The 22 Best Vegan Documentaries to Inspire You

by Lars
Sep 25, 2016
living room with white sideboard and a tv on which is the image of the cow from the documentary cowspirary
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Looking for the best and most educational vegan flicks out there? Look no further. We dug deep to compile this massive list of the best vegan documentaries and short films we could find.

The topics covered range from health, over environment, to animal advocacy. Some films, of course, deal with several of these.

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We'll start out with the very best stuff out there, continue with some documentaries that have one or two flaws but are still worth watching and finish with a couple of bonus free-to-watch speeches on youtube that will rock your socks.

We briefly discuss what each documentary is about, what you can learn from it, where you can watch it along with some other info (like if the film contains graphic footage) and the official trailer. In the few cases that the full documentary was available on Youtube, we simply embedded the whole thing here.

The 22 Best Vegan Documentaries

Get the popcorn out and gather some non-vegans around you for the following life-changing movies revolving around the ethical, environmental or health reasons for veganism.

1. What the Health

Category: Health

What it's about

Kip Andersen and Keegan Kuhn are at it again. After their debut with Cowspiracy, this time around, their focus is on human health - or rather the detrimental effects of animal foods and how they could be prevented.

We're joining Kip as he speaks to several medical doctors and researchers about the growing body of evidence on the health dangers of animal foods and how they contribute to our leading causes of death. Baffled by the fact that leading health organizations seem to be remaining quiet about this - or even presenting dangerous advice - Kip is determined to get to the bottom of things.

We follow him as he tackles several major health organizations such as the American Heart Association or the American Diabetes Association, just to find the depressing truth of conflicting interests and massive corporate influence on the nation's health.

Why you should watch it

Just like its predecessor Cowspiracy, What the Health is an incredibly eye-opening documentary that's fact-dense yet fun to watch due to the investigative style and Kip's intrepid nature.

It presents some of the latest nutritional science and uncovers the ways in which big pharmaceutical and food businesses try to suppress the truth.

The film ends on an inspirational note as it shows people who have turned their lives around and now thrive on an entirely plant-based diet.

Where to watch?

  • Stream and download on vimeo (paid)
  • Buy DVD on the official website
  • Netflix (many countries)
  • Info

    • Running length: 1h 37min
    • Director: Kip Andersen, Keegan Kuhn
    • Release year: 2017
    • Graphic Footage: None

    2. Forks Over Knives

    Category: Health

    What it's about

    Forks Over Knives features leading experts in health such as Dr. T. Colin Campbell, co-author of the China Study and Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, author of "Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease" among many other doctors and researchers.

    Campbell and Esselstyn both grew up on farms, believing that animal protein was healthy and necessary but soon changed their beliefs in the face of mounting scientific data.

    We get a closer look at the careers of Campbell, Esselstyn, McDougall and co and how they all, independently from each other, came to the same conclusion: A whole food plant-based diet is the answer to obesity and can heal or even reverse the most common degenerative diseases of our society.

    Along with the scientific explanations, Forks Over Knives also presents a couple of real-life case studies of people who not only lost great amounts of weight but also improved pretty much all areas of their health.

    Why you should watch it

    In a plausible and non-preachy way, Forks Over Knives makes the point that not only animal foods but also highly processed foods in general are quite detrimental to your health. The real life examples (i.e. the entirely plant-based firefighter crew around Rip Esselstyn) are fun to watch and show that this way of eating also provides you with tons of energy on top of all other benefits.

    This documentary is excellent if you're relatively new to veganism and want to learn the basics of the health-related advantages of this lifestyle.

    Info

    • Running length: 1h 36min
    • Director: Lee Fulkerson
    • Release year: 2011
    • Graphic Footage: None

    3. Earthlings

    Category: Ethics

    What it's about

    Earthlings is definitely one of the most influential and powerful vegan documentaries out there. It's usually the number one recommended piece when trying to convince people of the ethical aspect of veganism.

    Narrated by Joaquin Phoenix, the movie uses hidden cameras to portrait the unpleasant truth about the exploitation and killing of innocent beings in the areas of pets, food, clothing, entertainment, and science.

    The footage is VERY graphic and gruesome and might be too much to handle for some as it is just very painful and disturbing to watch how these sentient beings are being treated.

    The film opens our eyes to the cruel practices going on behind the walls of different kinds of animal industries that many of us simply aren't aware of or conveniently try to not to think about: It's shocking but eye-opening at the same time.

    Earthlings conveys the message that we are all creatures that feel pain, seek to survive and want to minimize suffering. Comparing the exploitation and killing of certain species (speciesism) to racism and sexism, Earthlings urges the exploitation and killing of certain species (speciesism) to racism and sexism

    Why you should watch it

    For non-vegans, it may open the door to veganism as there's no more blissful ignorance. Many will make the connection, be more compassionate, and not support animal exploiting industries anymore. Already vegans may strengthen their commitment to speak up and actively raise awareness to bring change.

    Info

    • Running length: 1h 35min
    • Director: Shaun Monson
    • Release year: 2005
    • Graphic Footage: Plenty

    4. Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret

    Category: Environment

    What it's about

    Cowspiracy is all about the devastating environmental impact of animal agriculture. The crowdfunded documentary film uncovers that animal agriculture is the primary driver of climate change and responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions than the whole transportation industry combined.

    It furthermore informs that large-scale factory farming is the leading cause of many environmental illnesses such as deforestation, desertification, water use, or species extinction.

    Filmmaker and co-producer Kip Anderson approaches some of the biggest environmental organizations like Greenpeace and Sierra Club and questions their policies on the issue of animal agriculture.

    For some reason, the entire environmental movement seems to focus on the reduction of fossil fuels - Animal agriculture, on the other hand, is pretty much unchallenged. Anderson gets to the bottom of why organizations almost seem to be afraid of talking about the issue.

    Why you should watch it

    It's fascinating to see how much you can lower your environmental footprint and use fewer resources just by adopting a plant-based lifestyle.

    Apart from the ethics and health reasons, this documentary provides even more great reasons to avoid animal products and shows that only if we transition more and more to plant-based eating, we will be able to sustain an increasingly growing population and dramatically reduce the impact of climate change.

    Info

    • Running length: 1h 25min
    • Director: Kip Andersen, Keegan Kuhn
    • Release year: 2014
    • Graphic Footage: Some

    5. Speciesism: The Movie

    Category: Ethics

    What it's about

    Filmmaker Mark Devries (in his twenties when he began with the film) sets out to investigate factory farms that are conveniently placed out of our sight in remote countryside areas.

    He comes face-to-face with their owners while he tries to shed some light on what's going on behind those odd factories. To uncover the truth, Mark goes as far as commissioning an airplane to fly over some of the factory farms.

    On his journey, he interviews a broad range of people, questioning the fundamental belief that humans are thought to be superior to all other animals and that it's justified to torture and abuse them for the sake of our pleasure.

    Mark stirs some very thought-provoking discussions and asks uncomfortable questions as he dismantles the notion that human beings or of more moral worth than all other species.

    Why you should watch it

    Many people claim that this film changed their world view entirely and it might just do the same for you. It's intriguing in the way it challenges widely accepted beliefs.

    If you're already familiar with the ethical side of veganism, this documentary will expand your knowledge even further and equip you with some excellent responses for your debates.

    Info

    • Running length: 1h 34min
    • Director: Mark Devries
    • Release year: 2017
    • Graphic Footage: None

    6. Vegucated

    Category: Health, Ethics

    What it's about

    Vegucated follows three omnivores from different backgrounds who try veganism for 6 weeks and learn what it's all about. At first, they were mostly driven by the wish to lose weight, but as they get educated about the ethical and environmental implications of animal agriculture, their whole worldview is shaken.

    The three volunteers get to know about the cruelty in slaughterhouses and even trespass one to see for themselves what disturbing truth lies inside of those factories. While they were rather reluctant and resistant in the beginning of their journey, they soon start to see the advantages of a vegan lifestyle and become more and more passionate about their new-found conviction.

    The knowledge they gained makes it virtually impossible to return to their old omnivorous lifestyle. Of course, it's not always easy and the three face quite a few hardships and challenges such as cravings, staying vegan on vacation and dealing with disapproving family and friends.

    Why you should watch it

    Vegucated shows how fast a transformation to veganism can happen if people are properly educated about the far-reaching consequences of their lifestyle choices.

    At the same time, it opens our eyes to the fact that there's still a lot of ignorance and disconnection in our society: The three participants didn't have a clue about modern farming practices, health, and environmental consequences of eating animal products.

    The documentary portraits three "ordinary" people which makes it very easy to relate to their feelings and struggles. Vegucated is especially compelling for those on the edge to veganism and non-vegans but even for vegans, it's a fun documentary to watch due to its light-hearted and sometimes comedic nature.

    Info

    • Running length: 1h 16min
    • Director: Marisa Miller Wolfson
    • Release year: 2011
    • Graphic Footage: Almost none

    7. Meat the Truth

    Category: Environment

    What it's about

    Another documentary about the destructive force of animal agriculture on our planet and global warming. It starts where most other environmental films stop and curiously asks why nowadays full-scale animal farming, despite its massive impact, is often times neglected when climate change is discussed. Is it convenience? Is it the fear to go against the norm?

    Meat the Truth draws attention to the fact that animal agriculture puts more strain on the environment than the entire transport system globally. Marianne Thieme, Dutch politician and animal rights activist, travels to the US where she interviews scientists, PETA members, as well as current and former ranchers who turned vegan.

    Even Al Gore gets exposed and criticized for his movie An Inconvenient Truth as it forgets to mention the leading contributor to greenhouse gasses.

    Why you should watch it

    Meat the Truth demonstrates that even small changes can have an enormous effect - that just one person can make a significant difference. It shows that small dietary changes will lead to big results contrary to the popular belief that a single person's food choices don't have much of an impact.

    This documentary beautifully illustrates how we can change the world one step at a time and one person at a time by making smarter food choices and changing our daily habits.

    Where to watch?

    Info

    • Running length: 1h 34min
    • Director: Karen Soeters, Gertjan Zwanikken
    • Release year: 2007
    • Graphic Footage: None

    8. Peaceable Kingdom: The Journey Home

    Category: Ethics

    What it's about

    This award-winning documentary explores the moral struggles by several traditional farmers who started questioning and reexamining their relationships with animals.

    The farmers share stories that one can't possibly understand without having experienced them first-hand: Stories of unbelievable cruelty but also stories of the complex bonds, emotional lives, and relationships animals do experience.

    Being in touch with these beautiful creatures and getting to know their personalities put the farmers in an incredible dilemma. We learn about the life-altering moments and get insight into the farmers' sometimes amazing and touching connections with the animals.

    With the awakening of their conscious, their worldview flipped around: Not only did they tap into a vegan lifestyle but also created sanctuaries for abandoned farm animals.

    Why you should watch it

    Peaceable Kingdom: The Journey Home explores the human animal relationship but also the complexity of an animal life in a very touching way. The documentary's powerful message is that we wouldn't want these innocent beings to experience any harm if we really got to know them.

    Info

    • Running length: 1h 18min
    • Director: Jenny Stein
    • Release year: 2009
    • Graphic Footage: Some

    9. Unity

    Category: Ethics, Environment

    What it's about

    Directed and produced by Shaun Monson, Unity can be considered the sequel to his former renowned documentary Earthlings. It took 7 years to finish the film which is narrated by 100 famous actors, entertainers, athletes, musicians and others.

    Unity explores the reasons why we haven't been able to coexist peacefully with our fellow human beings, animals, and planet earth - even after thousand and thousands of years. Despite the fast evolution of science, technology, and philosophy, we're still not able to respect each other and live in unity.

    Presented in 5 chapters, the documentary takes an in-depth look at what it truly means to be human and how all forms of life are interconnected in the end.

    Why you should watch it

    Unity is a beautiful documentary to watch. The footage and score alone are simply breathtaking. The fact that it's narrated by such a wide variety of celebrities makes the message of peace, love, and hope even stronger.

    Unity speaks out for those who can't and does so in a unique and mesmerizing way.

    Where to watch?

    Info

    • Running length: 1h 39min
    • Director: Shaun Monson
    • Release year: 2015
    • Graphic Footage: Some

    10. PlantPure Nation

    Category: Health

    What it's about

    This documentary continues where Forks Over Knives left off. Dr. T. Colin Campbell, his son Nelson and Kentucky State Representative Tom Riner join forces to spread knowledge about the scientifically backed health benefits of a whole food plant-based diet.

    Their efforts of introducing a pilot program in the Kentucky legislature that documents the health benefits of a plant-based diet get shut down but this doesn't deter them at all from pursuing their mission. Because just like the slogan of the film suggests: The truth is a stubborn thing, it doesn't go away.

    Nelson takes the pilot program concept back to his hometown of Mebane, North Carolina, where he recruits a diverse group of people (including a politician, a journalist, and even a cattle farmer) that agree to participate in a 10-day vegan challenge with freshly prepared, heat-and-eat meals. Biometrics tests are done before and after the challenge and the results are astonishing.

    Why you should watch it

    PlantPure Nation makes a compelling case for plant-based eating, highlighting the dramatic and easy to achieve health benefits.

    The film is all about empowering people to make healthier, scientifically based decisions to fuel their bodies the best possible way despite corporate lobbies disseminating skepticism and trying to prevent change.

    Where to watch?

    Info

    • Running length: 1h 35min
    • Director: Nelson Campbell
    • Release year: 2015
    • Graphic Footage: None

    11. Food Choices

    Category: Health, Environment, Ethics

    What it's about

    On a 3-year journey, award-winning filmmaker Michal Siewierski goes on a quest to find the healthiest and most sustainable diet for ourselves, other living beings, and the planet we live on.

    Traveling across the whole US, he interviews over 30 world-renowned experts of many different fields including Dr. John McDougall, Dr. T Colin Campbell, Dr. Richard Oppenlander, Dr. Pam Popper, Rich Roll, Joe Cross and many more.

    They all discuss the many misconceptions our society has about food and diet and the far-reaching impacts inherent to our food choices.

    Why you should watch it

    Food Choices is a treasure chest of valuable information regarding health, ethical, and environmental benefits of a plant-based diet. The top-notch production of the film and the concurrence of the many well-respected doctors, athletes, environmental researchers etc. makes this documentary very enjoyable to watch.

    Especially for non-vegans or veg-interested, this film offers an amazing blend of all the different information, representing the many advantages of a vegan lifestyle in a very comprehensive way.

    Info

    • Running length: 1h 31min
    • Director: Michal Siewierski
    • Release year: 2016
    • Graphic Footage: Moderate

    12. Carnage: Swallowing the Past

    Category: Ethics

    What it's about

    This mockumentary is set in a utopian Britain of the year 2067. Eating meat, dairy and eggs is now a relict of the past. People of the younger generation are horrified by the amount of suffering and violence that has been inflicted on animals while many of the older generation need to undergo therapy to cope with the guilt of their carnist pasts.

    Part real events, part fiction, Carnage takes us from 1944 (the foundation of the Vegan Society) to a fully vegan world in 2067 and explores the many hurdles and successes along the way.

    Why you should watch it

    Whether you're vegan already or not, this film will put a smile on your face. It's never preachy and instead, provides a completely new angle: How will people in 50 years look back on how we treat animals today?

    The switch of perspective effectively portraits how absurd our current exploitation of animals really is.

    Where to watch?

    • BBC iPlayer (unfortunately works only for UK based viewers at this moment), but the film also keeps floating around on Youtube, so keep an eye out for that

    Info

    • Running length: 68min
    • Director: Simon Amstell
    • Release year: 2017
    • Graphic Footage: Some

    13. Planeat

    Category: Environment, Health

    What it's about

    With a high-quality cast including scientists, environmental experts, passionate farmers and pioneering chefs, this British documentary draws attention to the health and environmental benefits of removing animal products from one's diet.

    Through many interviews, the documentary examines how diets rich in meat and dairy promote cancer growth and heart disease, as well as how the consumption of animal products contributes to massive carbon emissions and biodiversity loss.

    Planeat offers a perspective on how we could solve today's problems with innovative farming techniques and shows that plant-based eating can be culinary delightful - far from dull nibbling on carrots and lettuce.

    Why you should watch it

    What's great about Planeat is that it omits shock tactics and presents its arguments in an uplifting, informative, and down to earth way which will speak to those who are immediately turned off by animal cruelty footage.

    It's thought-provoking without being indoctrinating with inspiring interviews and wonderful ideas on how to prepare delicious plant-based dishes.

    Info

    • Running length: 1h 27min
    • Director: Shelley Lee Davies, Or Shlomi
    • Release year: 2010
    • Graphic Footage: None

    14. Crazy Sexy Cancer

    Category: Health

    What it's about

    Shortly after being diagnosed with a rare stage IV cancer, charismatic Kris Carr starts documenting her story and takes us on a truly inspirational journey of healing and growing.

    Devastated but unwilling to succumb to the illness, Kris sets out to explore alternative and experimental methods to take care of her body - entirely transforming her diet (adopting a vegan diet rich in greens and veggies) as well as her lifestyle along the way.

    Kris takes us through moments of vulnerability and fear but the majority of the film is held in a very upbeat and even humorous tone. We get to see how the cancer enabled her to live life to the fullest and turn her disease into a creative expression. She even describes cancer as her guru as it enabled her to grow spiritually and become mentally stronger.

    Why you should watch it

    Using this documentary as a creative outlet, Kris Carr shares with us her unique and playful way of rising to the outrageous challenge life presented her. Crazy Sexy Cancer is a film of optimism, empowerment, honesty, and strength, garnished with lots of laughter and humor.

    Where to watch?

    Info

    • Running length: 1h 29min
    • Director: Kris Carr
    • Release year: 2007
    • Graphic Footage: None

    15. Vegan: Everyday Stories

    Category: People

    What it's about

    Vegan: Everyday Stories revolves around the personal journeys of 4 very different individuals who share one commonality: They're all vegan.

    We get to know an ultramarathon runner with a past of addiction, a cattle rancher's wife who fell in love with the animals and was destined to turn the farm into a sanctuary, a food truck owner who wants to share her passion for delicious plant-based foods with the rest of the world, and finally an 8 year-old girl who's on a mission to turn the whole world vegan.

    The documentary explores why and how everyday people become vegan: Diverse people with different backgrounds who come in all kinds of sizes, colors, ages, ethnicities, and sexualities and have their very unique struggles and passions.

    Why you should watch it

    Unlike many other movies, Vegan: Everyday Stories not only explores the WHY of veganism but puts emphasis on the WHO and proves that there's not the one typical vegan.

    The documentary is beautifully produced and presented in a warm and welcoming narrative. Featuring many interviews with the likes of Dr. Neal Barnard, Russel Simmons, Moby, and even NFL star David Carter, the film wonderfully demonstrates the diversity of vegans out there, who all try to make their mark in the world.

    Vegan: Everyday Stories is a non-profit project, so the whole film can be watched online:

    Where to watch?

    Info

    • Running length: 1h 31min
    • Director: Glenn Scott Lacey
    • Release year: 2016
    • Graphic Footage: None

    16. Blackfish

    Category: Ethics

    What it's about

    Blackfish tells the story of several orcas who were forced out of their natural habitat to be held in a SeaWorld amusement park. The focus is placed on one whale in particular: Tilikum, an orca who was involved in three deadly incidents.

    In a gripping way, the documentary explores what could've caused this highly intelligent whale to go violent. There's not a single record of an orca attacking a human being in the wild, so this kind of aggression is clearly something we created.

    Through many interviews with former SeaWorld trainers, we get a better understanding of the highly sensitive emotional lives of these extraordinary creatures and the harmful living conditions and cruel treatment they've been exposed to.

    Why you should watch it

    We learn that being separated from their tribe and captivated causes deep emotional and psychological stress to these animals. As consumers, we have the chance to make an end to this by not voting, or investing money for that matter, for companies that support animal exploitation.

    Blackfish makes a compelling case against keeping sentient beings in captivity just for our entertainment. Hopefully, many people will make the connection to apply this idea to all animals, who are unnecessarily bred and killed for our pleasure or taste.

    Where to watch?

    Info

    • Running length: 1h 23min
    • Director: Gabriela Cowperthwaite
    • Release year: 2013
    • Graphic Footage: Some

    17. The Ghosts in Our Machine

    Category: Ethics

    What it's about

    This animal rights focused documentary sheds light on the individual lives of animals locked inside the "machine" of our animal exploiting industries. The film follows photojournalist and activist Jo-Anne McArthur who presents us a window to these animals that are all too often out of sight, out of mind.

    Equipped with her camera, Jo-Anne travels the world and goes into undercover investigations to reveal the cruelty involved in the meat & dairy, animal testing, and fur industry. We get to know the emotional struggle Jo-Anne faces as she breaks into places to take photos of the animals but has to leave them behind in their terrible conditions at the same time.

    The film is beautifully shot and underlined with a harmonious score that makes for a very deep and emotional experience. It's not all sad and depressing: Tough scenes of abused animals are cut with joyful scenes from a farm sanctuary, creating a sense of hope.

    Why you should watch it

    The Ghosts in Our Machine puts emphasis on the individuality and intelligence of animals and what devastating emotional stress they have to go through. It also focuses on the human-animal connection and that we're hardwired to feel compassion if we really get to know these individual beings.

    Despite eschewing graphic footage for the most part, The Ghosts in Our Machine is deeply moving and poignant. Even if you're already vegan, this movie might encourage you to be more active and push further to make a bigger difference.

    Info

    • Running length: 1h 33min
    • Director: Liz Marshall
    • Release year: 2013
    • Graphic Footage: Some

    18. The Witness: Tribe of Heart

    Category: Ethics

    What it's about

    This award-winning documentary or rather short film of 43 minutes deals with the story of Eddie Lama, a tough New York construction worker who never had much of a connection to animals.

    But as he pet-sits a kitten of a woman he intends to get a date with, he suddenly starts to open up his heart and for the first time is able to feel deep compassion towards an animal.

    Forming a bond with this cat turned out to be just the starting point of his journey. Hooked by this experience, he's inspired to open an animal sanctuary for abandoned animals and change his diet and lifestyle to minimize animal suffering.

    He investigates deep into the fur business and feels compelled to actively spread the message of the cruelty that's going on in this industry.

    Why you should watch it

    It's touching to see the transformation a man goes through, one would have never thought to become an impassioned activist. The Witness: Tribe of Heart opens our eyes to the wonders of other living creatures and the profound emotional bonds we can form with them.

    In a powerful and simple way, the connection is drawn between the animals we love and cuddle and those we eat and abuse. The devotedness of Eddie is truly inspiring and urges us to do our best to speak up and act for those in need.

    Where to watch?

    Info

    • Running length: 43min
    • Director: Jenny Stein
    • Release year: 2010
    • Graphic Footage: Some

    19. Farm to Fridge

    Category: Ethics

    What it's about

    This 12-minute short film by Mercy for Animals reveals with brutally honest footage the often unseen tortures farmed animals have to through until they land neatly packaged in our supermarkets.

    With hidden cameras, Farm to Fridge explores the inconvenient truth behind bacon, eggs, dairy, beef, and seafood. If you're going to watch this, be prepared for some very harsh and disturbing images.

    Why you should watch it

    Farm to Fridge can be a great wake up call for those who spent their entire life blindly consuming animal foods without knowing about the suffering involved in those.

    In only 12 minutes, this short film convincingly makes the case that there's unspeakable suffering involved in all industries that use animals in order to make profit.

    Where to watch?

    • Youtube (see video above)

    Info

    • Running length: 12min
    • Director: Lee Iovino
    • Release year: 2011
    • Graphic Footage: Plenty

    20. Swine

    Category: Ethics, Health

    What it's about

    Swine is a new 16-minute short film that interweaves a narrated documentary with a fictional piece starring Timothy Shieff as a journalist going undercover in a UK factory farm to investigate rumors of a MRSA superbug outbreak in the pig population.

    This fast paced movie takes a look not only at the cruel conditions of factory farms but also the impending crisis of antibiotic resistance due to standard farming practices. Swine reveals the truth about the increasing ineffectiveness of important antibiotics that we rely upon so heavily.

    Why you should watch it

    The film outlines the various potential problems this relatively new threat implies and provides yet another excellent reason why giving up animal products is one of the best things you can do.

    Where to watch?

    • Youtube (see video above)

    Info

    • Running length: 16min
    • Director: Damien Clarkson, Robbie Lockie
    • Release year: 2016
    • Graphic Footage: Some

    21. The Engine 2 Kitchen Rescue

    Category: Health

    What it's about

    Rip Esselstyn, a former firefighter and triathlete visits two different families and helps them transition to a whole food plant-based diet, or how he likes to call it: A plant-strong diet.

    He reviews the current situation of the kitchen, then dismisses all the animal products and junk foods. What remains on the shelves and fridges is very little so it's time to replenish and do some shopping.

    Rip explains the benefits of eating whole food plant-based in an easy to understand way, clarifies which foods to choose and what to look out for in supermarkets and then whips up some super delicious and satisfying meals that amaze even the most skeptical family members.

    Why you should watch it

    Rip's approach of showing others his "plant-strong" lifestyle is super encouraging. He's the living example of being strong, energetic, and healthy and he radiates that.

    His meal ideas will make your mouth water and you might feel the urge to run to the kitchen to prepare all those awesome dishes on your own.

    Where to watch?

    Info

    • Running length: 53min
    • Director: John Corry
    • Release year: 2011
    • Graphic Footage: None

    22. Live and Let Live

    Category: Ethics, Environment, Health

    What it's about

    This documentary tells the story of 6 people who decided to go vegan: From a butcher who went on to be a vegan chef, a dairy farmer who became a farm sanctuary owner to a professional racing cyclist who discovered increased energy and faster recovery after switching to a vegan diet.

    Live and Let Live has a very impressive cast and features interviews of many proponents of the vegan movement such as Gary Francione, T. Colin Campbell, or Melanie Joy. The film examines our relationship with animals and the ethical, environmental and health reasons that move people to go vegan.

    Many topics are touched including morals, speciesism, but also the connection between nutrition and civilization diseases and environmental complications.

    Why you should watch it

    Live and Let Live is especially interesting for veg-interested people and newbies to the topic as it provides a well-rounded overview of the topic.

    It looks at veganism from all sorts of angles and covers the most important reasons of why people turn vegan.

    Info

    • Running length: 1h 20min
    • Director: Marc Pierschel
    • Release year: 2013
    • Graphic Footage: None

    Other Interesting Vegan & Health Videos

    The following documentaries didn't quite make it to the top of our list. They might still be interesting to watch and give you some new insight but they either had a few flaws or were not exactly about veganism but related topics such as junk food consumption or local food production.

    Food Matters

    This popular documentary takes a look at our current state of health, trying to explore why our society is as sick as never before despite the modern health care system and billions of dollars of funding and research into so-called cures.

    Food Matters got it right that we're focusing primarily on treating symptoms instead of tackling the root cause of this crisis. The film makes some good claims about the lack of nutritional education of medical doctors, the fact that the drug business is making a hell of a lot money and probably has no interest in all of us being healthy, and the importance of good nutrition to prevent a wide range of health conditions.

    Unfortunately, the good points are overshadowed by a lot of misinformation. The interviewees, who are of questionable credibility, for example, make claims that all cooked food is poisonous for us which is a rather outdated, pseudo-scientific idea. In fact, the nutrients of many foods become more bioavailable after cooking.

    Some other downsides are the heavy promotion of supplements and the pushing of superfoods instead of getting the basics of a healthy diet straight. All in all, the film has some good elements but eventually drifts too far into the woo-woo corner.

    Where to watch?

    Info

    • Running length: 1h 20min
    • Director: James Colquhoun, Carlo Ledesma
    • Release year: 2008
    • Graphic Footage: None

    Hungry for Change

    Hungry for Change is the follow-up movie by the Food Matters people. It definitely makes some good points about the food and diet industry fooling us with strategies with the sole purpose of making the most money possible. The artificial composing of the majority of nowadays supermarket foods with lots of additives and sweeteners gets criticized and a return to a more "natural" diet is promoted.

    But here lies the problem. We don't get to know what exactly the right kind of diet is that we're supposed to follow. Instead, the various so-called health experts in the film make all kinds of claims without any scientific backup. They, for instance, mention olive oil as a good source of fat and declare sugar to be as detrimental as heroin.

    There's a lot of pseudo-science going on with the praise of detox, juicing and superfoods such as aloe vera or chia seeds while sugar and grains are being demonized. Even Jamie Oliver has a short appearance with scenes of his TED-talk where he specifically promotes milk but despises the added sugar in it.

    The detrimental health effects of animal products get too little attention and the overall message of the film becomes incoherent and unclear. But Hungry for Change has some good parts as well: Plus points for highlighting the dangers of the dieting trap and addressing the mental aspects of food and dieting.

    Where to watch?

    Info

    • Running length: 1h 29min
    • Director: James Colquhoun, Carlo Ledesma
    • Release year: 2012
    • Graphic Footage: None

    Food Inc

    Food Inc takes a look behind the curtains of the food industry and exposes how drastically the system has changed over the course of the last decades with only a few companies controlling pretty much all of the food production. This food production system with the goal of continuously optimizing profits comes with a prize: The suffering of the workers and animals involved in the process, food safety as well as environmental problems.

    Food Inc does a great job at exposing the flaws of this profit-driven food production system and industrialized agriculture. It contains some very unsettling footage of livestock breeding that should be enough for some to be turned off by meat & dairy but here comes the problem of the film: Instead of promoting a vegan diet that's most resource-friendly, peaceful, and healthy for all involved parties, Food Inc postulates a "humane" kind of animal farming as the answer to our dilemma.

    There are scenes of a slightly psychopathic looking farmer who is portrayed as the role model of sustainable agriculture who proudly talks about his humane and sustainable practices while screaming chickens get their throats slit behind his back.

    What a bummer, especially since it's a pretty good documentary other than that, promoting the message that we as consumers are incredibly powerful and can change the system just by changing our demand: Industries will inevitably be forced to serve this demand.

    Where to watch?

    Info

    • Running length: 1h 34min
    • Director: Robert Kenner
    • Release year: 2008
    • Graphic Footage: Moderate

    Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead

    Australian Joe Cross, who's not only 100 pounds overweight but also suffers from a rare autoimmune disease, is running out of ideas. Conventional doctors and medicine aren't able to help him, so he decides to take things into his own hands by going on a 60-day juice fast.

    He's got one goal in mind: Getting off all those pills and regaining his health. Being supervised by nutrition specialist Joel Fuhrman for the first 30 days in New York, he then hits the road and travels all the way to the west coast, interviewing more than 500 Americans about eating habits and health along the way.

    While he discovers that many aren't willing to change their lifestyle and rather accept to die, there are also a some he inspires with his story: In Arizona, Joe meets the morbidly obese truck driver Phil, who's suffering from the same rare condition and soon begins his own truly inspiring journey of healing and transformation.

    This documentary is really uplifting in the way that it shows that we have the power to take our well-being into our own hands. The only downside is that it heavily promotes juice fasting and doesn't go into a lot of detail of what a health-promoting diet looks like apart from the juicing.

    Still, Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead will most likely motivate you to incorporate more micronutrient-dense foods into your diet and step into the healing powers of fruits and vegetables. No need to jump on a full-on juice fast.

    Where to watch?

    Info

    • Running length: 1h 37min
    • Director: Joe Cross, Kurt Engfehr
    • Release year: 2010
    • Graphic Footage: None

    Super Size Me

    In this documentary, director Morgan Murdock conducts the experiment to only eat McDonalds food for a full 30 days: Breakfast, lunch, and dinner. He has to include every single item of the menu at least once over the course of the 30 days. Supervised by three doctors, his physical and emotional health breaks down faster than anyone would've thought.

    Even though Super Size Me doesn't promote veganism in particular it illustrates to which great extent the fast food industry is fooling people into buying their crap, making them addicted and often times even obese and sick.

    Where to watch?

    Info

    • Running length: 1h 40min
    • Director: Morgan Spurlock
    • Release year: 2004
    • Graphic Footage: None

    Inspiring Speeches About Veganism

    Lastly, we compiled some of the best and inspiring speeches out there that can be watched for free in full length. We highly recommend the following videos on vegan ethics and plant-based health.

    Gary Yourofsky's "Best Speech Ever"

    This 2010 speech by animal rights activist Gary Yourofsky has gone viral with millions of views to this date. Yourofsky's convincing and powerful way of presenting his message already turned 8% of Israel vegan after this speech has been translated into Hebrew. Watching this video, you will find out why.

    Dr. Michael Greger: Uprooting the Leading Causes of Death

    Dr. Michael Greger, founder of the non-commercial, science-based website NutritionFacts.org, gave this brilliant speech back in 2012. Using the research of peer-reviewed scientific studies, he reveals the leading causes of our top 15 killers as well as ways to prevent or even reverse these with the right kind of nutrition.

    James Aspey's Speech, the Man Who Didn't Speak for 365 Days

    James Aspey got public attention after taking a 365-day vow of silence to raise awareness to the suffering of those who can't speak either. In this brilliant speech, he explains his unconventional route to veganism, the importance of this movement and ways to communicate the message effectively from a point of understanding and compassion.

    James Wildman: 101 Reasons to Go Vegan

    In this presentation, James Wildman of the Animal Rights Foundation of Florida, makes an incredibly compelling case for veganism, discussing the vast amount of benefits of a vegan diet. James covers the most important aspects of ethics and health in this very comprehensive and entertaining video.

    Why hope you enjoyed this list of the best vegan documentaries. Which ones are you planning to watch? What are your favorites ones? Is there a documentary we forgot to mention? Let us know in the comments below!

    Full transparency: We’re part of the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program and this post contains affiliate links that earn us a small commission at no additional cost for you. None of our work is sponsored and we only recommend products we personally use and love, or think our readers will find useful, so this is a simple way of getting compensated for the time and love we put into this website.

    about lars.

    Lars is the guy for all things technical of this site but likes to write the occasional article, too. He has a degree in computer science and media and has been vegan since 2010. He loves nourishing plant-based food, playing tennis, and making noises with his guitar sometimes. Oh, and he's got a weird obsession with peanuts & coconuts.

    This page contains affiliate links. If you loved our site and would like to support us, you can do so by purchasing through our links. We receive a small commission at no extra charge for you. (Last update on 2019-10-15 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API)

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    15 thoughts on “The 22 Best Vegan Documentaries to Inspire You”

      • Hi Dayna,
        that’s a wonderful and touching speech indeed. I’m thinking about creating a different article about the best speeches in the future to separate them from the documentaries. Cause this post here has already gotten way too long. Appreciate your contribution and made a note of it. :) Thanks!

    1. Lars, Did you do the research and gather all this information? I’m reposting it in Vegan Amino group and want to credit the correct person. Thx in advance

      Diane
      dkay2u

    2. Eating you alive (dec. 2016)

      In defense of food (oct. 2015) -Netflix

      (Upcoming late 2017) The game changers – produced by James Cameron

    3. Hi there Lars & Alena,
      I have absolutely enjoyed this course and your website. I am happy to say that I have one year and two months (and counting) under my belt as a vegan/plant based eater and I love it! Thank you for putting together the list of documentaries as I didn’t know there were sooooo many. Thank you!

      • Hey Lakesia,
        thanks for the beautiful feedback, we’re truly honored :) So happy to know that you’ve been doing great while eating plant-based! It’s sometimes like magic, right? Give the body what it truly needs and it’ll show you what’s possible.
        Glad you enjoyed the list of documentaries – need to update it soon.
        Warm wishes,
        Alena

    4. I’ve seen rec’s for Okja too! I know it’s not a documentary, but it’s a really powerful film that supports the cause. I have yet to watch it – I’m sort of saving it to watch with either my omni friends or my omni bf (probably both!)

      Great list, love the website!

    5. Hi there, for starters thanks for this awesome, comprehensive list. I do want to mention though that I watched Cowspiracy based on the description of NO graphic footage. It didn’t go well. There were a few rough scenes involving fish, but nothing gruesome. However, there was one extremely disturbing scene with a duck that I think should be called out and definitely qualifies as graphic footage. I was crying and my two year old had a meltdown because we didn’t get to shield his eyes in time. I think the film is great but please change the graphic footage label. Thanks again

    6. There is also the one called oblivion all about how animals are treated in the slaughterhouse ranging from cows-to alpacas whose fur is hand-picked.

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