Admittedly, over the last year I have slowly but surely become less of a vegan and more of a vegetarian. What used to be a bite of a blueberry muffin once in a while somehow turned into cheese quesadillas every weekend, and rather than try to reestablish my desire to be and identity as a vegan, I continued to let myself travel down a path of dairy consumption.
Then one day on my way to work I got a call from my older brother, a person who has never been vegan or vegetarian, and in fact was one of the staunchest carnivores I have ever met. The first words out of his mouth on our phone call were: "Dude. I think I'm going vegan." There have been plenty of people over the last 6 years that have told me this or something similar, like that they wanted to cut back on their meat consumption, but never would I have ever imagined I would hear these words come out of my brother's mouth. He told me he had watched the documentary Cowspiracy the night before and it completely changed his perspective on food, specifically on meat and dairy products. Without having to even watch the film, I was inspired by my brother's words and actions. If someone who refused to give up meat for any reason could suddenly alter their entire diet in a drastic way, why couldn't I make a simple change and cease eating dairy again? Something deep inside of me felt strange, perhaps even a little guilty every time I ate dairy but I suppressed it, telling myself I was being too hard on myself and that I couldn't expect to be a hero or to be perfect. However, after talking to my brother I was encouraged and energized to return to a completely animal free diet. But I still needed a little bit of a push, so I watched the film.
Cowspiracy is a documentary that follows the adventures of a man named Kip as he searches for the leading cause of climate change and the overall decrease in our environment's health. What he found was that meat consumption was the number one factor related to global warming, deforestation, and starvation across the world. With facts on top of data on top of UN reports that all definitively show that animal agriculture is detrimental to our atmosphere, Kip shows the viewer that you cannot eat meat and think you aren't harming the earth. A few facts from the film's website:
- Animal agriculture is responsible for 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, more than the combined exhaust from all transportation.
- Animal agriculture water consumption ranges from 34-76 trillion gallons annually.
- Animal agriculture is the leading cause of species extinction, ocean dead zones, water pollution, and habitat destruction.
The documentary is filled with statistics similar to the above three. It's almost overwhelming to watch and you feel like you need to be taking notes. That said, the thing I liked most about this film was that it showed a side of veganism that I think everyone can relate to. I appreciated that this documentary was really geared towards people who care about the environment and who are concerned about climate change -- and that's just about everyone I know. Touching on the drought in my home state California to wild life and rain forests disappearing across the world, this documentary presents information that will speak to viewers from every culture, country, and continent.
Another part I liked about the film (that I understand some people may not like) is that there was a small portion dedicated to slaughter and animal cruelty. At one point, Kip explores whether or not raising meat at home is more sustainable than factory farming. He visits a man who raises and slaughters ducks in his own backyard and becomes very disturbed by watching the man chop off the ducks heads and then feather and skin them. Kip even says in an interview afterwards: "When it gets to this point it's not even about sustainability. I don't feel real good inside." I went vegan because of animal cruelty and was excited to learn along the way that being vegan was also good for my health and the environment as well. For my brother, the environmental side was the sticking point for him. Though I have never pushed my views on others or ever considered myself an "evangelist vegan" I do think the population needs to be much more educated so everyone can find their sticking point.
In conjunction with my brother's epiphany, this film has helped me to revisit the reason I went vegan, to remember why I maintained a vegan diet for so long, and to reset my eating habits to return to a 100% animal free diet. I've seen several videos, have read endless books, and have watched countless documentaries, but this was the first one that made me want to spread the word that going vegan is vital because not only will it stop harming animals, not only will it improve our health, but it will save the planet - and that would be a feat for all of human kind.
You can download "Cowspiracy," order the DVD, and also watch it on Netflix.