Perhaps you’ve heard about factory farming and its hugely detrimental impact on people, the planet and animals. If you’re interested in understanding more about this issue, watching documentaries about factory farming is an excellent way to get informed and inspired to take action at the same time.
1. Dominion (2018)
Narrated by Joaquin Phoenix, Dominion is an absolute masterpiece that questions whether humanity can morally justify its dominion over non-human animals. This Australian documentary exposures the dark truth about modern animal agriculture using footage captured through rand hidden cameras. It even extends beyond factory farming to question the ethics of using animals for our purposes in zoos, aquariums, research, racing horses and breeding dogs.
It crumbles the myth of “humane slaughter” and shows the reality of marketing terms like “free range.” At once mesmerizing and horrifying, Dominion is sure to light a spark inside of you to demand justice. Brace yourself. Full documentary available for free on YouTube here.
2. The Smell of Money (2022)
This film exposes the environmental racism of factory farming. It tells the stories of the mostly Black, low income residents of Duplin County, North Carolina where Smithfield operates a massive pig farm. For years, the factory has sprayed untreated waste water into the air and water, leading to respiratory illnesses and severely reduced quality of life for residents. It highlights the human rights issues of factory farming while also addressing the environmental impact, antibiotic resistance crisis and animal rights violations.
3. Right to Harm (2019)
An exposé on one of the most hidden sides of factory farming. It reveals how factory farming devastates public health across rural America and how rural communities are fighting back against Big Ag. The film tells the story of five rural communities who push for state agencies to finally regulate industrial animal agriculture. Factory farms, or Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs)), produce millions of gallons of waste that pollute the air, water and land in the marginalized communities in which they are placed. Available for free with a public library card or university login on Kanopy or for rent on Vimeo.
4. Eating Our Way to Extinction (2021)
This film drives home the severity and urgency of the climate crisis. It highlights how rising temperatures cause natural disasters, food and water insecurity, economic disruption and conflict worldwide. Footage illustrates how the global factory farming of meat, seafood and dairy industries devastate the planet, human health, and indigenous communities. After a hefty dose of reality, it ends on a hopeful note by inspiring us to take concrete action through our food choices. As the film warns us: We must act now. The clock is ticking. Available on Amazon Prime Video.
5. Seaspiracy (2021)
When we think of factory farming, we typically think of farming land animals, first. But aquatic animals are factory farmed, too. By depleting and polluting our oceans, we are draining an essential life source. The ocean environment and its inhabitants function interdependently to provide us with oxygen and absorb huge amounts of heat and carbon dioxide. Yet commercial fishing operations kill and endanger many marine animals. They drag cathedral-sized trawling nets through the water, wiping out mangrove forests and coral reefs. Whales, dolphins, sea turtles, and sharks are trapped indiscriminately as bycatch. They leave behind vast amounts of plastic via discarded fishing gear. Beyond environmental concerns, they threaten the livelihoods of sustenance fishermen.
At the individual level, as consumers who do not need seafood to survive, we must avoid purchasing it. At the policy level, government should redirect the $35 billion in subsidies given to the fishing industry annually. This way, it can power the transition of workers into safer, eco-conscious jobs. Choosing not to comes at our own peril.
See a fact-checked rebuttal to criticism of the film here and facts from the documentary here. Available on Netflix.
6. Cowspiracy (2014)
This documentary describes the system-level collusion that keeps the animal agriculture industry churning in secrecy. For instance, numerous environmentalist groups, such as Greenpeace and The Climate Reality Project, are sponsored by meat and dairy industries. To maximize donations, they have avoided condemning the animal agriculture industry for its environmental impact. Yet by doing so, they are hypocritically undermining the very cause they claim to support.
Without addressing it, we cannot solve any of the problems it causes. Animal agriculture is the leading cause of global warming, water depletion, deforestation, species extinction, and ocean dead zones. Available on Netflix. To learn more, see the film’s fact-checked statistics, a printable flyer, and the filmmakers’ response to criticism.
Don’t stop with watching factory farming documentaries… watch these to learn the iron-clad case for veganism!
Whether you choose one or all of these documentaries about factory farming, you’ll walk away shocked, outraged and hungry to know more. Want a more comprehensive list of the top vegan documentaries to be informed from an environmental, human rights and animal rights standpoint? See our review of the Top 15 vegan documentaries, best vegan documentaries on Youtube, best vegan documentaries on Amazon Prime, and best vegan documentaries on Netflix to learn the iron-clad case not only against factory farming, but for veganism.