Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret – available on Netflix. Image by David Dickens
People become vegan for so many reasons. The mooted health benefits, to save the planet and help tackle the climate crisis, because of a deep love of animals or because they spent their youth listening to The Smiths. So is meat murder or part of a good, healthy balanced diet? Here are some documentaries about veganism to help you make up your mind.
These vital films showcase the science, the animal rights issues, the health implications and the environmental concerns behind people choosing a plant-based diet. Tuck in…
Simon Amstell: Carnage
We’ve been to the year 2067 – not much has changed, but the idea of eating meat is as repellent as cannibalism is now. Comedian and filmmaker Simon Amstell is the brains behind one of the great mockumentaries of recent times, which was made for BBC3 in 2017 and set in the future.
He shows humans in 2067 trying to come to terms with the gross crimes against animals committed by their ancestors – but, crucially, deals in facts when it comes to cruelty in the meat and dairy industries. Don’t expect belly laughs, but this is a beautifully pitched documentary about veganism, and the Thought Translater, which allowed us to hear what animals were thinking and was voiced by Joanna Lumley, is quite the imaginative leap as the invention that changed the way we treated animals.
Featuring appearances from Martin Freeman, Lorraine Kelly, Clive Myrie and JME – plus top actor Gemma Jones spitting the word Edam with such horror – Carnage is Amstell at his imaginative, provocative, and brilliant best. Watch it here
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The Game Changers
Elite athletes and scientists share the benefits of a plant-based diet in a sports documentary with a difference – backed by executive producers including filmmaking greats James Cameron and Jackie Chan, F1 legend Lewis Hamilton and actor Pamela Anderson. And who would argue with them? The film follows UFC fighter James Wilks, who travels the world researching nutrition while on an injury break from the sport.
While many reviewers claimed The Game Changers featured convenient mistruths about plant-based diets and the influence of the meat and dairy industries, Wilks makes a convincing argument that a properly planned vegan diet can provide the very best fuel for professional athletes and amateur fitness fans alike.
Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret
How much of the climate crisis is livestock farming’s fault? That’s the provocative question at the heart of this well-made Netflix documentary about veganism fronted by activist and filmmaker Kip Anderson. The film looks at the correlation between animal agriculture and climate change, so prepared to face a barrage of statistics to back up Anderson’s asserting that livestock farming produces more greenhouse gases than all the planes, trains and automobiles in the world (a view not supported by most science on the subject).
However, the filmmaker and campaigner – whose life was changed by watching Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth – still makes a compelling case for veganism. See also: What The Health – a 2017 follow-up by the same filmmakers with executive producer Joaquin Phoenix, extolling the health benefits of plant-based diets.
Can a group of vegans convert the meat eaters and milk drinkers of Merthyr Tydfil to a plant-based diet? Animal rights activist Joey, Miami bodybuilder Korin, Jodi, Rikki and truck driver Dan each have different ways of spreading the word about veganism – but will any of them cut through, and can the group stay together?
This three-part BBC documentary showcases the different motivations for going vegan – and tensions between different philosophies of veganism. Watch it here
THE CARNIVORE’S DILEMMA
To eat or not to eat meat, that is the question. And while not strictly a film espousing veganism, The Carnivore’s Dilemma, available to watch on The Big Issue TV shows up the very worst of industrialised farming as it asks whether we should continue to eat meat.
The answer? That might depend on whether the farming methods that work in harmony with animals and nature, that journalist and filmmaker Benoit Bringer encounters on his travels across the globe, are implemented. But in terms of showing up the very worst of the meat-making industry, this award-winning documentary is well worth watching. To subscribe for the introductory rate of £3.99 per month go to thebigissue.tv
Actor Natalie Portman narrates this documentary, based on Jonathan Safran Foer’s bestseller, that shows up close and in almost too much graphic detail the cruelty of factory farming. We see the mucky side of the business, hearing from whistleblowers who have suffered harassment and seeing the production process behind chicken nuggets. Perhaps the best film of the lot for provoking a revolt against factory farming and consuming meat. Find out how to watch it here
Hogwood: A Modern Horror Story
Is it time to cut down on your porklife, mate? If you can get through this film, in which intrepid reporters go undercover in UK factory farms, and still stomach a bacon butty then you have a stronger constitution than me. Some of the footage is shocking. Appalling. Revolting. But it’s important.
Need more convincing? This short Amazon Prime cut is narrated by Game of Thrones star Jerome Flynn and endorsed by F1 ace Lewis Hamilton, who said: ‘Please watch this. We need to find compassion in our hearts to see what we are doing to this world.” So why not watch it here
What If The World Went Vegan?
One way to change the world? Change the way we eat. Did you know 80 per cent of all farm land is dedicated to meat and dairy production? You do now. And what does this equate to? Oh only the size of Europe, the US, China and Australia combined. This short fact-filled film makes the case for going vegan in just 166 seconds as part of the BBC iPlayer’s Rethink The Future strand – while being careful to maintain the BBC’s usual neutral stance. Watch it here
Why I’m Vegan – Moby’s TedX talk
Singer and animal activist Moby delivers a talk that does exactly what it says on the tin. He tells viewers why he is vegan – and why the animals he grew up with, including the lab rats saved by his dad and their activist pals, continue to influence him. Why does his heart feel so bad? Maybe it’s because too many people are still eating meat. And the key to going vegan? It’s all about love, says Moby, and the love of life and our animal neighbours and companions on earth. Watch it on YouTube here
The Big Issue TV showcases documentary films that are challenging, provocative and vital viewing. All films are hand-picked by The Big Issue team, with new content added each month.
For just £3.99 per month, subscribers will have access to a raft of brilliant, thought-provoking films from around the world. To subscribe for the introductory rate of £3.99 per month go to thebigissue.tv
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