Top 10 Most Ironclad Vegan Documentaries on Netflix

Top 10 Most Ironclad Vegan Documentaries on Netflix

What do the climate crisis, social justice issues and your health all have in common? All three converge in one place: on your plate. As veganism rapidly gains traction across the world, more and more documentaries are bringing these issues to light. Taken together, they create an iron-clad case that veganism is environmentalism, compassion and health. If you’re looking for the best vegan documentaries on Netflix, look no further!

1. Peaceable Kingdom: The Journey Home (2009)

IMBD Rating: 8.5/10

Weaving together memories, music and strikingly honest interviews, Peaceable Kingdom explores how people from traditional farming backgrounds come to question the morality of their way of life. Inspiring and heartwarming, this film explores the dissonance and tension of believing we love animals but still eating them. The documentary offers insight into the farmers’ intimate connections with their animals and the complicated web of psychosocial and economic forces that have created their dilemma. A compelling story of transformation and healing. Full documentary available on YouTube here as well as Netflix.

2. Seaspiracy (2021)

IMBD Rating: 8.1/10

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.

3. Cowspiracy (2014)

IMBD Rating: 8.1/10

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.

4. Blackfish (2013)

IMBD Rating: 8.1/10

Stories like Blackfish demonstrate why veganism not only encompasses protecting animals against exploitation for food, but for all uses, including entertainment. Blackfish tells the story of how an orca at SeaWorld killed three people while in captivity. Predictably, the industry blamed it on human error in order to protect their profits. With startling footage and emotional interviews, the documentary makes the case against keeping wild animals in captivity for human entertainment – whether that be aquariums, zoos or circuses. As quoted in the film, “All whales in captivity are psychologically traumatized… if you were in a bathtub for twenty-five years, don’t you think you’d get a little psychotic?”

This documentary illustrates how animal agriculture, the wildlife trade and habitat destruction fuel the growing crisis of antibiotic resistance. Testimonials from physicians, epidemiologists, industry whistleblowers, government officials and representatives from antibiotic resistance action groups make an irrefutable case. Their testimonials warns us that if we continue along this path, we will soon face an antibiotic apocalypse.

5. Forks Over Knives (2011)

IMBD Rating: 7.9/10

Forks Over Knives offers a strong case for the power of a whole-foods plant-based diet to prevent and treat chronic disease. The film follows the journeys of Dr. T. Colin Campbell (nutritional scientist at Cornell) and Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn (a former top surgeon at the Cleveland Clinic). Both conducted multiple groundbreaking studies and independently arrived at the same conclusion: a whole-foods plant-based diet can prevent and often reverse diseases like heart disease, type 2 diabetes and many cancers. Available for free on TubiTV here in addition to Netflix.

6. Eating You Alive (2018)

IMBD Rating: 7.9/10

Similar to Plant-Pure Nation, this documentary examines the diet-related causes and cures of chronic disease and the astronomical healthcare costs required to treat them. As Dr. Neal Barnard says in the film, “Foods are the cause of heart disease, diabetes, hypertension and many forms of cancer. If they’re the cause, they can also be the solution. The vegetables, the fruits, the whole grains, these foods have powers that you never imagined. And it’s time to put it to work.” Available for free on TubiTV here in addition to Netflix.

7. The Gamechangers (2019)

IMBD Rating: 7.8/10

Geared especially towards those interested in fitness, this film addresses the protein myth and improved performance among professional athletes who go plant-based. It also examines how marketing has created a public perception of eating meat as “manly.” Yet meat negatively impacts health and athletic performance. One of the athletes shared that people will ask him, “How can you get as strong as an ox without eating any meat?” He replied, “Have you ever seen an ox eating meat?” Available for free here.

8. Food, Inc. (2008)

IMBD Rating: 7.8/10

With a 95% from critics and 86% audience score on Rotten Tomatos, Food, Inc. blows the case against animal agriculture out of the water. The basic premise of the documentary is that a few mega-corporations produce most of what Americans now eat, at the cost of personal and public health, our values and our planet. It reveals how these secretive industries cover up animal abuse, food contamination and government collution. Narrated by best-selling authors Michael Pollen (‘The Omnivore’s Dilemma’) and Eric Schlosser (“Fast Food Nation’), Food, Inc. makes for a fascinating, terrifying watch. One criticism: the film includes an interview with a farmer who promotes the idea that there is a way to ethically raise animals as “livestock” to ultimately be killed. Given that we have no need to eat animals to survive and thrive, how can we morally justify killing animals needlessly? Would we consider it ethical to kill a happy, healthy dog for meat? The fact that we don’t reveals that “humane killing” of farmed animals is a logical fallacy.

9. Okja (2017)

IMBD Rating: 7.3/10

A South Korean action-adventure film tells the story of a young girl who raised a genetically modified “super pig,” Okja earned rave reviews from critics and audience alike. The protagonist, Mija, has a very close relationship with Okja and is devastated when her grandfather sells Okja to a corporation who takes her to NYC. The film follows her quest to save Okja from being abused, exploited and killed. Engrossing from start to finish, the movie addresses the ethics of meat consumption, animal rights, environmentalism, and capitalism.

10. The Milk System (2017)

IMBD Rating: 7/10

This investigative German film follows farmers, scientists and dairy industry insiders to reveal the hidden costs of global dairy production, both industrial and small-scale. It highlights the ethical concerns: the dairy industry is selectively breeding cows to be milk-producing machines, treating them like objects, not living beings. It feeds into the meat system, as male calves are sold for veal and dairy cows are sold for meat once their reproductive systems have been spent.

It emphasizes health concerns for humans: Milk is from permanently pregnant cows. It leads to much higher risks of prostate, breast, ovarian and colon cancers; heart disease; and increased risk of bone fractures. It sheds light on the mental health issues for farmers, who are at increased risk of suicide. Finally, it pulls back the curtain on the devastating environmental consequences of dairy production. The film makes it clear that dairy is an industry that squeezes all life out of cows and is making people and the planet sick.

One vegan documentary on Netflix that I would not recommend

What the Health (2017)

Although many vegan websites recommend the documentary What the Health (2017), I did not. This is because the documentary stretches the truth to make the case for veganism. Why promote a film that makes vegan advocates seem like an unreliable source of information? It would have created a more credible case by presenting the incredibly strong correlations between animal products and disease, avoiding anecdotal accounts, and transparently including support from perspectives of the climate crisis, animal rights and other social justice issues.

Health and disease risk alone leads to the conclusion that “mostly plant-based” is good enough. The iron-clad case for veganism relies on transparent support from all three causes: healthsocial justice for human and non-human animals, and the urgency of the climate crisis. Taken together, we do not need to exaggerate the evidence from any of them. The case for veganism relies on all three pillars, and that is what What the Health gets wrong.

A summary of the best vegan documentaries on Netflix

So, the next time you’re ready for an inspiring and information movie night, check out these stellar vegan documentaries on Netflix: Peaceable Kingdom, Seaspiracy, Cowspiracy, Blackfish, Forks Over Knives, Eating You Alive, The Gamechangers, Food, Inc, Okja and The Milk System. If you’re open to streaming on other platforms, check out the best vegan documentaries on Amazon Prime, the best vegan documentaries on YouTube, and the overall 15 top vegan documentaries.

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