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Warning: These Movies Could Change Your Life

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The following article was written by guest writer Sean Collander.

I love movies. I have always been innately drawn to them and even minored in cinema studies in college. I’m intrigued by everything from the storylines to the camera angles and movements. So when I went vegan, I naturally sought out movies that dealt with the food industry and cruelty to animals. Below, I’ve compiled a list of some of my favorites that I think everyone (vegan or otherwise) should watch. All these films are available through Netflix, Hulu, HBO, or Amazon:

The Beautiful Truth (DVD available to rent on Netflix)

This documentary takes a fascinating look at a man who goes on a cross-country journey to learn about Gerson Therapy, a plant-based therapy that proposes a dietary cure for cancer.

Blackfish (available to stream on Netflix)

This groundbreaking documentary tells the story of Tilikum, a captive orca at SeaWorld, and provides an in-depth look at marine-animal parks. The film resulted in a backlash against SeaWorld, which continues today.

Change Your Food, Change Your Life (DVD available to rent on Netflix)

Nutrition expert Jill Ovnik explains the benefits of a plant-based diet, including a reduced risk of developing cancer, diabetes, and other diseases as well as an increase in energy and weight loss.

The Cove (DVD available to rent on Netflix)

This powerful documentary turns a critical eye on dolphin-hunting traditions in Japan.

Crazy Sexy Cancer (DVD available to rent on Netflix)

This documentary tells the moving story of a 31-year-old woman who finds out that she has an incurable form of cancer and goes on a quest to discover alternative treatments, meeting and talking to other cancer patients and survivors along the way.

The Elephant in the Living Room (available to stream on Amazon)

This is a fascinating documentary about a subculture of Americans who keep exotic animals captive and the law-enforcement authorities who deal with these cases.

Fast Food Nation (DVD available to rent on Netflix)

Taking a critical view of the fast-food industry, this award-winning movie examines everything that goes into making a hamburger—including the fecal matter, marketing schemes, cruelty to animals on factory farms, and treatment of their employees—all to the fast-food lover’s dismay.

Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead (available to stream on Netflix and Hulu)

This inspirational documentary starts with a road trip across the United States to spread the word about juicing and then turns to focus on an overweight truck driver and his subsequent journey to lose weight by drinking plant-based juices.

Fed Up (available to stream on Netflix)

This documentary explains that at the rate at which the U.S. is currently eating, one out of every three Americans will have diabetes by 2050. It focuses on the obesity epidemic in the U.S. and the negative effects of fast food and sugar.

Food, Inc. (DVD available to rent on Netflix)

If you’ve ever wondered what’s in your food or how it’s made, this documentary is for you. Scratch that—this movie is for everyone, because we all eat food! You’ll learn why corn finds its way into even the most unlikely foods, about the cruel practice of fattening chickens with hormones to speed their growth, and how current laws exonerate corporations and companies, such as factory farms, from being held accountable for their methods of production.

Food Matters (DVD available to rent on Netflix)

One quotation succinctly describes the contents of this film: “One-quarter of what you eat keeps you alive, and three-quarters of what you eat keeps your doctor alive.” This documentary explores the food industry, from GMOs to pesticides, in an attempt to discover what’s causing us to get sick.

Forks Over Knives (available to stream on Netflix)

This documentary compares the Western diet with that of other countries, which have lower rates of cancer and heart disease. It challenges authorities who seem to be ignoring the link between meat and dairy consumption and disease in order to protect the status quo in the U.S. and touts the benefits of plant-based foods. Also check out Forks Over Knives—The Extended Interviews.

Forks Over Knives Presents: The Engine 2 Kitchen Rescue (DVD available to rent on Netflix)

The Ghosts in Our Machine (available to stream on Netflix)

The subject of this award-winning documentary is photographer Jo-Anne McArthur, whose photographs challenge our view of animals as food and clothing as well as animal-tested goods and animal entertainment. It may be a wake-up call for the viewer, who might be seeing animals as individuals rather than objects for the first time.

I Am an Animal (DVD available to rent on Netflix, and to stream through HBO)

Meet Ingrid Newkirk, the woman who cofounded PETA. Find out what makes her tick, see how far she’s willing to go to help animals, hear what her detractors say, and meet some of the animals who’ve benefited from her work. Watch the trailer here.

May I Be Frank (available to stream on Hulu)

This documentary tells the moving story of an unhealthy and overweight middle-aged man who visits vegan restaurant Café Gratitude in Berkeley, California, and discovers that a plant-based diet can help him feel and look better. With the assistance of Café Gratitude employees, he undergoes a life-changing transformation that you don’t want to miss.

Meat the Truth (available to stream or order here)

This documentary explains the toll that the meat industry is taking on the planet’s environment.

Paul McCartney & Friends: The PETA Concert for Party Animals (DVD available to rent on Netflix)

If you’re looking for some entertainment in the name of animals, watch this concert that Paul McCartney played for PETA. It’s pretty great—he is a Beatle after all.

Super Size Me (DVD available to rent on Netflix)

This documentary tells the tale of a man who subsists entirely on McDonald’s food for one month and all the disturbing effects that his experiment has on his body and mind.

Vegan Cooking for Animal Lovers (DVD available to rent on Netflix)

In this cooking show, chef Kerry Weber makes vegan recipes that are absolutely, undeniably delicious.

Vegucated (DVD available to rent on Netflix)

Vegucated follows three people who go vegan for six weeks as an experiment. In the process, they discover the truth behind the meat they so recently enjoyed, including the cruelty to animals and environmental destruction that it causes. The effects are powerful, and they’re forced to re-evaluate their life and diet.

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  • bunnyrabbit says:

    earthlings is a life changer! most graohic by far

  • Professional Bagpiper Savannah says:

    I came to be vegetarian after getting to know people in the meat packing industry and the final straw was Earthlings. I thought how can I be a cat mom yet still eat animals?

  • Chai'na says:

    Earthlings can be extremely hard to watch but so can many other things re: how animals are treated in, not just the US, but around the world.
    I pretty much thought I had seen/heard of all types of abuse, but since the advent of the internet I am totally ashamed to be a ‘human’…..Going vegan is great but there is so much more to preventing animals from the abuse they suffer every second of every day, yr in and yr out.
    I can only do what I can….I do TRN and I’m vegan…but that is not nearly enough. The numbers of animals that are murdered in shelters EVERY day is astounding just because they don’t have homes.
    There should be a totally outcry and outrage from EVERYONE is non human beings will start getting the treatment and dignity that they deserve.

  • opium says:

    I came here expecting to find some good films or docu’s featuring animals, not just films detailing human cruelty to them. Pretty hilarious for an article titled “animal lovers night in”…

  • donnamartin12 says:

    I just watched EARTHLINGS last night. I thought I knew everything that went on with animal cruelty. I was appalled at how ignorant I still was. I wanted to abandon society as I know it immediately. However, the need to make people aware is much stronger and obviously desperately needed. People need to stop turning their heads and realize what they are supporting in our economy.

  • Brianna says:

    I loved Food Inc.!! That is one of my favorite documentary’s!!!

  • Cristina says:

    to Steve Bryan: planet of the apes (2001 version) does that to some degree….

  • Katrelya Angus says:

    I recommend The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. From Mary Poppins to the Lord of the Rings trilogy, I have never seen a movie as faithful to the original book as The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. While C.S. Lewis did write fur coats into the story – we must remember that, in his day, there was no good imitation fur – I find this tale an excellent treatise against canned hunting. The hero Aslan an adult male lion (Liam Neeson) dies in the cruelest of all canned hunts at the hands of the evil princess Jadis (Tilda Swinton) – Swinton and Neeson show the complete evil of hunting for sport, particularly canned hunting, and audience members have been known to cry during that scene – but cheer wildly at Aslan’s triumphant resurrection!

  • Elisa says:

    Don’t forget Two Brothers (2004)!

  • Holly says:

    I have never seen “earthlings” before but I just watched the trailer and I really wish that every person involved with animal cruelty on any level should be made to watch “Earthlings” with out being able to look away or close their eyes, while they sit in prison for the rest of their lives!

  • neverlast says:

    So glad to see Earthlings recommended here. It is by far the most important documentary showing the plight of our fellow species. People should HAVE to watch this. It’s a life changer.

  • Molly says:

    I LOVE Chicken Run! And I’ve always thought of it as kinda’ strange since it’s a family movie but animals are killed in it. :)

  • Kristina says:

    Foodmatters is a really good one too. Talks about going RAW. : )

  • Elise says:

    Anyone with comments on the movie K-Pax?
    I think most may have missed the message completely!

  • Steve Bryan says:

    Someone should write a script about aliens descending on Earth and treating humans the way we treat animals (to be exploited for profit no matter the unspeakable cruelty). They can call it the “The Harvesters”. Might wake up a few folks.

  • Rai Cruz says:

    Plauge dogs is a heartbreaking although great story about two dogs who try to escape from a labrotory

  • Rebecca says:

    I absolutely love Babe and so does my 2 year old daughter.

  • theimpaler says:

    to jan1…you are so right..Animal Farm does say it all!

  • crystal says:

    Its about time there making true movies that would scare the heck out of people and to let everyone know whats going on with animals and our food . i bet the FDA and going to like it when people really know what gose on behind doors. cant wait

  • Amy says:

    I’ve been a vegan for 10 months, 2 years Vegetarian(thanks to Skinny Bitch)We tried to watch Earthlings but it was so hard. I am vegan for life, Do I still need to watch it?

  • Jess says:

    Thanks for these sugggestions and also for those who made suggestions in the comments! I will try to check these out. I have already seen Babe before.. good movie. I’ve seen Food Inc. in highschool and it was very very informative.

  • Larry says:

    I wonder if GOD will forgive mankind for the horrible things we do to his animal children. When you stand before the Lord and he asks you “What have you done to protect my animal children?” What will you be able to tell him?

  • Ben says:

    I am actually very surprised that Year of The Dog is not in the five listed… it resonates perfectly with anyone who is unable to stand idly by while animals suffer, even if it means some suffering for themselves. It is both funny and touching and surprisingly good.

  • Holland VanDieren says:

    Turtle Diary — too often forgotten, yet wonderful!

  • mariskatee says:

    i LOVEEEEEE food inc.

  • Katrelya Angus says:

    The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe shows the evils of canned hunting at its most tragic as Aslan the Lion (Liam Neeson) dies point-blank at the hands of evil princess Jadis (Tilda Swinton). This story inspired me to become an animal-rights activist in the first place, as author C.S. Lewis went on to write powerful essays and stories against vivisection. One word of warning: due to the time in which the story was written, the archaic use of fur is in the story – the Kings and Queens of Narnia first appear in fur coats, which are eventually shed. Had Lewis been writing today, the fur would have undoubtedly been imitation!

  • Roy Rendahl says:

    Please check out the indie film, “Bold Native.” Synopsis: “Bold Native is a fiction feature film. Charlie Cranehill, an animal liberator wanted by the U.S. government for domestic terrorism, emerges from the underground to coordinate a nationwide action as his estranged CEO father tries to find him before the FBI does. The film simultaneously follows a young woman who works for an animal welfare organization fighting within the system to establish more humane treatment of farmed animals. The film weaves an intricate tale of one of the most important issues facing America and the world morally and ecologically — the impact and consequences of industrialized animal use. Bold Native takes on the issue of modern animal use and exploitation from several angles within the context of a road movie adventure story.” http://boldnative.com/ http://www.facebook.com/pages/Bold-Native/162792945925?sk=wall

  • jan1 says:

    Do not know if anyone has read “Animal Farm” that says it all!

  • Katrelya Angus says:

    The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe! While there is fur, due to C.S. Lewis having lived in a time in which, sadly, there was no imitation fur, I still consider Lewis one of the greatest animal rights activists of all times. Canned hunting is shown at its most tragic as Aslan the Lion dies in a canned hunt – only to resurrect and eat his huntress for Easter Sunday brunch!

  • roxie says:

    I think Rio should be added too…it shows how he was taken from the wild and when he goes back to Brazil and gets trapped, it shows all these birds in small cages and some have clearly gone insane. My heart broke when I saw that part.

  • Phadief says:

    I forgot, The Secret of N.I.M.H., a good family movie.

  • Phadief says:

    Charlotte’s Web.
    Rise of the Planet Of The Apes.
    The Bee Movie.
    Super Size Me.

  • Zach says:

    I’ve seen them all! They are great movies…other then chicken run. That was stupid. The other ones are very powerful movies that are amazing!!

  • atul jain says:

    well, i must watch these movies/ documentaries for further knowledge!
    i feel ‘finding nemo’ can also be added to the list!! after all, fishes are beautiful and humble creatures.

  • 4mula1 says:

    also missing is. free the animals, a history of the alf.

  • Denise Smith says:

    “An animal lovers’ night-in with netflix” is the title of the preceding article. While I agree, EARTHLINGS is a must-see, I would
    never recommend it in a venue that sounds more like an invitation to settle in with popcorn and the kids, for a “family night”.
    This movie broke my heart, and irrevocably changed me. I still, months later, am kept awake at night by it’s horrific images. I’m just saying, whenever I recommend this movie, and I often do, it’s with great reverence, and acknowledgment, of the pain the viewer will experience.

  • Hope says:

    I am never, ever, ever, ever watching Earthlings. I wouldn’t be able to handle it. It’s just full blown animal torture through the whole movie; yes to expose cruelty of course, but still I would never be in the right state of mind to watch it. Powerful film though, they should play it during Street TV lol

  • Hope says:

    Babe ftw! Once kids know they are eating a sweet, smart little pig when their parents feed them hot dogs or bacon…well you know.

  • Heidi says:

    Fast Food Nation, a fictional movie, based on the book of the same name. Greg Kinnear is in it. Addresses animal cruelty in regard to slaughterhouses, but also shows the plight of the workers, especially immigrants that work, in the slaughterhouses.

  • denise says:

    Charlotte’s Web is a good conversation starter for kids to find out where meat comes from. Any movie that makes a farm animal a protagonist has my vote.

  • jowashburn says:

    Babe is another good one.

  • ska213 says:

    All The Little Animals (1999)

  • Myland says:

    So many other good movies! Must sees: King Corn; Fat, Sick and Dying; also all must read The Cure and Skinny Bitch! I have been vegan for a month now and never felt better. I think it WILL change my life in so many ways….now to convince the family!

  • Jess says:

    I would add Happy Feet to that list. The scenes where he is in captivity and starting to go insane and hallucinate were heartbreaking. It speaks a lot to the cruelty of keeping animals that should be living in the wild confined in zoos and aquariums.

  • Taylor K says:

    Free Willy is missing! Great view on whale suffering in Sea World

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