Netflix continues to churn out programs across all kinds of genres – from foreign-language films to animated movies to – whoo hoo! – vegan movies and documentaries.
Of course, not all these programs are necessarily put forward as vegan.
My criteria for inclusion: any movies or documentaries that explores the relationship between health, diet and big industry in order to promote greater understanding of how the choices we make as consumers directly impact our planet, health and animals.
I think that’s as good a criteria as any!
Vegan Documentaries on Netflix
1. What The Health
What The Health – of course – has to to kick off this list.
The controversy continues to swirl around this documentary with attacks on the science and facts from critics.
However, whether eating meat is as bad as smoking or any of the other health claims they make, the central fact is indisputable: big pharma and the animal agriculture industry will go to any length to cover up the dire health consequences inherent in their products in order to protect their profitability.
This is a must watch for any human being – vegan or not – who wants to understand just what goes on behind the curtain. Be warned, some scenes are not easy to watch.
Starring Jake Gyllenhaal, An Seo Hyun, and Tilda Swinton, this movie with a vegan heart is all about a young South Korean girl and her gentle giant of a friend, a massive pig, Okja.
As part of an experiment, Okja is taken away to be processed into a special kind of food qhich the corporate masterminds believe will return them handsome profits.
The journey to save Okja pits our young heroine and her new found animal rights activit army against the evil corporate empire. At times funny, sad, fearful, exciting and finally touching and moving, this is a fun roller coaster of a ride with a powerful message.
If anything, watch this movie just to see how they can animate a gigantic, beautiful, lovable super-pig. How do they do that!?
3. Minimalism: A Documentary about Important Things
Directed by Matt D’Avella, this documentary was a total surprise for me.
The movie explores minimalistic practices of people from all walks of life, effectively letting us know that Minimalism is so much more than just cutting out material things we collect but centered around our every action.
This is an upbeat and wonderful movie that will really get you thinking about what’s important and looking at the things you have and things you do in a different light.
While it may not be vegan per se, the message about appreciating the value of life – any life – and the caring for the world we share together, is absolutely is in line with veganism.
4. Food Choices
“What’s the best diet for the human species?”.
So begins this documentary following award-winning filmmaker Michal Siewierski on his three year journey to see how the choices you make about food impact not only your health but the resources of the planet.
This film covers familiar topics around vegan ‘myths’ but with really interesting insights. My favorite: protein was only ‘discovered’ in the 18th century, and everyone had lived fine until then!
A very enjoyable and wide ranging documentary which – although you know what the eventual answer will be to the question it poses – arrives at the conclusion in interesting ways that draws a line between what happens to our world and the individual choices we make.
5. Forks Over Knives
Forks Over Knives examines the connection between an animal diet and chronic illnesses, arguing that most of our degenerative illnesses can be controlled, or even reversed, “by rejecting our present menu of animal-based and processed foods”
Grounded in research by physician Calfwell Esselstyn, the documentary promotes putting nutritious, plant-based foods (forks) over the diets, medicines and fads (knives) that call out for your attention – and money – from every corner.
This approach is one of my favorites when it comes to weight loss, which they focus on more in the book rather than the documentary.
6. Hungry For Change
Hungry for Change involves sugar and obesity, but as part of a wider look at how fad diets and artificial ingredients in our food work together to keep us trapped in a psychology of thinking ‘hungry’ is same as being ‘nutritionally starved.’
With great insight into how the body works and how the mind keeps us in patterns of defensive reactions to low self esteem that marketers know how to exploit, this documentary is wide ranging and thought provoking.
It’s also great to have doctors and nutritionists who really explain the topics well and with compassion – something you don’t always see in lots of these documentaries.
7. Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead 1 & 2
Over a hundred pounds overweight, suffering from autoimmune disease and given little hope by doctors, Joe Cross embarks on a journey to not only reclaim his life.
The documentary follows him all across America where we meet others who share their stories on the transformative power of micro-nutrients and, specifically, juicing.
Joe later wrote a book which I reviewed briefly here, which focuses less on the journey and more on the diet, sickness and mental strength needed to change.
This is a very personal and inspiring story as to how simple but powerful changes can give your body the space to do what it wants to do: heal and be strong. Powerful stuff.
Cowspiracy: The Sustainable Secret is the ground-breaking documentary made by the same dynamic filmmaker duo that’s behind What the Health.
Cowspiracy explores how the meat and agriculture industry breaks almost every rule on the environment there is, often with the complicit acknowledgement of the very regulators who should be upholding them.
Still one of my favorite documentaries, Vegucated never gets old.
All the trials and tribulations faced and overcome on your journey to veganism will come flashing back as you watch this documentary that outlines the struggles of converting to holistic veganism.
From discovering and learning the horrible truths about the animal agriculture industry and the dairy production plants, this documentary showcases every single step that goes into effectively following a vegan lifestyle and just how difficult it is to be able to sustain it in a world that’s bent on shoving slaughtered, tortured animals in your face (directly and indirectly).
OK, that was a bit of an intense statement, but so is this documentary.
Here are a few others that I haven’t yet seen personally if you want to check them out:
Plant Pure Nation
The Ghosts In Our Machine
Tyke Elephant Outlaw
Live And Let Live
More Than Honey