11 vegan documentaries that changed the world

Read Time:   |  12th October 2021

Are you ready to have your life changed forever? These vegan documentaries will open your eyes to the reality of animal suffering and inspire you to go vegan today.

The last few years have the release of a number of hard-hitting vegan documentaries that are changing the way we eat.

Together, these vegan documentaries highlight the exponential threats of animal agriculture to animals, the planet and our health – supporting ground-breaking research into vegan diets being the single biggest action individuals can take to reduce their impact.

Some vegan documentaries delve deep exposing the reality of life for farmed animals while others tout the benefits of a plant-based diet for our health and the environment.

But what all of these vegan documentaries have in common is that they are guaranteed to make you rethink the way you eat for good.

So make sure you add one of these vegan documentaries to your watchlist and get ready to feel inspired to change the world.

1. Land of Hope and Glory

vegan documentaries - Land of Hope and Glory

Vegan activist Earthling Ed’s hard-hitting documentary provides an insight into British farms. Before Land of Hope and Glory dropped, the vast majority of undercover footage focused on American and Australian farms.

This enabled British farmers to ‘debunk’ claims of unethical practices in the UK, insisting it was only in other countries.

For decades they have pedalled an idealistic image of farming involving happy animals roaming free across the landscape.

However, Land of Hope and Glory changed the face of British vegan activism by demonstrating that horrific practices occur in farms across the UK.

After watching the vegan documentary, many realised that the idealism we have been fed is nothing more than a lie.

All the farms featured in the documentary supplied animal products labelled free-range, organic, high-welfare, Red Tractor approved, and RSPCA-approved.

They were not isolated cases, and, as Ed introduces the documentary, it is “the reality of UK farming”.

You can watch Land of Hope and Glory for free here.

2. Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret

vegan documentaries - Cowspiracy

Kip Anderson’s journey into uncovering the sustainability secret made some serious waves upon its release back in 2014.

Cowspiracy is one of the most influential vegan documentaries to date with many vegan celebrities citing it as the reason they went vegan.

The film takes Kip down a rabbit hole of lies and deception from the meat and dairy industries and questions why environmental organisations aren’t talking about the world’s biggest polluter – animal agriculture.

It will change your whole view on the industry and make you think twice about consuming animal products. And make you angry – very angry!

You can watch Cowspiracy on Netflix.

3. The Game Changers

The Game Changers vegan documentary

The Game Changers documentary completely flipped everything we thought we knew about nutrition and athletic performance on its head.

Headed up by Oscar-winning directors Louie Psihoyos and James Cameron and co-produced by some of the biggest names in sports, its release was game-changing.

In the film, UFC fighter James Wilks speaks to plant-powered athletes, scientists and doctors who prove that you don’t need animal protein to excel.

Encouragingly, the film demonstrates that you don’t need meat to build muscle. Instead, you can thrive on a plant-based diet.

Speaking about his journey into the world of plant-based nutrition, Wilks explained: “What I discovered was so revolutionary, with such profound implications for human performance and health — and even the future of the planet itself — that I had to share it with the world.”

You can watch The Game Changers on Netflix.

4. Seaspiracy

Seaspiracy documentary poser

Kip Anderson made a return to the screen this year with the debut of Seaspiracy. In this film, he takes a deep dive into the hidden world of the fishing industry and reveals its dirty secrets.

While Cowspiracy informed viewers about the environmental impact of animal agriculture on land, Seaspiracy switches our focus to the fishing industry.

Many people now know the negative consequences of farming animals thanks to the rise in veganism. However, the impact of commercial fishing on the environment is still shrouded in considerable secrecy.

Thankfully, Seaspiracy has exposed the true extent to which human beings have plundered the oceans of marine life.

The film uncovered the truth behind the ‘sustainability’ of fish – and shattered the glass ceiling of the ‘dolphin-safe’ label consumers thought they could trust.

Before Sesapiracy hit the small screen, this had not been publically exposed. Therefore the release of the movie was truly groundbreaking.

Moreover, the documentary ditched the tired rhetoric of villainising plastic straws. Instead, viewers were told that they should stop consuming fish to save the ocean.

Shockingly, Sesapiracy revealed that 46% of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is actually made up of fishing nets, not plastic straws.

In fact, plastic straws only make up a meagre 0.003% of ocean plastic.

This vegan documentary leaves viewers with no doubt in their minds that fishing is the greatest threat to our oceans.

You can watch Seaspiracy on Netflix. 

5. Forks Over Knives

Forks Over Knives vegan documentary

Although plant-based documentary Forks Over Knives is now 10 years old, it is still one of the best out there.

Not to mention, as one of the earliest vegan documentaries, it caused a huge stir!

Forks Over Knives was the first film to advocate for a plant-based diet in reversing and controlling the majority of the chronic diseases affecting humans.

It was one of the first public media productions to suggest that people stop consuming animal products. It also revealed that the food we eat is either feeding diseases or preventing them.

Many vegans will have heard of the China Study – an epidemiologic survey of diet and health conducted in villages throughout China.

The study is touted as “the most comprehensive study of nutrition ever conducted” – and Forks over Knives is backed by its results.

You can watch Forks Over Knives online for free at forksoverknives.com.

6. What the Health

vegan documentaries - What The Health

Revolutionary diet-focused vegan documentary What the Health explained the worrying causation link between eating animal products and some of the world’s biggest health crises – heart disease, cancer and diabetes.

It turned everything we thought we knew about diabetes on its head, suggesting that instead of high carb and sugar diets causing type two diabetes. In fact, carbohydrates are inversely related to diabetes.

Moreover, it exposed that the charities fighting against certain cancers and heart disease were actually funded by and promoting the industries causing the illnesses.

For example, the World Health Organisation classes red meat and processed meats as carcinogenic to humans, however, the American Cancer Society encourages the public to consume processed turkey and canned meats.

Instead, the medical practitioners and non-physicians featured within the film such as Dr Michael Greger and Neal Barnard advocate for a plant-based diet to prevent and manage chronic conditions.

What the Health is definitely an eye-opening watch, and will make you think twice about what you put in your mouth!

You can watch What the Health on Netflix.

7. Eating Our Way to Extinction

Eating our way to extinction documentary

New film Eating our Way to Extinction is currently showing in cinemas nationwide.

The powerful documentary sends a simple but impactful message by uncovering hard truths and addressing, on the big screen, the most pressing issue of our generation – ecological collapse.

It aims to show viewers that they all have the power to make an impact, three times a day – at breakfast, lunch and dinner. Our food choices have always been important, but now more than ever.

According to the film, “We have 10 years left to avoid catastrophic climate change. But the solution to this and other existential threats is right under our nose.”

You can watch Eating our Way to Extinction at most cinemas and on Amazon Prime Video and YouTube

8. McLibel: Two People Who Wouldn’t Say Sorry 

McLibel: Two People Who Wouldn’t Say Sorry documentary poser

McLibel is all about a landmark case in British legal history when the McDonald’s Corporation sued environmental activists for libel.

Helen Steel and David Morris were two of five London Greenpeace supporters targeted by McDonald’s, after they distributed leaflets in the late 1980s accusing the company of exploiting workers, cruelty to animals used in its products, destroying the environment and selling junk food.

At the time, McDonald’s were regularly threatening organisations, TV companies and major publications with libel, which usually ended in settlements and apologies.

This was because defendants needed to illustrate each disparaging statement made to be substantively true. Paul Gravett,

Andrew Clarke and Jonathan O’Farrell all apologised to McDonald’s and had their cases dropped, but Helen and David chose to fight!

The documentary follows the case, spanning almost a decade, and features Sir Keir Starmer – who provided free legal advice to Helen and David after they were denied legal aid.

It’s a true David and Goliath story that is well worth a watch on YouTube and will no doubt leave you feeling inspired when you see how they garnered support and identified 180 witnesses, without the use of social media.

McLibel is available to watch on YouTube

9. Hogwood: A Modern Horror Story 

Hogwood: A Modern Horror Story 

Viva!’s multi-award-winning documentary, Hogwood: A Modern Horror Story, follows a group of undercover investigators as they set out to expose the atrocities inside a British pig farm called Hogwood.

It started in 2017, when Viva! uploaded a video to Facebook of squalid conditions at another pig farm in Somerset, England. Someone left a comment saying that this dump was “like Disneyland” compared to where they’d been working and were keen for investigators to take a look. So, they did.

The findings from that first visit to Hogwood were abhorrent and kicked off a major campaign, battling powerful players in the animal agriculture industry who refused to take responsibility.

Subsequent visits in 2018 and 2019 found little improvement and eventually Tesco dropped the farm as a supplier.

Not only does the documentary explore the reasons behind factory farming, it also reveals the negligence and inaction by government bodies and corporations alike – highlighting how animal farming pollutes our planet and puts us at risk from disease outbreaks.

It’s currently available on Amazon Prime, Google Play and Apple TV and is scheduled to hit Netflix later this year.

10. The Animal People

The Animal People vegan documentary poster

In 2014, a 15-year pressure campaign against animal experiments at Huntingdon Life Sciences (HLS) laboratories ended. It followed an onslaught of activist repression that resulted in numerous arrests, lengthy prison sentences and a change in the law to counter sophisticated guerrilla tactics targeting HLS backers.

Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty or SHAC, as the animal rights group was known, singled out the financial institutions, suppliers, contractors and directors profiting from barbaric practices being carried out in Cambridgeshire, England and sought to bring them down.

It was a cause that spanned the globe and, as well as a pan-European police operation that led to the arrests of 32 individuals, six members of the US arm of the group were jailed in 2006.

The Animal People, produced by Joaquin Phoenix, tells the story of those six US activists and the chain of events involving the FBI, Congress, surveillance, wiretaps and the first-ever indictments of animal rights campaigners on domestic terrorism charges.

For the filmmakers, it’s a “chilling portrait of what happens when activism rattles the institutions of power” and for the audience it’s an inspiring insight into the lives of those affected by an unjust system determined to protect profits.

You can watch The Animal People on Amazon.

11. Earthlings

Earthlings Movie Poster

Last but not least is one of the most influential vegan documentaries of all time – Earthlings. Narrated by vegan celebrity Joaquin Phoenix and featuring music from Moby, the hard-hitting film explores humankind’s  dependence on animals for economic purposes.

For many people, Earthlings is the film they credit with turning them vegan overnight due to the horrifying suffering it lays bare. In fact, speaking about the film, Phoenix said: “Of all the films I have ever made, this is the one that gets people talking the most. For every one person who sees Earthlings, they will tell three”.

This film is not for the faint-hearted as it uses hidden cameras to expose the suffering animals face as the hands of some of the largest industries in the world, from food and clothing to entertainment and pets, which rely on animals for profit.

If you have friends and family members who need an extra push to help them go vegan, this is certainly the film to recommend they watch.

Commenting on the film Animal rights philosopher Tom Regan has said, “For those who watch Earthlings, the world will never be the same.”

Earthlings is available to watch online for free here.

Looking for your next good read? Check out these inspiring vegan books.

Written by

Victoria Smith

Vic is a freelance writer and content creator, passionate about ethical and environmental issues. When she’s not busy scribbling away she can be found visiting the best vegan restaurants in the UK and making delicious dairy-free coffees at a café in Essex. Her favourite animals are dogs, cows and pigs and her lifelong dream is to open an animal sanctuary with an onsite vegan café. You can find Vic on Instagram @vicsveganeats

Also written by

Lex Rigby

Lex joined Viva! in 2018 after more than a decade campaigning to defend, conserve and protect marine wildlife. As Viva!’s Head of Investigations she is responsible for coordinating hard-hitting investigations to support Viva!’s ground-breaking campaigns, with the ultimate aim of growing veganism in the UK and increasing support for Viva!.

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