I like documentaries a lot, a lot a lot. I don’t watch as many as I would like to these days partially due to life and partly because they tend to send honey right off to sleep but I digress. By far and away my favorite category is food documentaries. I’m not sure exactly why that is maybe it’s inspiring or maybe it confirms my choice to be basically vegetarian. Now don’t think for a minute that I have some sort of perfect diet, because I don’t. I eat fast food almost everyday and I have a wicked sweet tooth! But for some reasons these movies are my jam! I do wholeheartedly believe in the power of a good diet to change your life and really the world. The main reason I don’t eat meat (for the most part) is environmental. I have been mostly meat free for 15 of my 34 years, plus I find it makes me feel better. So perhaps the environment is one of the reasons I love these films so much. The other side of the story is the health benefits people see. A careful diet it also a great way to turn your health completely around so maybe it’s that feel good aspect that gets me coming back for more. So here’s some of my top food and then health documentaries and why I love them.
Forks over knives: If I could get you to watch only one food documentary it would be this one. It’s almost not a food documentary at all but rather one about health. Sure it pushes a plant based agenda but it’s focus is instead on science and the diet’s health outcomes. Heart disease, obesity and diabetes are often reversed when patients switch to a plant based diet. If you have an interest in living as long and as healthy a life as you can, you gotta watch it!
Food Inc: This film is an OG on the food documentary world and focuses a lot on where our food comes from. In a lot of ways it was ahead of its time. This is a look at how industrial farming puts our food supply at risk and damages our choices. It looks at the conditions animals are held in, how the people in the process are treated and how the industry is regulated puts all of our health at risk. What’s also really cool is that it explores alternatives. After watching this one back in the day I stopped buying pre-packaged greens and started a vegetable garden.
Farmageddon: Similar to Food Inc this documentary looks at where our food is produced but instead it focuses on the plight of small farmers. More than an expose of the big players it instead exposes the difficulties faced by small, local and more sustainable farming operations. This one really got me wondering “shouldn’t farming be a job that pays a livable wage for people that take up the craft?” I really do think so, especially if someone is doing the right thing the right way we need to find a way to support and celebrate that.
Cowspiracy: Produced by Leonardo DiCaprio this documentary attempts (and succeeds) to pull back the veil on meat production as the single biggest source of global warming. The film asks hard questions of governments and activists alike. For most giving up animal products has a greater effect on their footprint than giving up their car! It should make you think about beef (lamb is worse) as a special treat at least.
Fed Up: I’ve watched a few documentaries on the link between sugar and obesity. Is sugar there entirety of the problems we’re facing now? No probably not but it’s not amazing for you either. It’s still empty calories that fail to fill you up. This film does a good job with the sugar aspect but a much better job at exploring the root causes of obesity. It’s easy to watch the other films here and think that all you have to do is make a few smaller changes or one big one to change your life. The thing is there must be a bigger problem within society if fully two thirds of us are overweight or obese. Watching this documentary helps you see that whether you have weight to lose or not.
Vegicated: This is one of those movies I made honey watch and he even decided to eat less pork at least for a while. The filmmaker is a dedicated vegan and she recruited three perfect strangers to go vegan for 6 weeks while educating them about the cause. She does a great job in the film and isn’t too pushy with her recruits. Plus you get to see where they all end up after the experiment. After watching this you’ll probably be embracing the meatless option at least a little more often.
King of Corn: I’m not sure how applicable this is to Canada but… it certainly sheds a light on the corn based nature of the American diet. Since we tend to get most of what our neighbors to the south produce eventually the factors that influence corn production in the USA at least influence out desires. Two friends without a plan decide to grow some corn together after college to see why it’s America’s most popular crop. What they find out about farm bills, subsidies and how the corn grown actually tastes is a real eye-opener. After watching this it’s not so hard to see why its so popular and why literally everything has high fructose corn syrup in it.
Hungry for Change: Sure there’s a lot of diet talk in this one but overall it’s a health documentary. This film focuses on the systemic issues behind our modern health crisis. Poverty, food deserts, advertising and the fitness industry as a whole are not innocent in creating the wide scale problem we have today. The thing is taking charge of your health is simpler than you might be told. There’s not really lots of ground breaking information in here that will leave you shook but it is pretty motivating to make a big change. Watch again as needed.
Fat Sick and Nearly Dead: Should you do a months long juice only fast, no, no you should not. But one Australian guy did and he recruited a really sick American man along the way. They both changed their lives dramatically in a short time by making an extreme change. While I’m not recommending juice fasting or any other type, this film does illustrate just how much you can give up to change your health. If these guys can give up chewing for months you can probably go vegetarian after all.
Risky Drinking: I watched this one the last time I was truly down for the count level sick a few years ago. I spent a day curled in my other comfy office chair dozing on and off and a few documentaries played in front of me. I think I slept 20+ hours that day. Until I queued this one up and I watched it practically without blinking but that might have been the fever. I was already a non-drinker for years but I kept thinking “wow this would have made me so uncomfortable just. A few years ago.” The HBO film follows a few drinkers for about a year, all what to drink less than they do now but it also examines where alcohol sits in our culture. The statistics will shock you and make you feel so much less alone. There is a very, very young man on the verge of loosing his life we all think of as a textbook alcoholic but there’s also a divorced mom of young kids that just can’t seem to stick to the promises of less wine she keeps making herself. If you would like to make some changes in your relationship with alcohol first read this then watch risky drinking for maximum motivation.
These are just a few of my favorite documentaries but if you’re looking for some inspiration these are a really great place to start. If you’re looking to educate yourself on where our food comes from this is a great place to start. What documentaries really opened your eyes in the food and health category?