Are you ready to go vegan because you love animals, because you know your health will benefit (hello cholesterol) or because you have kids and grandkids and you’re ready to do whatever you can to keep this planet habitable for them? Have you been thinking about it for a long time but you just can’t make the switch or you find yourself making excuses as to why you are not yet fully vegan? You just need to find and then cement your ‘why’.
We’ve put together a list and some trailers of Netflix documentaries that we would recommend watching as you start out on your vegan or plant-based journey.
It’s not just about not eating meat, it’s about the treatment of animals in the dairy, egg, fashion (etc) industries and it’s about the hidden costs to the planet and to your own health. The things that get overlooked during every day life as they’re kept behind closed, and firmly locked doors by big company and marketing teams so that no one can find out just how bad things actually are.
We think that by opening your eyes with educational videos, you can easily find your ‘why’ and you won’t be able to look at these things the same way again. Once you’ve witnessed another side of things, you’ll be better equipped to make informed decision, instead of doing what you’ve always done because that’s what you were told to do. Hardly any of us were born vegans. Most of us grew up eating meat and looking at animals as commodities just like everyone else. The most common thing that vegans say is “the only thing I regret is not doing it sooner”.
Why do we need another Netflix vegan documentaries list?
Documentaries are an entertaining and powerful way to learn. If you’re new to the vegan lifestyle these films can be an eye-opening experience. From documentaries that focus on the human-animal bond to investigations into our troubled food systems to a close look at the environment and how our actions are affecting it, vegan documentaries inspire us to become more mindful and deliberate in our actions. They encourage us to think for ourselves, develop new perspectives, and question and challenge what’s handed to us as fact.
When it comes to streaming platforms nothing beats the diverse assortment of high-quality vegan documentaries on Netflix. Whether you’re a decades-long vegan, environmentally conscious omnivore, health nut herbivore, or veg-curious animal lover here are the best vegan documentaries that the streaming service has to offer!
Hogwood: A Modern Horror Story (2020)
Hogwood: A Modern Horror Story takes you beyond the factory farm walls and follows an intrepid group of undercover investigators as they enter some of Britain’s biggest factory farms for the very first time.
Running at just over 30 minutes, Hogwood explores the reasons behind factory farming and exposes the negligence and inaction by government bodies and corporations alike. It highlights how meat pollutes our planet and puts us at risk from disease outbreak. It explores why factory farming is supported and follows the brave fight to expose the truth and change the world.
The documentary centres around a seemingly idyllic pig farm, named Hogwood. Jerome Flynn opens the documentary against the picturesque backdrop of rural England, just minutes away from Hogwood Farm. He tells the captivating tale of Hogwood and how it came to be one of the most infamous pig farms in the UK. His narrative is intertwined with undercover footage and interviews with investigators and activists representing the animal welfare group Viva! — who spearheaded the campaign. The film goes onto feature interviews with a livestock vet speaking out about her horrific on-the-job experiences for the first time. It concludes with expert comment from GP and public health expert, Dr Josh Cullimore and Oxford University researcher Joseph Poore.
What The Health (2017)
Considered one of the best vegan documentaries of all time, What The Health explores the links between the consumption of animal products and life-limiting diseases like diabetes and autoimmune disease.
Produced by Oscar-award winning actor and legendary vegan icon Joaquin Phoenix, this documentary film unearths the impacts of highly processed foods on health and looks at why so many leading health organisations still promote the meat industry. It reaffirms what we’re all beginning to realise: choosing to eat a plant based diet is one of the most powerful actions we can take!
What The Health is surprising, intriguing, and even hilarious at times: a true eyeopener for any meat-eater.
Forks Over Knives (2011)
This classic vegan documentary, with its memorable “Warning: This Movie Could Save Your Life!” tagline focuses on the public health issues tied to diets that are full of meat, dairy, and other animal products.
Beyond looking closely at the negative health impacts of eating meat and dairy the film also examines how the pharmaceutical industry benefits from factory farming and the traditional Western diet.
Forks Over Knives breaks down the issues with an animal-based food supply chain and explores how eating real food, like a whole food based vegan diet can help prevent and treat many chronic illnesses such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.
Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret (2014)
In 2014, the world was shaken by the revelations from this documentary film. Produced by actor turned environmental-activist Leonardo DiCaprio, Cowspiracy, The Sustainability Secret, is an investigative documentary that looks at the effects eating animals has on the planet.
It explores huge issues such as climate change, greenhouse gas emissions, and the widespread environmental destruction that the meat industry and meat production has on our natural world.
Since Cowspiracy won the Audience Choice Award at the 2015 South African Eco Film Festival, it has been considered one of the best vegan documentaries by plant based people around the globe.
Released in 2021, Seaspiracy is a hard-hitting and unapologetically eye-opening documentary that focuses on the impact of commercial fishing on native marine life.
Although it’s not always obvious, fishing is still considered a part of the animal agriculture system (factory farmed salmon, anyone?), and it has an unignorable impact on our planet.
Directed by Ali Tabrizi, the film focuses on asking difficult questions about who is to blame for the environmental devastation of marine ecosystems. Beyond the troubling nature of the fish food industry, the film also examines the ties between overfishing and ocean dead zones and pollution, such as how plastics and fishing gear are choking out oceans and harming their inhabitants.
Mainstream media outlets, including Vogue, and leading environmental organisations, such as Greenpeace, encourage everyone to watch this documentary. Even if you don’t follow a vegan lifestyle, Seaspiracy will change the way you look at seafood forever.
The Milk System (2017)
One of the most underrated vegan documentaries on Netflix, The Milk System, explores what its title suggests, the dairy industry.
The Milk System film examines how the multi-billion-dollar milk industry damages the environment and contributes to global warming. Shot by Italian director Andreas Pichler, this environmental film brings together farmers, scientists, doctors, and industry insiders who reveal the consequences and hidden costs of the global dairy industry.
We see firsthand how dairy consumption negatively impacts human health and harms locals in developing countries.
Ultimately a hopeful film, The Milk System, encourages viewers to reconsider their dairy and drinking habits and explore ways that the industry as a whole could be changed for the better.
The Game Changers (2018)
A UFC fighter’s world is turned upside down when he discovers an elite group of world-renowned athletes and scientists who prove that everything he had been taught about protein was a lie. Athletes interviewed include Arnold Schwarzenegger, Patrik Baboumian, and Dotsie Bausch. Presented by James Cameron, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jackie Chan, Lewis Hamilton, Novak Djokovic and Chris Paul — a revolutionary new film about meat, protein and strength.
There are obviously heaps more that we could advertise, also there are many other streaming platforms to watch these on as well as exclusive documentaries to specific platforms. Here are a few others to consider watching too…
- Earthlings (2005) – This unflinchingly honest documentary systematically takes us through how we use and exploit animals in all aspects of our lives, from pet stores, to food, clothing, entertainment, and scientific research. Narrated by the always incredible Joaquin Phoenix, Earthlings is often considered one of the most powerful vegan documentaries. Be warned that Earthlings is a very graphic film, and some scenes can be very difficult to watch.
- Dominion (2018) – The sequel to Earthlings, Dominion shows us how much (and how little) has changed in the way we treat animals, thirteen years after the first film premiered. Also narrated by Joaquin Phoenix, Dominion hones in speciesism and the widespread systemic oppression towards animals.
- Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead (2010) – This health film follows the Australian filmmaker Joe Cross’s journey to better health. Now a celebrated health and wellness advocate, Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead chronicles how Cross’s transition to a whole food plant based vegan diet turned his life (and his health) around.
- The End of Meat (2019) – Imagine a world where a plant based lifestyle is the norm. The End of Meat envisions a future with meat consumption firmly in the past. This documentary explores the relatively unknown truths about the beef industry and meat consumption. Through advocating for a more compassionate diet, The End of Meat raises crucial questions about animals’ role in our world.
- Vegucated (2011) – Vegucated is a fan favourite vegan documentary for many reasons. Its main appeal is that it gives a good overview of a vegan diet’s ethical, environmental, and health benefits. It takes an interactive approach and follows three meat-and-dairy consuming Americans who take a 6-week plant based diet challenge.
- Live and Let Live (2014) – This German documentary follows six people from very different backgrounds and their journeys to veganism. It features people who’ve broken away from animal agriculture, including a butcher-turned vegan chef and former dairy owners who’ve turned their factory farms into animal sanctuaries.
- Food Choices (2016) – Ever wondered what impact the food we also eat really has? Food Choices looks at just this: what goes into the food system and how it impacts the health of people, animals, and the planet. Debunking food misconceptions, this documentary interviews world-renowned experts, including Dr. T Colin Campbell and Dr. Richard Oppenlander, who shed light on the biggest food revolution of this century: veganism.
- A River of Waste (2009) – This eco-minded documentary is an exposé on the environmental issues of factory farming and using animals and their products for food. It looks at the industrial process and how the toxic runoff, including high amounts of antibiotics and dangerous chemicals, pollutes local water and threatens the health of people and animals who live near factory farms, slaughterhouses, and meat processing plants.
- Simon Amstalls Carnage (2017) – It’s 2067, the UK is vegan, but older generations are suffering the guilt of their carnivorous past. Simon Amstell asks us to forgive them for the horrors of what they swallowed. Carnage is a 2017 mockumentary directed by Simon Amstell. Set in the year 2067, when veganism is the norm, the film looks back on meat-eating today.
- Wellness unpacked with Ella Mills – In our most startling episode yet, we talk to Joseph Poore at Oxford University about his recent study concerning the effect of our diets on the environment. We look at how we could cut global greenhouse gases by 23% with a vegan diet, how fish can create more methane than cattle, how food miles are the wrong metric to look at, and the alarming rate at which deforestation is happening to make space for meat and dairy farms. Podcast available on Spotify and Audible.