Author: Miriam Porter.
Wherever you are currently located in the world it’s fair to say you have experienced lockdown or quarantine due to the coronavirus pandemic. While some countries have eased shelter in place and stay at home orders, others are experiencing second waves and new lockdowns, meaning social and physical distancing is the new normal for now. Why not make the best of it and stream some inspiring films about animals, the environment or health?
There are so many life-changing vegan and plant-based documentaries available that even an experienced animal rights activist can learn something new. Consider hosting a virtual viewing party with family and friends and watch at the same time. It’s also the perfect opportunity to encourage that reluctant co-worker to consider a vegan lifestyle and watch virtual with you. Then connect on Facetime or Zoom after the film and discuss the issues.
All these films will inspire viewers to lead a healthier, kinder and more compassionate life in a better world where animals are no longer harmed. So grab your favourite vegan snack and start working your way down the list.
1. Forks Over Knives
A film that contributed to the plant-based revolution is Forks Over Knives from 2011. Forks Over Knives has since become a huge movement encouraging people to eat a healthy and lifesaving whole food diet. Two prominent doctors in the film, Dr. T. Colin Campbell, a nutritional biochemist from Cornell University, and Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, a former top surgeon at the world-renowned Cleveland Clinic put the idea of food as medicine to the test in this encouraging documentary. They compare the Western diet to the diet in other countries with lower rates of cancer and heart disease and conclude that many chronic illnesses such as type 2 diabetes can usually be prevented or reversed by eating a whole-food plant-based diet. When the film was first released on DVD I lent my copy to several moms at my son’s school, many of which cut down or fully eliminated eating animals after watching it. These days stream it online on Netflix.
2. Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret
This environmental documentary takes on the cruel meat industry while following filmmaker Kip Anderson as he exposes animal agriculture for what it really is. Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret investigates controlling environmental organizations and searches for the truth from leaders in this movement and uncovers a common theme – there is a refusal to discuss animal agriculture. This film provides many solid facts and arguments and shows that animal agriculture is the leading cause of water consumption, deforestation and pollution, and is responsible for producing more greenhouse gases than the transportation industry. You will have all the talking points you need to convince stubborn friends or family of the truth. Stream it from their website or on Netflix.
3. The Game Changers
Executive produced by James Cameron and Arnold Schwarzenegger, The Game Changers tells the story of elite athletes and a Special Forces trainer traveling the world to uncover optimal diet for human performance. Experts around the world agree that the ideal way to excel in sports is to follow a plant-based diet. This is the ideal documentary to watch with friends or family that are athletes and want to improve their performance and strength on a plant-based diet. This informative film will wake up those that still believe eating meat is good for them. Stream it on multiple online platforms including Netflix, Amazon Prime and iTunes.
Blackfish tells the story of Tilikum, a performing killer whale held in captivity at SeaWorld until his horrific and unnatural death in 2017. Tilikum forever holds a special place in my heart as I protested his captivity for decades. It was through Tilikum’s confinement that I taught my son about love and compassion – and how not to treat others. Tilikum was the largest orca whale in captivity and director Gabriela Cowperthwaite tells his heart-wrenching story and creates a dialogue about what it means to keep such intelligent creatures in confinement. In this ground breaking documentary viewers are provided with an in-depth look at how marine creatures are treated at aquariums. Blackfish was instrumental in the backlash against SeaWorld and other aqua jails that still continue to exploit various species. Stream Blackfish on iTunes, Amazon or Google Play.
5. What The Health
Make a big hearty salad and sit down to watch What The Health with your quarantine buddy. This ground-breaking follow up film from the creators of Cowspiracy takes you on a journey through the corruption of government and big businesses that costs people trillions of healthcare dollars. The charismatic interviews will have you laughing out loud and on the serious side their investigative journalism sheds a light on what needs to change when it comes to our health. Stream it online or Netflix.
This action adventure movie by talented Korean director Bong Joon Ho has won numerous awards and will lead to some lively Zoom discussions after your screening. Okja tells the story of a young girl who risks everything for her best friend, a fascinating creature named Okja. It’s a great heartwarming film that will help convince meat eaters to go vegan. In fact, Bong Joon Ho became vegan when researching this film after visiting his first slaughterhouse. The film involves the death of imaginary animals yet parallels the real life animals confined and killed in slaughterhouses. Stream it on Netflix.
7. Super Size Me
Super Size Me is an intriguing movie by Morgan Spurlock that examines the influence of the fast food industry through eating solely McDonald’s food for one month. What could possibly go wrong? Well, a lot actually. It’s a unique way to learn about how harmful fast food is, especially when Spurlock must supersize his meal if asked. He treks across the United States eating Big Macs and interviewing people about the fast food industry. It’s a great film to spark conversations with non-vegans about healthy eating and eventually moving to a plant-based diet. Stream it on Amazon Prime, Google Play or online.
Earthlings started so many people on their vegan journey since it’s release in 2005. Due to many graphic images and violence against animals it is not recommended for young viewers. That being said, it’s the perfect film to suggest to friends that still consume or use animal products daily. The documentary examines the brutal disrespect for animals in all walks of life. Earthlings is written, produced and directed by Shaun Monson and narrated by Academy Award winner and outspoken vegan activist, Joaquin Phoenix. Both Monson and Phoenix are actively involved in LA Animal Save, a chapter of the Save Movement. They have attended many pig vigils where they bear witness and give water to thirsty pigs on the way to slaughter. Earthlings can be rented or purchased online.
9. Food Matters
Food Matters examines our current state of health and attempts to uncover the trillion dollar worldwide “Sickness Industry”. The documentary features interviews with leading medical experts that discuss natural approaches to preventing and reversing cancer, obesity, heart disease and other chronic conditions. The film challenges the food industry and examines what is making us sick. There is no better time to eliminate unhealthy foods from your diet than while in quarantine when you have no choice but to prepare most of your meals at home. Stream Food Matters on Gaia or iTunes.
10. The Animal People
From executive producer Joaquin Phoenix, The Animal People tells the story of six animal rights activists from Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty (SHAC) that were targeted by the FBI for speaking out against exploitation and abuse at the animal-testing lab Huntingdon Life Sciences. It provides an inside look at what happens when activism disrupts the institutions of power and advocates are labeled as terrorists by big business in the United States. The Animal People was released at the end of last year and can be streamed on Netflix or Amazon Prime.