Ask people who have recently transition to a vegan diet—or have at least taken the first step by becoming reducetarians or flexitarians—and many will credit vegan themed documentaries as a major impetus in their decision. Over the last ten years we’ve had films such as Forks Over Knives, Cowspiracy, Food Inc, What The Health and even 2017’s Okja, along with the 2018 James Cameron produced documentary, The Game Changers, which have laid out the case for switching to a plant-based diet.
But it’s not only the quality of vegan themed films that has exploded in the past decade. The quantity of these films—over the past three years especially— have exploded, ensuring that anyone looking to venture into the world of reducing their animal protein intake can find the case presented both by the medical world and by some of the biggest celebrities in entertainment, sports and politics, simply by turning on Netflix and other streaming channels, switching to YouTube, or heading to their local cinema.
While you may have seen these aforementioned films, featuring some of the biggest talents in entertainment like Leonardo DiCaprio, Joaquin Phoenix, Rooney Mara and Arnold Schwarzenegger, you might have missed some of the less high profile films from the past three years, eight of which are featured below and are all worthy entries into the vegan film world.
Many of these are short films—some are a short but still powerful 15 minutes or less—and some are feature length. But what they all have in common is a powerful emotional and scientific punch, making an irrefutable argument that a plant-based diet is beneficial for our health and the health of the planet and the sentient beings with whom we share this world.
73 COWS (2018) Director, Alex Lockwood
This BAFTA-winning emotional 15 minute short touchingly depicts the extraordinary decision that former beef farmers Jay and Katja Wilde make when they can no longer consciously send their farm cows to slaughter. WATCH: https://vimeo.com/293352305
BUCKING TRADITION (2019) Director, Sharon Boeckle
This expose on animal welfare in rodeo competitions won the grand prize at the 2019 International vegan Film Festival and takes an uncomfortable look at the reasons why a segment of the American population is so determined to keep this “tradition” alive. WATCH: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i9BDHkhc6IQ
BUTENLAND (2019) Director, Marc Pierschel
Heartwarming story of a German farmer who turned his land into the first “retirement home” for cows. WATCH on Amazon Prime Video
CODE BLUE: REDEFINING THE PRACTICE OF MEDICINE (2020) Director, Marcia Machado
A stinging repudiation of the lapses in the current state of medicine and how the practice of lifestyle medicine can prevent, manage and reverse chronic diseases. The film presents the hurdles to the proposed shift: antiquated curricula in medical schools, confusion in the media, inadequate government policies, and the underlying influences of the pharmaceutical and food industries. WATCH: https://vimeo.com/ondemand/codeblue
EATING YOU ALIVE (2018) Director, Paul David Kennamer, Jr.
Produced by James Cameron and Suzi Amis Cameron, Eating You Alive shows how and why what we eat is the cause of the chronic diseases that are killing us, and how changing what we eat can save our lives one bite at a time. WATCH: https://www.eatingyoualive.com/buyfilm
HOGWOOD (2020) Director, Tony Wardle
Many people who have switched to a plant-based diet have done so after seeing stories about the atrocious treatment that factory fam animals receive. Produced in conjunction with the UK vegan organization Viva, Hogwood: A Modern Horror Story takes the viewer beyond the factory farm walls and follows an intrepid group of undercover investigators as they enter some of Britain’s biggest factory farms for the very first time. WATCH on Amazon Prime Video
KINDRED CREATURES (2020), Director, Samuel Sprynczynatyk
Shining a light on the many caring people behind animal sanctuaries, Kindred Creatures explores the personalities and ways of life of animals used in animal agriculture. The documentary explores these animals’ personalities, the bonds they share with humans, and impactful stories of their rescue. WATCH on Amazon Prime Video
MONBIOT: ARRESTING THE TRUTH (2020) Director, Alex Lockwood
Making the case for a vegan diet by showing the toll that animal agriculture is taking on the environment, this powerful film produced by We Animals Media follows British journalist George Monbiot as he sets out deliberately to get arrested to draw attention to governmental inaction over climate change. The film explores his story, his motivations and why this unlikely hero is putting himself on the frontline of environmental activism. WATCH: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IZa4ukPcSoI
So what does 2021 have in store for those looking to adopt a plant-based lifestyle? While the pandemic has delayed many new film releases, both in the documentary and feature film realm, here are two new films which will be released in 2021 that the vegan community are sure to be talking about.
The End of Medicine is a feature length documentary from director Alex Lockwood and producer Keegan Kuhn which explores the link between our treatment of animals and emerging health threats such as pandemics and antibiotic resistance. The film is executive produced by Rooney Mara and Joaquin Phoenix. TRAILER https://vimeo.com/495453559
In addition, They’re Trying To Kill Us from Kuhn and co-director John Lewis shines a light on racial and food injustice at a time when racial disparities are driving the conversation in the US. The film connects the dots between diet, disease, poverty, systemic racism and industry collusion. TRAILER https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BSrUnhxUazA
Finally, this October the International Vegan Film Festival celebrates its fourth anniversary of showcasing the finest in feature length and short subject films from around the globe which encompass the topics of veganism, environmentalism and animal welfare. https://www.theivff.com/