Documentaries That Will Make You Go Vegan (Guest Post)

Maria Ramos contacted me awhile back about writing a guest post summarizing some of the recent documentaries that exist regarding eating a plant-based diet and living a vegan lifestyle. Enjoy!

Many people do not pay very close attention to what they eat. In fact, it seems that most Americans would rather not know anything about where their food comes from. This is no accident. The factory farm industry would rather you not know about the abuse and murder that animals suffer and how instead of treating animals humanely, they treat animals as disposable property. Many people have dedicated their lives to showing how the factory farm industry is harmful to both animals and people. The industry has responded by sponsoring many “ag-gag” laws across the country and trying to criminalize people reporting the truth about the conditions that exist inside these farms.

Despite this effort to silence those who would speak the truth, many important documentaries have been made to show people the conditions inside these farms. Many also are made to explain why going vegan is an important way that they can help stop the way farm animals are treated by industry. This list is by no means complete, but these are some of the most important works that have been done in recent time.

Food Inc. (2008)

Food Inc. is probably one of the most well-known documentaries around. This film looks inside America’s corporate-owned food industry and how it is unsustainable (both economically and environmentally) and inhumane. While filmmaker Robert Kenner does not expressly advocate going vegan or even vegetarian, his film shows a lot of the negative consequences that our factory farms have had on people, animals, and the environment. Food Inc. can be found on Netflix.

Peaceable Kingdom: The Journey Home (2012)

We explore the horrible conditions of the factory farms that “food animals” are forced to live in in Peaceable Kingdom. This documentary follows several people who have been in the farming industry all their lives as they find peace through going vegan and seeing the animals as more than just sources of profit. You can buy the DVD with bonus material here.

Vegucated (2011)

Three New Yorkers give up meat and cheese for six weeks in this documentary. We follow them as they become influenced by what they learn about the meat industry and modern factory farms. By the end of the film, we find they have (mostly) kept up with their vegan diet, proving that by simply being open to what others have to say, you can make a difference. You can stream Vegucated on Netflix.

Cock Fight (2015)

One farmer became a whistleblower against the chicken industry and was set on showing not only the awful conditions that the chickens “live” in, but the dire poverty and suffering that the people who work on the farms endure as well. This documentary shows how big agri-business has developed virtual monopolies in each of their areas, preventing both humane conditions for the animals and the people that work the farms. You can watch Cock Fight on DirecTV’s Fusion channel.

Farm to Fridge (2011)

With undercover, graphic footage, this documentary shows what life is like for the animals that die for our food. Narrated by the actor James Cromwell, who played the farmer in the movie “Babe,” the film shows the work of the group Mercy For Animals. MFA’s groundbreaking undercover investigations have sparked legislation, both to help protect farm animals and to prevent the “ag-gag” laws that the large factory farms want to pass. Farm to Fridge has been uploaded to YouTube.

I’ll add to this great list Cowspiracy (2014), Speciesism (2013), The Ghosts in Our Machine (2013) and the classic Earthlings (2005). -Sam

Oppose the Keystone XL Pipeline And Support the Blockade

Tar Sands Protest

“On November 19 2012 in East Texas, Lizzie Alvarado, Ben Reynoso and Julie Henry climbed up sixty feet into trees to stop construction of the Keystone XL pipeline and prevent the destruction of a swath of forest. The lifelines supporting their platforms were tied to construction equipment, preventing any work from being done. After a nine hour stand-off with police and workers, a cherry picker arrived. A crowd of local supporters surged into the road to block the truck but were dispersed when a sheriff emptied an entire can of police-grade pepper spray into the crowd. Police used the cherry picker to take all three tree-sitters into custody. Ben, Lizzy and Julie were each charged with misdemeanor criminal trespass, felony mischief, and felony use of a criminal instrument. Altogether, these charges could lead to imprisonment for several years and fines of tens of thousands of dollars.”

The Keystone XL Pipeline is a game changer; a behemoth of oil and carbon-emitting nightmares that our own president approved the construction of, an about-face on his supposed fight of climate change that still leaves us reeling. Amid the protests, controversy, and massive scientific evidence that building this thing will do nothing but destroy our earth, a motley crew of individuals have taken to direct action put a stop to this menace.

That would be the Tar Sands Blockade, and I’m proud to call one of their activists, Julie Henry, my friend. As you read above, she was involved in an action last year that could result in massive fines and jail time, and I encourage those who support her cause, and the cause of protecting our country and earth from the woes of fossil fuel, to donate.

The construction of this pipeline will not reduce gas prices, it will not reduce our foreign oil consumption, it will not create jobs, and it will destroy sensitive lands throughout the US, drive native tribes and other residents out of their homes. It will also spill (as these pipelines are built to), and release more than enough carbon into the atmosphere (through drilling, transport, and burning) to wreck the earth for good. See more facts and figures here.

I don’t know about you, but I would like a livable earth in 50 years. For that to happen, we have to fight today! As CrimethInc says, expect resistance! 

Dive! The Film: Powerful Message But Misses The Mark

Just finished watching Dive! The Film at the suggestion of a friend who shares my love for “dumpstering” waste, be it food, electronics, hardware, or milk crates. While the film was entertaining (mostly due to main character’s children), I felt it missed the mark on two levels: one, that eating meat and dairy, whether hormone-free, out of a dumpster, or from your local farmer, is somehow effective in the food movement, and two: that eating dumpstered meat and dairy is a good idea at all. Since this is a pro-animal rights blog those viewpoints aren’t exactly revolutionary here, so allow me to explain:

Jeremy Seifert’s documentary follows him and some cohorts around Los Angeles, blasting Trader Joe’s and other groceries for wasting tons of food, while highlighting the necessity of fixing our logistical waste nightmare so we don’t have 11 million people who go hungry each day in this country. This is an admirable task, and I agree with it. TJ’s and their ilk should be held accountable, in fact, all groceries, and people should: waste less, people! Seifert’s tie-in with sustainability from the WWII era was great, and I, like him, are stoked to see a resurgence of this.

But when facts are displayed on the screen about how much grain and water it takes to produce a pound of beef, what is the viewer supposed to think? That we should only eat dumpstered meat? Or buy it from a local farmer? There’s no good solution here: eating local meat is often worse for the environment due to the huge about of carbon emissions grass-fed cows produce. Eating dumpstered meat is just bad for you, and I felt the movie lacking that Seifert didn’t address this once. Surely, a conscious consumer in LA has been exposed to the arguments of veganism. Meat and dairy intake are linked to increased risk of all major diseases, and improperly cooked chicken is a huge risk, especially for children. I’m not arguing that dumpstered food is somehow “unclean” – I’d eat it myself, just not stuff that comes from another animal.

How can we argue for a less wasteful society, one that prizes sustainability and conscious consumerism, but allow rampant meat and dairy eating, whether it comes from the farm, grocery, or dumpster? Meat just doesn’t make sense to feed the world, it’s simply inefficient. Cow’s milk and its by-products, being the result of gluttonous humans (milk after infancy? why?), isn’t a health food either – Harvard realized this just a few months ago. And producing dairy takes the same cruel, wasteful approach as meat; fatten up cows, impregnate them, and steal their milk for human use. Let the cows live in peace and use that extra grain and water for starving humans!

So while I deeply appreciate Seifert’s look into the world of dumpstering, and I agree on all counts regarding waste reduction, to simply offer the option of eating nearly unlimited quantities of chicken, beef, yogurt, or whatever foodstuffs he finds in the dumpster – merely because they are trash/wasted – is short-sighted. We have to choose food wisely, regardless of the source. “Freegan” is a lame term – nothing is truly free, and eating animal products comes at a price. A vegan lifestyle, and a diet centered around plants, is the optimal one for health, sustainability for our earth, and for alleviating the suffering of billions of animals.

Ten Incredible Animal Rights Ads

Design site Hongkiat.com put together 60 of the best “public awareness” advertisements from all over the world (indeed, they are hosted on adsoftheworld.com), but striking to me was the inclusion of several that are very AR-themed. From predators in the ocean (us) to treating your dog like a soccer ball, here are nine of the best. There’s no similiarty between them except the message and the delivery; each one is from a different ad agency scattered across the globe. (Note: if the ad doesn’t make sense, mouse over for some helpful text. Click the ad to go to its page on adsoftheworld.com.)

 

Computers and Climate Change: Get Ready For Chaos

Three insightful pieces today:

Did you know the Dutch are building floating houses? They know we’re screwed: by 2050 climate change will have so taken hold of our earth that they might just float away if they don’t have the appropriate measures in place. So, rather than come up with “solutions to fight climate change,” they said “let’s go ahead and prepare for the worst.” It’s a couple years old, but this Washington Post article is inspiring:

In Rotterdam, city officials opted to invest in new parks, city squares and parking garages now under construction that effectively double as Rotterdam’s drainage system, filling with water during heavy floods to keep streets, buildings and homes above water. In east Amsterdam, one of three new floating communities going up across Holland looks like an aquatic suburbia. The homes are built on floating platforms of reinforced concrete and literally rise with floodwaters, offering a glimpse into how lifestyles may change as costal areas adapt.

It is a “survival strategy,” and I think it really brings home the idea that we need to take climate change seriously – really seriously – or we are going to be swept/flooded/blown away in 50 years without any idea how to stop it. This ties in great to what Patagonia’s founder Yvon Chouinard says about his company. It’s not about money, but inspiration: inspiring people and other companies to solve our environmental crisis:

If you get down to the real causes, a lot of our society’s biggest problems are happening because we’re destroying the planet. As we cut down the forests in the Congo, diseases start jumping over to humans. The Pentagon says new wars are going to be resource wars. We’re a long way from having a sustain-able society. That’s why One Percent for the Planet gives strictly to environmental causes. You can give money all day long to symptomatic things and you’re not going to solve the problems.

Because he realized that any business, by its nature, pollutes (in one form or another), they should essentially tax themselves by donating/pledging/giving some of their profits back to causes that fix, not harm, the earth. This was beautifully illustrated in Patagonia’s “Don’t Buy This Jacket” campaign.

And while this isn’t directly on topic, it still kind of applies: computers are taking over. We have more machines on the internet than people, more devices than sets of eyes, and it’s only going to get crazier. By 2020, we’ll have 22 billion “things” connected to the internet, with 6 billion of them being cell “phones” – I use that term loosely as a phone/tablet/computer at that point will probably all be one thing.

Maybe all these devices can solve climate crisis for us? Doubtful. We’ll still need to be aware ourselves and take serious action. But, we can at least attempt to power them with clean energy.