If somebody went vegan within the late 1980s or 1990s, there’s a superb probability they had 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 strive 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 influence, too. Recent polls recommend that a 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 influence on . These documentaries have impressed tens of thousands and 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 providers like Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu make it extraordinarily simple 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 well-liked 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 may watch meals documentaries on-line, it’s simple to share them by way of viewing events with family and friends. Add some meals, or directions for plant-based potluck dishes, and also you’ve bought a celebration, leisure, training, and demonstration multi functional.

Often, plant-based and environmental organizations and meetup teams host screenings in a personal house, convention room, ballroom, or auditorium. This is an opportunity for neighborhood members to ask their mates and change into a part of a bunch exhibiting a “new normal” conduct. In a world the place wholesome and vegan consuming continues to be exterior the mainstream, this could 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 simple 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, a superb documentary isn’t simply an animated lecture about info. It follows the principles of excellent storytelling, introducing compelling characters, humor, pathos, battle, and excessive stakes. My dad’s record-breaking PBS documentary (it set the PBS file 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 observe 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 consultants, like Michael Klaper, MD (and for those who’re aware of 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 a superb 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 identified and is frightened as a result of she continues 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 motive. One method they do that is by means of using music. Music can paint a scene with a selected temper, in addition to heighten the feelings that a viewer would naturally really feel. The sluggish piano notes that accompany pictures of penned-in cows in Diet for a New America create an empathic bond with the animals. This scene precedes a montage of mistreatment minimize 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 usually aspirational. We develop to love them and wish to be like them. Or, in some circumstances, the documentaries characteristic 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 way of life, 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 recent, edgy, and credible. It doesn’t harm that the explanations to go plant-based are so compelling. They had been already compelling in 1987 when Diet for a New America was revealed, they usually’ve solely change into extra compelling since then. Science has produced overwhelming proof for the well being advantages of a whole-foods, plant-based food plan. Eating extra vegetation and fewer animal merchandise is likely one of the strongest methods people can personally deal with the worsening local weather disaster. The animal welfare motion has enlisted prime Hollywood celebrities to publicize and protest the routine apply of animal cruelty on manufacturing facility 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 can be almost indistinguishable from and infrequently even higher tasting than the originals, increasingly more individuals choose to go meatless when attainable.

Loads 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 prime athletes crediting their plant-based food plan with giving them a aggressive benefit. It didn’t harm 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 take a look at Food Revolution Network’s prime 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 providers, 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 straight 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 utility 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 surprising discovery after one other. Using the “reality show” body of exhibiting us the results of switching to a nutritious diet in the middle of a brief time frame, Fulkerson and the opposite ‘patients’ featured within the movie, present how highly effective a plant-based food plan could be to reverse continual 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 most of the similar arguments whereas shining a light-weight on the conflicts of curiosity that hold the medical institution, pharmaceutical business, 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 economic 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 artistic “solutionaries” pointing the way in which to a greater world.

The Game Changers 

The Game Changers is likely one of the newest and hottest additions to the plant-based documentary style. Featuring a Who’s Who of prime athletes, and produced and promoted by Hollywood luminaries equivalent 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 reveals that athletes in any respect ranges cannot solely thrive however enhance on a plant-based food plan. And because the Tennessee Titans soccer crew, 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 take a look at the agriculture business from an environmental perspective. The filmmakers spotlight the hypocrisy of main environmental organizations’ efforts to fight local weather change whereas not uttering a phrase in regards to the greatest contributor of all: animal agriculture.

Food, Inc. 


This documentary reveals 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 a few of the finest cooking you have got 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 reveals how the issues we face at present 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 bought to say, the science has come to date because the guide and film had been first launched. It’s fairly superb how proper my dad bought all of it these years in the past.

While we now know extra in regards to 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 achieved, Dad!


Food Matters

Food Matters offers 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 attainable (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 may 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, reveals, and lessons, you may need to try Gaia. FRN has a channel that highlights a few of our favourite movies that Gaia hosts. Gaia has supplied FRN readers a 7-day free trial, so you may peruse nevertheless lots of their immense assortment of plant-based and different well being and happiness-promoting documentaries that you just please. If you don’t choose 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 try Gaia right here.

Prolonging the Effects of Food Documentaries

woman cooking healthy meal

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

And additionally, for those who’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 a 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 entire meals, plant-based documentaries?
  • Have you seen any of the movies profiled on this article? What do you consider them?

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