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 irrefutable case that veganism is environmentalism, compassion and health. If you’re looking for the best vegan documentaries on YouTube, look no further!
1. Dominion (2018)
IMBD Rating: 9.0/10
2. Milked (2021)
IMBD Rating: 8.5/10
As we learn in this documentary, the dairy industry in New Zealand (like in other developed nations), wreaks environmental havoc and causes social injustices. By polluting air and water, it causes many chronic health conditions among nearby communities. By marketing to the public from elementary school through adulthood, it disseminates the misconception that cow’s milk is healthful and necessary. And by keeping their practices hidden, it ensures the general public does not know the reality.
There are many layers to the injustice of dairy farming. First, female cows are forcibly impregnated. Then, their babies are taken from them, so humans can take their milk instead. After their bodies are depleted, dairy cows are eventually sent to slaughter, too.
Although cows suffer the most in this system, they aren’t the only ones. Many dairy farmers are distressed by the system and feel trapped in it. Some have found a way out by growing plants to produce plant milk instead. These farmers provide hope for a cleaner, more just future. The director of the film, Amy Taylor, portrays the power of the documentary this way: “We’re emotional creatures, and storytelling is a huge part of our culture. And I think the impact of watching a documentary versus reading something is quite a different thing. Obviously, reading is great, but documentaries capture stories in an easily digestible way. People can get really inspired, informed, and entertained at the same time.”
Full documentary available for free on YouTube 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. To learn more, see the film’s fact-checked statistics, a printable flyer, and the filmmakers’ response to criticism. Full documentary available for free on YouTube here.
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?” Full documentary available for free on Youtube here.
5. Eating Our Way to Extinction (2021)
IMBD Rating: 7.8/10
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 meat, fish 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. Full documentary available for free on YouTube here.
6. 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?” Full documentary available for free on YouTube here.
7. Vegan: Everyday Stories (2016)
IMBD Rating: 7.7/10
In this film, interviews with vegans of all ages, races and socioeconomic backgrounds illustrate the fact that all kinds of people become vegan for all sorts of reasons. The documentary explores the stories of an eight year old vegan activist, Genesis Butler; a country ranching couple from Texas; several famous vegans; a Californian woman with a food truck; a few vegan athletes and well-known plant-based doctor Neal Barnard. Watch the full documentary on Amazon Prime here or for free on YouTube here.
9. PlantPure Nation (2018)
IMBD Rating: 7.4/10
Weaving together real-life stories with scientific evidence, Plant-Pure Nation makes a solid case for the power of a whole-foods plant based diet to eliminate chronic disease. Although the science is clear, industry-funded studies attempt to convolute the data and confuse the public.
The film also explains that “Big Medicine” in America trains physicians to write prescriptions for costly pills and procedures, not inexpensive diet and lifestyle change. Produced by Tom Campbell, the son of Dr. Colin Campbell, who authored of the groundbreaking book The China Study. Full documentary available for free on YouTube here.
10. 10 Billion: What’s on your plate? (2015)
IMBD Rating: 7.2/10
By 2050, the global population is predicted to hit ten billion people. This movie examines how the global food system can produce enough food to feed that population. Even today, our food system is capable of ending world hunger. So, what’s keeping us from ending it? Animal agriculture industries can afford to pay more for the grains to feed livestock than some developing nations. Thus, grains are fed to farmed animals rather than humans in poverty.
The film examines how countries across the world cope with food scarcity and the sustainability of local farming practices over commercial farming industries. Rather than using scare tactics, it presents a well-balanced perspective examining the intersection of food production and social justice.
Buy or rent on Youtube here.
Top 10 Best Vegan Documentaries on YouTube
According to IMBD ratings, the top 10 best vegan documentaries on YouTube are as follows: Dominion, Milked, Cowspiracy, Blackfish, Eating Our Way to Extinction, The Gamechangers, Vegan: Everyday Stories, PlantPure Nation, and 10 Billion: What’s on Your Plate? If you’re open to streaming on other platforms, check out the best vegan documentaries on Amazon Prime, the best vegan documentaries on Netflix, and the overall 15 top vegan documentaries.