10 Must-Watch Vegan Films & Documentaries
Veganuary 2021 hit a record-breaking 500,000 sign-ups, and it’s no wonder, with the wealth of information we now have around the reasons to go vegan — from the health benefits, to animal welfare and climate change.
As we experience Veganuary this year in a slightly different way (our third national lockdown), it’s a perfect time to immerse yourself in the best vegan documentaries.
So, here’s our list of the best 10 documentaries and films, covering everything plant based!
1. Cowspiracy (2015)
Released in 2015, Cowspiracy has since become a ‘cult’ documentary in the plant based world. It is one of the most famous and talked about films when it comes to impactful vegan content, and is guaranteed to open your eyes to the negative impact of an animal based diet on the environment. Available on Netflix, it follows the ‘shocking yet humorous journey of an aspiring environmentalist’ (Kip Anderson) (Netflix), as he tries to uncover the solution to sustainability.
2. What the Health (2017)
Another ‘cult’ film from the makers of Cowspiracy, What the Health is arguably one of the most shocking and somewhat disturbing vegan documentaries, with a focus on the food industry, and the harmful effects that meat & dairy can have on human health. It compares eating a pork sausage to smoking cigarettes in terms of carcinogenic capacity, amongst many other extremely alarming facts and comparisons. What the Health is also available on Netflix.
3. Earthlings (2005)
Narrated by Joaquin Phoenix, Earthlings uncovers the cruel treatment and suffering of animals on factory farms, laboratories and other settings in which the exploitation of animals occurs. It can be difficult to watch, due to the graphic and disturbing depiction of violence against animals, however after 15+ years it is still considered essential viewing for anyone unaware of the extent of the systemic abuse animals still face today.
“It is the human earthling who tends to dominate the earth, oftentimes treating other fellow earthlings and living beings as mere objects. This is what is meant by ‘speciesism’” — Joaquin Phoenix, Earthlings
4. The Game Changers (2018)
Game Changers focuses on the benefits of a plant based diet for athletes, and de-bunks the common idea that protein, strength and muscle can only equate to eating meat/dairy. It covers the success stories of plant based athletes and their testimonies to a plant based diet, and features some scientific studies which support their claims.
5. Forks over Knives (2011)
Focusing on the USA and exploring the link between obesity and meat consumption , Forks over Knives advocates the following of a vegan diet in order to avoid or even reverse several chronic diseases. The title is based on the message that people can improve/manage their health through their food choices (forks) and subsequently avoid the surgeons knife in future.
“It takes over 10 times the amount of energy from fossil fuels to produce a calorie of animal-based food then it does to produce a calorie of plant-based food.” — Lee Fulkerson, Forks over Knives
6. Okja (2017)
Okja is directed by Oscar winning director Bong Joon Ho. The film follows the great friendship between a young girl, Mija, and her ‘super pig’ — Okja. When Okja is kidnapped and taken to New York for a mass farming initiative, Mija goes on a rescue mission to save her best friend. Available on Netflix.
“Okja is a satire on corporate greed and how awful we are. I know people who stopped eating meat after they saw Okja” — Anupama Chopra, Film critic
7. 73 cows (2018)
73 Cows follows the story of Jay Wilde, the first UK farmer to give up his herd of cattle in order to pursue sustainable organic vegan farming. Wilde and his wife decided to give up meat farming after feeling increasingly uncomfortable with sending their cows to slaughter, after forming a friendship with each of them. Their story is emotional and inspiring, and may restore your faith in humanity— in just 15 minutes. It won a BAFTA in 2019 for best short film, and was even screened at a European Parliament meeting in an attempt to inspire changes to agricultural law. You can watch 73 Cows on Vimeo, via this link https://vimeo.com/293352305.
8. Vegucated (2011)
Vegucated describes itself as “part sociological experiment and part adventure comedy” The guerilla-style documentary follows the journey of three real meat and cheese loving New Yorkers as they go vegan for six weeks. It is relatable at times, as it explores the challenges some may face during their transition to veganism. It shows the evolution of the participants, as their eyes are opened to the hard truths of the meat and dairy industries, and eventually attempts to “change the world one bite at a time.”
9. Food Inc (2008)
Food Inc continues to be an extremely influential documentary, even today. It explores the US meat industry and the more questionable methods it has gone to in order to meet the consumer demand. It uncovers the ways in which major corporations control each aspect the food chain, including farms and supermarkets, and how they prioritise profit over public health.
“They fought against telling you if there is trans-fat in your food. The meat packing industry for years prevented country-of-origin labelling. They fought not to label genetically modified foods; and now 70% of processed food in the supermarket has some genetically modified ingredient” — Eric Schlosser, Food Inc
10. The Land of Hope and Glory (2017)
Narrated by Ed Winters (Earthling Ed on social media), The Land of Hope and Glory is short and straight to the point, depicting the disturbing and horrific treatment of animals inside over 100 UK farms. It completely destroys the idea that some may have that UK farms are more humane or superior than US farms, clearly showing that this is not the case. An IMBD user review called it “Educational for those of us living in ignorance” (IMBD)
You can watch the Land of Hope and Glory free via the website https://www.landofhopeandglory.org.