Will the film, Cowspiracy, make more and more people vegan and vegetarian?

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Will the film, Cowspiracy, make more and more people vegan and vegetarian?

By Alison Homewood


Marc Dalmulder under a Creative Commons Licence

Netflix has released Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret. It is a 90-minute documentary film. The money came from crowd-funding site Indiegogo. Hollywood star Leonardo di Caprio is the producer. It is the latest documentary film from Netflix. It released Cowspiracy after a large number of people looked for the film in its search box.

Since its internet release last August, the film has made important changes in behaviour in young adults. People often think they are not interested in politics or other issues. As friends and Facebook contacts recommend the film, young people watch it and after the film they decide to be vegans or vegetarians.

Matt Bidault is a 23-year-old British student who went to Copenhagen to do a masters degree in climate change. ‘My friend Rob told me I had to see it as he knows how I feel about the terrible loss of wildlife,’ he said. ‘The film is so well-researched and so shocking that I knew immediately that I couldn’t eat meat or dairy products again. For environmentalists it is really the only possibility.’

On his first day in Denmark, Matt met three other vegans. All of them became vegan after seeing the film.

Martijn Visser is a 22-year-old Dutch masters degree student. He says ‘what shocked me is that they are facts that you know but never expected to be so important.’

Young adults are starting to have the same conversations about food. If a young adult says they have become vegetarian or vegan, people understand and reply, ‘Cowspiracy?’, and nod their heads.

The Cowspiracy Facebook page has 67,000 likes. Facebook and the video site Vimeo have comments from around the world. A large number say they became vegan immediately.

So what started the revolution? Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret was produced and directed by Californians Kip Anderson and Keegan Kuhn. The pair could only get the money to make then film through crowd-funding. Their original financial backer changed his mind about giving the money.

They needed $54,000 but they received promises of 217% more. 1,449 people invested $117,092 in only one month. With the extra money they dubbed it into Spanish and German and subtitled it into more than 10 other languages, including Chinese and Russian.

Cowspiracy’s most important point is that agriculture is the most destructive industry in the world today. It is responsible for global warming, deforestation, droughts, and the murders of land activists. It all comes back to cows.

Anderson used research from recent scientific reports by serious organizations like the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the Worldwatch Institute, and the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The film has many alarming facts: cows and their by-products account for 51% of all worldwide greenhouse gases; animal agriculture is responsible for around 90% of Amazon destruction; 70 billion farmed animals are reared annually worldwide and more than 6 million animals are killed for food every hour. And 1,100 activists have been killed in land disputes in Brazil during the past 20 years.

Cowspiracy’s best selling point is Anderson himself. He is an easy-going, normal man in a baseball cap, he films with a single camera.

Anderson is worried about the environmental charities that spend millions on giving critical information about fossil-fuel and aviation companies, mining and logging giants, palm oil and paper producers. But they never talk about or criticise the global agriculture industry.

Anderson asks questions to the executive directors of Rainforest Action Network, Oceana, Sierra Club, Amazon Watch and in the end they agree about the responsibility of global farming. Greenpeace is the worst. It refuses to give Anderson interviews again and again.

‘I was especially shocked by the power that the meat industry has to silence all big environmental organizations,’ said Visser.

The film is sometimes very funny when politicians and senior executives find themselves in impossible positions. It’s also difficult to look at as Anderson films how a cow is loaded onto a bulldozer to be killed and a duck’s head is cut off.

The facts and statistics are never boring as they use animation. One acre of rainforest cut down every second is shown as football fields replacing the trees. The 660 gallons of water it takes to produce one beef-burger pours from a man’s garden hose.

Cowspiracy’s strong story is sometimes like a thriller when Anderson shows how powerful the US agricultural industry is – and Brazil too, where activists are killed.

Howard Lyman is an intelligent ex-farmer who spent 2 years fighting lawsuits after speaking against the beef industry on the Oprah Winfrey show. He shows the problem the film is facing. When their financial backer decided not to give the money to make the film, it seemed like the end.

But Anderson decided that he had to make the film to save the planet. The film has an optimistic end and talks about the positive benefits of veganism. This is why so many young people see the film and promise not to eat meat, fish and dairy forever. And the story doesn’t stop there.

On the internet, there are stories of teenagers forcing their parents to watch the film, and whole families become vegan, or at least vegetarian, as a result. Serious meat eaters say they don’t want to watch the film because it might stop them eating meat.

Anderson says: ‘It’s happening actually really, really fast. I think it’s just the fact that people didn’t know how much their diet affects everything. And when you know it, you can never not know it. The film has been around for about a year, and it’s unbelievable the thousands of stories we’ve heard of people changing their diets after they know the truth.’

Di Caprio’s involvement in the Netflix film makes Cowspiracy very ‘cool’.

Ian Harper is a 22-year-old political philosophy student in Barcelona. He said: ‘It’s hopeful: there’s a clear answer to climate change. Individuals can do something now.’

The idea that you can start changing the world NOW, by simply deciding to change your diet, is strong and freeing.

Cowspiracy’s Indiegogo document says: ‘Together, we aren’t just creating a movie, we are creating a movement.’ Right now, that movement seems to be happening very fast

NOW READ THE ORIGINAL: http://newint.org/blog/2015/09/24/cowspiracy-documentary-vegan/(This article has been simplified so the words, text structure and quotes may have been changed).