Plantd Sustainability Editor
People often ask how to start making conscious lifestyle changes. There is only one undeniable answer, and that is to always start with education. Educate yourself in order to clarify why you have decided to make a lifestyle transition to a more ethical and healthy lifestyle for animals, for humans and for the planet. We have noticed two main factors that seem to plant the seed for someone to make the transition. It often starts with a friend, a peer, or a role-model who has embraced, and is thriving on this lifestyle. This inadvertently empowers others to question their habits and can offer a gentle invitation to join the movement. The other is the education piece, which usually starts and ends with documentaries. Although they can be emotive and at times, distressing to watch, ignorance is not bliss at the personal expense of being unaware or disempowered to make educated, personal decisions.
For our particularly empathic friends, it’s likely that you can obtain the facts and essence through mindfully deciding which documentaries you choose to expose yourself to, without the pressure to watch them all. We have compiled a summary of five popular documentaries that have opened our eyes to the unsustainable issues that are starting to gain momentum and surface into mainstream awareness. Whilst reading books and online resources are both excellent means to educate yourself, documentaries tend to provide immense education and value in a short period of time. The documentaries tend to focus on one of the three pillars, including plant-based health, the environment, and animal ethics, depending on the the focus of the documentary, with some integration of all three, as they are not necessarily mutually exclusive issues.
Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret (2014)
Cowspiracy is a popular crowdfunded documentary that focuses on the devastating environmental impact of animal agriculture – suggested to be the primary driver of climate change – as the industry creates more greenhouse gas emissions than other detrimental industries, such as the entire transportation industry. On top of the emissions, factory farming also unethically drives deforestation, pollution, excessive water waste, ocean “dead zones” and species extinction. I don’t know about you, but we very faintly remember hearing of climate change many years ago, when the media was entirely blaming transportation, as the powerful companies swept the issue of animal agriculture under the rug. Even if carnivore’s choose not to transition to an entire plant-based or vegan diet, which we do not judge, education on this issue is still essential as they can purchase meat in less excess, and with greater awareness by ensuring that they are buying from the most sustainable sources, which starts with consuming only organic, grass-fed animals who are not factory farmed at the very least. They may also consider that beef, particularly when the cows are grain-fed, is the most unsustainable source of meat when making individual consumption decisions. These lifestyle changes will reduce, and hopefully remove unethical and unsustainable factory farming, which will make a large impact on the environment.
What The Health (2017)
The creators of Cowspiracy, Kip Andersen and Keegan Kuhn, went on to switch their focus to the detrimental health effects of eating meat, backed by solid evidence. The film follows filmmaker, Kip Andersen, as he reveals the golden secret to reverse chronic diseases – facts that again, have been withheld from the public by national health organisations. This film uncovers what they describe as “the largest health cover-up of our time” revealing that leading preventable diseases causing premature deaths, such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer, are maintained and increased by consuming by animal products. Very brave and noble experts who have spoken out at their own personal risk to people much powerful than they are, including medical doctors, researchers and advocates, come together in this film to expose the corruption that has kept this information from the public for so long. This starts with wealthy businesses, big pharma, and agriculture businesses who manipulate and control trusted American health nonprofits and government bodies to conceal such realities. The system has been designed to ensure that some stay rich, costing taxpayers trillions in healthcare costs, and sadly, ensuring that we stay sick. This documentary promises to do one thing; to encourage you to take your health back into your own hands by adopting a primarily plant-based diet.
Forks Over Knives (2011)
We had the pleasure of having a delicious plant-based lunch with Brian Wendel recently, the producer of Forks Over Knives, who informed us that despite our guess that the knife is in the logo for ethical reasons, it is in fact, a symbol of cardiac surgery. This was an aha-moment, apparently one that many people have. Well before this was commonly accepted knowledge, this film revealed the profound claim that “most, if not all, of the chronic diseases that afflict us can be controlled or even reversed by rejecting animal-based and processed foods”. The filmmakers follow the journey and research of game-changing doctors, Dr. T. Colin Campbell, a nutritional biochemist from Cornell University, and Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, a former top surgeon at the world-renowned Cleveland Clinic. Their clinical research and experience led them to make the same conclusion, despite little to no other research attention at the time, informing that common chronic diseases including heart disease and type 2 diabetes can almost always be prevented, and in many cases reversed, by adopting a whole-food, plant-based diet.
Ice on Fire (2019)
Narrated and co-produced by Oscar-winner Leonardo DiCaprio, arguably the most famous environmental activist of our time, Ice on Fire opens our eyes to the urgency of addressing the climate and environmental crises. Focusing on practical and systemic solutions to slow down climate change, this film is inherently optimistic in providing hope that we still have a chance to avoid the catastrophic effects of global warming. However, in the voice of DiCaprio, the clock is ticking. As DiCaprio, alongside director Leila Conners, documented the problem of climate change in The 11th Hour (2007), Ice on Fire instead focusses on the cutting-edge research behind today’s climate science, such as innovations aimed to remove carbon that is in excess in the atmosphere and ocean. This is also known as the “drawdown” method, which is likely the only way that we can imminently and realistically slow down global temperature rises at present. With cinematography covering incredible sights around the world, it documents insights from people who are on the forefront of the climate crisis. This film communicated the risks and urgency that we can no longer turn a blind eye to, yet also offers a realistic and hopeful perspective due to the innovative solutions that continue to proliferate with technology advancements.
Our main takeaway from this recent film was that we must take individual responsibility for what we can, which is why we choose to eat plant-based and to purchase carbon credits for our personal and company impact, whilst supporting nonprofit organisations politically, socially and financially as much as we can. If you are not financially able, you can too provide political and social validation.
An Inconvenient Truth (2006) & An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power (2017)
An Inconvenient Truth, the original film paired the more recent sequel created by notable Vice President and leading expert in climate change, Al Gore, landed him a Nobel Peace Prize for “informing the world of the dangers posed by climate change”. This film is a call to take responsibility for the role of humankind in the destruction of our beautiful and only planet, with groundbreaking education on what we can do immediately. Integrating cutting-edge research from leading scientists around the world, portraying a compelling story with images, personal stories, it also documents observations of the rapidly accelerating issue of global warming. Although there are still naysayers and deniers out there, this documentary informs that there is no time to question the reality of climate change, and to instead make necessary changes immediately. The scary reality is that the global warming figures have steadily surpassed predictions that were made ten years ago, with estimates accurately predicting that rising sea levels and global warming would result in the World Trade Centre memorial affected, which has been observed. We do not need any more evidence to be convinced that we are in crisis, and we suggest that we do not wait for more catastrophic evidence to emerge prior to making changes now. Similar to Ice on Fire, his work offers realistic and actionable steps to help to reverse the damage while we still have time.
We would love to hear from you – please share with us your favorites, your lessons, your lifestyle changes and how you choose to take responsibility. Although plant-based eating is gaining momentum socially, caring and advocating for the environment and the climate crisis does not always win you friends, thus it can be a lonely and challenging path to feel as though you are making a positive impact on a very broad and major issue. Please know that if you are reading this, you are part of the Plantd community, and we are more powerful together!