Education never stops and shouldn’t be dependent on our educational system. Consider these documentaries (and these books) as part of your continuing education in life, diet, culture, government, business and the environment. Most are available on Netflix, Amazon Video or YouTube.
If you still have the false perception that our government monitors corporations and protects us from evil-doers, here is a list of mind altering documentaries and films that you need to watch (in no particular order):
Food Related Documentaries
- Fed Up – explains how the food industry corrupts our government and influences food policy to increase profits at our expense.
- Cowspiracy – explains how the animal ag industry is potentially worse for the environment in terms of pollution, deforestation, water use and world hunger than any other industry.
- Food Choices – explores the impact that food choices have on people’s health, the health of our planet and on the lives of other living species.
- Food Inc. – explains how the USDA and FDA having revolving doors with executives from the food industry who put profit above people, animals and the environment.
- Forks Over Knives – explains how our heavy meat diets are causing most of the non-sugar related health issues among western diet eaters.
- Food Matters – explains how food is better medicine than drugs.
- Hungry for Change – explains how the diet, weightloss and food industry manipulates us into eating things that are not only bad for us, but highly addictive.
- Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead – explains how diet (specifically juicing) can reverse a number of medical ailments.
- Vegucated – follows 3 meat eating New Yorkers who agree to eat a vegan diet for 6 weeks. It also exposes them to the horrors of the animal ag industry.
- Super Size Me – follows a guy who eats every meal at McDonalds for 1 month. Spoiler: He’s nearly dead by the end.
- The Human Experiment – explains how our government allows the use of chemicals in everything we buy without testing them for safety, many of which are known to cause cancer, birth defects, infertility, and a whole host of other horrible diseases.
- Sugar Coated – explains how the politics of sugar allowed food companies to add sugar to everything we eat in copious and ever increasing amounts.
- Bite Size – “showcases the stories of four inspiring kids from diverse backgrounds who are fighting for their health one day at a time. Proving that it’s not just about the number on a scale, what really matters is learning what keeps you active and makes you happy.”
- Vitality – explains how holistic medicine can be more effective than the chemical/surgical medicine sold to us by doctors and big pharma.
- GMO OMG – explores the proliferation of GMO foods and their affect on our health and the environment.
- Plant Pure Nation – explains the health benefits of a plant-based diet and the struggle to pass legislation acknowledging it in the face of steep objections from animal ag industry lobbyists.
- Earthlings – this covers the ethical aspect of veganism and our horrific treatment of animals.
- In Defense of Food – almost defends food. It’s so close to getting it right, but stops short. He makes a lot of valid points about processed foods, added sugar and a return to plant-based diets. His stance is “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” He defends his decision to eat “mostly plants” instead of “all plants” because “Meat is healthy food. Humans have eaten meat for a very long time with great pleasure.” However, he doesn’t provide any scientific information that shows meat is actually healthy…and enjoying it doesn’t count. Humans eat junk food with great pleasure, but that doesn’t make it healthy. Overall, this is a good documentary, but I’m disappointed that his personal pleasures prevented him from promoting a truly healthy, whole food plant based diet.
- Sugar vs. Fat – in this case study documentary, two identical twin brothers each go on a high fat and a high carb diet and measure the changes to their bodies and minds. While the results are far from generalizable, they are mostly predictable, at least to those of us in the whole-food plant-based diet community. While they both lost weight, the high fat brother lost more, almost twice as much weight (9 lbs in a month) but more than half of the loss came from muscle mass, which isn’t a good thing. This isn’t surprising because the body needs glucose to function and when you don’t eat enough carbs, the body converts the protein in muscle to glucose so you can continue to function. The most surprising result (at least for most people) is that one brother was near the pre-diabetic range after only one month of eating his diet. Despite what the media, paleo, Adkins and animal ag industry would have you believe, it was the high fat brother whose body stopped managing insulin effectively. This isn’t new information. In fact, we’ve known for over 70 years that fat is the root cause of diabetes while sugar intake simply makes the symptoms worse. The final conclusion drawn by the twin brothers was that neither sugar nor fat should be solely blamed for causing health problems like obesity, diabetes, heart disease, etc. Rather, they are both to blame, and mainly in the form of processed foods that have been engineered to contain the addictive balance of both that keeps us coming back for more. A little simplistic, but not far from the truth.
- Rotten – while not a vegan or even plant-based documentary, this does bring to light the “rotten” food production practices that have become the norm in the US and abroad. Did you know that nearly every bee in the US is sent to California in February and March to pollinate the almond trees? This puts them at risk of disease, theft and terrorism. What better way to strike a blow to the US than to harm their fleet of pollinators? Did you know that most garlic comes from China and that peeled garlic is processed by prison slave labor? It’s a great way for them to undercut the competition. This documentary is horrifying on many levels and worth watching if you want to see just how shady and corrupt the food industry has become.
Other Documentaries Worth Watching
- Saving Capitalism – this talks about how capitalism has been manipulated over the past 50 years to create the extreme and growing wealth gap we see today. It also helps connect the dots to explain the growing populist movement seen around the world. My one (major) complaint about the documentary, is that it doesn’t provide much insight into how to “save” capitalism. It mainly points out the flaws of capitalism, and the mistakes that we continue to repeat over and over until economic inequality and social unrest gets so bad that we are forced to knee-jerk in the opposite direction to fix it. I would really like to know how not only to fix it, but to prevent it from happening again in another 50 or 100 years. Like several of the young people interviewed in the documentary stated, it seems hopeless at this point.
- Poverty Inc. – explains how the global poverty industry seeks to keep people in poverty so governments and corporations can continue to profit from their misery.
- Boom Bust Boom – explains how governments and financial institutions use both economic upturns as well as downturns to syphon money out of the middle and lower classes. And also that the boom bust boom cycle is orchestrated to facilitate this transfer of wealth.
- Requiem for the American Dream – an interview with Noam Chomsky explaining “the deliberate concentration of wealth and power in the hands of a select few.”
- Awake: The Life of Yogananda – a biography of the Hindu Swami who brought Yoga to the west in the 1920’s. “AWAKE is ultimately the story of humanity itself: the universal struggle of all beings to free themselves from suffering and to seek lasting happiness.”
- The Island President – explains how the democratically elected president of the Maldives fought the world’s super powers to enact climate change legislation to protect his small island-chain nation from being swallowed by the sea. Tragically, he was forced to resign to avoid a violent coup led by the previous dictator shortly after this film was made.
- How to Change the World – covers the history and formation of Greenpeace when they exposed US nuclear tests in Alaska, Russian whale hunting and baby seal hunts in Canada. They truly did change the world.
- Ethos – explains how we lost our democracy to a corrupt government and corporations, and suggests ways we can get it back.
- Citizen Koch – explains how the brothers Koch have subverted our democracy by lobbying to pass legislation that favors corporations and the wealthy despite the massive harm it does to the working class and the environment.
- Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room – explains the rise and fall of Enron, and how the executives defrauded their employees and investors for personal gain.
- Living on One Dollar – follows 3 young men who go to rural Guatemala to live on one dollar a day for two months, the average living wage for people who live there. With only a dollar a day, those people seem happier than the average American.
- Pump – explains how the oil industry has monopolized the energy sector by systematically destroying competition and intentionally misleading the public about the dangers of fossil fuels.
- Bottled Life – explains how Nestle travels the globe, sucking water from the ground for nearly nothing and selling it for a steep profit. They have committed some horrible humanitarian atrocities in many undeveloped nations, even slavery.
- Happy – examines the nature of happiness and what makes us happy. Hint: Money ain’t it.
- Money for Nothing: Inside the Federal Reserve – examines how the world’s most powerful financial institution makes and enforces monetary policy with very little oversight or control from the outside. The film explores how the fed set the stage for the 2008 financial meltdown, as well as the “recovery” that transferred trillions of dollars in wealth to the banks and billionaires. This one will infuriate you.
- The Propaganda Game – explains how North Korea uses propaganda to brainwash and control its population. The frustrating thing about this film is that I can see some of their tactics being used here in the US to confuse and control us.
- Experimenter – this is a movie based on a true story about a social scientist who demonstrates how far people will go when told what to do by someone in a perceived position of authority. This a terrifying view into the human psyche that helps explain how someone like Hitler was able to convince so many people to do such horrible things.