Looking for the most inspirational, eye-opening, educational or just overall best vegan documentaries out there? Find our favorite picks for Netflix, YouTube & DVDs.
We hope you’ve got some time on your hands because the following list of the best vegan documentaries might keep you busy for many nights in a row.
From new releases to timeless classics, our recommendations cover pieces on animal rights, the environment as well as the health benefits of a plant-based diet.
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We love that watching vegan documentaries doesn’t just help vegans to stay inspired and keep learning about this lifestyle — they are also perfect for getting a foot in the door with friends and family who are not yet vegan!
Check out the following articles for more ways to learn about veganism:
Now, grab a bag of popcorn and enjoy our hand-selected list of the best vegan documentaries!
Our top picks
Don’t have time for the full article? These are our must-watch movies!
- What the Health
- The Game Changers
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The best vegan documentaries
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 supporting these practices.
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 plant-based protein if you live a life that requires a lot of it — for example, if you’re a bodybuilder?
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 health documentary will surprise you and maybe — inspire you to hit the gym.
Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret
Cowspiracy is the breakout film from Kip Anderson which looks at the dramatic strain animal agriculture and factory farming put on our environment — including the startling revelation that our current meat-centric lifestyle is a 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.
What the Health
While Cowspiracy focuses on 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 delves into the possible monetary incentives why major health organizations still support animal products to such an extend.
Dense with facts and profoundly eye-opening, the Netflix food documentary What the Health is a fun (and occasionally infuriating) watch for an upcoming movie night with your friends!
Forks Over Knives
Forks Over 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 saddened 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.
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 widespread 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.
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.
This 2021 documentary from the co-creator of the groundbreaking pieces Cowspiracy and What the Health is a follow-up that reveals the relatively unknown truths about the widespread environmental destruction to our oceans caused by human behavior.
Seaspiracy exposes how plastics and fishing gear are polluting the waters, the large damage caused by by-catch in the fishing industry as well as illegal and devastating practices.
Just like Kip Anderson’s other two documentaries, this one is really well-produced!
A Prayer for Compassion
This documentary is for anyone who considers themselves spiritual or religious. A Prayer for Compassion strives to inspire and encourage anyone to expand their circle of compassion to embrace all sentient life — regardless of species.
Drawing on traditions inducing Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism and more, this movie calls on people of faith and spiritual seekers of every stripe to come together and bring about a world in which there is much less suffering.
Okay, we know Okja isn’t really 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.
This beautifully shot and heartfelt movie even turned the director vegan. While the story is about a child, it’s not really suitable for children as there are a lot of disturbing images of animal abuse.
The Milk System
Examining the long-standing claim that milk is “natural” and therefore good for us, this German documentary features interviews with farmers, dairy owners, lobbyists, politicians, NGOs and scientists.
While lots of other vegan movies focus primarily on the US, this one shines a light on the practices in Germany, Italy, China and other countries — unfortunately, dairy cows aren’t any happier there.
If you want to help your friends or family think twice about veganism and the consequences of producing animal products, this documentary is great for that!
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. At the same time, cardio-vascular diseases, diabetes and cancer are all on the rise — and can be linked to our excessive 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.
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 documentary from the writers and producers of “Forks Over Knives” explores the scientific evidence of the connection between animal products and common chronic diseases.
The film follows renowned nutritional scientist T. Colin Campbell and his son, Nelson Campbell, as they try to spread the message of a whole food plant-based diet across the United States and, ultimately, the world.
This includes an attempt to introduce a pilot program in the Kentucky legislature documenting the health benefits of a plant-based diet as well as a 10-day vegan challenge done by a group of people — including very inspiring biometrics tests performed before and after the ten days!
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 diet’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 this 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.
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.
In 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 experience the short-term sensory pleasure while eating them.
Viewers of this short film will have to question what the 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 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 the vegan website Plant Based News, Vegan 2015 charted 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 even large companies begin to shift gears.
The new Vegan 2020 documentary 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.
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
- Forks Over Knives
- Eating Animals
- The Game Changers
- The Cove
- Live and Let Live
More vegan guides
If you liked this article, be sure to check out these next!
- How to Transition to Vegan
- 7-Day Vegan Challenge
- Going Vegan For Beginners
- Being Vegan When Your Family Isn’t
- Top Reasons to Go Vegan
Which is your favorite vegan documentary or movie? Let us know in the comments below and be sure to share this article with your friends or Pin it here.