VWPA Advice #024: Vegan Book and Movie Recommendations?
“What Should I Read and Watch?”
I’d love to hear about some of your recommendations on media/books etc that I can use to inform myself and my family about veganism.
My top recommendations for media that will help you deepen and strengthen your veganism, that are also great for non-vegans are:
- Meatonomics by David Robinson Simon
This groundbreaking book explores the dark reality of the ways in which animal food production influence our eating, spending, taxes, and government regulations, whether we eat meat or not. A book that will infuriate you while it enlightens you, it contains not just a unique perspective on veganism – tackling the unseen costs we’re all paying for animal food production – but it also has an enormous amount of information on animal cruelty, the environmental impact of animal consumption, the health benefits of veganism and the history of ag-gag and anti-animal rights laws in the United States.
This book could be the only vegan book you ever read, as it hits almost every conceivable angle of veganism and is the only one that digs into economic concerns in such depth. People may not care about animals, their health, or the environment, but I don’t know anyone who doesn’t care about their money!
- Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer
One of the most beautifully written books I’ve ever read, Eating Animals inspires as it informs. Jonathan Safran Foer philosophically explores the psychology of eating animals – why do we do it? How do we justify it? What does it mean? – as he tries to determine once and for all whether he will raise his child as an animal eater or not. It contains details of what goes into eating animals: factory farming, slaughter, poor living conditions, sanitation concerns. This will hit on animal rights, as well as food production, concerns for the interested reader without being too heavyhanded.
I’ve read Eating Animals multiple times, and will continue to re-read it throughout the rest of my life. This is the only “vegan” book I’ve read that pulls me in through genuinely captivating storytelling as much as it does through shocking facts. Lines like, “While it is always possible to wake a person who’s sleeping, no amount of noise will wake a person who is pretending to be asleep” will enrapture you and fill you with strength and purpose. An absolute must read for any vegan.
- Animal Liberation by Peter Singer
I won’t sugarcoat it – Animal Liberation is a brutal read. Unflinching in it’s detail; it’s a hard, unyielding look at what we do to animals simply because we think we are better than them. Peter Singer explores speciesism, the belief that humans can use animals for any purpose because they are superior, and works to philosophically tear that belief apart. This is a book for someone interested in the animal rights side of veganism. Be aware that Singer is a controversial figure and his views aren’t always 100% supported, but I recommend this book because I found it to be easily accessible intellectually, and a good introduction to debate and philosophy in regards to the animal rights movement.
The book is broken into different sections that tackle vivisection and animal experimentation, factory farming, the history of speciesism that takes a deep look at religion, and an in-depth argument that dismantles the logical validity of speciesism. It’s not for the faint of heart. Written to be easily understood, Animal Liberation will be difficult, unreadable, for the sensitive hearts among us, but is absolutely invaluable for the information and logic provided.
Anyone who loves philosophy or debate will benefit greatly from Animal Liberation. If you can handle the disturbing details, or are willing to stick to the chapters that don’t describe animal abuse, this book will help you tremendously in having conversations with debate-hungry carnists.
- Forks Over Knives
Forks Over Knives has changed many people vegan through tackling the health aspect of a plant-based diet. Based on research discussed Dr. T Colin Campbell’s The China Study, this film details the correlation of animal product and processed food consumption and degenerative disease. It goes a step further to show that these diseases can often be reversed with a plant-based diet.
This is a great movie for families that are completely resistant to the animal rights or environmental aspects. Especially good for families that are science-minded, health focused, or have had recent health issues.
Blackfish is a landmark movie, a must see for everyone. The first of the recent generation of animal rights documentaries, Blackfish aired on CNN to a public outcry of rage. Even regular people find the dark side of SeaWorld disgusting and unforgivable; it’s the perfect entryway into the world of animal rights without being too off-putting.
Filmed in a dramatic, beautiful and heartbreaking way, Blackfish is equally captivating and horrifying. Perfect for people who enjoy exposes.
Vegucated is a plucky little documentary that follows three New Yorkers around as they agree to adopt a plant-based diet for six weeks and learn all about veganism during that time. Their journey will inspire and educate. An overall uplifting documentary, this is a great one to give someone a general overview of veganism, and show how even the most meat- and cheese-loving carnist can learn, grow and find joy from veganism.
To add to Nichole’s list, here are some additional suggestions:
- Eat To Live by Dr. Joel Fuhrman
This book will always be very special to me because it is what made me vegan. I picked it up thinking it was going to be another “lose weight fast” book but instead it turned my world upside down (in the best way possible) and completely changed my views about dieting and food. The book is very fact heavy so it can be a lot to take in, you might find yourself re-reading pages to let the information sink in, but it is definitely worth it!
This book really delves into what our bodies need in order to thrive, and why the foods that we are eating on the ‘Standard American Diet” are actually doing a lot of harm. I would really recommend this book to anyone and everyone but it is an especially great place to start for people really interested in nutrition.
- Why We Love Dogs Eat Pigs and Wear Cows by Dr. Melanie Joy
Absolutely love this book! It can be read by veteran vegans and newbies alike, but it is definitely the perfect book to read once you start struggling with why the people around you aren’t immediately going vegan. It really explores how we have come to view animals the way we have, and why people are so resistant to changing their viewpoints. For me, this book took me to the “next level”.
Once I had gotten my bearings a bit with being a new vegan, I (like many new vegans) really started struggling with why the people around me weren’t getting it. Why were they not making changes after I shared with them what I had just learned!
This book gives a name to the system that is allowing people to resist change, which helps us better understand what we as vegans are up against. Definitely a must read!
Seriously mindblowing! I was never someone that was (at all) knowledgeable about environmental issues, but this documentary was like a crash course! It is beautifully done, easy to follow, the facts and figures are presented in a way that lets you really understand them without being overwhelmed and it is all done in a way that gets the information across without being angry, aggressive or too judgmental. It really feels like you are on the journey with the filmmaker as he is discovering how damaging animal agriculture really is to the planet.
This documentary is one that you don’t have to worry about recommending to people because it’s not overly gruesome or too harsh. But the best part for me, is that is really helps us vegans talk about the third (and mostly forgotten) side of why veganism is important, the environment. Most vegans know the heath and animal rights issues pretty well, but not many delve into the environmental impact, which is a shame because it is really powerful to be able to understand and articulate that eating meat isn’t really a personal choice. The animal agriculture industry has huge consequences for our world and this movie helps us understand that.
They have an awesome infographic on the Cowspiracy website that gives a nice overview of all the facts in the movie, which is great to have as a cheat sheet since they’re are so many!
– Watch Cowspiracy online at Netflix (thanks to Leonardo DiCaprio!)
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