Updated: Mar 15
Vegan films have converted many people to living in a vegan way. Most people that decide to make the change to vegan living do so for health reasons, they want to lose weight, they have been diagnosed with a disease that can be helped by going not eating animal products. People that keep getting colds and other infections, people that want to feel healthier in general, there are many health related reasons, even acne and other skin conditions. These people, being focused on what they can do to help themselves, often don't know about the other issues that veganism can effect, such as reducing the cruelty that animals have to suffer at the hands of humans, the needless death caused by the egg and dairy industries where males are worthless, literally; or about the way that farming animals impacts the environment. This often comes later as they learn more about veganism and how it affects others. For some, though, it is a vegan film that opens their eyes to the realities of farming and animal exploitation.
In 2005 a vegan documentary was released that laid the truth out, quite plainly, Earthlings. Earthlings, a film that is narrated by many famous people, including Joaquin Phoenix, starts with explaining that we are all Earthlings, that we are all the same, however humans have used their brain power to use and exploit others. The film uses hidden cameras to capture the reality of factory farming and is hard to watch. The truth of what animals suffer is painful to see and hear. This film led to other people inspired to become vegan film makers and to start creating informative, well produced, high quality films.
There are many different topics that can be captured in a vegan film. Some are quite short, perhaps15 minutes long, others are full length films of 2 hours, but they all make their point. These films can be great for learning more about issues around veganism including health, animal cruelty, global warming and climate change as well as the basic truths of animal agriculture.
Vegan Films That Aren't
There are many films that have a seemingly vegan message or have an undertone of vegan sentiment. Many are children's films where an animal is saved from cruelty or unnecessary death. One example would be 101 Dalmatians, the 1961 Disney film based on the book by Dodie Smith. The message of the film is that killing puppies to make clothes is wrong and that only horrible people would do such a thing. Another example is Babe; when the film was released in 1995 many children adopted a vegetarian diet as they related meat products to the characters in the film. However, this was not supported by many parents, it became headline news across the world and a lot of children went back to their previous way of eating without the support that they needed to remain vegetarian. A more recent release is Okja, the story of a "superpig" created through genetic modification that is a kind of pig/hippo cross. This film was hailed as a masterpiece (it is a great film) and a brilliant vegan film, but it's not a vegan film. In the film the main characters are seen catching, cooking and eating fish. However, although not a vegan film, it does have a very strong anti-factory farming message.
Films That Are Definitely Vegan
The films Dominion and Earthlings use hidden cameras and footage from security cameras and they are harrowing. Seeing how animals are treated, how they abused and then discarded is disturbing and upsetting. They show just how terrible the animal agriculture industry is and are a must watch for anyone that needs more ammunition to go out and fight for the animals, or anyone who is considering going back to eating meat. It makes you look at the abuse behind modern meat and animal product production and forces you to decide whether or not you want to be a part of it. Land Of Hope And Glory is another film that uses the same techniques as Dominion and Earthlings, but this time the focus is on UK animals agriculture and the situation is no better. Painful to watch, the film shows that the animals abuses are happening everywhere.
There are also vegan films that focus on health, how what you eat affects your body and how changing your diet can make you faster and stronger. What The Health and Forks Over Knives are two films that do this. They use interviews with doctors, scientists and researchers to show that a plant based is the best diet for health and a long life. The Game Changers came out in 2019 and caused a lot of publicity. It involves well known sports people such as Novak Djokovic and other superstars like Jackie Chan and Arnold Schwarzenegger to show how the performance of athletes is improved by reducing protein intake and removing animals products from a person's diet. Cowspiracy, a great film made by the same people that made What The Health, uses clear graphics, informative narration as well as interviews with people that really know what they're talking about to show how animal agriculture is destroying our health and the planet.
Should You Watch These Films
In my opinion there isn't anything that you should or shouldn't do regarding watching vegan films, it comes down to what you choose. Would I advise you to watch vegan films? Yes, I would. I wouldn't tell you to watch every vegan film out there, some of them aren't that good, but, aside from that, I wouldn't say that everyone should watch Dominion, that film is painful to watch because you know it's true, that what they show you is fact. You know that, when the film ends, these practices continue, everywhere, all of the time. The animals don't get to turn off the torture in the same way that we can turn off the television. You may find films like Forks Over Knives boring, or Game Changers cringy, it's all about finding something that appeals to you. Regardless, give them a go, maybe start off with Babe and move on to Okja if the harder films aren't for you. Or just tell sceptics to watch them, they might benefit the most.