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Documentaries You Need To Watch

Updated: Jun 13

Documentaries have always been effective for me personally as I love learning visually and hearing about many topics such ranging from environmental and sustainability, to veganism and animal rights. I have also had great success with documentaries as a tool to spread awareness to family and friends since its easily accessible with all of the streaming services and platforms that are available currently.

Sometimes these topics can be heavy to discuss with others, but having scientists, biologists, and professional voices back up these issues with scientific evidence and data can raise a level of consciousness to the world that we have been programed to living in and what we can do to un-learn the harsh reality of our societal flaws that impact animals, our planet, and ourselves. We have the opportunity to reverse the way we eat, how we farm, how we treat animals, and how we treat our planet. But the problem is we're running out of time. These films will further explain why. I will update this list as I find more documentaries that I resonate with.

Kiss The Ground Film (2020)

This Netflix Documentary, narrated by vegan actor Woody Harrelson explores a “new, old approach” to farming known as regenerative agriculture. As the film illustrates, regenerative agriculture has the power to balance our climate, replenish our vast water supplies, and feed the world. It also unpacks the ways in which the earth’s soil may be the key to combating climate change and preserving the planet. This documentary highlighted the importance of our soil and how the solution is right under our feet.

Seaspiracy (2021)

Seaspiracy is Another Netflix Documentary thats a follow-up to Kip Anderson’s 2014 Netflix documentary Cowspiracy. This documentary focuses on the challenges facing the world’s oceans. Throughout the documentary, the directors Ali and Lucy Tabrizi discover how the problems contributing to global oceanic destruction intersect. An example would be the way various governmental policies, the fishing industry, and even environmental organizations contribute to the devastation of marine life. Seaspiracy really demonstrates how this issue is global and the laws that differ in other countries.

Meat Me Halfway (2021)

Meat Me Halfway decided to take a different approach from the typical "all or nothing" stance on veganism. The documentary acknowledges that there is no “perfect” approach to veganism. More specifically, Meat Me Halfway argues that getting meat-eaters to simply cut back the amount of meat they consume instead of cutting it out completely, is the key to weaning ourselves off of the factory farm system, which has a catastrophic impact on animal populations and the environment.

The film, produced by Brian Kateman, the leader of the Reducetarian movement, explores Kateman’s own attempt to consume less meat for the health of the planet. “We’re so far away from any kind of utopia, no matter how you define it, that any change in the positive direction is one worth celebrating,” said Kateman. “We want to move away from that all-or-nothing thinking and allow people the flexibility to simply move in a more positive direction, even if it’s not as ideal as some people might want it to be.” This documentary is available on YouTube, Google Play, Amazon Prime, and other VOD platforms.

Food Inc. (2008)

Food Inc. unveils some of the harsh practices underlying in the American food industry. Exploring how corporations place profits before consumer health, worker safety and the environment. This documentary argues that industrial production methods are not only inhumane, but they are also unsustainable from an economic and environmental standpoint. Filmmaker Robert Kenner visits farms and slaughterhouses and witnesses first-hand the disturbing conditions that prevail, such as chickens being grown so fast that they are unable walk properly, cows eating feed laced with chemicals, and workers risking their own safety to ensure that these products are made cheaply for the market.

Forks Over Knives (2011)

Through an examination of the careers of American physician Caldwell Esselstyn and professor of nutritional biochemistry T. Colin Campbell, Forks Over Knives claims that many diseases, including obesity, cardiovascular diseases, and cancer, can be prevented and treated by eating a whole-food, plant-based diet, avoiding processed food and food from animals. The film includes an overview of the 20-year China-Cornell-Cornell-Oxford Project that led to Professor Campbell's findings, outlined in his book The China Study (2005), in which he suggests that coronary artery disease, diabetes, obesity, and cancer can be linked to the Western diet of processed and animal-based foods including dairy products.

Dive! Living Off America's Waste (2009)

Inspired by a curiosity about our country's careless habit of sending food straight to landfills, the multi award-winning documentary DIVE! follows filmmaker Jeremy Seifert and friends as they dumpster dive in the back alleys and gated garbage receptacles of Los Angeles' supermarkets. In the process, they salvage thousands of dollars worth of good, edible food - resulting in an inspiring documentary that is equal parts entertainment, guerilla journalism and call to action. Although this documentary is older, it still holds up unfortunately, proving that food-waste is still a major issue.

Dominion (2018)

Dominion is a feature-length documentary presenting an the exploration of the various ways animals are used and abused by humans, particularly in the meat, dairy, egg, clothing and entertainment industries. Filmed in Australia, Dominion combines footage from handheld, hidden, and aerial drone cameras, much of it never seen before, to convey both the terrifying scale of an empire built on secrecy – and the individual stories of its victims.

Focusing on the legal, industry-standard practices that occur all over the world, the film questions the morality and validity of humankind’s dominion over the animal kingdom, advocating not for minor improvements to their welfare but for a deeper conversation about our right to exploit those we deem inferior to ourselves. Dominion is a tough one to watch, but is crucial to the movement.

Cowspiracy (2014)

Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret is a documentary film which explores the impact of animal agriculture on the environment, and investigates the policies of a few environmental organizations on this issue. The film looks at various environmental concerns, including climate change, water use, deforestation, and ocean dead zones, and suggests that animal agriculture is the primary source of environmental destruction.

What The Health (2017)

What the Health is the groundbreaking follow-up film from the creators of the award-winning documentary Cowspiracy. The film exposes the collusion and corruption in government and big business that is costing us trillions of healthcare dollars, and keeping us sick. What The Health is a surprising, and at times hilarious, investigative documentary that will be an eye-opener for everyone concerned about our nation’s health and how big business influences it.

Vegucated (2011)

Vegucated is an American documentary film that explores the challenges of converting to a vegan diet. It "follows three meat- and cheese-loving New Yorkers who agree to adopt a vegan diet for six weeks." Director, Marisa Miller Wolfson interviewed a number of people to participate in this documentary and chose Brian, who likes to eat meat and eat out; Ellen, a psychiatrist, part-time comedian and single mother; and Tesla, a college student who lives with her family.

Milked (2022)

MILKED is a documentary that exposes the whitewash of New Zealand’s multi-billion-dollar dairy industry. Young activist Chris Huriwai travels around the country searching for the truth about how this source of national pride has become the nation’s biggest threat.

"It’s rapidly gone from a land with no cows to being the biggest exporter of dairy in the world, but the industry seems to be failing in every way possible. It uncovers alarming information about the impacts of the industry on the environment and health, leading up to the discovery that we’re on the edge of the biggest global disruption of food and agriculture in history."

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