Before I mention the documentary that changed my life, let me start by saying that I was a meat and dairy lover. I’ve never questioned vegans (or vegetarians), but I was ignorant.
In fact, my passion at the time was fitness. Since I’ve always been slim, I wanted to put on muscle to feel attractive, and look manly.
(Though, I’ve eventually realized that muscles have nothing to do with being manly)
Anyway, my diet was centered around eating chicken breasts, rice, and little to no veggies. I just wanted to put on as much muscle as possible, by training and eating tons of protein.
What’s remarkable, is that despite my egotistical mind at the time, someone still managed to change my mind. Initially, it was one documentary. Over time, I had ten different documentaries.
With the first one being the one that had the most impact on me.
Are you searching for compelling reasons to go vegan?
Even though there are blog posts pointing out reasons for you to go vegan, there’s nothing quite like watching a really well-produced documentary.
The ones I’ve watched have given me compelling reasons to remain vegan. However, if I went in with a closed mind, it would be difficult for me to accept some of the facts. At the same time, I also did my own research. Because a few vegan documentaries try hard to advocate for the vegan lifestyle, they might not come across as believable.
Had I watched a less compelling documentary, perhaps I wouldn’t be vegan today. But fortunately, there are plenty of vegan documentaries that stick to the facts without going overboard.
Personally, I enjoy documentaries that make me think, instead of blatantly trying to convince me with scare tactics. Some of the documentaries I’ll mention do exactly that.
1. Cowspiracy (8/10 IMDB Rating)
Why is Cowspiracy my favorite documentary? Well, it was the one that got me into veganism.
It’s a paradigm-shifting documentary that changed my understanding of the industrialized world and the way I’ve regarded animal lives. Cowspiracy explores the impact agricultural farming has on the environment. And how the modern diet contributes to the extinction of animal species, climate change, and overall wastage. Surprisingly, It paints an ugly picture of environmental organizations, exposing their shortcomings and hinting at ties they have with cruel, and poisonous animal farms.
Some of the statistical information in the movie was so shocking, it led to debunking attempts and responses to debunks. (Here’s a video on Cowspiracy’s statistics)
The list of vegan documentaries is long, but this was the one that turned my life around 180º.
2. Dominion (9/10 IMDB Rating)
First off, before you watch this one, you need to brace yourself for the violent graphics. Within the first ten minutes, you might not even want to watch it anymore. Dominion exposes the day-to-day reality of animal farms in Australia, using drones, hidden & handheld cameras to capture terrifying images that reveal the lack of humanity in those environments.
Dominion is directed by Chris Delforce (director of Lucent) and narrated by Joaquin Phoenix (the epic Joker), Rooney Mara and Sia. While the film mainly focuses on farmed animals, it also shows you a glimpse of animal cruelty in other industries. (Clothing, research & entertainment)
This is one of those films that will help you re-evaluate what you accept and tolerate, potentially creating the shift in you, and those around you. If you want the truth, watch it.
3. Earthlings (8/10 IMDB Rating)
To be honest, I wasn’t aware as I am now back in 2004/2005. ‘Earthlings’ is a film similar to Dominion, where a similar story is told, but in a time where the majority of people weren’t as awake. Shawn Monson, as well as Joaquin Phoenix, use undercover footage to show us what animals go through so that we have products humans consume every day.
Most average people eat meat, but I’m pretty sure they don’t have the guts to kill an animal themselves. People don’t know where their meat comes from, and they think that most farmed animals live short but happy lives.
In doing so, people live their entire lives protected from the horrible truth. Here’s what Phoenix said in the film, “if slaughterhouses had glass walls, we would all be vegetarians”.
Watch this film and look at the things we take for granted.
4. Eating You Alive (8/10 IMDB Rating)
Through this film, you can learn about the cause of chronic diseases killing most people in modern society. In addition, you learn about the role of pharmaceutical industries in response to those chronic illnesses, and how their goal is not to heal the disease, but merely treat the symptoms.
In other words, Eating You Alive gives you convincing evidence that your health is at stake due to what you eat. If you’re slightly curious about plant-based diets and how they can be empowering and curative, then this is a documentary you should watch.
The filmmakers’ interview several doctors, health experts, scientists and celebrities such as Samuel L Jackson, James Cameron, Penn Jillette and a few others) about their knowledge, expertise, and opinions on nutrition and diet. This documentary isn’t as well-produced (visually) as the aforementioned ones, but it’s still interesting to watch.
5. Before The Flood (8/10 IMDB Rating)
While this documentary isn’t about “veganism” per se, it gives you a look at how climate change affects the environment, and what we can do to protect endangered species, ecosystems, and native communities across the planet. All issues vegans are deeply worried about.
This film starring Leonardo Dicaprio is an excellent asset for the masses that:
1 – Know what climate change is but are not familiarized with the realities of the ones that are suffering from it;
2 – Don’t understand what is at stake, or how climate change works and why.
I believe Dicaprio (as well as the rest) does a great job of delivering the message to a general audience. While many suggest the film is only popular because of Dicaprio, we should not focus on the messenger but actually pay attention to the message.
If you’re interested in learning about the REAL impact of climate change, don’t miss out on it.
6. Game Changers (8/10 IMDB Rating)
This film proves a number of different things.
1 – An omnivore diet doesn’t have necessarily more protein than a plant-based diet.
2 – The best and cheapest way of getting B12 is by ingesting a supplement.
3 – You can easily be a high-level athlete on a plant-based diet.
These are merely some of the things I’ve captured throughout the movie, but there is way more.
What I truly appreciate about this film is that it is produced by James Wilks, a combative trainer. Yes, this might make you hesitate, but Wilks is a very intelligent fellow who spent thousands of hours reading and researching scientific literature.
However, Wilks doesn’t twist facts, he simply presents them as they are.
Since he’s not “vegan”, we’re looking through the lenses of someone that read the research and shared a less-biased view of veganism.
7. Forks Over Knives (7/10 IMDB Rating)
Forks Over Knives offers you a deeper insight into our health and food system. The doctors in this film have conducted various nutritional studies (including the most extensive nutritional study ever performed, the ‘China’ study), that presents evidence for a simple fact.
‘Eating animal-based products can make you sick. On the other hand, eating a whole-food, plant-based diet will keep your body healthy.’
However, this isn’t new to these doctors, they’ve used the plant-based diet to treat patients that had surrendered to the convenient way of suppressing symptoms — pills! But why didn’t anyone (until now) turn to diet in order to prevent and cure some of the most terrifying illnesses? Well, that question is answered in this amazing documentary.
8. Live and Let Live (7/10 IMDB Rating)
Live and Let Live examines our relationship with animals and the ethical, environmental and health reasons that lead people to adopt veganism. From a butcher to vegan chef, and a factory farmer to animal sanctuary owner, this film features six people that stopped eating animal products for different reasons, showing the impact this decision has had on their lives.
This is a film that attempts to cover different reasons to go vegan, so if you want a broader scope of veganism, this is one you should watch.
9. Called To Rescue (9/10 IMDB Rating)
Called To Rescue gives you a beautiful glimpse into the lives of fifteen farm animal sanctuaries throughout the United States. This film has touched my heart, and it has shown me the extent of an animal’s emotional depth.
Unlike Dominion, or other graphically violent documentaries, Called to Rescue celebrates the joy, kindness, and love that animals possess. This is, without a doubt, the type of documentary you could easily show your children and grandchildren, to create a shift in perspective.
This is not a film you can walk away from and not feel anything.
10. Lucent (8/10) IMDB Rating)
This is a deeply moving, and informative exposure of how animals are treated in farms throughout Australia. Lucent presents video evidence from 50 pig farms, so you’re not able to refute the evidence by assuming that any farm actually gives animals a “humane” and painless treatment.
Lucent also shines a light on other worrisome issues in animal agriculture, by talking about cattle and dairy, chickens, sheep, ducks, and turkeys, which are additional victims in our food system.
The film does a wonderful job of educating an audience with informative (but emotional) content. Show this to a friend and I’m sure he won’t forget about it.
11. Vegucated (7/10 IMDB Rating)
Vegucated follows three-meat and cheese-loving New Yorkers who agree to follow a plant-based diet to see what it’s all about. While this is yet another eye-opening film about the animal industry, not many vegans agree with its approach and focus on unhealthy vegan foods such as GMO soy, hydrogenated oil, and fake meats in order to entice non-vegans.
All in all, this documentary paints an accurate picture of what it means to be a farmed animal in a product-centric society. An ugly side of our world that is sure to have an impact on you.
This being said, I’ve seen better documentaries, with far better advice.
12. Blackfish (8/10 IMDB Rating)
Blackfish is fundamental for understanding the unethical acts of humans that kidnap and hold sentient beings in captivity away from their families, and natural habitat.
This film, in particular, tells the story of killer whales that grow in captivity, inside thick concrete water tanks, as well as other beings that grow in small steel cages for our own amusement. If you ever thought that amusement parks were devoid of cruelty, think again when you decide to take your children or grandchildren to the amusement park.
Unfortunately, animal cruelty exists beyond animal farms.
13. Running For Good (7/10 IMDB Rating)
Running for Good is a feature-length sports documentary following world record marathon runner (and vegan since 6 years old) Fiona Oakes in her attempt to set a new global record in endurance racing; and also to compete in the “toughest footrace on earth,” the Marathon Des Sables, a 250km race through the Sahara Desert.
This film is not only inspirational because of Oakes’ commitment, tenacity, and amazing ambition but it’s also a great display of humanity because she does it to raise awareness for animals.
All her achievements help fund a 450+ animal sanctuary she owns.
14. Empathy (8/10 IMDB Rating)
This film is about Ed — someone that doesn’t know anything about mankind’s mistreatment towards animals but is commissioned to create a movie about it. In order to create this film, Ed changes the way he eats, dresses, consumes and even what he usually does with his free time.
These new behaviors inevitably make him clash with his closed ones. (family, friends, and colleagues) And to overcome this situation, Ed calls upon the experience of 5 people living the green lifestyle, as well as the opinion of several experts to help him out.
Whether or not Ed changes for good… well, you’ll have to watch it.
15. The Last Pig (8/10 IMDB Rating)
The Last Pig is a surprisingly tender and thought-provoking film, where Bob Comis, a pig farmer, finds himself in a moral conundrum; grappling with the ethics of animal slaughter until he ultimately resolves to turn his life upside down. Bob’s humanity and the compassion he feels towards pigs come across splendidly in the film.
In fact, the inner turmoil taking place inside Bob is captured as elegantly as the emotions present in the eyes of the pigs he crosses paths with. The film also does a wonderful job of depicting such a divisive subject without necessarily picking sides. (A hard thing to do!)
Instead, the film faithfully sticks to the story of a compassionate human being who decides to stop farming pigs.
16. Vegan: Everyday Stories (8/10 IMDB Rating)
Vegan Everyday Stories follows the story of a woman who creates the first cattle ranch turned farmed animal sanctuary; a food truck owner who cooks plant-based food for a living; an 8-year old who convinced her family of 6 to go vegan; and an ultramarathon runner who has overcome addiction to compete in a hundred-mile race.
In essence, this film follows the stories of people that go against traditions and stand as champions for the cause of compassion for animals.
The film emphasizes the people and their experiences, more than the science itself. This is a great documentary you should get your friends to watch.
17. Food, INC (7/10 IMDB Rating)
What if there was a cure for the most infamous chronic diseases in the world and someone decided to keep it from everyone? Food INC is an informative and educational film on America’s food and agricultural industries. More importantly, this is a film for the average consumes because it shows you exactly what “food” you’re eating, who are the people feeding it to you, and how they get rich off doing it while your health dwindles.
This is yet another highly informative documentary that exposes the horrid truth behind animal farming, and also the nature of the playmakers pulling the strings behind the veil.
18. Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead (7/10 IMDB Rating)
If you’re overweight, this film is, without a doubt, one you should watch. Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead follows morbidly obese Joe Cross and his endeavor to only drink fruit and vegetable juice for sixty days in an attempt to lose weight, recover his health, and serves as inspirations for others.
Not many people (I know a few), don’t want to admit that they’re health is deteriorating, even though it’s plain as day. But Joe Cross is the exact opposite. He freely admits to his awful health situation and seeks out a new, and healthier lifestyle to cure his obesity.
Guess what? He did it with the power of plants. 🙂
19. Maximum Tolerated Dose (8/10 IMDB Rating)
Maximum Tolerated Dose talks about the lives of humans and non-humans who have witnessed animal testing firsthand. More importantly, this film shows shockingly honest testimonials from scientists and lab technicians who opted for a different path, and not partake in animal testing.
In addition, Maximum Tolerated Dose shares the heartwarming and haunting stories of animals that have experienced lives outside and inside the cage. This film is important to remind us of something that has less awareness, but that is as gruesome as butchering an animal.
20. Ghosts In Our Machine (8/10 IMDB Rating)
From undercover investigation and joyous rescues, Ghosts In Our Machine is watching the world through the lens of Jo-Anne McArthur, an animal rights photojournalist. In other words, this is the journey of Jo-Anne as she takes photos of individual animals used for entertainment, fashion, food, and research while attempting to bring awareness to a broader audience.
The message portrayed in the film is simple — animal liberation.
Jo-Anne follows different animals, proving that they deserve to live their lives according to their own will, and not to suit humans’ needs. The power of this movie lies in the juxtaposition of images that contrast Jo-Anne’s conscious awareness of animals’ feelings, and the general disregard and use of animals as mere commodities.
It’s a wonderful documentary to watch.
21. What The Health (7/10 IMDB Rating)
What The Health is brought to us by the same produces of Cowspiracy, Kip Andersen and Keegan Kuhn. In a similar style to Cowspiracy, Kip Anderson narrates the film, as he investigates whether or not meat and dairy are responsible for nearly all of the major health problems in modern society.
He interviews physicians, medical officers, nutritionists and other health experts in the field. He tries to figure out what’s the truth, and why has it been hidden from the public for so long. Needless to say, big business plays a big role in this film.
Kip also investigates the major benefits of a plant-based diet, as he did in Cowspiracy, ultimately informing the viewer on how they can avoid most of the serious health problems derived from meat and dairy. While there are opinions suggesting that What The Health is filled with vegan propaganda, there are also others that share a different opinion.
Take your own conclusions after watching the film, and do it first without external opinions.
22. Eating Animals (7/10 IMDB Rating)
Eating Animals explains what has happened in a 40-year span, ever since the humans moved away from traditional farming practices to massive industrial farming complexes that produce an endless supply of low-cost meat, eggs, and dairy.
What starts with a simple question, and a will to figure out where your food comes from, takes the audience down a rabbit hole into the reality of industrial animal farming.
23. The Cove (8/10 IMDB Rating)
The Cove has won almost every award it was nominated for — It’s an emotional, and thought-provoking film telling the tale of dolphins abuse throughout the world, most specifically in Japan.
You’ll discover that dolphins—probably the most beloved fish species in the world— go through tremendous amounts of pain and suffering at the hands of humans. You will see what happens to thousands of dolphins that are not selected by dolphinariums, and the extreme measures a country like Japan takes to make sure you don’t see what happens in this film.
If you love these creatures, watch the movie. But keep in mind that it’s a rather difficult movie to watch, but it’s something that must be seen by the world.
24. A Prayer For Compassion
A Prayer For Compassion follows Thomas Jackson quest through America, which eventually leads him to Morocco for the UN Climate Conference, and the Indian subcontinent to ask those on an already religious or spiritual path if they’re willing to embrace all life, regardless of species.
25. Racing Extinction (8/10 IMDB Rating)
Using state-of-the-art technology, the Oscar-winner Louis Psihoyos assembles a team of artists and activists that want to show the world never-before-seen images to expose the imminent issues related to endangered species and mass extinction.
Whether it’s infiltrating black markets with guerrilla-style tactics, or exploring the scientific viewpoint to explain a lot of what’s happening in the environment, Racing Extinction is an attempt to alter people’s perspective, by showing them the truth.
26. H.O.P.E. (7/10 IMDB Rating)
Changing your eating habits changes the world. That’s the message Nina Messinger wants to convey with H.O.P.E, a film that uncovers the effects of the typical Western diet on our health, the environment, and animals.
The film offers a compelling insight into the reasons why we should follow a plant-based lifestyle and outlines the advantages of choosing compassion over blindless consumption.
27. The Animals Film (8/10 IMDB Rating)
This film is from 1981 but it remains relevant, even today. It investigates the use of animals for entertainment, food, scientific and military research.
The Animals Film has images never-before-seen in that time period, where the filmmakers have access to people such as Roger Ulrich, a psychologist whose career was built on conducting experiments on primates until his life finally took an unprecedented turn. The film also incorporates secret government footage and scenes that have never been short before that time.
28. A Fall From Freedom (8/10 IMDB Rating)
What if you found marine parks and aquariums are actually directly (and indirectly) responsible for the death of thousands of animals used for human amusement? Premature deaths. Trainer injuries. Illegal practices. Government incompetence. Secret deals. These are just some of the issues presented in this emotionally powerful documentary.
If you’ve seen The Cove, you also have to see this one. Don’t turn a blind eye to the suffering of thousands of species, just because they don’t have a voice.
29. Okja (7/10 IMDB Rating)
Okja is more of a movie, rather than a documentary, but it still has a vegan message at its core. This amazing movie tells the tale of Mija, a South Korean girl, and her massive pig friend, Okja.
In the movie, Okja is put into a laboratory, where she is violently treated and forced to breed with another pig. So, rashly, Mija goes on an adventure to rescue and bring Okja home to the mountains where she happily belongs.
During her journey, Mija meets all sorts of different people who attempt to prevent her from saving Okja. In other words, Okja is a film about a beautiful bond between a human and an animal, and it is also a clear picture of what is reminiscent of the world today.
30. Peaceable Kingdom (8/10 IMDB Rating)
Peaceable Kingdom is a documentary that follows several farmers who refused to contribute to animal killing and decided to embark on a journey to veganism. There are two documentaries of the same kind. One released in 2004, and a newer version that was released in 2009 called Peaceable Kingdom: The Journey Home.
Both documentaries touch on the experience of people with traditional farming backgrounds and their struggle to morally cope with their way of life.
31. Hungry For Change (7/10 IMDB Rating)
Hungry For Change touches on the subject of food by emphasizing the abundance of toxic food.
This documentary talks about the problems and challenges associated with diet, toxic foods, and addictions. It contains interviews with various experts and speakers, including Jon Gabriel who has managed to lose 200 pounds.
Hungry For Change shows you how you can regain your best self with a whole-food, plant-based diet. Definitely worth watching!
32. In Defense Of Food (7/10 IMDB Rating)
In Defense Of Food was created based on the best-selling book of Michael Pollan, and it answers a really important question for health-seeking people: “what should I eat?”.
The documentary explores the relationship between the Western diet and nutrition, revealing what’s actually wrong about the modern-day diet. In fact, Pollan shows you what you should actually be eating if you want to be fit as a fiddle. If there’s one thing I’ve taken from the documentary, it is the importance of spending a bit more money to acquire food from local food markets, and the reason for it.
This documentary does not advise on the exclusion of meat like others, but I believe it’s interesting to tune in on different points of view