October 4, 2023

11 Animal Rights Documentaries we Need to Watch (Whether we’re Vegan or Not).

There is no denying that veganism and plant-based diets are becoming increasingly mainstream.

According to the Good Food Institute, plant-based products have become an $8 billion industry as of 2022.

While this growth in popularity is a good thing, it also means there are a plethora of resources for becoming vegan. So many that it can be overwhelming for someone trying to start their own journey.

As someone who turned vegan after watching a film on animal agriculture, I believe documentaries are a great way to be introduced to the vegan lifestyle. In this list, I’ve included some of the most educational and inspirational documentaries that cover all issues within veganism: diet, entertainment, scientific research, and environmental.

Hopefully, these will inspire you to reduce your use of animal products, whether for animal rights, environmental concerns, or health reasons.

1. “The Game Changers” 

If you are vegan, odds are you have been asked, “Where do you get your protein from?” Well, this 2018 documentary does a great job of tearing apart the old belief that we need meat to build muscle.

“The Game Changers” follows James Wilks, winner of The Ultimate Fighter and Special Forces trainer, as he travels the world in search of the best diet for human performance. It is a must-watch for all athletes but an eye-opening film for anyone interested in the health benefits of a plant-based diet.

2. “Live and Let Live” 

A heartwarming documentary, “Live and Let Live” follows the lives of six people who went vegan for different reasons. It includes a former butcher turned vegan chef and a meat factory worker who now owns an animal sanctuary.

This 2013 film is a powerful reminder that we all have the power to change not only our lives but the lives of other living beings and truly “live and let live.”

3. “Food, Inc.” 

“Food, Inc.” is a pivotal Academy Award-nominated documentary released in 2008. It explores how a handful of major corporations control the way Americans eat and the consequences of this system.

Health, animal rights, environmental concerns, and employee rights are not taken into consideration when corporations value profits over ethics.

4. “The Ghosts in Our Machine” 

“The Ghosts in Our Machine” is a touching documentary centered around Jo-Anne McArthur, a photojournalist and animal rights activist. It follows McArthur as she captures the lives of exploited animals in places such as fur farms.

The 2013 film also features rescued animals living freely in sanctuaries, highlighting what the lives of millions of animals could look like if we gave them a chance.

5. “Before the Flood” 

Although not focused on animal rights, this 2016 documentary does address the undeniable link between animal agriculture and climate change. “Before the Flood” follows actor and environmentalist Leonardo DiCaprio as he meets with world leaders, scientists, and activists to discuss what is happening to our earth and ways we can contribute toward a sustainable future.

6. “Seaspiracy”

British filmmaker Ali Tabrizi, along with the team that made “Cowspiracy,” explores the impact that fishing has on our environment. Released in 2021, “Seaspiracy” is a shocking exposé on the fishing industry and its dark secrets. Not only are animal and environmental issues discussed but also human rights violations.

7. “The Invisible Vegan” 

This 2019 documentary discusses the socioeconomic inequalities and Big Food’s role in pushing fast food and meat into the diets of Black communities in America. It’s no surprise that African Americans are disproportionally affected by heart disease, stroke, diabetes, obesity, and high blood pressure.

“The Invisible Vegan” explores how this inequality came to be and how adopting a plant-based diet can be of great help.

8. “Dominion” 

Thanks to the use of drones and hidden cameras, “Dominion” features a slew of footage exposing the true brutality of animal agriculture. This 2018 documentary is narrated by several well-known animal rights activists such as Joaquin Phoenix, Rooney Mara, and Sadie Sink.

Watching this film will leave you “questioning the morality and validity of humankind’s dominion over the animal kingdom,” as their website explains.

9. “A Fall from Freedom” 

This 2011 film documents the harrowing history of captive whales and dolphins exploited in the name of entertainment. It discusses the psychological and physical toll these marine animals are subjected to when removed from their natural habitat and given no option other than to please humans.

Not only does it address the ethics of holding animals captive, but it also highlights illegal practices and government compliance within the industry.

10. “Earthlings” 

Narrated by Joaquin Phoenix, this 2005 documentary covers a variety of animal rights topics. Divided into five chapters (pets, food, clothing, entertainment, and scientific research), “Earthlings” explores how the world has become dependent on the exploitation of animals.

It can be hard to watch as it contains graphic footage of animal abuse, but it provides an overall view of how animals are used in almost every aspect of our society.

11. “Akashinga: The Brave Ones” 

This 2020 documentary produced by James Cameron is an amazing story of an all-female and vegan group of rangers in Zimbabwe. Recruited by Australian conservationist and founder of the International Anti-Poaching Foundation, Damien Mander, these armed women protect Africa’s key species from poachers and extinction.

Despite being a short film, it’s a powerful reminder that animals are worth more to us alive than dead.


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