There are a lot of documentaries on Netflix and Amazon. It is difficult to find great documentaries on sustainability, veganism, and minimalism that are actually trying to educate people on the lifestyle, instead of explaining it as a forum of entertainment.
It is also important that documentaries explore important issues in modern society, explaining how you could enter that lifestyle and ultimately bringing positivity into your life. It is always helpful when someone brings up an issue, or problem, to attach a solution to it. Introducing a problem with no solution may still be necessary but isn’t inherently productive, and it’s certainly not positive.
The reason I have chosen veganism, minimalism, and sustainability-centered documentaries is because there is a ton of overlap between these three lifestyles. Many who are sustainable are also vegan and minimalistic.
Here are my top 5 documentaries (in descending order) that I believe more people should watch to gain more knowledge and information about these three lifestyles:
5) Food Inc.
Food Inc. is the documentary that forced me to think critically about the vegan lifestyle, especially when it comes to the lack of current regulations in the meat and dairy industry. The documentary follows the lives of farmers, parents, and many people who have seen the negative effects of the meat and dairy industry. One parent, in particular, watched her son die because of salmonella poisoning from uncooked chicken. This documentary shocked me into the vegan lifestyle, but it didn’t tell me how to go about pursuing the lifestyle. It just told me to stop eating meat. Since I didn’t know a lot about the veganism, I ended up eating a lot of salads and I actually lost weight very quickly because I wasn’t gaining the right nutrients that I needed. For those reasons, I have decided to place this documentary at number 5 on my list.
4) The True Cost
The true cost is a documentary that looks into the various issues concerning the fast fashion industry. The fast fashion industry includes H&M, Forever 21, Old Navy, Target, and other cheap, unethical, and unsustainable clothing stores. The companies out source their employees to third world countries like Bangladash. The employees are not paid fair wages and are forced to work in inhumane working conditions. The documentary also talks about how the owners and CEOs of these companies reap all the benefits of their popularity. By showing you the horrors of the fast fashion industry, the documentary allows people to think more critically about our consumeristic society.
3) The Minimalists
Once I began eating a more plant-based diet, I began to understand the larger implications of consumerism. I decided to take my research a step further and take a look at the documentary, The Minimalists. This documentary explains positives and negatives of an extreme minimalist lifestyle, and how one can become more minimal. Instead of explaining minimalism as a trend, it reveals the various issues within the consumerist culture. The film is filled with footage of people kicking and screaming their way through stores on Black Friday. The two founders/The Minimalists, who created their website to spread the positive aspects of the minimalistic lifestyle also explain the unsatisfactory life that many consumers live. Stuff can buy happiness for that moment. Unfortunately, when the moment passes, one feels that they need to purchase something else to get that feeling back. This comes with even more intensity when people use coupons or only purchase things on sale. In the end, they have a whole bunch of stuff that they hate. We can combat consumerism by thinking critically about our purchases and really asking ourselves, “can we live without this?” When we as a society slowly begin to realize that what we thought we needed isn’t actually a need, we began to find ourselves spending less and less money and feeling more content.
2) A Plastic Ocean
We have finally reached the top two of the list! It was a difficult decision, but I have put this documentary at number 2 for many reasons. One in particular is that it ties the other three documentaries together, while also looking at plastic in a new way. I found that by trying to stay vegan and minimalist, I still continued to purchase things that were plastic. Plastic is an oil-based compound that can be made cheaply and molded into almost anything. However, it’s endangering our wildlife, especially those who live in the ocean. One of the most important facts about our world that no one can deny is that our planet is mostly blue. Unfortunately, scientists have predicted that because of the amount of plastic, including micro plastics that are in the ocean, every single underwater animal has some form of plastic in its body. When we eat these animals, we ingest this plastic material. Many have not considered or discussed this horrifying reality when talking about the plastic industry and veganism. The documentary also follows a family as they try to reduce the amount of plastic they use on a daily basis. Please check it out if you haven’t already, or don’t think you can give up some food items that are wrapped in plastic. This documentary will definitely have you thinking otherwise.
1) The Human Experiment
We have finally made it to number 1! This documentary is one of the most eye opening documentaries that I have ever watched. Especially as someone whose family members have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. This documentary may cross the fine line between educational and horrifying. However, it speaks to a larger audience, which I think needs to be done more often. Most documentaries are speaking to either a younger or older generation. This particular film takes stories from young people, older people, minorities, and people from varying backgrounds to explain how terrifying plastic, chemicals, and harmful toxins are to our bodies. For those reasons I have decided to put it as number 1. This is definitely not for people who have just started the zero waste lifestyle. Instead this is better suited for those who sometimes think it’s too difficult and need a bit of a push of encouragement to continue pressing forward. This documentary follows the lives of people whose health has been directly infused by chemicals that are mass marketed to everyone as safe and effective. It ties in elements from all the four other documentaries, while also touching on subjects that people usually turn away from wanting to learn about, since “everyone dies at some point in their life, right?” What if we could stop using plastic and chemicals and live longer?
Lucky for you, the majority of these documentaries are found on Netflix and Amazon Prime.
I am always up for watching and hearing more about amazing documentaries. Let me know in the comments if I forgot any!