9 Must-See Films on Plant-Based & Veganism Today
There were times I covered my eyes. There were times I couldn’t look away.
I did a post back in November 2017 of the 7 Movie Nights in Exploring the Plant-Based Alternative – so why do another this January looking at movies relating to plant-based and veganism?
So whether you’re vegan, plant-based, vegetarian, flexitarian, pescatarian, omnivore, or diehard carnivore, given all the media attention and increased growth veganism has been getting this past year – what better time to study up (or snuggle down and view) more on this growing movement, why people buy into it, and what it’s all about?
Quick but important point to note - some of these films addresses concerns that relate more to veganism than plant-based eating alone. What’s the difference between vegan and plant-based? Basically, (please note that this is a question beyond the scope of this post!) veganism addresses animal treatment and value across any and all human industry or activity, whereas being plant-based doesn’t necessarily have that concern. Obviously, there are crossovers. Suffice to say, some of these films may appeal more to those who are plant-based for health or environmental reasons alone, whereas others may appeal to vegans who are also concerned with animal treatment more broadly.
I filtered the previous 7 down to 4 and then added 5 new ones to make a top list of 9 MUST SEE films on plant-based and veganism.
First, here are the 4 films that were on my top 7 list back in 2017 that have made it through to my top 9 list in 2019…
1. Food Choices (2016)
Food Choices is the first doco on veganism I watched, and it considers veganism in relation to our environment and sustainability, health and to a lesser extent, animal treatment. The narrator of Food Choices investigates what the most healthy and sustainable food diet is, and through his search, draws upon a pretty solid range of experts to make the case for plant-based. This is a great film if you want an introduction to some of the health stuff and some of the environment stuff, more than looking at animal treatment.
2. Cowspiracy (2014)
Concern for environmental degradation and sustainability is a huge reason many switch to veganism. Cowspiracy is led by a narrator who in his journey to live sustainably discovers that animal agriculture is the largest contributor to climate change, as well as contributing to a plethora of environmental degradation issues. Cowspiracy is particularly interesting as it reveals the silencing of activists and the silence of many environmental organisations on how animal agriculture contributes to climate change and environmental degradation. Its production quality, plot and pace make for brilliant viewing. This is a great film to watch to focus on the environmental impacts of animal agriculture.
3. What the Health (2017)
What The Health, made by the same people over at Cowspiracy, is equally well-made. What The Health brings some ugly truths to surface through its narrator’s investigation of the systemic barriers to the truth of health consequences of living as an omnivore being made public. It’s very much US-based and focused, but said as someone not living in the USA it’s very much relevant and it resonates strongly elsewhere as well. This is a great film to watch if you are interested in what the health benefits of plant-based and veganism are, as well as why those benefits haven’t become more publicly known and promoted earlier.
4. Forks Over Knives (2011)
Forks Over Knives is 99% health focused on the impacts of eating plant-based / vegan instead of other dietary choices (including vegetarian and omnivore). It gives case examples of individuals who adopt plant-based (particularly when wholefoods plant-based) and the dramatic health improvements they experience. Forks Over Knives also shows some of the development of medical and scientific research that has supported the current movement to where it is today, in relation to its health aspects. The evidence it gives is accompanied by expert interviews, and if you order the DVD online you can get a second DVD with extended interviews with those experts (haven’t watched that one yet). This film is ideal to watch if you just want to focus on the health benefits plant-based and veganism, and you don’t want to get into environmental or animal treatment concerns.
And now for the 5 new additions to this top 9 list…
5. The Ghosts in our Machine (2013)
The Ghosts in Our Machine highlights the animals caught up in our global industries of food, fashion, entertainment and research. Its narrator compellingly documents the cruelties faced by animals and offers moments of hope through rescue stories. The Ghosts in Our Machine is particularly interesting in its investigation of industries at a frontline level that we don’t ordinarily see, and the pragmatic responses of media, consumers and animal activists back home.
6. dOMINION (2018)
Dominion exposes the unjust treatment of animals in the food industry, and within the fashion, entertainment, research and pet industries. It focuses on the Australian context, but it does also cover animal treatment in other settings where relevant to Australian consumption. The Australian context is still relevant for those in other countries like the USA and UK, and around the world. If you aren’t sure what the experience of animals is within one or more of these industries, this is the film to watch. I found the lack of substantial difference between quality standards, e.g. cage eggs vs RSPCA approved eggs vs free range eggs, interesting. And I’d never actually seen footage of puppy mills before I watched this film, so that definitely shed some light on the dark side of puppies for sale in pet stores. Dominion is graphic, be warned. It is heartbreaking. There were times I covered my eyes. There were times I couldn’t look away. There were times I wanted to turn the sound down. There were times I felt led to prayer. It definitely needs to be on this must-see list of films today.
7. EARTHLINGS (2005)
Earthlings, narrated by Joaquin Phoenix, also exposes the unjust treatment of animals in a range of industries, but with more of a global outlook. It is a bit slower in pace than Dominion, for example. Also, Earthlings has some consistent background music flowing throughout the film, instead of or alongside the footage sounds, which arguably makes those scenes less graphic and painful to viewers and less impactful as a result. But what Earthlings particularly brings across is the objectification of animals through speciesism by humans, with the film instead promoting our connection with non-human animals. It also exposes more examples from the entertainment, sport and research industries than some other films, so would be good for anyone interested in finding out more about the treatment of animals in those industries.
8. Blackfish (2013)
Blackfish follows the story of Tilikum, a male orca held captive by SeaWorld, who was involved in the killing of 3 humans during his time in captivity. This film delves into the injustices involved with capturing, holding, training, and ultimately, making entertainment out of orcas, otherwise known as killer whales, incredibly emotionally intelligent and social mammals. I found Blackfish to be especially interesting and engaging through its interviews with former SeaWorld trainers and those involved in this industry, and for how it manages to seamlessly educate viewers on these unique creatures, while still keeping strong pace in its storyline.
9. Vegan 2018 – The Film (2018)
On my previous post, I’d listed Plant Based News’ 2017 film highlighting the development of the veganism movement in that year. Given the recent release of their 2018 film doing the same, Vegan 2018, it seemed apt to include the 2018 film here. Vegan 2018 is a brilliant 1-hour film (there were a few moments where I was all praise hands emoji in real life) showcasing developments in the vegan movement over 2018. If you want to know where the movement is up to and what happened in the last twelve months, and where it is headed – Vegan 2018 is the movie to check out. And it also makes for some cheerful viewing and opportunity for celebration!
Topping, Alexandra. “Year of the Vegan? Record Numbers Sign up for Veganuary.” The Guardian, January 1, 2019. Accessed January 6, 2019. https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2018/dec/31/year-of-the-vegan-record-numbers-sign-up-for-veganuary.