Watching a film with a vegan-related theme can be a great way to inspire friends and family to go vegan, and re-affirm your own passion for compassion.
There are many thought-provoking movies out there, but to give you a starting point, here are my reviews of five popular vegan documentaries that I found to be very interesting and highly motivating, for vegans and non-vegans alike:
Narrated by stunning vegan star, Joaquin Phoenix, with soundtrack by the talented vegan artist, Moby, the documentary film, Earthlings, does an amazing job of exposing the many ways in which animals are exploited. Many topics that are often left in a cold, dark corner (e.g. puppy-mills, the living conditions of farm animals and the treatment of animals used for experimentation and entertainment have the clear light of reason shed upon them in this film.
The movie is an honest portrayal of the way we humans treat the rest of the species we share the Earth with. It can be very difficult to watch at times as one might feel a sense of helplessness at the suffering of many animals, but it’s been known to help change many lives and minds.
Joaquin Phoenix was quoted saying that, “Of all the films I have ever made, this is the one that gets people talking the most. For every one person who sees Earthlings, they will tell three”; and Rory Freedman, author of Skinny Bitch was quoted saying, “Earthlings will touch the very core of your being; it’s effect will be immeasurable and everlasting.”
2. Forks Over Knives
The film that everyone has been talking about! This documentary opens our eyes to just how harmful the Western diet has become since convenient, highly processed ‘junk’ foods came on the scene, and the consumption of animal protein through various sources has been on the rise.
Forks Over Knives, featuring a cast of leading doctors, researchers, and Ph.D. holders, backs up it’s claims with solid facts and statistical analyses throughout the movie. The strong correlation made between eating animal products, and mortality due to heart-disease and cancer is particularly scary.
A whopping 40% of Americans are obese and childhood diabetes is steadily rising, we spend billions of dollars on health care but do so little to prevent illness. Forks over Knives asserts that the simple act of eating a whole foods plant based diet can cure and prevent what ails us today without all the harmful side-effects.
Last summer, I was fortunate enough to watch this gripping documentary, which was only released in a few select theatres throughout the US and the UK. Blackfish has forever tarnished my perception of SeaWorld and similar places where wild, captive animals are forced to perform for and entertain humans.
The film starts off with 30+ year old footage of a crew of fishermen snatching away three young orcas from their traumatized family, one being a two year-old male orca later named Tillikum. One of the men involved in the capture, and interviewed in the movie, said, with obvious deep remorse and sorrow, that what they did in that ocean off the coast of Iceland all those years ago was the worst thing he has ever done.
Tillikum, the captured killer whale who is still housed at Orlando’s SeaWorld and is kept as a virtual slave, went on to kill 3 people; the latest being the well-meaning veteran trainer, Dawn Brancheau. Sadly, almost 3/4ths of the orcas in SeaWorld parks are descendants of Tillikum.
SeaWorld has dropped in attendance by 13% since the release of Blackfish. This documentary is forcing people to take sides. Will they keep a place they now know to be morally reprehensible by purchasing tickets to their entertainmentshows? Or will they stand up for what they know is right?
SeaWorld has put out a statement to explain away the movie, and continues to spend loads of money on damage control. The makers of Blackfish have rebuttalled the statement and a strong entity of orca allies continue to protest outside of SeaWorld parks each weekend. To keep up to date with the SeaWorld Campaign, visit Sea World of Hurt.
You can watch the trailer below, rent or purchase Blackfish online.
4. Food Inc.
Food Inc. is a moving account of how our food system has rapidly declined in quality since WWII. This documentary illustrates how we now live in a world where food is owned by huge conglomerates that bully average American farmers into doing their dirty work for them – the products have grown bigger and cheaper but not better.
Independent, family farms have been replaced with large warehouse style factories (though the facade of farms of yore still run rampant in advertising). Corporations ensure that farmers become indebted to them by “lending” them hundreds of thousands of dollars to build their factories, knowing that the farmer making less that $20,000 will never be able to pay them back.
The film ends on a hopeful note reminding the viewer that with their buying power they have the ability to demand higher standards – and to say we won’t stand for the abuse and belittlement of the farmers, animals and our own health.
You can rent or purchase Food Inc. online.
5. Meat the Truth
This is the first film created by the Nicolaas G. Pierson Foundation. After the recent surge of interest in environmental issues including the release of Al Gore’s movie, An Inconvenient Truth, we can no longer ignore our responsibility for ecological damage and global warming; while planes, trains, and automobiles account for 13% of greenhouse gases, 18% of ozone destruction and climate change is related to what we eat.
The truth about meat consumption and ecological devastation is inconvenient for many people to accept; Meat the Truth shows just how much environmental damage is really caused by the concentration of millions of animals known as ‘livestock’and how changing our diet can change our planet for the better.
You can watch the trailer below, rent or purchase Meat the Truth online.
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You might also enjoy our Top 5 Vegan Songs!