Looking for the most inspirational, shocking, educational or just overall best vegan documentaries out there? You’ve come to the right place.
Over the years of living a vegan lifestyle, we’ve seen them all. Earthlings, What The Health, Cowspiracy and countless vegan health or animal cruelty speeches on YouTube. It’s been a real passion and has helped us tremendously not only to stay educated but also motivated to keep following this way of living.
What we love about vegan documentaries is that they can serve as a way to get a foot into the door.
They can be a subtle way of introducing important messages to non-vegan family and friends, inspiring those with chronic disease, weight loss goals, athletic enthusiasm, a passion for saving the environment or not harming animals to shift towards a more plant-based diet.Full Vegan Transition Guide →
Because we know how powerful such films can be, we dug deep to compile this complete list of the best vegan documentaries and short films we could find.
The topics range from health, over environment, to animal advocacy. Some vegan documentaries even deal with several of these.
To make things a bit easier, we’ll start out with just four must-watch vegan documentaries for those who are new to the lifestyle. Then, we’ll let you know which food, environment or animal documentaries you can conveniently watch if you have a Netflix account.
But the heart of this article is the ultimate list of the very best vegan documentaries, followed by empowering vegan speeches you can watch for free on YouTube.
Whether you are a newcomer to veganism, a long-time vegan, or even someone who is considering veganism but isn’t quite convinced, we’re positive you will find something useful and entertaining here.
Are you ready? Get the popcorn out and gather some non-vegan friends around you for the following life-changing movies revolving around the ethical, environmental or health reasons for veganism.
The 4 Must-Watch Vegan Documentaries
We know that the upcoming (massive) list of vegan documentaries can be overwhelming for those just starting out. That’s why we’ve chosen our favorite films to watch and share if you are a beginning vegan or just someone looking for a little background on why people all around the world choose veganism.
One of the best animal documentaries showing just how terrible the animal agriculture industry is, Dominion is an absolutely necessary view into the abuse behind modern meat and animal product production.
Focusing on the environmental impact of meat eating, Cowspiracy uses facts and evidence to show that the biggest change you can make to save the planet is cutting animal products from your life and diet.
What the Health
Made by the same people behind Cowspiracy, What the Health shifts the focus from the planet to the personal, demonstrating how a vegan lifestyle is the best thing you can do for your health.
The Game Changers
Co-produced by legends such as Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jackie Chan and Novak Djokovic, this 2019 documentary challenges the assumptions about meat, protein and strength while showing how athletes in all areas thrive on plants alone.How to Start a Plant-Based Diet →
The Best Vegan Documentaries on Netflix
If you’re like us, you love watching all of the newest releases Netflix has to offer, and with its broad user base, the streaming service has become a great way to enjoy and share ideas with friends and family. Here are some of the best vegan documentaries on Netflix!
What the Health
(available in many countries) From the makers of Cowspiracy, What the Health uncovers growing evidence that shows the dangers of animal foods to human health – and what we can do about it.
Forks Over Knives
(available in many countries) Featuring doctors and researchers from across the scientific spectrum, Forks Over Knives effectively proves that a whole food plant-based diet is simply the best way to better one’s health and well-being.
The Game Changers
(available in many countries) From strongmen to ultra-marathoners, boxing champions and even American football players – this 2019 documentary, co-produced by James Cameron and a handful of athletic heroes from all areas, shows the many benefits of a plant-based diet for anyone being into sports and working out. Busting the century-old myth that you need animal protein to build muscle and be manly, you’ll see amazing transformations happen in athletes leaving animals off their plates.
(available in Canada only) The effects of eating animals are much wider in scale than many realize. This Natalie Portman-narrated documentary looks at meat production from every angle, including the mistreatment of animals and the labor abuses of those working in the industry.
(available in Germany & Switzerland) A small town in Japan is home to one of the most brutal dolphin hunts on earth. This fast-paced documentary takes you into the world of dolphin hunting and why the practice is even worse than it sounds.
(available in many countries) You might not think of this as a vegan documentary, but Blackfish, which looks at the lives of orcas at SeaWorld, shows the pain we cause animals by keeping them in captivity – as well as the consequences.
Live and Let Live
(available in many countries) Live and Let Live follows six people from different walks of life – ranging from a butcher to a dairy farmer to a cyclist – as they begin a vegan lifestyle. Great for newcomers and long-time vegans alike!
(available in many countries) Okay, we know Okja isn’t a documentary. But this film, which tells the story of a young girl raising a “super pig” only to have it stolen away by the meat industry, deals with themes of factory farming and the ethics of eating animals.
The Very Best Vegan Documentaries
We hope you’ve got some time on your hands because the following list of the best vegan documentaries can keep you busy for many nights in a row. From new releases to timeless classics, all of our recommendations come from the heart and will speak to different people depending on their personal situations and priorities. Enjoy!
Featuring the worst of the meat and dairy industry’s practices, we’ll be the first to admit that Dominion is not an easy watch. However, it’s an essential one – the horrific practices showcased in the film are widespread, and while ignorance of them might be nice, knowledge is the only path to making the world a better place. The film uses drones and hidden cameras to expose the darkness of the industry, ultimately questioning how one can call themselves moral while these practices continue.
The Game Changers
Ask any vegan about the “protein question” and you’ll surely be giving a dramatic eye roll. Sure, protein is necessary for a healthy life, but isn’t it too difficult to get enough protein if you live a life that requires a lot of it – for example, if you’re a bodybuilder? To answer this question, director Louie Psihoyos follows elite special forces trainer and winner of The Ultimate Fighter James Wilks on his quest to answer the ultimate question: is meat necessary for human health and muscle growth? And if it isn’t, why do we think that it is? This James Cameron-produced documentary will surprise you and maybe – inspire you to hit the gym.
What the Health
While Cowspiracy focuses on is the environmental impact of animal agriculture, the second film from Kip Anderson takes a deep dive into the human health effects of an animal product-heavy diet. In the process of discovering the health benefits of veganism, he comes upon the numerous coverups major health organizations like the American Heart Association and the American Diabetes Association have performed to obscure the role meat has in damaging human well-being. Dense with facts and profoundly eye-opening, the Netflix food documentary What the Health is a fun (and occasionally infuriating) look at the money behind why meat is still on plates around the world, even knowing the danger.
Forks Over Knives
Forks Overs Knives follows leading experts in the field who all independently reached the conclusion we promote on this site: a whole food plant-based diet is the number one best way to improve your health and well-being. This Netflix food documentary emphasizes the discovery of this fact, looking at scientists, doctors, and regular everyday people as they research or convert to a vegan lifestyle. The impact is incredible: people lose weight, feel better, and in some cases have the worst symptoms of their illnesses alleviated or stopped completely. A great introduction for those interested in the health aspect of veganism!
This film may be one of the most difficult ones to watch on this list. Earthlings examines how we as human beings treat our fellow earthlings – namely, animals. Utilizing footage shot guerilla-style in pet stores, slaughterhouses and more, director Shaun Monson shows how animals are used and abused for profit. Shots in this movie are heartbreaking, and viewers will be shocked by the breadth of animal abuse behind many aspects of our daily lives, even if we don’t realize it. This shocking animal documentary is narrated by Joaquin Phoenix.
Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret
Cowspiracy is the breakout film from Kip Anderson, who directed the aforementioned What the Health. Cowspiracy looks at the dramatic strain animal agriculture and factory farming puts on our environment, including the startling revelation that our current meat-centric lifestyle is the primary driver of climate change, responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions than the entire transportation industry. By looking at the environmental impact of food production, Anderson builds a solid case for why going vegan is one of the best ways you can personally combat global climate change. This perspective also leads him to question major environmental groups’ stance on animal agriculture – resulting in some majorly awkward interviews with higher-ups at Greenpeace and Sierra Club.
Land of Hope and Glory
Land of Hope and Glory takes a local approach to the issues of the meat industry. Before making the film, the filmmakers noted that many documentaries up to that point had focused on the United States as a case study for animal abuse and environmental devastation. In response, Land of Hope and Glory uses undercover footage and other investigative techniques to show the scope of the problem in the UK – and implicitly, the world. This film is heart-wrenching and truly shows how global the problems underlying meat production are.
Speciesism: The Movie
What begins as an expose of the meat industry ends with a profound questioning of why we feel we’re so superior to other species that we can literally eat their flesh. The film acknowledges that this claim – humans are on the same plane as other animals – is a controversial one and one their audience might not be too comfortable with hearing. But by asking a series of practical and ethical questions about meat eating to meat eaters and directly confronting owners of factory farms, filmmaker Mark Devries creates a powerful and effective film sure to sway you – or add some new facts and arguments to your vegan arsenal.
Three people. Six weeks. An entirely vegan diet. For an omnivore, taking the challenge of cutting out all meat and dairy for over a month is a big ask – or so you’d think. This film asks three people to cut out all animal products for over a month, documenting their experiences along the way. While there are some initial struggles – new vegans can relate to the cravings and occasional awkwardness at social events – participants learn about modern farming practices and the many consequences of eating animal products, making returning to meat eating much more difficult than veganism ever could be.
Eating You Alive
Can you fight – or even cure – chronic disease just by changing your diet? The makers of Eating You Alive show that the idea is not as out there as it sounds. With half of all American adults fighting ailments like heart disease, diabetes, obesity, hypertension, and a range of other diseases, Eating You Alive makes the case that moving to a plant-based diet is not only better for your health, it’s essential. The health and food documentary, which features the likes of Samuel L. Jackson and James Cameron, uses a broad scope of scientific research to inspire you to make the change to a vegan diet.
For those growing up in the Western world, a diet heavy in meat, eggs, and milk might seem normal. But for our bodies, it’s anything but. Cardio-vascular diseases, diabetes, and cancer are all on the rise, and it can be directly linked to our consumption of meat. H.O.P.E. shows how changing our diets can not only improve our personal health, but shape the world around us, making it a better, safer, healthier place for future generations. Leading experts in the fields of nutrition, science, medicine, and agriculture weigh in to make this film both intriguing and incredibly informative.
Meat the Truth
We’ve talked before about the environmental impact meat eating has on our planet. But for some reason, discussions about climate change in the mainstream tend to omit this important detail. Why? Meat the Truth looks at this very question. The film delves into the environmental consequences of meat production, and by looking at individuals including scientists, PETA members, and current and former ranchers turned vegan, it shows how even minor changes in your life can add up to big results for the planet.
Consuming animal products affects the world in ways you wouldn’t expect. Based on the book of the same name by Jonathan Safran Foer, Eating Animals looks at what it means to eat meat in the modern era from the ground up, ranging from the environmental impact to labor issues in the meat-production industry. Eating Animals never settles on one topic for too long. Instead, it moves from idea to idea to pose questions animal product consumers should consider before continuing to, well, eat animals. Narrated by Natalie Portman.
Peaceable Kingdom: The Journey Home
Few plant-based or other food documentaries look directly at the moral dilemmas faced by those working in factory farming or animal agriculture. In Peaceable Kingdom: The Journey Home, several farmers contend with their relationships with animals, sharing stories of incredible interspecies connection, affection, and care. As the farmers tell more stories about their relationship with animals, the idea that they will have to one day kill these animals for food becomes more and more gruesome. Luckily, (spoiler!) the farmers now feel the same, adopting vegan lifestyles and developing sanctuaries for abandoned farm animals.
A spiritual sequel to the aforementioned Earthlings,Unity looks at the age-old question of “Why can’t we all just get along?” To do this, director Shaun Monson enlists a diverse cast of celebrities ranging from Ellen DeGeneres to Dr. Dre to Olivia Munn to attempt to provide a sprawling overview of how humanity has grown, worked, and warred – all of it fueled by the planet’s finite resources. If that sounds like a big undertaking, that’s because it is – there’s a reason Monson spent seven years working on this film. Unity is beautiful, poetic, and – ultimately, unbelievably – hopeful.
We’ve talked about the positive impact a plant-based diet can have on health and well-being. This food documentary takes that message further, spreading the message of a whole food plant-based diet across the United States and, ultimately, the world. In the film, they attempt to introduce a pilot program in the Kentucky legislature documenting the health benefits of a plant-based diet. While the move ultimately fails, the filmmakers are undeterred and go on to get a group of people to participate in a 10 day “vegan challenge.” Biometrics tests are performed before and after the ten days, and we’ll just say the results were surprising even for us!
What is the healthiest possible human diet? That’s the question filmmaker Michal Siewierski asked himself before setting off on a countrywide search for an answer. He interviews numerous experts across a range of fields to get a comprehensive view of what we as humans need to survive and thrive – and the best ways to get it. Siewierski knocks down the many misconceptions about the human diet, and with a diverse cast of experts, this film is a must-watch for anyone looking for more information on a vegan lifestyle’s comprehensive benefits.
This award-winning documentary short follows Jay and Katja Wilde, two farmers who gave up their herd of beef cows to take up organic vegan farming. Beautifully shot, this simple story is unexpectedly profound. Jay and Katja are brilliant subjects, and as we tag along on their journey, you can’t help but cheer for their success and transition to a vegan lifestyle. At only 15 minutes, the film is brief, but it definitely achieves “must watch” status.
Carnage: Swallowing the Past
A mockumentary that imagines what a vegan future might look like, Carnage: Swallowing the Past is a sobering yet still very humorous take on just how silly the arguments for meat eating may sound in the future. Made by comedian Simon Amstell, the film is a clever romp through an imagined history of the death of factory farming and the meat industry, featuring actors like Martin Freeman and other creatives like grime MC JME. Of course, this mockumentary will make you think, but packed with jokes and wild twists and turns, it will also make you laugh.
We’ve all heard the criticism that vegan diets can be boring. Planeat proves that doesn’t have to be the case. Of course, this film goes into the many benefits a vegan diet has for the environment and for personal health, but it also shows just how diverse vegan cuisine can be. Filled with inspiring interviews and easily digestible facts about vegan living, this film is an easy-to-watch exploration of vegan food sure to both get you cooking and get you thinking.
Crazy Sexy Cancer
Few films about cancer are this sunny and fun. After being diagnosed with a rare stage IV cancer, Kris Carr began documenting her experience treating her cancer her way. She uses various alternative forms of healing and experimental approaches – including adopting a vegan diet – to treat her illness. The result is a warm mix of health advice, comedy, and more. Carr is a brilliant host, and even in the film’s darkest moments, her relentless optimism shines through, making this cancer flick a joy to watch.
Vegan: Everyday Stories
We’re sure you’ve heard a lot of stories about how people discovered veganism. But what happens after that? Vegan: Everyday Stories shifts the question from “what” or “why” to “who,” following the lives of four very different people living a vegan lifestyle. The vegan documentary is a cheery, lovely experience, and while these four people are the main focus, it also includes interviews with people like Dr. Neal Barnard, Russel Simmons, and former NFL defensive end David Carter. Vegan: Everyday Stories shows the diversity of vegans, and as its creation was a non-profit project, it can be watched for free online.
The city of Taiji, Japan has a terrible secret: it’s home to one of the most gruesome dolphin killing operations on earth. Watching this documentary, which explores the dolphin hunt and local controversy surrounding it, is comparable to watching a Hollywood thriller; you never know what’s coming next, and we promise your heart will be racing throughout. The Cove won an Oscar for Best Documentary Feature, and its spread has impacted the actual dolphin hunt in Taiji – but its message had a greater weight beyond just dolphins.
SeaWorld is still having trouble recovering from the devastating effect Blackfish has had on their attendance and reputation. Following the film’s release, SeaWorld stock tumbled over 30%, and in the years following, the chain decided to end its orca breeding program and phase out killer whale shows. But the true message of Blackfish goes much deeper than SeaWorld. By showing the incredible pressure animals held and bred in captivity undergo and the consequences of that pressure, viewers of Blackfish will quickly find the morals of this vegan documentary apply to more than just orcas.
The Ghosts in Our Machine
This film, which follows photojournalist and activist Jo-Anne McArthur, goes into the “machine” of modern meat production and the animals trapped within it. It focuses on the animals individually, highlighting their intelligence and the effect being cooped up has on their physical and emotional well-being. While not as graphic as some of the other entrants on this list, there are moments that may be tough to handle. Don’t worry, though – scenes of abuse are followed by clips from a farm sanctuary, giving viewers a little bit of hope. A powerful film, this has the potential to turn a casual vegan into an activist.
The Witness has possibly the strangest beginning of any film on this list. A New York construction worker, Eddie Lama, gets tasked with taking care of a kitten, owned by a woman he’s trying to have a fling with. At the beginning, his interest is casual, but as he develops a relationship with the kitten, he starts to seek out more connection with animals, at the same time reconsidering their role in his life. From this experience, he’s inspired to open a sanctuary for abandoned animals in addition to altering his diet and lifestyle to minimize animal suffering. It’s one of the shorter documentaries on this list at only 43 minutes, but every minute is a pleasure to see.
Farm to Fridge
This 12 minute documentary is a difficult watch. By demonstrating the almost unbelievable torture animals go through before they’re consumed and used by humans, Farm to Fridge eliminates the question of whether or not there’s a way to ethically use animals. The suffering on display here is unbearable, and even the most passionate of meat eaters will truly think twice after watching this documentary.
Meet Your Meat
Narrated by Alec Baldwin, this documentary short examines the ugly truth behind factory farming. Using graphic imagery (warning!), the film shows how the current system of food production keeps animals constantly sick, mutilates them, and makes their lives absolutely torturous just so people can have a little bit more on their plates. Viewers of this short will have to question what that animal went through before it ended up on their fork, and if they’re really okay with supporting a system that encourages these actions. It’s a tough watch, but it’s an important one.
Half documentary, half fiction, this 16 minute short film looks at one of the many dangers meat production has brought upon the earth: antibiotic-resistant bacteria and disease. Timothy Shieff plays a journalist going undercover in a UK factory film to investigate rumors of a “superbug” – a problem experts say will become more pressing if current trends continue. Antibiotic-resistant bacteria is not one of the most talked about issues when it comes to veganism, but, as this film shows, it’s one we should be increasingly worried about.
From the Ground Up
This is another film about the relationship between veganism and athleticism, debunking the “meat myth” that animal flesh is necessary for protein. College football player Santino Panico talks to vegan athletes and sports professionals about how veganism has shaped their lives and kept them in peak physical shape. This is a great documentary for those interested in veganism but concerned about how a plant-based diet will affect their ability to train. Looking at the impact of food choices on daily lives, Panico finds that living vegan is not only doable, it’s the better option.
The Engine 2 Kitchen Rescue
Rip Esselstyn is a former firefighter and triathlete who wants you, yes you, to eat a plant-strong diet. In The Engine 2 Kitchen Rescue, named after Esselstyn’s popular “Engine 2 Diet,” he visits two families and helps them transition from their usual animal product-heavy diet to one that’s plant-based, but still jam-packed with flavor and energy. Esselstyn’s mastery of the kitchen will encourage even the most nervous of vegan chefs, and the end results are more than just delicious – they’re life changing.
Live and Let Live
Live and Let Live is another human-centered approach to veganism. This documentary explores the journeys of six people as they shift from their former diets to a vegan lifestyle. The transitions in this film are impressive – a butcher becomes a vegan chef, a dairy farmer becomes a farm sanctuary owner, and a cyclist learns how veganism improves his recovery time and makes him better at what he does. Peppered throughout this documentary are interviews with big names in the vegan movement, such as Gary Francione, T. Colin Campbell, and Melanie Joy. All angles of veganism are looked at in this comprehensive yet still totally approachable documentary.
The first ever documentary from vegan website Plant Based News, Vegan 2018 charts the meteoric rise of veganism in the mainstream in recent years, specifically looking at how more and more people are becoming aware of animal exploitation and the benefits of clean living. Vegan 2018 is heartening for a variety of reasons; in a world where it can feel like progress is slow-moving, seeing the current hopeful state of veganism worldwide – including the growing number of vegan celebrities – is endlessly encouraging. This documentary is also available for free on YouTube.
Our Favorite Vegan Speeches
Don’t want to start with a full-blown vegan documentary? No worries, there are fantastic and free animal rights speeches and vegan health talks available on YouTube. Here are a handful of our personal favorites.
Gary Yourofsky “Best Speech You Will Ever Hear”
It’s not often that a speech goes viral – or has such an impressive impact. Especially if it’s an animal cruelty speech! This densely-packed 70 minute video by activist Gary Yourofsky provides a straightforward and occasionally humorous comparison between the processes of meat eating and plant eating. The speech has been translated into over 30 languages, and if you’re looking for any more proof of its effectiveness, Israeli media has said Gary Yourofsky single-handedly turned around 8% of Israel’s population vegan.
Ed Winters “You Will Never Look at Your Life in the Same Way Again”
Ed Winters speech is eye-opening simply because of how human it is. By going through his rationale for not consuming or using animal products, including his history as a meat eater and animal product user, it rapidly becomes clear that halting the use of animal products is the only logical conclusion one can really come to after knowing the state of the animal agriculture industry.
Alex O’Connor “It’s Time To Go Vegan”
Known as an outspoken and witty atheist YouTuber, Alex aka “Cosmic Skeptic” wasn’t afraid to challenge his moral consistency upon reading Peter Singer’s “Animal Liberation” and felt obligated to make the switch to veganism. Only half a year later, the Oxford student who has great expertise in philosophy and debating, held this impressive speech at the atheist conference in Tel Aviv, Israel. Not afraid to speak up even as a fairly new vegan, Alex made it clear that not only do “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence” but also that “extraordinary harm and mistreatment [towards animals] requires extraordinary justification.” This speech is just about the best 30-minute philosophical case for veganism that you can find.
Dr. Michael Greger “Uprooting the Leading Causes of Death”
Dr. Michael Greger, founder of the website NutritionFacts.org, takes a scientific approach to diet. Using a collection of recent peer-reviewed studies, Greger reveals the true causes behind the top 15 causes of death, and how simple dietary changes can stave off or even reverse the impact of many of these causes.
James Aspey’s “This Speech Is Your WAKE UP CALL!”
James Aspey made waves by spending a full year silent, not speaking in order to protest the mistreatment of animals. In his speech, Aspey delves into why he feels the industry lied to him, telling him he needed animal products when plant-based products provide the same benefits. By the end, Aspey makes a clear case for why veganism just makes sense.
James Wildman “101 Reasons to Go Vegan”
More than just a list of “why’s” for veganism, Wildman’s presentation is a funny, approachable introduction to why people choose to lead a vegan life. Wildman questions many of the meat and dairy industry’s chief claims in this animal cruelty speech, and as the speech was originally written for a high school audience, it is incredibly approachable while still being informative.
Are there any vegan documentaries we missed? Questions about any of the films on this list? Feel free to tell us in the comments! If you’ve watched any of these films, please tell us what you thought – we love to hear feedback from our readers!