We know you are tempted to begin your own version of Veganuary and are pretty serious to follow it through after watching the latest vegan documentaries on Netflix or YouTube.
And thus, you have become the Buddha on the night when you clearly wanted to Netflix and chill (or maybe Netflix without the chill, but you know, you just wanted to have a good time. And being thoroughly disturbed with what goes on in slaughterhouses was not one of those things you were looking forward to.) The feeling is like being Chris Rock on the Oscar’s night, slapped by a documentary disguised as Will Smith saying- ‘Keep animals out of your f*cking mouth.’ (We didn’t want to say his wife’s name because we don’t want to slapped by him, obviously.)
You are humbled and definitely humiliated, but would you stop? Or do YOU need to apologize for the times you were savoring a good meal at a steakhouse? Maybe, vegan documentaries definitely are the culprit that you have to do your personal walk of shame for being a meat eater, only that there is no Sept of Baelor to egg you on. It’s all you! And you are disgusted by the thought of eating meat, now more than ever.
Thus, you prepare for the next big decision of your life right away. Changing what is on your plate is what you do. And you follow it- right from fishing out quinoa and soy milk from the stores, to looking up the best vegan recipes and plant-based substitutes. Veganism is your credo now. But what happens when you encounter THAT slump where you just can’t resist sneaking a chicken nugget into your salad?
As one strayed vegan said- ‘It does not work for me not having a side of meat on my plate and replacing it with plant protein which I know isn’t meat. I am trying to resist it, but the temptation is too much to bear.’
It is understandable why those who habitually eat meat and animal products do not want to give up their diet. Or, even if they do, it is simply difficult for them to sincerely adhere to a plant-based diet. But, maybe something is better than nothing. Even if one cannot divorce themselves completely from eating meat or other animal products like milk, they can cut back on their intake somehow.
Slowly weaning people away from excessive consumption is something which well-made vegan documentaries succeed in doing.
Call it a moment of reflection or whatever, we have had at least one person in our family who has abhorred meat ever since they have seen how it comes to our plates. The simple visual of a pig being beaten to its death overrides it being roasted into a sumptuous delight on a family dinner.
But, how far does the visually lingering aspect of vegan documentaries drives effective veganism and true, sustainable change? Do these films travel the extra mile in shaking you up? Why do we endorse watching these films and recommend them? And how do these films contribute to the growing movement against climate change?
Read on to find out the answers to all these questions via our compiled list of the best 7 vegan documentaries and some tips on how to reconcile the dilemma of being concerned for animal welfare and your love for animal-based diets.
Vegan Documentaries and What Do They Tell Us About Veganism
As people are waking up to the reality that their lifestyle is directly connected to the welfare of the planet, they are looking up well-executed vegan documentaries which can acknowledge their diverse food habits and help them make a more ethical choice.
We usually expect vegan documentaries to be garishly visual and show us things that we don’t want to see. It is true in a way, documentaries are supposed to show the undocumented side of things. It is more important to look at the other side of things when we are confronting a larger issue like climate change which is related to not just our food habits, but how we give in to the trend of excessive consumerism which makes us feel spoilt for choice.
The most important thing to know about vegan documentaries is to develop a broad perspective about veganism in general. Often, we make the mistake of limiting veganism to a mere ethical obligation to not eat animals. We conveniently forget that veganism also extends to other spheres of lifestyle like fashion.
Why Do We Love to Hate Vegan Documentaries?
It’s not vegan if we liberally use leather goods despite not eating animals and being vegetarian. Moreover, it is an attitude of tolerance. It will be good to point out that there is no one approach to veganism and plant based diets. However, this is something that vegan documentaries have been avoiding for the longest time.
It is also the reason why people love to hate plant-based diet docu-films streaming on various platforms. Vegans are already pretty unpopular and are not exactly internet’s favourite children. However, these reasons are worth pondering if one has to look for what a well-executed documentary should be like. An approach towards accepting vegan lifestyle with its own the good, the bad, the nasty is to examine the criticism vegan documentaries face. And not all of them are Karen’s shouting to oppose veganism for the sake of opposing it.
Firstly, it is simply a lot of information overload that can have an impact as bad as corporations hell-bent on marketing meat products.
While documentaries are an excellent way of getting the message across, several of them have been ‘debunked’, like this review about ‘Game Changers’ (which also features on this list of vegan documentaries on Netflix). Several critics complain that vegan documentaries, especially on Netflix do not benefit the agenda they support, but they end up benefitting streaming platforms and already profitable businesses.
Secondly, plant-based diet documentaries are accused of profiting from celebrity culture. Several films on this list feature or are produced by celebrities who are vegan which creates more hype about them rather than the issue as such.
Thirdly, vegan documentaries more often than not, tend to show the ethical implications of eating animals and extolling the health benefits of vegan diets to the point that it sounds like a hymn that people only lip-sync to. Several documentaries appear to call people out on eating meat or milk products instead of embracing the fact that there is no one approach to veganism. It’s a great thing that docu-films are now trying to address this aspect too.
Are Docu-Films That Bad? What Do We Suggest?
However, we have a thing or two to say. While the internet loves to hate vegans for flaunting that they are vegans and proud, not everything about it is a reason to claim some 15 minutes of fame.
There are several actual benefits of transitioning to a plant based diet, or at least cutting back on your meat intake. A stark reduction in carbon footprint is one reason, which is backed by several research studies like this one. Other can be health benefits, like a lower risk of fatty liver, decreased cholesterol and a defeating the high risk of diabetes, according to certified dietitian Natalie Butler.
It’s not healthy to make a decision based on a documentary that inspires initial disgust towards yourself and then transform into hatred for those around you.
Moreover, veganism are not limited to gaining popularity as a newbie woke. If your commitment to veganism is dated, so will be your popularity. Maybe, we can try focusing on the values of a documentary and adopting them practically, instead of treating it as a cover to propel a certain savior complex towards animal welfare. That will just be something about you and not the planet, which is certainly not what plant-based diet documentaries, or vegan celebrities seek to endorse.
The Best 8 Life-Changing Vegan Documentaries Online!
After weighing the reasons why vegan documentaries are simultaneously popular and unpopular, we would still like you to watch a few of them. Maybe something is better than nothing at all. Moreover, when we say life-changing, we do not just mean that you will be turning vegan with a bibbidi bobbodi boo. These films might give you a moment to reflect on how can you take a step against climate change by making some adjustments to your life. You can watch these flicks on Netflix or for free, and if they don’t change the way you eat, they are excellent food for thought.
Meat Me Halfway (2021)
When we talk about a well-executed and thoughtful vegan documentary that explores the isolating aspect of the lifestyle, Meat Me Halfway is our go-to.
Based on the book of the same name by Reductarian leader Brian Kateman and produced by Riverdale sensation Madeline Petsch (who has been vegan from her childhood), the docu-film reflects on the Reductarian movement- that reduces meat intake and seeks a practical path forward.
Promising attainable moderation in a world of extremes, Meat Me Halfway is for those who are tired of being accused of not being vegan enough or are mocked for not being an out-and-out meat eater.
It is available for streaming on several platforms including Netflix, like YouTube, Mubi TV etc. You can explore more about this docu-film here.
Although this one is more than a decade old, Earthlings is still relevant because of the issues it tackles.
Endorsed by Australian moral philosopher and animal rights advocate Peter Singer, the film is narrated by Joaquin Phoenix, who is a well-known vegan celebrity himself and is involved in promoting animal welfare.
The film explores how mankind has been entirely dependent on animals for their survival in five key respects-pets, food, clothing, entertainment and scientific research.
Deserving of praise, the documentary’s 10th anniversary edition is available for free on their website. Watch it right now, over here!
Dominion explores the dark shadow side of modern animal agriculture and bravely exposes the truth by using hidden cameras to examine the subject matter.
The film is named so because it questions the human dominion over animals. If you have been asking- what rights do we exercise over animals that we claim their lives and why we shouldn’t, this documentary is going to answer your questions through the eyes of the animals we exploit and dismiss.
Co-produced by Earthlings director Shaun Monson, this documentary features the voices of several vegan celebrities who come together to tell a horrific tale of control and its impacts.
The film is free to stream on several platforms including YouTube, You can check their website for a detailed explanation about the film. You can also donate to Farm Transparency Project, an Australian NGO via their website.
Subtitled ‘The Sustainability Secret’, this groundbreaking feature is also a personal journey as director Kip Anderson takes viewers into one of the most destructive industries ever- that of animal agriculture.
More than the issue itself, the docu-film discusses why environmentalists are shy to talk about the dastardly impacts of indiscriminate animal agriculture.
Shocking, humorous and an eye-opener, Cowspiracy addresses the tussle between sustainability and the demands of an increasing global population. Available for streaming on Netflix.
You would love to see this one, because contrary to beating the drum about veganism, Gunda gives viewers an intimate perspective of a pig’s life.
With his effective craftsmanship, filmmaker Viktor Kossakovsky paints a vivid picture where there are no humans, but the mother sow Gunda, her piglets, two cows and a one-legged chicken.
Produced by Joaquin Phoenix, Gunda is more about showing rather telling how it is to share a planet with animals and nudging the moral aspect of animal farming in its own way,
One of the most popular vegan documentaries, Seaspiracy is all about oceans and documents the environmental impact of practicing pisciculture and the costs inflicted on marine life.
Helmed by director Ali Tabrizi, Seaspiracy touches all the pressure points of global fish consumption and rejects the concept of sustainable fishing.
It does what most docu-films are afraid to do, confront the stakeholders directly and tell them how it is. Honest, refreshing and also, heartbreaking, while the film has been under scanner for the facts it presents, Seaspiracy is one of the most popular and influential films on this list. You can watch it on Netflix.
Eating Our Way To Extinction (2021)
One of the latest vegan documentaries that has compelled the world to think about how they have been looking at life, Eating Our Way to Extinction features Kate Winslet as a narrator and tells a poignant tale of how indigenous people are severely affected by the changing planet.
Dwelling on a litany of concepts like ecological collapse, its impact on the indigenous peoples and how people look at their food. You can watch the film on Prime video, VUDU and YouTube.
The Game Changers (2018)
One of the most controversial documentaries, the Game Changers looks at the benefits of veganism from the lens of active sportspeople and celebrities like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jackie Chan, Novak Djokovic and Chris Paul.
The film revolves around discovering the optimal diet for sportspeople as elite Special Forces trainer and The Ultimate Fighter winner James Wilks travels the world in search of a diet plan that is sustainable, ethical and provides ample strength.
Showcasing success stories of athletes who embraced veganism, the film has an equal number of lovers and haters, yet it remains a game changer like its name in promoting the benefits of plant-based diets. You can catch the film on Netflix, Vimeo, YouTube, Vudu and Amazon Prime.
What Do We Have to Say About Vegan Documentaries?
On a conclusive note, we believe that films wield a power to make people more aware of their responsibilities towards eliminating what ails them, and in case of vegan documentaries, what ails the planet. While they are a much scrutinized aspect accused of guilt-tripping people into going veganism, spreading pseudoscience and advancing thriving organizations and companies, this activity is not entirely futile.
Well-executed vegan documentaries are slowly embracing a new approach by dissecting the environmental challenge from various lenses. Therefore, we recommend that you should try watching one of these to expand your world view about veganism and a more sustainable, cruelty-free life.