From Amazon Prime to Netflix, vegan documentaries that inspire action are being released more and more regularly on our favourite streaming platforms. To help you soak up the educational value from some of the films that don’t receive the attention they deserve, here are five underrated vegan documentaries to watch this week.
The past decade has seen the vegan lifestyle catapult into the spotlight, with more people than ever before adopting a plant-based diet and animal-friendly way of living. With more than 600,000 people identifying as vegan in the UK alone, it’s inspiring to see that taking a compassionate approach to dietary, clothing and entertainment choices is slowly becoming more commonplace!
Of course, while many factors are driving the growth of veganism, we can certainly thank the TV and film industry for their role. Without the many educational and influential vegan documentaries opening our eyes to the reality of animal exploitation, it’s safe to say that veganism may not have enjoyed the same successes.
When you think of switching on Netflix to devour a vegan documentary, there are likely a few that instantly spring to mind. Cowspiracy. Seaspiracy. What The Health. Forks Over Knives. The Game Changers. The list goes on and on! However, there are also many fantastic vegan documentaries that haven’t yet garnered the same attention as these well-known films. Here are five recommendations to get started!
Five fantastic vegan documentaries that aren’t as popular as they should be
If you have just 15 minutes to spare today, spend them wisely by watching one of the best - yet, severely underrated - vegan documentaries: 73 Cows. Anyone who has felt the deep pain of cows trapped in an exploitative system will feel their spirits lifted by this sentimental documentary, so we recommend watching it with a box of tissues.
This short yet truly impactful film tells the story of Jay Wilde, a former beef farmer who became the first in the UK to change his mindset and farming practices towards a vegan, sustainable and compassion-led approach. After realising the extent of the suffering he was responsible for, Jay sent his herd of cows to a Norfolk-based rescue centre and swapped slaughtering animals for producing oat milk.
Although many vegan documentaries focus on the successes that we haven’t yet made within the vegan movement, BAFTA award-winning 73 Cows shows that positive change is coming; day by day, person by person. We can’t help but feel hopeful after watching the incredible transformation that Jay experienced before deciding he could no longer be complicit in the cruel treatment of cows.
Where to watch 73 Cows:
73 Cows is available to stream directly (for free) through its producers, Lockwood Film. Simply click here to get started - and don’t forget those tissues.
The Milk System
For many plant-based eaters, learning about the dairy industry and its exploitation of cows is what encourages the shift from vegetarianism to veganism. Given the stark reality of dairy production, this certainly isn’t surprising. The wrongdoings of the industry are exactly what The Milk System (2017) seeks to expose.
The idea that milk comes from happy, relaxed and well-treated cows with the space to roam free in verdant meadows is one that the global dairy industry has been happy to perpetuate for years, but the reality of commercial dairy production couldn’t be further from this romanticised farmyard image.
The Milk System is here to bring this to light, with an in-depth look at how the global agribusiness sector has commoditised milk for economic gain - at the expense of farmers, the planet and of course, cows. It delves into the many misconceptions surrounding dairy and highlights the environmental, human and animal cost of this ever-expanding sector.
This provocative and enlightening documentary has won awards for its investigative approach towards an industry that so many people don’t think twice about, so it’s certainly not a film to be missed.
Where to watch The Milk System:
For the Birds
A true hidden gem, For the Birds (2018) is empathetic, impactful and full of heart. It’s also a critically acclaimed documentary with a long list of awards and achievements, yet it’s still to receive the same attention within popular culture as some of Netflix’s other vegan documentaries. We’re struggling to understand why, as this inquisitive look at the all-encompassing love for animals that many of us have experienced is both magical and heartbreaking in equal measure.
For the Birds follows Kathy Murphy and the more than 200 birds she keeps as pets, and considers the beautiful - yet complex - relationship between her and these feathered beings. The documentary, which has won a myriad of awards for its compelling storyline, is both touching and devastating at times. As Kathy battles against animal rights groups seeking to rescue the ducks, chickens, turkeys and geese from her garden, you’re left asking yourself: who knows what’s best for these birds?
For the Birds doesn’t necessarily contain a strong pro-vegan message, but its five-year-long analysis of animal-human relationships poses many important questions about our attitudes towards animals as pets and companions.
Where to watch For the Birds:
Live and Let Live
Live and let live; a common phrase with a poignant message, especially within the context of farming and food production. Each of us is living, but how many of us are letting others live? The beauty of creating a life that doesn’t harm the wellbeing of the animals we share our planet with is explored in Live and Let Live, a 2013 documentary produced by filmmaker Marc Pierschel.
Live and Let Live dives into the journey of six individuals who each arrive at veganism from various backgrounds. Former butchers, factory farmers, chefs and athletes detail their journey from killing and eating animals to embracing a fully vegan lifestyle, while each discussing how this transition impacted their lives for the better. Some of the world’s most renowned animal rights activists even appear in this underrated documentary, with appearances from both Peter Singer and Tom Regan scattered throughout.
A documentary that examines the often complicated relationship between humans and our food choices, watching Live and Let Live will remind you that it’s never too late in life to put kindness and compassion first. Whether you’re reaching your 20th year of veganism or you’re taking your first steps towards a meat-free lifestyle, this heartfelt film will challenge what you thought you knew about the ethical and environmental implications of slaughtering animals.
Where to watch Live and Let Live:
With a run time of 1hr 20m, Live and Let Live is available to watch on Amazon Prime. This meaningful documentary is one we implore you to get stuck into!
Following the release of Seaspiracy earlier this year, conversations about our treatment of the ocean and the creatures that it’s home to have skyrocketed. Since the documentary became available to watch on Netflix, vegans and non-vegans alike have united in their heartbreak at the destruction of marine environments at the hands of commercial fishing. Yet, the filmmakers behind Seaspiracy aren’t the only people fighting to raise awareness of society’s abhorrent treatment of marine life. In fact, one man has dedicated his entire life to this enormous task: Paul Watson.
Founder of the controversial Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, Paul Watson is incredibly famous within the mainstream animal rights movement. However, Watson (2019), the insightful documentary celebrating his lifelong work, still sails in the shadows of Seaspiracy, Mission Blue, A Plastic Ocean and many of the other better-known films exposing the reality of fishing supply chains.
Watson may not boast the same publicity as its fellow marine conservation documentaries, but this doesn’t mean that it’s not worth your time. The film, which covers over 40 years of activism, will help you truly understand the fervour with which impassioned vegan Paul Watson and his Sea Shepherd crew fight to protect the ocean and the creatures living within it.
Where to watch Watson:
Immerse yourself in the lives and activism of the Sea Shepherds by watching Watson on Amazon Prime. It’ll be 1hr 39m you won’t forget!
What are your favourite vegan documentaries?
With so many inspiring films championing plant-based diets and the vegan lifestyle, it can be difficult to watch them all! Nevertheless, documentaries focusing on the many benefits of veganism play a vital role in educating and inspiring new vegans, so we’re here to celebrate the release of even the least well-known.
Which vegan or animal rights films have influenced you the most? From independent eco-activist interviews to high-publicity Netflix vegan documentaries, we want to know your recommendations.
Before you dive straight into our list of thought-provoking vegan documentaries, take a moment to browse through our beautiful collection of PETA-approved plant-based leather accessories - the ideal choice for ethical and sustainability-driven people. At Ulvmand, we exist to make a difference; read our manifesto to find out why.