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Plant Based News will be releasing its highly-anticipated new documentary Vegan 2020 on YouTube next month.

The film is the fifth installment in the annual series that started in 2015. Each year, the movie documents the growth of the vegan movement over the last 12 months.

In anticipation for Vegan 2020 – which director Klaus Mitchell brands the most exciting installment yet – this gallery highlights key moments.

Abandoned slaughterhouse

Credit: Adobe. Do not use without permission.

COVID-19 infections in slaughterhouses outpaced the rest of the nation in several countries – including the U.S and U.K. This lead some commentators to accuse politicians of sending employees to their deaths by forcing them to work. Some of the facilities temporarily closed as cases rose. As a result, farmers killed millions of animals on site using highly-criticized methods.

David Attenborough

REUTERS / HENRY NICHOLLS Credit: REUTERS / HENRY NICHOLLS

As the COVID pandemic threatened to draw attention away from the climate breakdown, veteran broadcaster Sir David Attenborough kept reminding the public of the impending crisis. The September release of his documentary A Life On Our Planet was a sobering reminder of the damage humanity has inflicted on the planet. This inspired some to change their behavior. Sir David himself isn’t vegan, but is a vocal  meat-reducer, and his film inspired others to follow his lead.

Australia’s bushfire season branded the ‘Black Summer’

Credit: Adobe. Do not use without permission Credit: Credit: Adobe. Do not use without permission

The 2019-2020 bushfire season in Australia was so bleak it became known as the ‘Black Summer’, taking an agonizing toll on human and animal life. Climate scientists said that global warming, which made conditions hotter and drier than usual, had made the fires so intense, boosting them by up to 30 percent. They warned that if the planet continues to heat up, the fires will continue to get worse.

California flames blaze through state, creating first ‘gigafire’ in modern history

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Fires also blazed throughout California in 2020, to such a degree that the flames created the first ‘gigafire’ in modern history, spanning 1 million acres. Scientists blamed manmade global warming for creating the hot temperatures fanning the blazes. With drier than usual soil and vegetation, the flames spread further than usual. Black smoke from the gigantic blazes created a dark blanket over parts of the west coast, with experts warning worse will come if human activity continues to heat the planet.

COVID-19 exposes agony animal exploitation inflicts on humans

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While 2020 was plagued a host of disasters, it will be remembered most for the COVID-19 pandemic. Scientific consensus said the disease was zoonotic, meaning it spread from animals to humans. As once-vibrant city centres lay dormant, their inhabitants trapped in their homes during extended lockdowns, expert after expert warned that animal exploitation led to this outbreak – and that without changes to the way humans treat animals, this could be just the beginning. Doctors, scientists, and other experts said we must change our global food system: or face the consequences.

Farmers dump milk as COVID hits dairy sector hard

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As the COVID lockdown forced restaurants and cafes up and down the U.K to shut, dairy farmers found themselves with a surplus of product on their hands. With people working from home, and commuters forgoing their daily flat white, there was simply more milk being produced than the country could drink, leading to farmers threatening the breakdown of the industry, begging for government handouts, and sharing photos of themselves pouring gallons of dairy down the drain.

The fight for dietary justice reaches new heights

Credit: PCRM

In 2020, dietary justice advocates stepped-up the fight to ditch dairy from the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The guide is compiled by a committee of nutrition and medical researchers, academics, and practitioners, acting on the advice of evidence presented at hearings. In an eloquent and moving speech in 2019, top physician Dr. Milton Mills pointed out the panel’s lack of diversity. He then implored members to acknowledge that dairy consumption harms people of color. POC suffer from lactose intolerance in huge numbers, far greater than white people. Despite this, dietary guidelines tell them to ingest a product that will make them ill. Advocates have battled this recommendation this year, urging officials to respond to the health needs of all races, rather than dairy industry propaganda.

Fashion giants start listening to their vegan fans

Credit: Adidas

2020 saw fashion giants start to catch-up to their foodie counterparts, and start offering vegan consumers the mainstream goods they’d been crying out for. Sportswear brand Adidas led the charge. It launched an animal-free line of some of its most iconic shoes, including the Superstar and Continental. Higher-end brands continued to drop controversial materials, with British institution Mulberry pledging to drop exotic skins. The biggest breakthrough followed a major undercover expose. Vegan charity PETA released footage of animal suffering within the alpaca industry. This lead to fashion stalwarts like Marks & Spencer, Ted Baker, Next, and many more vowing to ditch the material.

Joaquin Phoenix takes vegan message to the next level at the Oscars

Credit: Reuters/Toby Melville

Actors often use award ceremonies to promote their advocacy effects. Joaquin Phoenix created history at the 2020 Oscars ceremony with his breakthrough vegan speech. As he picked up the Best Actor gong for his performance in Joker, Phoenix spoke in detail about the horrors of the dairy industry. He pioneered using a platform of this scale to detail the dark side of how dairy takes babies from their mothers. His speech divided opinion, but it started a crucial conversation. Furthermore, Phoenix reached a new audience with his powerful message.

The unexpected benefits of lockdown

Credit: NASA

While the enforced lockdown caused myriad problems for people and businesses, there was one beneficiary: the environment. While the benefits have been touted by many as short term, there were some positive impacts. These included air quality improvements, reduced greenhouse gas emissions, and lower noise pollution. These changes were limited in what they achieved. However, some commentators said this was an important lesson: we learned what could be achieved in a short time period. Lockdown showed we could achieve cleaner air, fewer carbon emissions, and create more hospitable environments for wildlife.

New meat technologies emerge

Credit: Redefine Meat

With supermarkets selling out of many foods at the beginning of the pandemic, and numerous people becoming more conscious of the dangers of meat production, polling in 2020 showed that an increasing number of people were ditching meat and trying plant-based alternatives. Established companies like Impossible Foods among others saw retail sales increase, even as their hospitality sales dipped. As these products grew more popular, technology within the sector was becoming increasingly sophisticated. One Israeli company pledged to have 3D-printed steaks on tables before the end of the year. The tech had finally reached a milestone, Redefine Meat said. It could now replicate taste and texture in realistic new ways.

Vegan butcher takes ailing high street by storm

Credit: Rudy’s Vegan Butcher Credit: Rudy's Vegan Butcher

COVID’s devastating impact on the economy forced businesses up and down high streets to close. But one new shop signalled hope. Rudy’s Vegan Butcher, the U.K’s first permanent butcher, opened on World Vegan Day. Offering a range of plant-based meats like pastrami and lobster, queues formed down the street before its doors even opened. The shop was so busy, products sold out, and staff had to work through the night to meet demand. This highlighted the shift in our cultural vision of meat. The store made headlines in its native U.K, as well as the U.S.

Vegan 2020 documentary

PBN usually hosts sellout premieres for the film. In 2018 and 2019, the movies premiered globally in cities including London, Los Angeles, and Beijing. Ticket sales from these events made up a significant source of funding for the films.

Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, this year PBN will be unable to host these events. Instead, it is crowdfunding to raise the production costs, which have been budgeted at £15,000.

It is offering investors a range of benefits. These include PBN hoodies, to executive producer credits, and personalized thank-you videos from the entire PBN team.

If you are interested in investing in the film, you can find more information herePlease feel free to share this link with friends and family who would be interested

Vegan 2020 is kindly sponsored by abillionveg – an awesome app that helps you find the best vegan food and products near you.

Maria Chiorando

Maria is the editor of Plant Based News. As a former magazine editor, newspaper reporter, and features writer, her work has been published by The Guardian, The Huffington Post, and various regional newspapers, as well as Vegan Life magazine and Vegan Trade Journal. She has interviewed a huge range of people, from Prime Ministers to authors, activists, pop stars and actors, and enjoys the varied range of topics writing for PBN allows her to tackle.