If somebody went vegan within the late 1980s or 1990s, there’s a superb 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 most definitely 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 eating regimen, a lot 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 major affect on . These documentaries have impressed tens of tens of millions 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 monthly, it feels prefer it’s free to observe a specific 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 common a documentary will get, the extra it will get highlighted by the streaming service’s search algorithm, so subscribers begin getting launched to objects they may not have thought to seek for.

Since you may 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 bought a celebration, leisure, schooling, and demonstration multi function.

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 group members to ask their associates and change into a part of a bunch exhibiting a “new normal” habits. In a world the place wholesome and vegan consuming remains to be outdoors the mainstream, this may 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, a superb documentary isn’t simply an animated lecture about information. 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 file for many pre-airing VHS gross sales, which was a giant 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 information about the usual American eating regimen 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 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 wish 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 girl who was simply identified and is apprehensive as a result of she remains to be younger and fears “disintegrating.” Now, the information 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 cause. One means they do that is by using music. Music can paint a scene with a specific temper, in addition to heighten the feelings viewer would naturally really feel. The sluggish piano notes that accompany photographs of penned-in cows in Diet for a New America create an empathic bond with the animals. This scene precedes a montage of mistreatment reduce with scenes of cooks speaking about how scrumptious cow elements are. The juxtaposition makes a robust 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 want 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 achieved 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 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 change into extra compelling since then. Science has produced overwhelming proof for the well being advantages of a whole-foods, plant-based eating regimen. Eating extra vegetation and fewer animal merchandise is likely one of the strongest methods people can personally tackle the worsening local weather disaster. The animal welfare motion has enlisted high Hollywood celebrities to publicize and protest the routine follow 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 arrival of plant-based meat and dairy analogs which can be practically indistinguishable from and infrequently even higher tasting than the originals, an increasing number of individuals choose to go meatless when doable.

A number of the resistance to plant-based consuming that was rooted in a worry 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 eating regimen with giving them a aggressive benefit. It didn’t damage that Schwartzeneger himself was featured in The Game Changers, telling muscle males that that they had been misled by advertising and marketing and weren’t doing themselves any favors on a meat-heavy eating regimen.

So, let’s take a look at Food Revolution Network’s high 10 meals documentaries that advocate for a plant-based or vegan eating regimen. Many can be found from a number of of the massive streaming companies, some are viewable without spending a dime 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 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 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 eating regimen could be to reverse persistent illness. And the ultimate shot of a household dinner between the Esselstyn’s and Campbell’s highlights how scrumptious and accessible this manner 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 maintain the medical institution, pharmaceutical trade, and media from telling us the reality about how the usual American eating regimen 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 best way 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 best way 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 high athletes, and produced and promoted by Hollywood luminaries resembling 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 eating regimen. And because the Tennessee Titans soccer crew, a lot of whose gamers are within the documentary, beat two closely favored rivals to make it to the AFC Championship sport 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 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 largest 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 robust case that we’ve got 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 eating regimen that’s good in your well being, the atmosphere, and even our planet. Along with pioneering cooks and among the finest cooking you’ve got ever seen, the scientists and docs within the movie current a convincing case for the West to undertake a plant-based eating regimen. The documentary options the groundbreaking work of Dr. T Colin Campbell in China exploring the hyperlink between eating regimen and illness, Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn’s use of eating regimen to deal with coronary heart illness sufferers, and Professor Gidon Eshel’s investigations into how our meals selections contribute to international warming, land use, and oceanic useless zones. Informative and inspiring, the movie reveals how the issues we face immediately could be solved, with out merely resorting to a eating regimen 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 eating regimen on people’ well being, the atmosphere, and the animals that suffer for our consuming pleasure. I’ve bought to say, the science has come up to now because the guide and film have been first launched. It’s fairly wonderful how proper my dad bought 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 much more dire than we knew again within the 1980s, the content material in Diet for a New America has nonetheless stood the take a look at of time. Well carried out, 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 doable (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 wish 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 would possibly wish to try 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 may peruse nevertheless a lot 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

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

And additionally, should you’re in search of 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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