If somebody went vegan within the late 1980s or 1990s, there’s an excellent probability they have been impressed by the primary guide from my dad (and now colleague), John Robbins — Diet for a New America. If they made the shift between 2005 and 2011, the almost certainly affect they’ll identify is T. Colin Campbell’s The China Study. When I ask individuals now why they first determined to attempt a plant-based food plan, lots of them identify the documentary Forks Over Knives. And since that groundbreaking film debuted in May 2011, a number of different high-profile plant-based meals documentaries have continued to unfold the message.

They’re having an affect, too. Recent polls counsel whopping 40% of Americans now make an effort to eat extra plant-based. And because the explosion of curiosity in plant-based meats and milks demonstrates, that is having a big affect on the marketplace. These documentaries have impressed tens of hundreds of thousands of individuals and are beginning to shift the course of meals tradition even amongst individuals who haven’t seen or heard of them.

The New Accessibility of Plant-Based Food Documentaries

Streaming companies like Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu make it extraordinarily straightforward to observe all method of movies. Since subscribers pay per 30 days, it feels prefer it’s free to observe a selected movie. Viewers don’t have to attend till a movie involves a theater close to them or buy the DVD or Blu-Ray. And the extra in style a documentary will get, the extra it will get highlighted by the streaming service’s search algorithm, so subscribers begin getting launched to gadgets they won’t have thought to seek for.

Since you possibly can watch meals documentaries on-line, it’s straightforward to share them through viewing events with family and friends. Add some meals, or directions for plant-based potluck dishes, and also you’ve received a celebration, leisure, training, and demonstration multi functional.

Often, plant-based and environmental organizations and meetup teams host screenings in a personal residence, convention room, ballroom, or auditorium. This is an opportunity for neighborhood members to ask their buddies and grow to be a part of a gaggle exhibiting a “new normal” habits. In a world the place wholesome and vegan consuming remains to be outdoors the mainstream, this will make them appear much less bizarre and extra approachable.

And since documentaries could be so efficient in opening individuals’s minds to new prospects, there’s a ton of on-line buzz about them. Blogs, articles, podcasts, and social media feeds tout the documentaries, flip their key messages into visually arresting memes, and supply straightforward hyperlinks to observe.

A Food Documentary Close to My Heart: Diet for a New America

Diet for A New America logo

What makes a documentary into an efficient media of change?

For one factor, an excellent documentary isn’t simply an animated lecture about info. It follows the foundations of excellent storytelling, introducing compelling characters, humor, pathos, battle, and excessive stakes. My dad’s record-breaking PBS documentary (it set the PBS report for many pre-airing VHS gross sales, which was an enormous deal again in 1991), Diet for a New America, doesn’t begin with statistics about meat consumption and coronary heart illness. Instead, the primary a number of minutes share my dad’s story of strolling away from the Baskin-Robbins ice cream fortune to comply with his conscience. The info about the usual American food plan are launched as a sequence of discoveries, virtually like a thriller, as he grapples with the legacy of his personal childhood sicknesses and his quest to heal himself.

The specialists, like Michael Klaper, MD (and should you’re accustomed to him now, simply wait till you see him as a younger man!), are launched as guides, mentors, and helpers alongside the course of my dad’s journey to understanding. Rather than claiming the place of “Expert You Should Listen To,” my dad acts as a proxy for the viewers, humbly taking us alongside.

Documentaries seize our consideration as a result of we need to know what occurs subsequent — identical to an excellent novel or fictional Hollywood film. In Diet for a New America, the part on osteoporosis begins with an interview with a lady who was simply recognized and is frightened as a result of she remains to be younger and fears “disintegrating.” Now, the info and particulars of the dietary causes of this illness aren’t simply numbers and medical jargon; they’ve a human face. And that face belongs to somebody the viewers instantly cares about.

How Plant-Based Documentaries Have Become So Influential

Documentaries additionally affect and persuade by tugging on feelings in addition to interesting to purpose. One method they do that is via using music. Music can paint a scene with a selected temper, in addition to heighten the feelings viewer would naturally really feel. The sluggish piano notes that accompany photos of penned-in cows in Diet for a New America create an empathic bond with the animals. This scene precedes a montage of mistreatment lower with scenes of cooks speaking about how scrumptious cow components are. The juxtaposition makes a strong assertion, one made much more poignant due to our emotional attachment to the cows.

The characters in documentaries are additionally typically aspirational. We develop to love them and wish to be like them. Or, in some circumstances, the documentaries function celebrities with whom we already really feel an affinity for. Both Forks Over Knives and The Game Changers highlight well-known and extremely completed individuals who have benefited from the plant-based life-style, together with actors, Olympians, and scrappy underdogs.

The Power of the Plant-Based Message

people planting vegetables in greenhouse

Of course, one of many cornerstones to a galvanizing and even world-changing documentary is a message that’s contemporary, edgy, and credible. It doesn’t damage that the explanations to go plant-based are so compelling. They have been already compelling in 1987 when Diet for a New America was printed, they usually’ve solely grow to be extra compelling since then. Science has produced overwhelming proof for the well being advantages of a whole-foods, plant-based food plan. Eating extra crops and fewer animal merchandise is without doubt one of the strongest methods people can personally deal with the worsening local weather disaster. The animal welfare motion has enlisted high Hollywood celebrities to publicize and protest the routine observe of animal cruelty on manufacturing unit farms.

For many shoppers, the time period “plant-based” describes their dietary preferences with out the ideological baggage that many individuals affiliate with “vegan” or “vegetarian.” And with the appearance of plant-based meat and dairy analogs which are almost indistinguishable from and infrequently even higher tasting than the originals, an increasing number of individuals choose to go meatless when potential.

A whole lot of the resistance to plant-based consuming that was rooted in a concern of “skinny, weak vegetarians” — consider Arnold Schwartzeneger’s well-known put-down of Sylvester Stallone in Escape Plan, “You hit like a vegetarian” — has withered in response to the avalanche of high athletes crediting their plant-based food plan with giving them a aggressive benefit. It didn’t damage that Schwartzeneger himself was featured in The Game Changers, telling muscle males that they’d been misled by advertising and weren’t doing themselves any favors on a meat-heavy food plan.

So, let’s have a look at Food Revolution Network’s high 10 meals documentaries that advocate for a plant-based or vegan food plan. Many can be found from a number of of the large streaming companies, some are viewable without cost streamed proper on this web page, whereas others can be found on DVD and Blu-Ray, or by requesting a screening instantly from the producer.

And now, with out additional ado… the highest ten (in no particular order)!

10 of the Best Plant-Based Food Documentaries

Forks Over Knives

Forks Over Knives graphic
CC BY 2.zero, flickr.com/mincygabaya

One of the most-watched documentaries of all time (not simply plant-based, however on any subject), Forks Over Knives presents the groundbreaking analysis of T. Colin Campbell, PhD, and the scientific software of that analysis by Caldwell Esselstyn, MD. The story of the movie is easy: we’re sick and getting sicker, and there’s one thing every of us can do about it.

From coronary heart illness to erectile dysfunction to most cancers, the director/narrator, Lee Fulkerson takes us on a journey consisting of 1 stunning discovery after one other. Using the “reality show” body of displaying us the consequences of switching to a nutritious diet in the middle of a brief time period, Fulkerson and the opposite ‘patients’ featured within the movie, present how highly effective a plant-based food plan could be to reverse power illness. And the ultimate shot of a household dinner between the Esselstyn’s and Campbell’s highlights how scrumptious and accessible this fashion of consuming could be.

What the Health?

What the Health logo
CC BY-SA three.zero, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:What_the_Health_logo.png

What the Health is Forks Over Knives with the (very vegan) knives out. The controversial movie makes lots of the similar arguments whereas shining a light-weight on the conflicts of curiosity that hold the medical institution, pharmaceutical trade, and media from telling us the reality about how the usual American food plan is killing us.

The Need to Grow

The Need to Grow film

I used to be honored to take part within the manufacturing of this movie, which examines the commercial meals system and highlights the work of true Food Revolutionaries who’re main the way in which to a sustainable system of agriculture that may feed us all. From micro-farm grasp, Erik Cutter, who grows “100% organic, nutrient-dense food at warp speed” over cement and different human-made surfaces, to activist Girl Scouts making an attempt to get GMOs out of Girl Scout Cookies, we meet daring, decided, and inventive “solutionaries” pointing the way in which to a greater world.

The Game Changers 

The Game Changers is without doubt one of the newest and hottest additions to the plant-based documentary style. Featuring a Who’s Who of high athletes, and produced and promoted by Hollywood luminaries comparable to James Cameron (director of Titanic, amongst many others), Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jackie Chan, and directed by Oscar-winner Louis Psihoyos, this movie follows Mixed Martial Arts champion, James Wilks, on his journey of restoration and discovery. It graphically exhibits that athletes in any respect ranges cannot solely thrive however enhance on a plant-based food plan. And because the Tennessee Titans soccer group, lots of whose gamers are within the documentary, beat two closely favored rivals to make it to the AFC Championship recreation in 2020, much more skilled athletes have began taking discover.


Cowspiracy takes a candid, edgy, and at instances humorous have a look at the agriculture trade from an environmental perspective. The filmmakers spotlight the hypocrisy of main environmental organizations’ efforts to fight local weather change whereas not uttering a phrase concerning the greatest contributor of all: animal agriculture.

Food, Inc. 


This documentary exhibits how our damaged meals system places our well being in danger. It advocates native and non-industrial types of farming (together with animal agriculture) and makes a strong case that we have now to take again management over the place our meals comes from.


PLANEAT is the story of three males and their life-long searches for a food plan that’s good on your well being, the surroundings, and even our planet. Along with pioneering cooks and among the greatest cooking you might have ever seen, the scientists and docs within the movie current a convincing case for the West to undertake a plant-based food plan. The documentary options the groundbreaking work of Dr. T Colin Campbell in China exploring the hyperlink between food plan and illness, Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn’s use of food plan to deal with coronary heart illness sufferers, and Professor Gidon Eshel’s investigations into how our meals decisions contribute to world warming, land use, and oceanic useless zones. Informative and inspiring, the movie exhibits how the issues we face immediately could be solved, with out merely resorting to a food plan of lentils and lettuce leaves.


EARTHLINGS is an animal rights-centered documentary movie about humankind’s dependence on animals for financial functions. Presented in 5 chapters (pets, meals, clothes, leisure, and scientific analysis) the movie is narrated by Oscar-winning actor, Joaquin Phoenix, that includes music by Moby, and was written, produced, and directed by Shaun Monson.

Diet for a New America

This documentary is a companion to my dad’s 1987 guide of the identical identify. One of the earliest, if not the primary of the plant-based documentaries, the movie follows John Robbins’ exploration of the results of a processed and meat-heavy food plan on people’ well being, the surroundings, and the animals who are suffering for our consuming pleasure. I’ve received to say, the science has come thus far because the guide and film have been first launched. It’s fairly wonderful how proper my dad received all of it these years in the past.

While we now know extra concerning the mechanisms by which animal-based meals contribute to coronary heart illness, and the environmental prices of animal agriculture are way more dire than we knew again within the 1980s, the content material in Diet for a New America has nonetheless stood the check of time. Well performed, Dad!


Food Matters

Food Matters supplies a intestine punch to our complacency about our low-cost and plentiful menu, by evaluating industrial agriculture, and the quick meals, medical, and pharmaceutical industries, to terrorists bent on killing as many Americans as potential (any guesses which one is killing extra individuals?!). The punch line: “Good health makes a lot of sense. It just doesn’t make a lot of dollars.”

If you need to watch Food Matters proper now, head on over to our Gaia portal the place you possibly can take pleasure in a free screening for 72 hours.

Gaia – a “Netflix” for transformational movies

If you need streaming entry to eight,000+ consciousness-expanding movies, exhibits, and courses, you would possibly need to take a look at Gaia. FRN has a channel that highlights a few of our favourite movies that Gaia hosts. Gaia has provided FRN readers a 7-day free trial, so you possibly can peruse nonetheless lots of their immense assortment of plant-based and different well being and happiness-promoting documentaries that you simply please. If you don’t decide to cancel, your free trial will roll over to a recurring subscription — and a portion of proceeds will go to assist the work of FRN. You can take a look at Gaia right here.

Prolonging the Effects of Food Documentaries

woman cooking healthy meal

A very good documentary is entertaining, inspiring, and also can assist to facilitate long-term optimistic change in individuals. Many of the documentaries listed right here have companion web sites with sources for implementation, comparable to recipes, meal plans, and checklists. Check them out, and let your mates, household, and coworkers know they exist.

And additionally, should you’re on the lookout for a easy, but complete information to transitioning to whole-foods, plant-based consuming, right here’s the Food Revolution Network’s Guide to Plant-Based Eating.

And whereas it’s not a documentary, if you wish to be part of my dad and me for a free Healthy Eating Masterclass, which we designed that will help you put wholesome consuming into motion, click on right here. We’d like to have you ever!

Tell us within the feedback:

  • What are your favourite complete meals, plant-based documentaries?
  • Have you seen any of the movies profiled on this article? What do you consider them?

Featured Image: iStock.com/Imgorthand

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