From education to entertainment, these vegan and animal rights documentaries need to go on your must-watch list.
Burned through your Netflix queue? (And Amazon and Hulu?) If you’re looking to up your watch time, there are a plethora of vegan documentaries that will both entertain and inspire you. Whether you’re a vegan, vegetarian, or flexitarian (or need a reason to try the vegan diet), there’s something here for everyone. From Academy Award-winning films and directors to small-budget indie films with big messages, these are the best of the best vegan documentaries sure to keep you inspired and hopeful.
The Best Vegan Documentaries
2005’s Earthlings is widely considered the most important animal rights documentary of all time. Directed by Shaun Monson and narrated by Academy Award winner Joaquin Phoenix, the film delivers a haunting look at life for animals raised for food, fur, animal testing, and entertainment.
Regarded as one of the most important vegan documentaries in recent years, 2014’s Cowspiracy tackles the link between diet and the environment. It confronts leading environmental organizations about their silence around diet. It’s a must-watch.
3.What the Health
2017’s What the Health is the follow up from Cowspiracy filmmakers Kip Anderson and Keegan Kuhn. Here they dive into the current health crises and their link to meat and dairy consumption. It exposes the heel-dragging by most health and nutrition organizations when it comes to addressing the animal connection.
4. The Game Changers
Released in U.S. theaters in 2019, this 2018 James Cameron production features an all-star roster of the world’s top athletes. Their disciplines may run the gamut, but they all align around one central tenet: improved performance by way of a vegan diet. Tune in for great sound bytes from Arnold Schwarzenegger, Lewis Hamilton, and strongman Patrik Baboumian.
5. Forks Over Knives
Forks Over Knives brought the benefits of the vegan diet to the screens in 2011. It features a range of health experts discussing the various ways plant-based nutrition can extend life and reduce the risk of disease. The movie has turned into a bona fide franchise, featuring books, recipes, and a robust website full of useful health information.
6. Live and Let Live
This 2013 documentary examines what it’s like for people who’ve gone vegan, including some who worked in slaughterhouses. It also discusses animal rights with experts including Melanie Joy and Peter Singer.
7. Eating Animals
Based on the seminal memoir by award-winning novelist Jonathan Safran Foer, this 2018 documentary delivers a deep dive into our food system. Narrated and executive produced by vegan Academy Award winner Natalie Portman, this movie takes you down the rabbit hole and returns you more informed and armed to make changes.
8.Called to Rescue
This 2018 documentary highlights animal sanctuary workers and volunteers helping rescued farm animals. It’s a feel-good snapshot about the impact of letting animals live their lives freely and what might happen if we all stopped eating animals.
9. The Ghosts in Our Machine
From 2013, comes The Ghosts in Our Machine, by award-winning filmmaker Liz Marshall. This powerful documentary peeks at photojournalist Jo-Anne McArthur, known for her poweful photos of animals. It explores the concept of ownership over animals and their sentience.
10. Maximum Tolerated Dose
This gripping 2012 documentary exposes the horrors of animal testing and the practices still widely considered acceptable by the lab-testing industry. A mix of undercover footage and testimonials, this is sure to make you seek out ethically sourced and cruelty-free products.
2019’s Dominion hearkens back to Earthlings, with its unapologetic, uncensored look at animals raised and exploited in Australia. With an all-star cast of narrators including Joaquin Phoenix, Kat Von D, Sadie Sink, and Sia, this riveting look at animal industries will leave you ready for change.
Dominion director Chris Delforce released Lucent in 2014. It’s focused on Australia’s pig farms with shocking undercover footage, exposing standard practices in horrific detail.
13. The Cove
It’s been more than a decade since The Cove took the Academy Award for best documentary feature. Directed by Louis Psihoyos, the film follows activist and former dolphin trainer Ric O’Barry as he takes on the Japanese dolphin hunting industry. It’s a nail-biter that flows more like an action-packed blockbuster than a documentary.
14. Vegan: Everyday Stories
The 2016 documentary Vegan: Everyday Stories connects the dots between all kinds of vegans including teen activist Genesis Butler, musician Moby, distance runner Scott Jurek, and physician Neal Barnard.
This 2011 film looks at what happens when meat-eaters go vegan for six weeks. Experimental and educational, the film brings adventure and comedy to the mix for a fun watch.
16. A Prayer for Compassion
Released in 2019, this feature-length documentary looks at the spiritual connection to diet. It explores people of all faiths, and how religions often speak to compassion for all creatures.
17. 73 Cows
2019’s 73 Cows is a BAFTA award winner. It looks at the life of a UK cattle rancher who decided he could no longer raise animals. Wilde takes his cows to a sanctuary and embraces organic, vegan farming instead. It’s a gripping documentary short sure to leave you inspired.
18. Hope for All
This 2016 documentary features primatologist Jane Goodall along with experts including social psychologist Melanie Joy, biochemist T. Colin Campbell, scholar Vandana Shiva, and author Caldwell B. Esselstyn. It brings a hopeful and inspired look at our dietary choices (Goodall is a vegetarian), and why what we eat matters for our health, the planet, and animals.
The 2013 documentary “Blackfish” will make you rue the day SeaWorld ever opened its doors. The film tells the story of the marine park’s sordid history with animal captivity. It focuses on the orca Tilikum, who was involved in the death of several people, including his trainer. But there’s much more to it. You’ll be glued to your seat.
20. The Invisible Vegan
2019’s Invisible Vegan was made by activists Jasmine and Kenny Leyva. They take a look at the Black community’s diet habits and the growing vegan movement within the community.
studies the history of unhealthy eating habits within the African-American community and the community’s growing vegan movement. NBA champion John Salley, Cedric the Entertainer, and 11-year-old activist Genesis Butler make appearances in “The Invisible Vegan.”
21. Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead
2010’s Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead has changed a lot of lives. Joe Cross works with Dr. Joel Fuhrman to take control of his weight and health. Through juicing and eating plant-based, Cross undergoes a remarkable transformation.