It was watching Netflix Documentaries on the topic of animal cruelty and environmental issues surrounding veganism that finally convinced my husband and I to take that leap into living a life free from meat and dairy. I was interested to find out if simply watching the same documentaries that we had, would have the same effect on anyone else so I asked Sara from Mind your Mamma to simply watch the same documentaries and let me know her thoughts. The results are actually really interesting and not what I expected at all. So, read on to find out how a few Netflix documentaries on veganism changed not just my life, but others too. I am off on my holidays week and so I am going to leave you with the lovely Sara to explain what she thought of the documentaries I asked her to watch.
When Sammie reached out to some fellow bloggers asking if anyone was willing to watch a few documentaries about veganism and share their thoughts, I knew I had to give it a go. I had started watching Cowpiracy on Netflix a few months before, but somehow I hadn’t got to the end, so it felt this was the perfect opportunity for me to get back into it.
Sammie suggested I watched the following documentaries in this order:
- Cowspiracy (Netflix)
- Earthlings (YouTube)
- And Vegucated (Netflix)
And so I did.
And it completely changed the way I eat.
Right now I find myself at the beginning of a great new adventure. And it’s both scary and exciting. But let’s take it a step back, and let me tell you what I learnt by watching these documentaries.
I must admit that I felt a bit bamboozled when watching Cowspiracy. A lot of stats are thrown at you, and with numbers that are so big that you can’t just quite comprehend (like billions and trillions of tonnes and acres etc.), I felt a bit overwhelmed by the enormity of the situation described.
But what you can’t shy away from is the sense of ‘doom and gloom’ you get from it – whether we like it or not, the facts are staring at us in the face. The way we eat just isn’t sustainable. With the world population on the increase, the way we consume meat and fish means that by 2048 we’ll have empty oceans. And I keep hearing that if the oceans die, we die! Global warming will create more deserts and more inhabited land end up under water. Through our behaviours and the way we eat, we are effectively destroying our own planet, and unless drastic changes start to happen, the outcome won’t be pretty. That scares me – a lot.
But the part of the documentary I really connected with is that last part, when Dr Michael Klaper talks about cow’s milk and what it does to us. What he says makes total sense – if cow’s milk is meant for calves and is designed to get them into big, adult cows and bulls as soon as possible, what business do we have drinking or consuming large quantities of it through milk and dairy products? What if it really is linked to issues like breast cancer, fibroids etc.? What if we really shouldn’t be consuming milk the way we do?
And then I watched Earthlings.
Earthlings is without a doubt quite a hard watch. It’s quite graphic and contains a lot of animal cruelty. Essentially it exposes what goes on behind closed doors in animal farms and slaughter houses. We eat meat, and we know exactly where it comes from. But because we don’t see what goes on for that steak to land in our plate, it seems to not really affect us. And it’s all done on purpose by the way – animal farms and slaughter houses tend to be located in remote areas, outside of the suburban areas. Animals are mainly transported to slaughter houses overnight, so we don’t need to see what goes on. Out of sight, out of mind, right?
I could sit here and try and find the words to describe what this documentary is like, but in all honesty I think you should just watch it for yourself and come to your own conclusions, whatever they might be.
Animal cruelty put aside for just a second, once again, what really struck me is that the meat we’re eating can’t be healthy. In fact, far from it. The animals are fed hormones and antibiotics routinely. They receive little care, are restricted in their movements and mixed with ill animals or carcasses. Chickens are fed hormones to get them to be as big as possible as quickly as possible, and their breasts become so enlarged that they can’t even walk. And this is what we end up eating?
Once you’ve seen Earthlings, nothing can really shock you anymore. And Vegucated is a much ‘lighter’ watch. It simply follows the journey of 3 Americans trying to eat a vegan diet for a period of time. Part of the documentary shows these 3 people watching Earthlings, and watching their reactions is quite interesting too.
After watching these documentaries, I went to look for more though. Someone pointed out a documentary on the BBC iPlayer called Carnage, and I also watched Food Choices on Netflix. I have a long list of programmes I want to watch on Netflix about this!
And my conclusion is…
That I’m going to try and avoid meat and dairy as much as I can.
I can’t say I’ve gone fully vegan, but I totally buy into the negative environmental impact of our diet and understand that it’s not sustainable as well as it’s destructive. Unfortunately me on my own (and even my family, if we get to that) changing our diet won’t be enough to stop this destructive process we’re in.
But I can directly and immediately influence my health. My weight. My energy levels. And that sounds pretty good to me.
In the last month, I’ve had chickens 3 times (i.e. at 3 meals) and a prawns at another meal. I’ve had no eggs, but I’ve had the occasional dairy (mainly cheese) as an ingredient a few times. I try and avoid it where I can, but I’ve had a bit. Other than that, I’ve tried to avoid any animal proteins and where possible processed food.
My children still drink milk and eat yoghurt, so I’ve switched to organic. And I’ve started buying organic vegetables (sourced from a local farm where possible).
I eat a lot more vegetables, fruit (in smoothies), nuts and seeds and a lot less processed food. I do realise that vegan substitutes are available for absolutely everything, but somehow, (and this is my personal opinion), I don’t feel that replacing what we eat with vegan substitutes is the right answer. If I want to improve my health and change the way I eat, then I’ll do the best I can to improve it wherever I can and choose whole, fresh plant-based food over any type of processed food. And that’s obviously just my personal take on it all!
What I found so far
My eyes have been opened to whole new sections of the supermarkets that had always been there, but I had never noticed! I never knew there were so many vegan and ‘free from’ products!
A few people have asked me if I’m finding it hard. But to be honest, I’m just experimenting with food, eating things I either didn’t know existed or had hardly ever had before. I know what plant-based foods contain proteins, and I’m mindful I’m having plenty of those every day. I’m having vitamin B12 in the soya milk I put in my daily smoothies, so I know I shouldn’t be missing out on anything, really.
I have this feeling that I’m doing something good for me and my health, and I feel a lot lighter and happier for it. Yes, I’ll probably end up having the occasional bit of meat (I haven’t eaten pork in 10 years, so we’re talking chicken, beef or lamb), but it’ll be on very rare occasions and not if I can avoid it.
What does this mean for the rest of my family?
To be honest, I don’t know. I haven’t convinced my husband to watch the documentaries yet, but whilst he won’t agree to give up meat and dairy altogether for the rest of his life, he’s open to changing the way we eat – mainly buying more organic products and preferring vegetables over meat or dairy. Considering he works full time Monday to Friday, and I’m at home with the children, realistically and practically it’s more down to me to cook in such a way that makes him stick to it, at least most of the time! So the pressure is on if I want this to work!
And as for my children, while I find my own way, I don’t feel I can take away some of the foods they’re used to. They already eat a lot of fruit, vegetables and pasta (!) and not a lot of meat, to be fair. I will make changes where I can, but I wouldn’t expect them to eat smoothies for breakfast and salads every day for lunch! Eventually I’d like them to be able to make better choices for themselves, of course, but I think it’ll be a gradual process, and one that I’m going to try and influence in a way that doesn’t feel like ‘too much change all at once’ for them.
But perhaps it’s the future
If you manage to watch Carnage, it’s a bit of an odd documentary – it’s set in the future. In a future where we no longer eat meat. And maybe things won’t be exactly that way, but I think sooner or later the message will start to change. There is no way around it – the way we eat isn’t sustainable. So I think more and more campaigns that encourage us to eat less meat / fish and more plant-based food to improve our health will start to come out.
My 8-year-old son came home from school with a reading book called Fit for the Future that talked about all these issues – how we’re running out of land for animal farming, destroying the oceans, forests and wild life etc., and how we should be trying to eat less meat!
Plus if you think that big names like Google and Bill Gates are backing start-up Impossible Foods, which produces burgers that look and taste like meat burgers but are made out of plant-based ingredients, maybe going vegan is on the cards for a lot more of us after all.
What do you think? Would you watch the documentaries?