The films sure to turn meat-eaters vegan, from Cowspiracy to Attenborough’s A Life on Our Planet

Okja, Netflix (Netflix)
Okja, Netflix (Netflix)

We've all seen films that scare us, make us laugh and bring us to tears, but how often do you see a film that totally changes your life?

Veganism is on the rise all over the world and, for many people, the decision to go meat and dairy-free has been in some way influenced by the world of film.

Whether it's seeing footage of animals suffering in films like Earthlings or discovering farming's damaging environment effects in Cowspiracy, a single film can change the way people choose to live their lives.

So if you're looking for powerful movies to recommend friends and family, or if you're thinking of giving up meat yourself, these films are sure to make meat-eaters turn vegan (or at least, vegetarian).

Before the Flood

This National Geographic documentary was watched by over 2 million people the week after it was released in 2016. It follows Leonardo DiCaprio as he goes to different corners of the world looking at the impact of global warming. The film looks at the interconnected industries which have caused the climate crises, and the means that are still available to reverse the damage. Although the film isn’t specifically about farming, the meat-industry is one of sectors which is culpable for destroying the planet – meaning that you’re likely to want to give up meat when you see how desperate the situation has become. DiCaprio makes for a convincing narrator and presenter.

David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet

Similarly, this Netflix documentary, in which Sir David Attenborough presents his most impassioned argument for protecting the environment yet, is not explicitly about the meat-industry, but is likely to make you want to abandon some of your meat-eating habits. While most of Attenborough’s documentaries are a love letter to nature in all its incredible iterations, A Life on Our Planet has a very different tone: it’s a cry for help. Billed as a “witness statement” the British broadcaster explains, and shows, the devastating changes he has seen to the planet over the years he has been doing his job. It’s frightening, to say the least.


This 1995 film about a pig who wants to be a sheepdog is definitely a much easier watch than some of the other films on this list. But in its own way, it’s also powerful and after all all, Babe the pig (and the other animals on the farm, for that matter) are just so incredibly sweet. Apparently actor James Cromwell, who played farmer Arthur Hoggett in the film, was so inspired by Babe that he became vegan and has since been a vocal animal rights activist – in 2022 he was chosen by Peta UK as its person of the year.


Thought-provoking documentary Cowspiracy explores the negative impact agricultural farming has on the environment. The film was crowdfunded in 2014 and a version exec-produced by Leonardo DiCaprio was eventually released on Netflix in 2015.

The authority of the film has been questioned by some and it’s certainly true that facts around global warming are at times squeezed to fit narrative. However, the impact of the film is undeniable.


Netflix original Okja came out in 2017 and immediately won over a cult audience. The film is focused around the great friendship between a young girl and an adorable ‘super pig’ by the name of Okja. One day their lives are torn apart when the animal is chosen to be the face of a new mass-farming initiative by the sinister Miranda corporation.

Tilda Swinton is incredibly watchable as eccentric CEO Miranda and Jake Gyllenhaal seems to have heaps of fun playing a disturbed celebrity zoologist. However, for all the quirky and funny aspects of the film, the powerful message at its heart is what really shines through.

Supersize Me

Morgan Spurlock’s 2004 documentary might not be specifically about the meat industry but it’s still pretty likely to put people off eating burgers for life. Spurlock ate nothing but McDonald’s for a month as part of the film, putting on 24lb and experiencing bouts of depression and sexual dysfunction.

While other films tend to highlight the moral objections vegans have to the meat industry, Supersize Me underlines the health risks of excessive fast food consumption and might just make people think the next time they’re tucking into a Big Mac.

Food inc

This powerful documentary made a huge impact on a global scale when it was released back in 2008 and it remains one of the most influential films of its kind. Filmmaker Robert Kenner takes an intimate look at how our food consumption has changed over the past 50 years and how the meat industry is adopting more and more questionable methods to supply demand.

The Game Changers

There are plenty of films highlighting the horrors of the meat industry out there, but fewer actually extol the virtues of of the vegan diet itself. The Game Changers is a documentary that sets out its stall as a celebration of switching to plant-based foods, with contributions from the likes of Lewis Hamilton, Arnold Schwarzenegger and strongman Patrik Baboumian.

The documentary focuses on former MMA fighter and army trainer James Wilks, who spent months researching vegan diets after suffering a career-threatening injury. The film, produced by James Cameron, follows Wilks on his journey, speaking to elite athletes who claim they feel stronger and faster after cutting out meat along the way. The science has been challenged by some, and dismissed as vegan propaganda by others, but if you’re after motivation to start a plant-based diet – this one’s for you.


Horror film Raw went down a storm with critics in 2017 and proved to be one of the most visceral and challenging films of the year.

It centres around a young veterinary student who slowly abandons her vegetarianism and discovers a taste for flesh. It’s a twisted but brilliantly made film and if you can sit through to the end, it’s an excellent watch.


When he’s not antagonising Preston from the Ordinary Boys on Never Mind The Buzzcocks, comedian Simon Amstell is making films about veganism. His sci-fi movie Carnage is set years in the future, and is preoccupied with a totally vegan generation, who look back at previous years with shame and bewilderment. It’s a funny piece of filmmaking and manages to avoid the earnest quality that turns so many people off the subject matter.


Some of the most harrowing scenes in vegan filmmaking can be found in Earthlings, which is narrated by Joaquin Phoenix. The 2005 documentary focuses on the way animals are manipulated by humans for use as food, clothing, entertainment, scientific research and as pets. It’s one of the most distressing depictions of animal suffering you’re likely to see and a film that stays with the viewer.

Forks Over Knives

2013 documentary Forks Over Knives takes a look at the obesity epidemic link with the meat industry and how the unhealthy lifestyles of Americans, which cost the country $120bn a year, can be affected by a change in diet. The film, directed by filmmaker Lee Fulkerson, takes a closer look at the health benefits of cutting meat and dairy for our diets, and focusing on plant-based foods.

What the Health

The makers of Cowspiracy – Kip Andersen and Keegan Kuhn – returned in 2017 with a second Leonardo DiCaprio-endorsed film: What the Health. While Cowspiracy focused on the environmental impact of agricultural farming, investigative documentary What the Health follows Kip Anderson as he attempts to uncover the hidden dangers in the average American meat-eater’s diet and shines a light on the shadowy operations in the food industry.