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November 1, 2020

The Best Vegan Movies and Documentaries You Need to Watch

Vegan documentaries have played a vital role in the past decade in informing the public about the ethics and reasoning behind the movement.

Some are directly attributed to the rise in numbers of vegan people across the globe. Some documentaries are also a terrific way to remind ourselves of how animals are being treated, the health implications, and the alarming environmental impact of the meat industry.

In this article, we have picked out some of the best vegan documentaries out there. Lots of them dive deep into dire ecological issues, such as loss of biodiversity and the extinction of species, but there are also some entertaining works of cinema art that carry the same message.

Read on to find out more about award-winning vegan movies you might have missed or perhaps just to be reminded of those you might want to watch again.

1. Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret

cowpiracy poster

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. This award-winning masterpiece deserves to be on the top of our list for numerous reasons besides explaining the benefits of a plant-based diet.

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 documentary that takes this more eco-focused attitude. It examines animal agriculture, the meat industry, and overall animal products from a critical lens, highlighting the terrible effect they have on our planet.

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 different people saying that it twists some of the information to suit its narrative. Still, vegan diet or not, many others believe that this backlash 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.

  • Where to watch: The film can be found on Netflix or the book bought online
  • IMDB rating: 8.3/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes rating: 89% audience score
  • Run time: 85 minutes
  • Watch the trailer here

2. The Game Changers

the game changers

While only released earlier this year, this award-winning 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. After all, they call them Game Changers for a reason.

It features a long list of cinema giants such as James Cameron, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Jackie Chan as executive producers, including interviews with celebrity vegan athletes, such as Lewis Hamilton, Novak Djokovich, 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 looking to go on full veganism.

  • Where to watch: The film can be found on Netflix, Apple TV, Fandango Now, and VUDU
  • IMDB rating: 8.3/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes rating: 70% tomato meter, 99% audience score
  • Run time: 86 minutes
  • Watch the trailer here

Game Changers Full Review Here


3. Dominion

Dominion poster

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 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 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 movie might convince you to change your food choices to something more plant-based.

  • Where to watch: www.watchdominion.com
  • IMDB rating: 9.2/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes rating: N/A
  • Run time: 120 minutes
  • Watch the trailer here

4. What The Health

what the health poster

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 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.

  • Where to watch: The film can be found on Netflix
  • IMDB rating: 7.5/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes rating: N/A
  • Run time: 97 minutes
  • Watch the trailer here

5. Food Inc

food inc poster

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 a 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.

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, food choices, 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.

Food Inc

  • Where to watch: The film can be found on Netflix, Prime Video, Apple TV, Fandango Now, and VUDU
  • IMDB rating: 7.8/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes rating: 95% Tomatometer, 89% Audience Score
  • Run time: 94 minutes
  • Watch the trailer here

6. Earthlings

earthlings poster

Earthlings is a must-watch 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 cultivation, 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 meat 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.

  • Where to watch: www.nationearth.com
  • IMDB rating: 8.7/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes rating: N/A
  • Run time: 95 minutes
  • Watch the trailer here

7. Blackfish

blackfish poster

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.

Christopher Porter, Former Trainer, Sealand

  • Where to watch: The film can be found on Netflix, Prime Video, Apple TV, Fandango Now, and VUDU
  • IMDB rating: 8.1/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes rating: 98% Tomatometer, 90% Audience Score
  • Run time: 80 minutes
  • Watch the trailer here

8. Forks Over Knives

forks over knives poster

Forks Over Knives is another 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, Forks Over Knives 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.

Truly, it's a strong and compelling argument for adopting a plant-based diet and thus battling heart disease. Forks Over Knives is built on a solid foundation - a definite must-see for vegans and non-vegans alike.

One-quarter of what you eat keeps you alive. The other three-quarters keep your doctor alive.

Ancient Egyptian Proverb

  • Where to watch: The film can be found on Netflix, Prime Video, and Apple TV
  • IMDB rating: 7.8/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes rating: 59% Tomatometer, 79% Audience Score
  • Run time: 96 minutes
  • Watch the trailer here

9. Maximum Tolerated Dose

maximum tolerated dose poster

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.

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 to watch: https://maximumtolerateddose.vhx.tv/
  • IMDB rating: 8.9/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes rating: N/A
  • Run time: 90 minutes
  • Watch the trailer here

10. Vegucated

vegucated poster

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 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 the plant-based diet but don't know if they could do it.

This documentary is real people, real issues, and real emotions.

  • Where to watch: The film can be found on Netflix, Prime Video, Apple TV, and VUDU
  • IMDB rating: 7.2/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes rating: 73% Audience Score
  • Run time: 76 minutes
  • Watch the trailer here

11. Okja

Okja

Okja has to be at the top of this list because it enjoys award-winning mainstream success that challenges the idea of animal products for consumption through and through.

In this film, we follow a young girl and her relationship with the "super-pig" Okja.

It has career-best performances from both Tilda Swinton and Jake Gyllenhaal as eccentric but callous characters representing the deliberate and misguided cruelty we visit upon animals in the real world.

The 2017 Netflix film has received critical acclaim and a cult following for being the first "vegan action movie" and is also responsible for turning director Bong Joon Ho vegan himself.

Where to watch: The film can be streamed on Netflix

IMDB Rating: 7.3/10

Rotten Tomatoes rating: 86% tomato meter, 81% audience score

Run time: 118 minutes

Watch the trailer here


12. John Wick

John Wick

Okay, please hear me out. If Die Hard is the action movie choice for Christmas, then John Wick is my pick for an action movie for vegans.

It's not perfect, that's true, but at its heart it tells the story about a hero going to bat for the animal he loves.

While the dog may be a metaphor or stand-in for his lost family and sense of place in the world, it's the loss of his dog and the love and passion that he felt for that adorable creature that sends him on the high octane quest for vengeance.

The fight choreography is some of the best in modern cinema, and the ridiculous blazing pace is second to none.

You might not think it's a strictly plant-based movie, but I'm a vegan, and it's my favorite movie. Fight me.

Where to watch: The film can be found on Fandango NOW, VUDU, and Prime Video

IMDB Rating: 7.4/10

Rotten Tomatoes rating: 87% tomato meter, 81% audience score

Run time: 96 minutes

Watch the trailer here


13. Babe

babe

Going from Christmas dinner to a friend is a big step up in the world for Babe, the adorably cute main character in this heartwarming classic. It ain’t easy for the pig to win the heart of Farmer Hoggett, and admittedly Babe has quite a task ahead of her - to become a working part of the farm itself.

But I can honestly attest that watching this film in my youth had a big impact on my relationship with meat farms and animal products.

I know that my mother was quite annoyed at my refusal to eat pork and bacon after I had watched this movie.

When we children make the connection between meat and the animals it comes from, nine times out of 10, they won't want to be a part of the slaughter. Also, can we appreciate that the special effects for 1995 were amazing!

Where to watch: The film can be found on Fandango NOW, VUDU, and Amazon Prime.

IMDB Rating: 6.8/10

Rotten Tomatoes rating: 97% tomato meter, 67% audience score

Run time: 91 minutes

Watch the trailer here


14. Raw

Raw

Raw is as visceral and disturbing as a horror movie gets. The moral of this horror story is how disgusting and hypocritical it is to eat meat.

It follows a veterinary student who slowly abandons her vegetarianism and begins to crave for flesh. It is dripping in blood, and while it does not focus on climate change, plant based diet, and farming like other feature-length documentary vegan movies might, it ravenously tackles the issue at the heart of it.

If you can sit through to the end, you'll be richly rewarded by its twists, turns, and a dark message in the end. Eerie stuff.

Where to watch: The film can be found on Fandango NOW, VUDU, and Prime Video

IMDB rating: 7/10

Rotten Tomatoes rating: 92% tomato meter, 76% audience score

Run time: 98 minutes

Watch the trailer here


The Best Vegan Documentary

All of the documentaries on this list are well worth their run times in terms of the information and inspiration they provide. The Game Changers, Live and Let Live, the Ghosts in our Machine, Fat, Sick, & Nearly Dead - they all take different tacks and directions but have one unifying message; Go vegan.

So 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 - go for it.

Out of all the movies though, it is the documentary Cowspiracy by Keegan Khun that tells the story in the most shocking and eye-opening way.

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 (think factory farming) isn't sustainable.

It's a documentary that focuses on the health benefits of a plant based diet, and the positive environmental impact it has, enough to suppress climate change in the long run.

Which of the documentaries have you seen and what did you think? Was there one in particular that inspired your adoption of a vegan diet and lifestyle? 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.


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Rafid Nassir is a health and fitness fanatic, with the main aim of maximising muscle mass and minimising body fat, with as little time investment as possible.
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