Groth during one of his stays in Hamburg and can convince ourselves of the pleasant manner and calm charisma of the mime.
The 43-year-old vegan father of three comes to the interview wearing casual jeans and a gray cotton jacket. He seems very relaxed, as if nothing and nobody could harm him. Steffen became known through his appearances in countless television productions and movies. Due to his appealing, sporty appearance, he often plays the role of the charming lover and womanizer.
However, he is not limited to this character and can play many types. Over time he has shown himself in a wide variety of roles. His television debut was almost twenty years ago, so you can definitely call him an old hand, he knows how the cogs turn in his business. The likeable Berliner had been on a vegetarian diet for almost 20 years when he completely embraced the vegan lifestyle a few years ago. He has dealt with nutrition a lot and is a passionate cook.
The fact that he has not yet found a “really good” substitute for cheese does not prevent him from supporting and promoting the vegan movement. He is committed to aid and animal welfare organizations such as CARE and PETA, promotes projects that are supposed to enable young people to have a better future and draws attention to the importance of finally returning to peace around the world. Steffen Groth never gets tired of working on himself and being a support to others. In the interview, Steffen tells us quite openly that he is slowly but surely tired of the fact that the subject of animal welfare is often pushed aside in our society. Steffen Groth can currently be seen in the role of Nico in the movie "Die Welt der Wunderlichs".
Interview with actor Steffen Groth
WVM: You were a vegetarian for a long time before you decided to go vegan. How did it finally come about? Was there a key moment?
Steffen: Somehow I always say that I may have surrounded myself with the "wrong people" (grins). At that time I was in contact with the Veganz founders Jan Bredack and Juliane Kindler. When I told them that I am a vegetarian for ethical reasons, they showed me relatively quickly that I am ethically not really good with vegetarianism. They provided me with films about dairy farming and milk production. Then I took a bite of the sour apple and became a vegan. Unfortunately, I still think cheese is very tasty.
WVM: Did that lead to further upheavals for you?
Steffen: The extension to vegan isn't really. I had my crises of meaning long before that. At that time they also led me to an intensive examination of the general question of the meaning of life and, consequently, to employment and private study of the world religions. That finally brought me to the point that I no longer wanted to pack anything into my body that would change my consciousness. At the same time, I took the Buddhist approach of nonviolence seriously and tried not to harm any human or animal. I stopped eating meat, fish and eggs and have been completely drug-free for 16 years now. No alcohol, no cigarettes and nothing else (grins).
WVM: And then you met Juliane and Jan?
Steffen: Yes! I told the two of my thoughts. As I said, they opened my eyes and showed me some good substitutes for my beloved cheese. "I am an enthusiastic cook!"
WVM: How is it today? Do you cook regularly yourself?
Steffen: I am an enthusiastic cook! Since I am a meat fan who confesses to taste, I have been trying to imitate the taste of meat since 1998. That works really great now. Unfortunately, cheese is still a building site for me. There are still not that many good alternatives. Whereby: There are already great “cheese spreads”, for example made from lupins.
WVM: You are the father of three children. Is your entire family vegan?
Steffen: My daughter is a vegetarian and so is my son. He doesn't like milk and rarely eats cheese. Therefore, he is actually almost a vegan. However, he would, for example, eat a dish in which cream was used or pizza with cheese. I want them to eat what they want. Of course, through my diet, they develop awareness. I think it's good that they get a feel for things like that now, but I wouldn't show them the gross films I saw then, for example. Maybe when they're older and ask about it themselves.
WVM: As you have just briefly described, wasn't it just the delicious vegan foods that convinced you, but also the facts?
Steffen: Yes. Two films on the subject of milk production in particular flipped the switch on me. I immediately thought to myself “I just can't do that anymore!” In the meantime, there is even a real feeling of disgust mixed in with it. I always imagine that there is always a certain percentage of pus in every glass of milk, which is clearly demonstrated again and again. Let's be honest, that's perverted, isn't it?
WVM: Then the issue of milk is a particularly sore point for you?
Steffen: Well, the sore point is perhaps a bit of an exaggeration. But of course: what is the point of drinking the growth fluid of another species? That's a strange thought for me! Basically, it's not just the milk, but the entire package of keeping, breeding and handling the animals.
WVM: How far does the topic of vegan and sustainability go for you? You're sure to buy vegan clothing, cosmetics and cleaning products, too, right?
Steffen: Well, I think it's a bit strange that I still have my old leather things from before. On the other hand, throwing it away would be even less sustainable for me. I don't buy anything new made of leather, though. I find it unsettling to have the skin of another living being as part of my clothing. I have to admit that I don't really enjoy putting on the old stuff anymore either. For example, this one (points to his belt) is a real leather belt. It's really difficult for women, isn't it? I think there are hardly any really beautiful women's shoes made of synthetic leather. For example, I've been looking for a suitable wallet for ages. In the end I ended up on the internet at “Matt & Nat”. You have to take a look around, they have really great things. There are also really nice handbags, for example.
WVM: Do you think that more needs to be done when it comes to vegan fashion?
Steffen: As I said, I haven't found anything really nice so far, especially when it comes to artificial leather shoes. A couple of good designers really need to get involved. In the sneaker area, for example, there have been alternatives for a long time, including by great designers like Stella Mc Cartney for Adidas, for example.
WVM: Steffen, you are a person who is in public. When you speak your mind, you take a stand and send a message. Of course, this can also lead to branding. Has this “I am vegan” ever had any disadvantages for you?
Steffen: I don't know (smiles). Anyway, my problem is that I'm a relatively extreme guy. I don't drink alcohol, for example, and unfortunately that's still part of good manners in my business. I'm just a huge joke (grins). But the people who get to know me soon notice that you can have a good time with me without alcohol.
WVM: How are the reactions when you mention that you are vegan? "People are skeptical, but also curious!"
Steffen: First of all: I am of the opinion that excessive sense of mission is really annoying. So I don't run around and have to tell everyone how I live. With you I can just say what I really think, because your magazine is very contextual. But of course I still have conversations about my way of life. There are two typical types of reactions that I experience over and over again. Either at a certain point people don't know what to do with me or, to put it bluntly, they start crying out at me. According to the motto “I really should drink less” and “I should actually also eat less meat”. Sometimes I already think to myself “Why are you telling me this? Just do what you think and I'll do what I do. ”However, if someone asks out of real interest, it will result in really nice conversations. All in all, you can say that people are skeptical, but also curious.
WVM: We all know the pictures from your PETA campaign. You were really well dressed, compliments! PETA is known for using naked activists to draw attention to the abuses in dealing with animals. Would you do that too? Undress for an animal rights organization? Have you ever thought about it?
Steffen: I don't think so. Who wants to see that (laughs). Also, my PR agent sometimes tells me not to constantly promote any good cause. That could have any effect and thus be less conducive to the cause. WVM: What makes a good person? Steffen: I think consciousness. A spirit of charity, helpfulness, environmental awareness and friendly interaction with others. So in short (grins).
WVM: A look into the near future, what's next for you?
Steffen: I am now finishing the cinema tour for the film “The World of the Wunderlichs”, in which I play one of the leading roles. Then I'm currently developing a series on the subject of radicalization in Islam, and I'm having talks with production companies and broadcasters. I'm on a talk show on October 20th. In advance, I was asked if there was a topic that was particularly important to me. I said quite spontaneously that I would like to talk about the film “Cowspiracy” (very good, vegan educational film, recommendation of the editors!). I thought it was very nice that I was asked.
WVM: Is the film particularly important to you?
Steffen: The film shows facts about animal husbandry in an incredibly exciting and entertaining way. It is really well prepared and amazing. I learned from it, for example, that making a normal meat patty for a hamburger requires so much water that you could shower with it for a whole month. It's really unbelievable. I was also impressed that the animals kept for the meat industry produce such a large amount of excretions every day that they could completely cover the area of five world metropolises. New York, Delhi, LA, Paris and Toronto would sink completely. Every day a lake of excrement is created and the forest dies within a radius of five kilometers because the soil is so corrosive. I talked about it with my young son when we were sitting on the balcony. “Imagine everything is full of shit - and we can now use this word for once - all of Berlin. Just imagine how that would stink! ".
WVM: How did he react?
Steffen: He thought that was impressive, but then said relatively cool that people are sometimes just really stupid.
WVM: What kind of proposal would you have for the politicians? How could one ensure that not only individual individuals deal with the topic and that it is discussed more extensively? "We have to get away from these large companies!"
Steffen: I think the biggest problem is that we basically have to get away from the big companies. However, more suggestions would have to come from the EU to encourage this. There was once this documentary about food around the world. A farmer from India was also shown. He said he stopped buying from Monsanto now. He had obtained advice as part of a project and switched to organic. The participants in the project were shown how their farm functions as a cycle that is able to produce large, high-quality yields. They were also shown things like how to make your own fertilizer. I found that very plausible and exemplary in the truest sense of the word. I think the main thing is to establish a different orientation around the world. Towards more community and away from greed, turbo-capitalism and senseless consumption. And that also applies to politics. Small political solutions will not save us. Even at the risk of me messing around with it: Before all political solutions, the consciousness must change and political decisions should then emerge from this consciousness. I think the most important thing on the way is to make a change in education.
WVM: So we humans all have to be more careful?
WVM: Talking more to each other could be useful, right?
Steffen: Definitely. Politics is a lot about power interests, maintaining power and things like that. You just have to watch a political talk show. Often these are no longer conversations; that would require a fundamentally different culture of conversation. That would have to be much less aimed at self-portrayal or portraying the position of the party. The party representatives should first of all listen to each other and develop empathy for the suffering and problems they are discussing. Then you could think about common solutions. That would be something.
WVM: Steffen, because you are such a great animal lover, I would like to end with a slightly easier question for you: Do you have a favorite animal?
Steffen: Only one thing? Can I also name three? Dolphin, horse and gorilla.
WVM: And which of the three would you like to be if you could choose?
Steffen: I would like to be ... (thinks about it). Well, I waver a bit between horse and gorilla, but I would like to be a gorilla best.
WVM: Thank you very much for the interview!
Interview: Markus Megyeri, Sven Dehner
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