Best vegan documentaries in 2017

I’ve created this list of best vegan documentaries because some of them helped me cement my decision. They educated me and created a strong belief system. I knew I made the right choice. In my opinion, being vegan is the future. Being vegan is the future for me, for the planet and living beings that share this planet with me. I’ve decided to become vegan because of three topics I cared about.

Why I became a vegan and support plant-based diet

  1. I love myself. As stupid as it sounds I think it’s inherent in everyone. I believe that the depression and suicide attempts come when you love and focus only on yourself. This and narcissistic behavior shouldn’t be mixed. Loving yourself means, you would like to grow, improve, become a better person, help other people, solve problems, live longer, help save the planet and be positive. Maybe plant-based diet will help me live a longer healthier life; maybe it won’t. We can debate that.
  2. I love my planet. I recycle my garbage. Once I learned that by eating meat I am supporting HUGE water consumption (1799 gallons of water for 1 lb of beef or 6809 liters of water for 0.45 kg of beef), massive deforestation, combined with water, land AND air pollution it definitely got my attention. Again, I’ll go so far to say that we can debate this as well. Hey, there is a reason why the majority of people still don’t believe this is happening. But think about it for a second. Billions of animals have to eat (some of them have to eat a lot), and we have to take care of the leftovers.
  3. I love animals. One of the first donations I’ve ever made in my life was to the local dog shelter. One documentary, in particular, Speciesism: The Movie, talks about the topic I am about to refer there. If you are so gung-ho when it comes to abandoned dogs, and cruelty to cats, why support cruelty to other animals? Either way, for this third reason why I became vegan I draw the line. Killing and torturing animals is not debatable. I don’t have the stomach to go into the gruesome details, but few moments of documentary Earthlings will be more than enough.

Best vegan documentaries

Here’s a list of best vegan documentaries. Have in mind that below this table there’s a more detailed description of what you can expect from the documentary itself. Also worth noting that I haven’t included the documentary I just mentioned (Earthlings) because I haven’t watched it. But there’s a summary what to expect from it.

Upon my decision to stop supporting the massive killing and torturing, I became very interested in the topic. It just went deeper and deeper. I felt like Neo in the Matrix. Once I crossed to the other side, there was no turning back. The more I learned, the more I wanted to learn. If I looked for any confirmation, it was a slam dunk. I was on the wrong side of the equation, and I was so relieved to make the switch.

What I was witnessing in these documentaries was sometimes so gruesome, so repulsive, so wrong that I only wished that I have made the decision sooner. However, there was also a positive side! It turns out there are some health benefits to a plant-based diet, and there are some people fighting the good fight. Companies that create plant-based alternatives, farmers building animal shelters, and so on. In case you missed any of these documentaries, now is your chance to watch them. And also, if you would like to recommend any documentaries, please list them in the comment section. Over time we may update this list before we create a new one.

Carnage: Swallowing the Past (2017)

This is the last vegan documentary that I have watched and I just loved it. As of December 2017, it’s rated 7.9 on IMDB. The documentary is a great example how emotional we can get when it comes to the topic of veganism. Literally, in one second, you are laughing, and in the next one, you are crying. You are on this roller coaster from beginning to end! Be warned this is a UK vegan documentary with some British accent and humor, but also British celebrities. So although you may not recognize some of them (or the story that goes behind them) I didn’t mind. Also important to note, although this is a documentary that’s 1 hour and 8 minutes long, it does have a sci-fi feel to it.

We try to imagine what would 2067 be like, if everyone was vegan, and we are now trying to forgive ourselves (older generations in particular) for our carnage and carnivorous past. Although cute, I am not totally for the “we are not vegans, they are carnists” because it creates a “us vs them” situation. However, if you’ve eaten animal products for 15, 30 or more years, and you have made the switch, you will make the connection on how you are trying to forgive yourself.

Just another small point. Although I enjoyed this documentary very much I didn’t like being misled. So just a heads up. Martin Freeman’s (actor’s image above) appearance in the documentary is very, very short and he appears in only one point in time.

Vegan 2017 (2017)

Vegan 2017 is the latest vegan documentary. It was published on YouTube on Nov 28, 2017, and I was lucky to catch it as soon it was available for watching. Just a month later at the time of writing this post, it was already watched more than half a million times. Fun fact, Simon Amstell (writer and director of Carnage: Swallowing the Past) is also starring in Vegan 2017. Since the documentary was published just recently it doesn’t make sense to mention the IMDB rating yet.

To be honest, this vegan documentary does feel a little bit like a replay of the other ones. If you are a new vegan and want to see the latest documentary this is a good choice. Especially if you don’t want to see few shocking scenes that appear in Carnage: Swallowing the Past. If you are a vegan for the past ten years and want to confirm what you have already seen in Cowspiracy, What the Health, Forks over knives and other vegan documentaries on Netflix, then you may as well skip it. Or watch it anyway. But don’t expect something revolutionary. Yes, you get some updated numbers on spending for 2017, but that’s almost it.

Vegan 2017 is 45 minutes long, and you can watch it just below:

Vegan: Everyday Stories (2016)

This documentary is exactly as the name suggests. It’s showing several different lives, young and old, male and female and how their lives are coming along. One of them mentions how people become defensive when you say the word vegan. Whereas by using the term plant-based people open up. I guess nobody is threatened by plants. I think that that was a great single point in one of the best vegan documentaries. It also answered how we could be an activist.

Popular singer Moby goes on to say how people love to scream at everybody, throw fake blood, but we really need to ask ourselves is this helping the animals. You can watch the entire documentary below. It’s 1 hour 30 minutes long. This is a non-profit movie, so consider donating on their website or consider buying an HD movie on Amazon.

What about before 2017?

Speciesism: The Movie (2013)

Oh, I loved this one. It always perplexed me how some people could be so angry when someone abuses a dog or a cat, and then comment that over a nice turkey, pig, cow dinner. This documentary strikes at the core of that issue. Are we are completely blind to some species? As some animals are sacred in some countries, and some get eaten in others, we are shocked. But are we in fact only displaying speciesism?

This vegan documentary is rated 8.4 on IMDB and definitely worth watching. It can spark a debate and show a different angle on veganism. Furthermore, the director compares farm animals to people that were in concentration camps during the World War 2. Just that scene right there is worth the entire documentary.

Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret (2014)

This vegan documentary starts with a “UN announces cattle produces more greenhouse gases than entire transportation sector”, and just get’s on better and better. Comparing a beef hamburger to 2 months of showering (water consumption), it really drills down on the environmental impact of farming. In this documentary, in particular, I stopped to think about what goes around if you want to deliver meat as a product. You really take into account that animals require A TON of food and A TON of water. Also, very critical, that that same TON of food and water, has to end up somewhere in the form of feces.

In Speciesism (read just above if you missed it) we get a glimpse of that. I have to say this, once you sea pig shit being sprayed all over the field, it’s impossible to remove that image from your memory.

Best vegan documentary - Cowspiracy
Best vegan documentaries – Cowspiracy (background photo source: Leon Ephraïm, Cowspiracy documentary)

Again in this documentary, we see a lot of people ignoring clear questions, and responding with confusing actions and answers. But that’s something we already know (unfortunately). However, the director does pose an interesting question on sustainability (grass-fed beef, homegrown ducks). But as soon as you see a duck getting killed on the big screen (hey, I have a projector) you quickly realize you probably couldn’t “squeeze that into your daily schedule between work time and gym time”.

If you would like to buy a DVD of this movie, you can do so on Amazon.

Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead (2010) & Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead 2 (2014)

Like Speciesm, this is a vegan documentary with a different point of view. It doesn’t talk much about “love for the animals” or the “love for the planet”, but it’s very on point! Our main protagonist decides to lose some weight and “strong allergies” by switching his diet to only juicing. What is juicing? Well, you essentially juice the fruit and vegetables, and in the documentary Australian Joe Cross only drinks green juice for days.

Here’s Joe Cross’ mean green recipe. INGREDIENTS: 2 cucumbers, 8 celery stalks, 4 apples, 16 leaves kale with stalks, 1 lemon 2 inch (5 cm), a piece of ginger. I believe it was this documentary (it’s been a while, so I may be wrong) where I saw this woman say how “vegetables are nasty”. It stuck with my girlfriend and me, and we now joke about it often. For example when we eat some tasty vegan meal I go and quote her by saying how “nasty” this is. Joking aside, Joe spends a lot of time talking to people in the street (he flies from Australia to the US to do his juicing and promoting). And you see how most of the people feel about veggie-based meals. They know it’s good for them, and they chose not to eat it. Instead, they go for the unhealthy processed “option”.

Just a quick reminder, I already mentioned my awesome juicer in “how to be vegan on a budget” post, so you might want to hop over there. Since I also went a few times with only green juice for the entire day, I do have more “juicy” posts lined up in the future as well.

Forks Over Knives (2011)

This is a very good vegan documentary that you can recommend to your non-vegan friends. Sure, it may spark some debate with someone that’s been eating meat for the past 40 years, BUT, it’s a great start. It has a great score on IMDB of 7.8 which after all those years is a good sign that the documentary is watchable even for someone who is not a die-hard vegan. The premise behind it is that there is a case for whole foods plant-based diet.

If you haven’t heard of The China Study, I highly recommend diving into that. I am sure that you have, but I have to mention it because it provides the basis for the documentary. It turns out that this 20-year study was something of a Grand Prix of Epidemiology according to The New York Times. What happened was that T.Colin Campbell in particular with Chinese Academy of Preventive Medicine, Cornell University, and the University of Oxford studied mortality rates from cancer and other chronic diseases. Now you can debate this 20-year worth of research, but it turns out that the conclusion was that eating animal-based foods accompanies higher death rates.

Watch this documentary, take notes, and you are ready for your next turkey dinner with your family and the attacks that come your way. Just a little reminder, people don’t like you telling them they will die of something.

Vegucated (2011)

Vegucated is a vegan documentary that follows a journey of three non-vegans trying to follow a plant-based diet. We learn about the world and through their own reactions, we go through the same feelings. Their surprise and disgust with how some companies are treating the animals (and even their corpses), but also excitement with some vegan alternatives. What a concept! You don’t have to support the massive slaughtering, and still, you will get your proteins and vitamins. And no, you don’t have to avoid mayonnaise, pancakes, ice cream, etc. As you will learn in this film, there are plant-based alternatives.

Although there are some light comedy moments during the film, it does take you on a journey through an old building that was used in the past to slaughter animals. I am not sure if I should be apologizing for the graphic language, but if this is offending you, please skip the “Earthlings documentary” below.

Vegucated trailer

Food, Inc. (2008)

One of the earliest best vegan documentaries that guide the viewer on the impact of Monsanto corporation. There’s no denying it, the majority of people are living a different lifestyle today, then they were back in the ’50s. Not only in the United States. Just look at before and after photos of major Chinese cities, the United Arab Emirates and the Amazon rainforest. Literally, some parts of the Amazon are now called Amaz-off. Companies like McDonald’s grew to incredible proportions. Once a 10-year-old company back in 1950 now employees 350,000 people at 37,000 locations. People are not eating lentils, kale an beans there.

Best vegan documentaries - food inc
Best vegan documentaries – Food Inc.

So, corporations are facing a “problem”. How do they get more meat, make more money and get everyone on board? In this film, you see how they do it, “Faster, fatter, bigger, cheaper.” It gets worse, it’s not just the corporations. It’s also the small farms because they are also fighting to get a piece of the market. All this comes at a great cost, that the protagonists fail to see. After all these years Food, Inc. still holds a very good 7.8 rating on IMDB at 1 hour and 34 minutes long.

Food matters (2008)

In many of the best vegan documentaries that are listed here we see the Hippocrates’ (also known as “the father of western medicine”) quote: “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”. But I think that in this particular documentary it is the central point. Like Food, Inc. this is one of the older ones, but still very relevant. So the story goes, we eat, we get sick, we take drugs and treat the symptoms and not the root cause.

It runs 1 hour and 20 min with an excellent 7.7 rating on IMDB even after more than a decade. You can watch the trailer below.

Food matters trailer

Eating you alive (2016)

No, this is not a Limp Bizkit song, it’s a vegan documentary! This is something like the 10th film I mentioned and still not a single word of type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, heart attack, cancer. I have to say I am proud of myself. There are some people that will debate (and I welcome it) the impact on food on your health. On the other hand, surgeons say, they can guess what you eat by looking at your arteries during an open heart surgery. I still have to see an overweight person living strictly on a plant-based diet, but it’s everyone’s right to debate this.

Do our bodies and attitude change with what we eat and drink (drink 1 bottle of wine every day, and tell me the chemistry inside you hasn’t changed)? Can we make a positive change if we substitute what we put in? Instead of 1 bottle of wine, imagine drinking 1 bottle of green juice? Would that change your physiology and psychology? It’s worth trying.

A bit longer on material than some of the others at 1 hour and 52 min, makes it a very lovely evening get-together.

Peaceable Kingdom: The Journey Home (2009)

I wouldn’t put Peaceable Kingdom on the top of best vegan documentaries list, but it is certainly very good. It doesn’t cover the health/diet aspects or the impact on the planet from eating meat and dairy products. The central piece are animals, farmers, and their connection. We watch the stories of several families and their relationship with animals. One, in particular, was very interesting to me where we see a farmer crossing over. In the past, he owned over 8000 cows, whereas now he is promoting not to harm animals.

A moment that struck a chord with me was a scene where little lambs reunite with their parents on a green pasture. Elders arrived a few days earlier, and jumped out and started running on this meadow. It was really an amazing and victorious scene. That’s for the high part. As for the low one, there were a few scenes where you would rather look the other way. It will make you feel sick to your stomach. Let’s work so that these scenes become a thing of the past.

You can watch the documentary here.

Earthlings (2005)

I have to come clean here. I still haven’t watched this documentary. Partly because after just watching the trailer I felt so disgusted and disturbed that I couldn’t even ask anyone to watch this with me. I completely understand that the “behind the scenes cameras” that are shown in here are real, and the world needs to see them. Other documentaries clearly move me to act while this one just nauseates me, makes me sad and angry. I’ve never watched a forbidden movie, but I would say this one comes close to it. Again, all this just from the trailer.

If you thought that chopping off the head of a duck in Cowspiracy was disturbing, don’t even think about watching this. This is NOT a documentary you can use to introduce a plant-based diet to children or a “save the world” moment to your mom. This vegan documentary probably serves a purpose for those people that need a sledgehammer hitting them in the face in order to realize one thing. Animal cruelty is happening every single minute.

Live and let live (2013)

I suppose Live and let live isn’t the most popular documentary on the list, but it is still a very good one. Not a single animal is slaughtered during the movie, so it is easier to watch this in a family environment. Or a first-time vegan documentary watcher. Compared to other documentaries on the list, this documentary highlights several Germans and German activists. As a European, I was very happy to see this because everyone needs to know that veganism isn’t something that exists only in the United States.

I was also happy to see this documentary show the transformation of one professional cook (chef). It is my personal opinion that they are one segment with a huge impact on the rest of the world. Take Jamie Oliver or Gordon Ramsay for example. How many cookbooks have they sold, or how many recipes have they shared? However, that doesn’t take away our personal responsibility.

This is a very well recorded vegan documentary packed with interviews with people with different backgrounds, cooks, cyclists, farmers, activists, researchers, nutritionists, and other, all under the same common name. Vegan.

Notable mentions:
The Official Meatrix I

Becoming a vegan really felt like the movie Matrix. Once you took the red pill and learned what was going on, there was no turning back. Luckily, someone made a cartoon out of this, and there’s no need for me to describe it with my own words.

Vegan cartoon

This was the very first video I saw that gave me a clue that maybe my eating habits weren’t what they were supposed to be. I knew that my intestines were long (more like sheep), and not short (like that of a wolf). Also, I agreed with the cartoon that I didn’t like the stench of the corps and that I had to put a lot of seasoning on the meat. I also knew that my dog had more sharp teeth than I did.

Best vegan documentaries that I will add soon

Writing over 3000 words in a single article is no easy task. Once you do that, you become more and more impatient with publishing it. So, I decided to publish it as it is (with over 3000 words). Fear not, I will be adding these vegan documentaries soon: What The Health, Simply Raw: Reversing Diabetes in 30 Days (2009).