Eight Groundbreaking Documentaries You Need to Watch This Earth Day

Earth Day is a unique time when people come together to celebrate and protect our planet. Some observe the day by signing up for beach cleanups, organizing recycling drives, or volunteering with local environmental organizations. What many may not realize, though, is the huge impact our food choices have on the health of the earth.

According to the United Nations, greenhouse gas emissions from raising farmed animals make up 14.5 percent of global human-induced emissions. Our meat-heavy diets also put a huge strain on natural resources. In fact, raising animals for food accounts for 8 percent of all human water use and takes up 33 percent of the world’s croplandWorse still, meat production pollutes our land and water.

Reflecting on the harmful effects animal agriculture has on the environment is important, and what better way to learn than through a documentary or two? These eight documentaries are informative and entertaining and will change the way you see our planet—as well as our ability to impact it.

Eating Animals

Narrated and co-produced by Natalie Portman, Eating Animals is based on Jonathan Safran Foer’s bestselling book about the consequences of factory farming. The film explores the history of food production in the United States, revealing how the race for cheaper and cheaper animal products is devastating our planet.

73 Cows

This short documentary tells the story of Jay Wilde, the first U.K. farmer to swap beef farming for sustainable vegan organic farming. The film won a 2019 BAFTA Award for best short film and was covered by news outlets around the world.

The End of Meat

Through The End of Meat, filmmaker Marc Pierschel shows viewers how living in a world without meat would impact the environment, animals, and ourselves. The film highlights internet sensation Esther the Wonder Pig, pioneers in the vegan movement, plant-based innovators, and many others.

Racing Extinction

From the Academy Award–winning filmmakers of The Cove, this thrilling documentary offers a breathtaking look at extinction. The film touches on the international wildlife trade, including restaurants that serve whale meat in the United States, and investigations into the trade in shark fins and manta ray gills.

Food, Inc.

In Food, Inc., filmmaker Robert Kenner explores how the U.S. food system has been taken over by giant corporations. Narrated by author Eric Schlosser, the film includes interviews with experts, testimony from ordinary Americans, and unsettling factory farm footage.

Meathooked and End of Water

This short documentary by VICE explores the world’s meat addiction and how factory farming is spreading. Traveling to feedlots, farms, and slaughterhouses, VICE delves into the devastating environmental effects of animal agriculture.


This documentary explains how our meat-heavy diets impact everything from climate change and species extinction to land degradation and water pollution. Like SeaspiracyCowspiracy was created by filmmaker Kip Anderson.


This new documentary explores the devastating truth behind the global fishing industry. Available on Netflix, Seaspiracy takes a deep dive into the many ways the industry harms animals and the planet.