Cowspiracy Is The ‘Most Effective’ Vegan Documentary, Poll Finds

Documentaries are key to educating and informing people on veganism


5 Minutes Read

Poster for Cowspiracy, which has been named the most effective vegan documentary in a recent study Cowspiracy is the most effective vegan documentary, according to a new survey - Media Credit: Cowspiracy/Netflix

A new survey has revealed the most effective vegan documentaries for encouraging people new to veganism.

Based on a global survey by vegan dating app Veggly, Cowspiracy remains the most effective documentary. Other classics like Earthlings, What The Health, and The Game Changers also made the list.

The study revealed too that respondents think documentaries are the most effective way to encourage new vegans.

Alex Felipelli, Founder of Veggly, told Plant Based News (PBN): “The votes prove that all of these documentaries helped lots of vegans make the transition.”

Vegans rank Cowspiracy “most effective” documentary

Cowspiracy tops the list as the most effective documentary to show to new vegans, with more than one in five respondents choosing it.

The feature-length environmental documentary follows filmmaker Kip Andersen as he discovers the impacts of animal agriculture industry on the planet – and the extreme lengths that meat lobbyists go to stop people finding out about them. Originally released in 2014, the hard-hitting investigative film put the “sustainability secret” into the spotlight and opened many people’s eyes to the impacts of animal agriculture.

Vegan doumentary Cowspiracy spoke to environmental organizations
Everett Collection Inc / Alamy Stock Photo Vegan doumentary Cowspiracy shone a light on the “sustainability secret” of animal agriculture

A decade later, its message remains as relevant. Despite an even larger body of scientific evidence, government-backed advertising campaigns still try to play down the harms of meat, fish and dairy. Scientists are pleading with governments to act on evidence rather than the interests of big corporations. All the while, the meat industry continues to confuse consumers will deliberately misleading stats.

Follow ups to Cowspiracy, including What The Health and Seaspiracy also feature on the list of most effective documentaries. Additionally, the upcoming spirituality-themed documentary, Christspiracy, is already creating a buzz. “We’ll be keeping a close eye on the impact of new documentaries, and on Christspiracy, which is due to come out later this year,” said Felipelli. “That will ruffle a lot of feathers!”

Catering to every angle

If Cowspiracy brought environmental knowledge of veganism into the mainstream, The Game Changers could be said to have done the same for health and fitness. Starring James Wilks as its charismatic centerpiece, the 2018 documentary looks at the sporting prowess of vegan athletes around the globe. It also busts anti-vegan myths around male sexual performance and protein intake.

In the survey, more than one in 10 respondents ranked The Game Changers as the most effective vegan documentary. Other health-focussed films such as What The Health (12.3 percent) and Forks Over Knives (5.3 percent) also made the list. You Are What You Eat, a new Netflix documentary tracking the health of identical twins, seems likely to be another game changer.

“There are many great reasons to go vegan,” Felipelli added. “For the animals, for the planet, for other people and food resources, for health, and for your wallet. So understanding the key motivations and most attractive arguments, based on these documentaries, is highly useful for sharing the vegan message more widely around the world.”

A screen onto the hidden truth

Vegan activism using footage from Dominion, a vegan documentary
Paul Quayle / Alamy Stock Photo Animal activists often use footage from vegan documentaries

Meat industry propaganda relies on lies and misconceptions. Bucolic imagery of happy cows mask what really happens on farms and in slaughterhouses. One documentary that shook up that comfortable ignorance was Earthlings.

Combining the environmental and ethical reasons for veganism, Earthlings (17.6 percent) was the second most popular vegan documentary voted by vegans, behind only Cowspiracy. Narrated by Joaquin Phoenix, the 2005 feature-length film explores the many ways humans exploit animals. From food and pets to clothing, science, and entertainment, it addresses many key talking points for vegan educators.

Similarly, Dominion is a jolt in the arm for people who prefer not to know the reality of where their food comes from. Freely available to watch online, Dominion shows the horrifying realities of slaughter. Directed by Chris Delforce, the documentary was filmed using hidden cameras and drone footage. Animal activists frequently use clips from Dominion to educate people about the hidden truth happening behind slaughterhouse walls.

While it is uncomfortable to watch, Dominion has helped many people empathize with animals as a suffering individual, not just a number. Last year, film fans in Sweden unknowingly turned up to a cinema to watch Dominion at a secret Halloween film screening. Some 8.7 percent of respondents ranked Dominion as the most effective vegan documentary.

Documentaries are a great tool for veganism

The data also highlight how documentaries are crucial in helping to spread the vegan message. Watching vegan documentaries (50.9 percent) topped the list of best methods for encouraging new vegans, ahead of books and articles (20.3 percent), talking to friends (17.1 percent) and family (11.1 percent), and public speakers (10.7 percent).

Felipelli told PBN: “Whether these documentaries have helped you go vegan, motivated a new vegan to carry on their journey, or sparked meaningful conversations with friends about veganism – all of this makes a difference.”

The most effective vegan documentaries:

  • Cowspiracy 21.8%
  • Earthlings 17.6%
  • What The Health 12.3%
  • The Game Changers 10.1%
  • Other 9.0%
  • Dominion 8.7%
  • Forks Over Knives 5.3%
  • Seaspiracy 4.8%
  • Eating Animals 4.8%
  • Live & Let Live 2.6%
  • Before The Flood 1.8% 
  • Glass Walls 1.1%

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