Cowspiracy, a movie about the environmental impact of animal agriculture, recently hit my radar and we knew it was worth a viewing. The film, created by Kip Andersen and Keegan Kuhn, looks at the what it takes to bring the American average of nine ounces of meat to our plates every day.
To start off, the film is beautifully shot, we’ve watched a LOT of food-based documentaries and this one had beautiful and compelling imagery. We also appreciated the comprehensive list of resources, every quoted fact included a source. You can check their references online at Cowspiracy.com.
The movie begins with the following premise, animal agriculture (Animal Ag) which includes raising animals for slaughter or dairy, and growing the grains needed to sustain them, is the number one threat to climate change. They quote studies from the United Nations, The Environmental Protection Agency and the USDA among others (all studies are via the link above).
The facts are compelling and Andersen and Kuhn interview the luminaries in Animal Ag research. All of them agree, we need to act quickly, we need to eat less meat (or none) and the watchdog groups that are supposed to protect various environmental concerns are doing nothing to stop it.
To prove their point they go on the road to speak with leaders of various organizations including NRDC, the Sierra Club, and Oceana. He is hilariously turned down several times by Greenpeace, even as interview requests are granted from pro Animal Ag groups. Some leaders are clearly ignorant of the AnimalAg impact and others seem evasive, leaving the chilling questions are we focusing on the right things to help climate change? If we’re not, are we doomed no matter how much we recycle and conserve as individuals?
A bit scary to contemplate no?
The film is worth watching just for the interview with the Mad Cowboy, Howard Lyman, the former rancher turned vegan advocate, sued by the meat industry after talking about Mad Cow disease on Oprah.
This film will challenge you. Lyman’s quote in the movie, “you can’t call yourself an environmentalist if you eat meat,” is a blunt statement to change the way we eat immediately. Andersen, who started filming as an omnivore, looks for various ways to eat meat sustainably. He can’t find one and becomes vegan as the only viable way to save the planet.
The film is currently $9.95 to rent and we think worth the price for a little education and a challenge to the status quo. The website has a lot of resources but if you are compelled to go vegan you won’t find any guidance. Perhaps watching Hungry for Change would be a best next step.
What do you think? Do Americans (or all earth dwelling humans) eat too much meat? Do our food norms trump climate change? Would you cut back or eliminate meat and dairy products from your diet if you knew it would help reverse climate change? Interesting questions and no easy answers.