Environmental, Health & Animal Documentaries That Encourage Veg Living

We have compiled this list of relatively new documentaries that encourage environmentally- and animal-friendly healthy plant-based eating.  They are available online or on DVD or both .  Some we have screened at BVS, and some we have not seen yet.  We present this list of film resources that you can explore and consider using in your own outreach for vegetarianism.

A Delicate Balance (Australia)
84 minutes
A Delicate Balance documents the latest discoveries of some of the most prominent experts on nutrition in the world. Over 50 years of research is skilfully woven into what feels like a detective unravelling the mysteries behind the disease epidemic which has struck affluent countries with a vengeance - disease has been escalating over the last 50 years resulting in 1 in 2 men and 1 in 3 women being diagnosed with cancer.  Watching this film will help you make informed choices about your health and the environment around you and how to reduce your personal impact.

A Life Connected
12 minutes
“We believe people are born with values that connect them to humanity and the rest of the world in which they live — values of justice, kindness and compassion. Our task is to help each other reconnect.”
Watch it online

A Sacred Duty: Applying Jewish Values To Help Heal The World
60 minutes

Jewish Vegetarians of North America produced this documentary about how Jewish teachings can help address current environmental crises. It is especially suitable for synagogues, temples, JCCs, Jewish schools and other Jewish institutions.  However, its universal message speaks to people everywhere about the ethics of our relationship to the natural world, and why it is imperative that we respond quickly to help shift our imperiled planet to a sustainable path.  It is an expose of the dangers of global warming that highlights how religious responses can make a difference, and why a shift toward plant-based diets is an essential part of efforts to reduce global climate change and other environmental threats.  Includes interviews with Rabbis, Israeli environmentalists, and prominent Jewish activists.

Order free DVD or watch online at www.jewishveg.com/asacredduty/

90 minutes
Narrated by Joaquin Phoenix, music by Moby
Award-winning documentary film about the suffering of animals for food, fashion, pets, entertainment and medical research.  Caution: Content is graphic and disturbing throughout. In an interview with Katie Courick, Ellen DeGeneres says this is the film that made her go vegan.

88 minutes
“Join over 20 million people throughout the world who have watched this award-winning film. It covers a lot of ground very comprehensively. Among the many highlights are interviews with Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, Dr. Neil Pinckney, Dr. Ruth Heidrich and Dr. Joseph Crowe... What you will get is a virtual one-on-one consultation with some of the world's leading authorities on heart disease reversal.”  Includes segments on environmental and ethical issues.

Eating Mercifully: Christian Perspectives on Factory Farming
26 minutes
This film from the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) explores Christian perspectives on factory farming.  Observations from the Executive Director of the Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production, along with thought-provoking comments from a Professor of Animals and Religion, a Pastor, a Sister, and a conservative Christian couple who run a farm animal sanctuary are effectively intertwined with footage that illustrates modern animal farming practices.  HSUS' "three Rs" approach —Reduce, Replace, Refine— means there is a segment on so-called "humane meat."  This is an opportunity for discussion such as presented in this essay and this article.  Watch a 7 minute trailer and order a free DVD here.  Study guides for adults and youth are also available.

Food, Inc.
91 minutes
The word "vegetarianism" is never mentioned once in this Academy Award nominated documentary, even though it would be the solution to so many of the wrongs vividly exposed in the film.  This is an omnivore's view of the problem of our industrialized food system and its effect on our environment, health, economy, and workers' rights.   Nevertheless, its high production quality and exposé of factory farming and agribusiness make it worthy of inclusion on our list.  Through its broad commercial distribution and recognition, many people may have gotten their first inside view of what is involved in producing meat in America.

Forks Over Knives
96 minutes

This feature film examines the profound claim that most, if not all, of the degenerative diseases that afflict us can be controlled, or even reversed, by rejecting our present menu of animal-based and processed foods.  The major storyline traces the personal journeys of two pioneering nutrition and health researchers, T. Colin Campbell PhD and Caldwell Esselstyn Jr, MD.  The idea of food as medicine is put to the test.  Throughout the film, cameras follow “reality patients” who have chronic conditions from heart disease to diabetes.  Doctors teach these patients how to adopt a whole foods plant-based diet as the primary approach to treat their ailments—while the challenges and triumphs of their journeys are revealed.  The film features many nutrition experts, and utilizes state of the art 3-D graphics and rare archival footage.

Read the excellent Boston Globe review, which opens,
"What 'An Inconvenient Truth' did for global warming, Lee Fulkerson's persuasive documentary does for a vegan diet."

Here is film critic Roger Ebert's terrific review, which opens,
"Here is a film that could save your life."

Mad Cowboy
58 minutes
Based on the book Mad Cowboy: Plain Truth from the Cattle Rancher Who Won't Eat Meat, by Howard Lyman.  This is the story of the fourth generation cattle rancher and dairy farmer turned vegetarian and food safety activist who was co-defendant with Oprah Winfrey in the infamous "veggie libel" case brought by Texas ranchers.  Lyman uncovers the dangerous and potentially deadly practices of the cattle and dairy industry.  The film is a manifesto for change from an industry insider whose firsthand experiences may alter the way you think about your food, and the people who produce it.

Meat the Truth
73 minutes
A Dutch-produced documentary, Meat the Truth is done in the style of Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth and presents the case for meat production’s impact on climate change.  It is a must-see companion film to An Inconvenient Truth, presenting the critical information omitted from the earlier film and contributing to societal discussion about movement towards plant-based diets and thus also a more humane society.
www.meatthetruth.com and www.meatthetruth.nl

Peaceable Kingdom: The Journey Home
78 minutes
A story of transformation and healing, this film explores the awakening conscience of several people who grew up in traditional farming culture and who have now come to question the basic premises of their inherited way of life. With honest interviews and rare footage demonstrating the emotional lives and intense family bonds of animals most often viewed as living commodities, this groundbreaking documentary shatters stereotypical notions of farmers, farm life, and perhaps most surprisingly, farm animals themselves.

71 minutes
PLANEAT is the story of three men's life-long search for a diet, which is good for our health, good for the environment and good for the future of the planet. With an additional cast of pioneering chefs and some of the best cooking you have ever seen, the scientists and doctors in the film present a convincing case for the West to re-examine its love affair with meat and dairy. The film features the ground-breaking work of Dr. T Colin Campbell in China exploring the link between diet and disease, Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn's use of diet to treat heart disease patients, and Professor Gidon Eshel's investigations into how our food choices contribute to global warming, land use and oceanic deadzones.
With the help of some innovative farmers and chefs, PLANEAT shows how the problems we face today can be solved, without simply resorting to a diet of lentils and lettuce leaves.  When buying access to the film, viewers also get an 8 minute interview with Prof. Peter Singer, and PLANEAT with Spanish and German subtitles.   Here is a review.

Processed People
40 minutes
”Processed People features in-depth discussions with leading health and environmental experts/advocates detailing why so many of us are sick, and offers solutions to our current devastating health crisis. It features insightful interviews from nine preeminent health and environmental experts/advocates. They discuss how and why Americans got into this mess, and what we can do to break the ‘processed people’ cycle.  The DVD contains the full documentary (40 minutes) along with 140 additional minutes of extended personal interviews with the experts, plus another 25 minutes of special feature items.”

Seeing Through the Fence
83 minutes
Through a series of humorous and poignant interviews conducted across the US and in Greece with “random people,” the documentarian’s family, and activists, Seeing Through the Fence explores our attitudes about the role of food in modern society and our connection, or lack of connection, with both the processes and animals from which our food originates, asking the question, “What prevents ethical principles from being advanced to action?”

Sustainable Table
52 minutes
Over nine months, Mischa Hedges and Digital Sense Productions traveled the west coast to learn more about our food system. During production, he found that the standard methods of producing food do not take environmental or human health costs into consideration. He also explored the many alternatives to the current agricultural system.  Includes interviews with Howard Lyman (Mad Cowboy) and Kenneth Williams (vegan bodybuilder).

The Animals Film
25th Anniversary Edition, 120 minutes
“The most impressive film maudit, possibly too hot to handle, is Victor Schonfeld’s The Animals Film, a polemical onslaught, stuffed with footage never before shown, and a wealth of newly-shot material often taken undercover, which documents...mankind’s degradation, exploitation, and often pointless torture, of the creatures who share our planet... I do not know when I have come out of a screening so moved by the power of the cinema as a medium to transform the entire sensibility of an audience.”

The Emotional World of Farm Animals
53 minutes
Aired nationally on PBS, this is a documentary for viewers of all ages about the thinking and feeling side of animals who are all too often just viewed as food.  Jeffrey Masson leads viewers through the personal journey he underwent while writing his book, The Pig Who Sang to The Moon.  This journey into the sentient, emotional lives of farm animals brings Masson to animal sanctuaries around the country where caregivers and the animals themselves tell their stories of rescue and escape.  Masson delves into the rich ancestry of these curious and intelligent animals and interviews top experts in animal behavior.  A 50 page study guide to accompany the film is also available.

The True Cost of Food
15 minutes, and a 7-minute abridged version; DVD or watch online
Produced by The Sierra Club Sustainable Consumption Committee Mission, this film’s goal is to encourage people to think about the environmental impacts of their consumption choices by providing specific information.

The Witness
43 minutes
“The Witness is one man’s truth that cries out for mass exposure… may be the most important and persuasive film about animals ever made.”
In this award-winning documentary, a construction contractor from a tough Brooklyn neighborhood explains how he feared and avoided animals for most of his life, until the love of a kitten opened his heart, inspiring him to rescue abandoned animals and bring his message of compassion to the streets of New York. With humor and sincerity, he tells the story of his remarkable change in consciousness.

To Your Health
60 minutes
To Your Health is an in-depth study of whole food, plant-based nutrition, debunking the most common myths associated with modern nutrition.  Part road movie, part documentary, the film takes the viewer on an entertaining and educational journey across the country, interviewing some of the biggest names in the plant-based world.  Visits with nutrition researchers, MDs, athletes, a farm animal sanctuary, chefs, and vegan restaurants come together in a presentation of life-changing information and hope for a future of better health for all.

76 minutes
Seven years in the making, Vegucated is a bright concept - like Super Size Me in reverse. Part sociological experiment and part adventure comedy, Vegucated follows three meat- and cheese-loving New Yorkers who agree to adopt a vegan diet for six weeks. Lured by tales of weight lost and health regained, they begin to uncover the hidden sides of animal agriculture that make them wonder whether solutions offered in films like Food, Inc go far enough. This entertaining documentary showcases the rapid and at times comedic evolution of three people who discover they can change the world one bite at a time.
http://www.getvegucated.com or watch free online on Hulu