Vegan documentaries have played a vital role in the past decade in informing the public about the ethics and reasoning behind the movement.
They can be directly attributed to the rise in numbers of vegan people across the globe, and even for people who have already made the switch, these documentaries are a great way to remind of the way these animals are treated, the health implications, and the environmental impact.
In this article, we have picked out some of the best vegan documentaries out there which dives deep into issues of biodiversity loss and species extinction.
Read on to find out those you might have missed on their release or to be reminded of those you might want to watch again.
Our Top Vegan Documentary
It’s undeniable at this point how much of an impact on the vegan community Cowspiracy by Keegan Khun made when it was first released. It’s only right to have it on the list of the best vegan documentaries (It’s a must watch!).
As younger people are beginning to take stricter and more immediate action and demand change in the face of impending environmental disaster, Cowspiracy is a vegan documentary that takes this more eco-focused attitude and directs the lens onto animal agriculture and animal products and the terrible effect they have on the planet at large.
From an ecological standing, it calls out the food industry that deliberately obscures or misrepresents the truth about the harm that the meat and dairy industries cause.
Criticism has been lobbied against this documentary, with people saying that it twists some of the information to suit its narrative. Still, many others believe that this pales in comparison when you look at the other side of the argument.
Because it is focused on the facts and science of the environmental aspect of the industry, it doesn’t have the preachy or morally superior tone that a documentary that focuses on the animals sometimes adopts.
2- The Game Changers
While only released earlier this year, this award-winning vegan documentary has already garnered critical acclaim and a lot of press.
Focusing on the plant based diet and the effect it can have on the health and performance of some of the world’s top vegan athletes, the documentary looks to debunk the myth that you have to eat animals to be the biggest or best (See Vegan Strip Club).
It features a long list of big names such as James Cameron, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Jackie Chan as executive producers and interviews with celebrity vegan athletes, such as Lewis Hamilton, Novak Djokavik, and Patrik Baboumian.
The film follows James Wilks, special forces trainer and winner of the ultimate fighter as he discovers that all he has been taught about plant based protein may be a lie. It’s a must-watch for athletes (see also ‘Vegan Football Players in the NFL Thriving on the Plant Based Diet‘) looking to go on full veganism.
Game Changers Full Review Here
From the producer of Earthlings (more on that later), comes the follow up which holds even fewer punches than its brutal predecessor.
Using drones and hidden cameras, this no-holds-barred expose looks to shine a light on the truth at the bloody and beating heart of meat industries in Australia. It’s truly one of the best vegan documentaries out there.
Narrated by Joaquin Phoenix, Rooney Mara, Sia, and Kat Von D, the documentary brought together an impressive cast of famous vegan people (see also ‘Leona Lewis Shares Her Vegan Story and Her Weekly Meal Plan‘) to help shape and communicate its message.
Some critics claim that it is too graphic and violent and that it is using shock and horror to try and persuade those that still engage in meat consumption.
In defense of the documentary, the footage and images therein are just the truth usually obscured by the barn doors of meat companies. It’s a bleak look at how the world at large treats animals and animal rights.
If you’re still in doubt to go vegan, then this is something that might convince you why you should change your food choices.
4- What The Health
What The Health is the follow up to Cowspiracy that goes further into the effect that the meat industry has on food consumption and human health.
It looks at the corruption and collusion of the government with health organizations, and an industry that is looking to cover-up and mislead the general public.
It presents a valid and well-researched counter-argument to the current accepted “truth” on the issue.
With Joaquin Phoenix (see also ‘Joaquin Phoenix Has Been Vegan for Over 40 Years‘) once again listed as an executive producer and Kip Andersen back in the director’s chair, we are led through a sometimes shocking and terrifying maze of interviews and revelations about the state of things in the United States.
There are many articles “debunking” the science behind the documentary, and it does play it a little fast and loose with the facts, making big leaps at times. However, take those claims against it with a grain of salt.
Many are likely coming from the same people and organizations that the film was made about.
5- Food Inc
If there’s a vegan documentary that came claim it did it first, it could well be Food Inc.
Released back in 2009, it is definitely one of the earliest entries on our list. It is the documentary that shone light on the side of animal agriculture that we had perhaps not seen before and likely inspired many of the films and documentaries of the next decade.
Vegan documentary maker Robert Kenner takes a surprising and eye-opening look at just how big food corporations have taken over the entire food chain in the United States.
It explores the inner workings of animal agriculture and the increasingly concerning methods they have adopted to keep up with demand. In a world so fueled by demand, the supply chain is at breaking point, and it’s no wonder the animals are treated as poorly as they are.
The film’s takeaway message is that we can change the demand by changing our diets and voting with our wallets. The farmers themselves said they would welcome and advocate for this.
There are no seasons in the American supermarket. Now there are tomatoes all year round, grown halfway around the world, picked when it was green, and ripened with ethylene gas.
Related Post: Best Vegan Podcasts
Earthlings is the film that came before Dominion. Released in 2005 and narrated by Joaquin Phoenix, it’s a distressing and eye-opening look into all aspects of the abuses performed against animals across the globe from animal agriculture, clothing, entertainment, scientific research, and even the mistreatment at the heart of the pet industry.
Possibly one of the vegan documentaries that’s broadest with its lens, the film seeks to provide a much-needed look at the industry and secrets that lie behind all that we take for granted.
It does this with a poetic and harrowing script, shocking and arresting visuals, and a creeping soundtrack provided by vegan musician Moby (see also ‘Travis Barker Is Vegan‘).
Blackfish is the psychological thriller that looks into the tragic death of a trainer at Seaworld, the events and practices that lead up to this, the aftermath, and the role of the industry in trying to cover up the facts.
It is widely considered to be heavily responsible for the changing public perspective of Seaworld and animal rights at attractions like it, and a shift in the sales and endorsement of such waterparks.
Expertly put together to provide the audience with a shocking and informative journey through the lives of the animals and employees at parks like Seaworld across the globe, the documentary, through interviews, tells a story that is unapologetic and deeply troubling for the viewer.
When you know the animal and have a relationship with it. You know, that he’s not killing, because he’s a savage. He’s not killing because he’s crazy or because he doesn’t know what he’s doing.
Former Trainer, Sealand
8- Forks Over Knives
Forks Over Knives is another vegan documentary by Colin Campbell and Melanie Joy. It exposes the link between the animal industry and the obesity epidemic that is gripping the clogged arteries of America.
It pays a specific focus and investigation into The China Study, which documented the rise of heart disease and the other meat and dairy-related illnesses that rose after the country began to adopt a more western diet.
Released at the beginning of this decade, it is an influential and eye-opening piece of vegan documentary making that possibly has one of the strongest and least criticized fact-checking and science-based research at the core of it.
A strong and compelling argument for a plant based diet. It’s built on a solid foundation, and so is must-see watching for most people who claim to be informed.
One-quarter of what you eat keeps you alive. The other three-quarters keep your doctor alive.
Ancient Egyptian Proverb
9- Maximum Tolerated Dose
Maximum Tolerated Dose is a documentary by filmmaker Karol Orzechowski.
Instead of just focusing on animal agriculture or the benefits of a vegan lifestyle on health as many of the other films on this list do, this vegan documentary instead focuses on the closed doors of the animal testing behind many cosmetic and health products that we use on a daily basis.
Through interviews and never before seen footage, we are shown exactly what level of cruelty and hell these animals go through (see cruelty free Chapstick).
Not purely concerned with the effect these horrible practices have on the animals, the documentary also shines a light on the impact it has on the humans that are required to do the testing.
How their opinions and beliefs have changed over the course of their employment, and why they would never go back.
It’s as eye-opening as it is shocking, and the large proportion of the testing and data that is ultimately unusable, not fit for purpose, or just pointless is heartbreaking.
Where the other films and documentaries use the truth like an ax and assault the uninitiated with the horrible reality of eating meat in terms of cruelty, ethics, and impact on both human and environmental health. Vegucated is a lot softer, with a far more relatable and accessible premise.
The documentary sees three self-confessed carnivores (see also ‘Are You a Self-Professed Carnivore? Get Paid to Go Vegan for 1 Month‘) as they are given the challenge of adopting a plant based diet for just one month.
It is amazing to see how it affects them and their day to day lives. It’s a hand-held journey into how easy and right it is to make the switch. We also get to see the amazing benefits of plant based diet.
We follow along for the ride as it tells the story and are shown the truth that lies behind the closed barn doors. We’re there watching as they start to feel better in their diet and reap the benefits.
We are there when some of them breakdown and can’t imagine ever going back to the hypocritical diet they had before.
It’s the most honest and succinct look at the vegan journey and is a definite recommendation for those that are curious about your diet but don’t know if they could do it.
This documentary is real people, real issues, and real emotions.
Our Favorite Documentary Is…?
All of the documentaries on this list are well worth their run times in terms of the information and inspiration they provide. They all take different tacks and directions, and which is best depends on the message you want to send.
If you are planning to show them to family and friends in order to help them understand, empathize, and perhaps even convert to a more plant based diet themselves.
Out of all the movies though, it is the documentary Cowspiracy by Keegan Khun that remains the most shocking and eye-opening. It shies away from a better than thou attitude by ignoring the ethics and instead focusing on the devastation and accepted scientific proof that the meat industry just isn’t sustainable cl;othing.
It’s a documentary that focuses on the health benefits of a plant based or vegan diet, and the positive impact it has.
Which of the documentaries have you seen and what did you think? Was there one in particular that inspired your adoption of the vegan lifestyle
(sustainable body care choices)? Let us know in the comments below.
You can also check out our list of vegan blogs that you can read in your spare time.
Best vegan Documentary