Top 10 Vegan and Animal Rights Documentaries
Documentaries are a fantastic way to learn more about any given subject, and animal rights or vegan-based ones are no exceptions to that rule. There are so many documentaries to choose from when it comes to learning about animal rights or plant-based living, with many overlapping with environmentalism and health as well.
Below we have chosen the top ten documentaries to watch–some of them focus on single issues, while others cover broad spectrums. What they all have in common is an overall impact in raising awareness and inspiring people to make changes:
Cowspiracy is the documentary that resulted in a restaurant going completely vegan, and has gotten a lot of celebrities talking. From Joe Rogan to Leonardo DiCaprio, it has created a lot of buzz–and for good reason.
The documentary focuses on the ecological impacts of animal agriculture, and even exposes environmental organizations that refuse to address the issue. It uses humor, facts, and shocking evidence, and offers the alternative model of global sustainability.
Earthlings, like most animal rights documentaries, is difficult to watch, but a very important educational resource for those who would like a “101” on the treatment of animals. It covers animal mistreatment and abuse in factory farms, puppy mills, laboratories, fur farms, and the entertainment industry
Narrated by Joaquin Phoenix, it is definitely a must-see for those who want a primer, and while it may be hard to get through, its honest depiction of the reality of life for so many animals makes it all the more important to watch.
As mentioned above, films that focus on plant-based eating or animal rights often overlap with topics such as environmentalism and health.
Forks Over Knives focuses on health, and the notion that degenerative and common diseases, including type II diabetes, heart disease, and several types of cancer, can be prevented, if not reversed, when people transform their standard diet and adopt a whole foods and plant-based one.
Blackfish is a more specific type of documentary, and focuses on Tilikum, a performing orca in captivity that killed several people. The film includes footage and interviews that both show the cruel conditions the animals are kept in, as well as their extraordinary nature.
While it may be seem to be a single-issue film, the story “challenges us to consider our relationship to nature and reveals how little we humans have learned from these highly intelligent and enormously sentient fellow mammals.” The impact of this powerful documentary even sent ripples towards SeaWorld, which has pledged to stop breeding orcas.
Like Blackfish, The Cove focuses more so on a single issue, and in this case it is dolphin hunting in Japan during the Taiji dolphin drive. However, the documentary also covers ocean conservation, as well as the health risks of consuming dolphin meat.
The documentary focuses on Ric O’Barry, a former dolphin trainer who became an activist and advocate for dolphins around the word, and won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature in 2010.
Food Inc. takes an “unflattering look inside America’s corporate controlled food industry.” Nominated for an Academy Award, it shows viewers the negative aspects of agribusiness, such as the production of unhealthy foods, animal rights issues, workers rights violations, and environmentally unsafe practices.
Divided in three segments, the film makes sure that you will “never look at dinner the same way again.”
Vegucated is a film that follows the journey of three omnivores who agree to follow a plant-based lifestyle for six weeks. Throughout the film, they learn more about the food they eat, the treatment of animals, and the consequences that industrial farming has on the environment.
Through funny, surprising and heartfelt moments, we see three people reluctantly begin a journey that ends up changing their worldview.
Peaceable Kingdom is a 2004 documentary that focuses on the stories of seven people, the majority of them farmers. The film focuses on how these traditional farmers re-examined their relationship towards the animals they raised for food, and the personal transformations it caused.
It also highlights two animal rescues, one from a chicken farm and one at a home, and the people behind them.
Live and Let Live explores the various reasons why people opt to follow a plant-based lifestyle. It focuses on six different individuals and their specific stories, which includes a former butcher and factory farmer, as well as an athlete and activists.
It demonstrates that people from so many different walks of life have still turned to veganism, and throughout the documentary, it touches on the history of the movement, health, and the environment.
Speciesism is a 2013 documentary that asks the question, “are humans superior to nonhuman animals?”
Directed by Mark Devries, it includes interviews with Peter Singer, Richard Dawkins, Temple Grandin and many more, a well as footage from factory farms throughout the USA. It promises that “you’ll never look at animals the same way again. Especially humans.”
While there are so many more vegan/animal rights documentaries out there and new ones being made, this our top ten list for those that had the biggest impact on viewers–and therefore are essential viewing!