What’s For Dinner? Documentary

What’s For Dinner? Documentary

To visit the film’s official web site, click here.

WHAT’S FOR DINNER? is distributed by Icarus Films in North America. For information on prices and screenings please contact them here. For purchases or screenings outside of North America please email us at wfd[at]brightergreen[dot]org.

Trailer music “UISTS” courtesy of XPURM.

To see the trailer on Vimeo, click here.

Brighter Green is trying to answer a big question: can people in the developing world eat as much meat and dairy as people in the industrialized countries without destroying the planet? And do they really want to? WHAT’S FOR DINNER? explores these issues through the medium of film.

To complement the film, Brighter Green has created a supplemental viewing guide to facilitate screenings of the film, including pre- and post-viewing questions, background information, and resources for further research. Please refer to this guide for information about acquiring a copy of the film or hosting a screening. Because of the short length of the film (running time of twenty-nine minutes), it can easily be paired with other documentaries in a class or series.

Viewing Guide (PDF)

Viewing Guide (PDF)

WHAT’S FOR DINNER? follows the rapid rise of animal product consumption in China, where consumption of pork—the country’s most popular meat—has doubled over the past ten years. Since China recently opened its doors to foreign agribusiness, both Western and home-grown fast food chains are now commonplace in urban areas, and contribute to a $28 billion-a-year business in the country.

None of this would be possible without the rapid adoption of a U.S.-style system of intensive production. But strains are showing: manure and other run-off from so-called “factory farms” that can house thousands of pigs, chickens, or ducks are fouling groundwater and rivers. Only two generations after a national famine killed millions, nearly a quarter of Chinese adults are overweight or obese, as are as many as one in five children. Diet-related chronic diseases now kill more people in China than any other cause.

WHAT’S FOR DINNER? sheds new light on the climate, public health, food security, workers’ rights, and ethical concerns of China taking this path.

Interested in organizing a community or university screening, or home viewing? Please visit wfdinner.com for details.


Here are stills and short bios of each of the characters featured in the film:

What's For Dinner Character Bios 1

Zhou Shuzhen is a retired pig farmer who worked at Ten Thousand Pig Farm in Jiangxi province.

Xiao Muxiu is a pig farmer at Ten Thousand Pig Farm, whose small-scale business is threatened by the fluctuating price of pork.

Wu Xiaohong works in Beijing on animal welfare issues.

Yi Shengming is a pig farmer in Yi village, near Ji’an City in Jianxi province.

Wang Ronghua is a young livestock entrepreneur invested in pig and poultry farms, and is building a new pig facility in his hometown, which he hopes to expand.

What's For Dinner Character Bios 2

Yu Li is the owner of Vegan Hut, a health-conscious vegan restaurant in Beijing, which he opened after learning about the significant role of livestock in global warming in the 2006 UN report, Livestock’s Long Shadow.

Xie Zheng is a pop star and activist who founded the vegetarian advocacy group, “Don’t Eat Friends”.

Dr. Tian Yongsheng is a government official and long-time vegetarian who worries about the ecological impacts of feeding a growing livestock population.

Wen Bo is one of China’s leading environmentalists, working for National Geographic’s Global Exploration Fund for China.

Xie Hongying owns Donald Macky restaurant, a home-grown Chinese fast food outlet in Ji’an City.


WHAT’S FOR DINNER? is directed by award-winning filmmaker Jian Yi who led an all-Chinese crew that included assistant director Eva Song, producer Douglas Xiao, and cinematographer Pan Kewu.

Jian Yi is an independent filmmaker and cultural activist who is interested in religion, education, environmental conservation, globalization, and unofficial history. In 2009, he founded IFChina Original Studio, a non-profit independent organization focusing on collecting and documenting social memories. Jian taught at the Communication University of China for five years before his three-year appointment with an E.U. program focusing on China’s village governance. He is a Yale World Fellow (2009), an Asian Cultural Council grantee (2008), an India-China Fellow at the New School University (2008-2010), and a visiting fellow at Cambridge University. Jian’s films have won international awards including the Bronze Zenith at the 31st Montreal World Film Festival, and have been shown at numerous venues across the globe including New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), United Nations conference forums, and university campuses. He has served as a jury member and mentor at international film festivals and spoken at numerous venues including the artists’ series at the Apple Store Beijing. Jian received Master’s degrees from the Beijing Broadcasting Institute (now Communication University of China) and the University of Notre Dame. Jian and his wife, Eva Song, have been vegetarians (mostly vegans) for more than five years and are proud parents of a healthy and lovely vegetarian baby boy.

Interview with Jian Yi about the making of the film:

Brighter Green collaborated on WHAT’S FOR DINNER? with Karin Chien of dGenerate Films, and Susannah Ludwig of Snapdragon Films.


Versions of the film have screened at:


Follow the production process through our blogs. Learn about who and what Jian Yi and his crew filmed, and see what went into the making of WHAT’S FOR DINNER?

Director Jian Yi Screens Clips of “What’s For Dinner?” at the Apple Store, Beijing. February 17th, 2010

Copenhagen Screening: SRO. December 18th, 2009

Along The Pearl River: Manufacturing, A Multi-Course Meal, and a Meta Narrative. September 4th, 2009

Guangdong: Pigs, Pollution, and Politics. September 3rd, 2009

Down on the Ten Thousand Pig Farm. August 21st, 2009

Two Lunches. August 19th, 2009

Mr. Wang Builds His Pig Farm. August 13th, 2009

Mr. and Mrs. Yu’s Famous Vegan Diner. August 10th, 2009

From Rockstars to Analysts, Chinese Talk About Vegetarianism, Animal Rights, Climate Change. August 7th, 2009

“What’s For Dinner?”: Filming Begins. July 30th, 2009


Our Hen House podcast Episode 180: “You have just dined, and however scrupulously the slaughterhouse is concealed in the graceful distance of miles, there is complicity.”


Click here for the film’s IMDB page.

View trailers for Jian Yi’s documentary and feature films on ARTiSIMPLE’s YouTube channel.

Click here for Jian Yi’s Director’s Statement for the film.

Jian Yi was invited to speak at the Apple Store in Sanlitun, Beijing as part of a series featuring Chinese directors. See clips of his interview, including scenes from WHAT’S FOR DINNER?, here.