Provoke, Inspire, Educate: Five Vegan-Related Documentary Films to Consider for Film Screenings

So you want to host a documentary film screening but you’re not sure where to start or what to screen? You’ve come to the right place. We’d like to point you to five noteworthy documentaries that have proved popular and thought-provoking among audiences on topics related to vegan living.

Documentaries as tools for social change

Documentaries can be powerful tools for social change. Great documentaries engage the viewer emotionally through compelling stories of real lives and events while conveying information or perspectives that are often obscured from the public eye. The viewer becomes a participant, an insider privy to these truths. Documentaries have the potential to involve the audience emotionally and shift their awareness or change their assumptions about an issue. And, importantly, documentaries (most often) offer the possibility of change.

As vegan activists, we’re working to connect people emotionally with the hard realities of lives of animals raised for food and convey the profound impact that vegan living has on animals, the environment, world hunger, health, and nutrition.

Recommended vegan-related films

Lucky for us, we have a number of fascinating vegan-related documentaries to choose from. Our feedback* from VegFund grantees points to a few films that have been particularly successful with general audiences. Many of you are already familiar with these films, but for those of you who aren’t:

  • Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret  – A feature-length documentary that follows filmmaker Kip Andersen as he explores the devastating effects of animal agriculture on deforestation, water consumption, pollution, greenhouse gases, rainforest destruction, species extinction, habitat loss, topsoil erosion, ocean dead zones, and more. Anderson investigates the world’s leading environmental organizations and uncovers what appears to be an intentional refusal to discuss the issues of animal agriculture. Read the Screening guidelines for this documentary.

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  •  VegucatedThis entertaining documentary profiles the personal journeys of three New York meat-lovers who agree to adopt a vegan diet for six weeks. The film follows their evolution as they explore the world of vegan living and its effects on personal health — and as they take their first glimpse into the world of animal agriculture. The film doesn’t shy away from presenting the challenges as well as benefits of vegan living. This film offers an often-humorous take on transitioning to a vegan diet. Read the Screening guidelines for this documentary.

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  •  Forks Over KnivesForks Over Knives investigates the potential role of a “whole foods, plant-based” diet in avoiding, controlling, or reversing chronic diseases, such as diabetes, coronary artery disease, obesity, and cancer. The film advocates removing animal-based foods, including dairy, as well as highly processed foods from our diets. The film follows the journeys of pioneering researchers, Dr. T. Colin Campbell, nutritional scientist at Cornell, and Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, surgeon and head of the Breast Cancer Task Force at the Cleveland Clinic, whose experiences led them to take a close look at the role of animal-based foods in degenerative diseases. Read the Screening guidelines for this documentary.

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  •  Peaceable Kingdom: The Journey Home – An engaging story of personal transformation , Peaceable Kingdom: The Journey Home portrays the stories of seven people who grew up in traditional farming culture as they re-examine their relationship with animals. The film follows, among others, a humane police officer whose conscience is in conflict with the laws she upholds and farmers who begin to question their way of life in light of their connections with the animals they care for. This heart-warming film enlightens us about the factors that open people’s hearts to animals and depicts the rich lives and personalities of farm animals. Read the Screening guidelines for this documentary.

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  • Speciesism: The Movie – The term “speciesism” refers to a “prejudice in favor of the interests of members of one’s own species over members of another species.” This concept manifests as the idea of human superiority over non-human animals and, at its extreme, that animals exist for our use. Director Mark Devries examines the questions around speciesism through conversations with a variety of people including anti-factory farming activists, a member of the American Nazi Party, a vivisectionist, and known personalities such as Peter Singer, Temple Grandin, and Richard Dawkins. The film is a provocative foray into the moral questions regarding species. Read the Screening guidelines for this documentary.

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Customize your vegan film-screening event

Documentary screenings are ripe for your creative vision. Screenings can be held publically in theaters, libraries, schools, churches — or privately as a house party. Combine screenings with vegan potlucks or food sampling. Consider including a Q&A session or inviting subject experts to speak or lead the discussion. Use the event to encourage an action such as try veg, sign up, donate.

On the websites of most documentaries, you’ll find a section on hosting a screening. Requirements vary, but a reasonably-priced film purchase (with license) is usually needed. On many sites, you’ll find supplementary material, such as designs for promotional materials and topics for discussion. The Screenings section of the VegFund website guides you through planning your screening event and submitting a request for funding assistance.

We recommend that you view the documentary in advance to ensure its suitability for your audience. Some films, for example, have graphic images that may not be suitable for children. Some films have the option for subtitles, which may be important for some audiences.

Check out our new film-screening partnership program

More extensive lists of animal rights/vegan films can be found through a quick Internet search. Look for new films too. As the pace of awareness grows, more and more inspiring documentaries emerge.

We are particularly excited about two newly released documentaries The Last Pig and Eating You Alive. VegFund is experimenting with a new partnership model to help our activists screen these new and important films. We are inviting you to partner with VegFund to use the power of these films to reach your communities and build networks of activists to energize local connections for vegan outreach.

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How to apply for a partnership screening grant:

  •  Apply to VegFund for a grant through our Screenings program and indicate your interest in screening The Last Pig and Eating you Alive  in your community and the date(s) you hope to screen the film(s). Both films will be available to screen beginning in June 2017. Within your application, you can provide ideas of how you might incorporate food sampling, literature, or speakers from your community into the event to make it all the more interesting and informative for the audience.
  •  VegFund will locate and book a screening venue in your city, pay for the venue directly, and then pay the film license fee directly to the distributor.
  • Once VegFund has selected and booked the venue, we will turn the event back over to you, the applicant activist, to complete the event organization and host the film. That means 1) recruiting your friends, family, and community to attend the film, 2) organizing food sampling, local area speakers, etc., as approved by VegFund, 3) attending the film to introduce it to the audience and tell them why you are hosting the film, and 4) raising awareness of VegFund’s grant opportunities.

If this new partnership model shows promise, VegFund will develop a screening toolkit in the near future to make the process as effortless as possible!

Choose a film. Take action!

You can still apply for traditional screening grants through our standard process for any film that may be of interest to your community, including The Last Pig or Eating You Alive. But, if you’re interested in hosting a larger public screening at an independent theater of one of these new documentary films and need support finding a venue and working with the distributor (and having those items paid for by VegFund in advance), we are here to help!

As a vegan activist, you are at the core of VegFund’s vision to create a compassionate vegan world. So, what are you waiting for? Educate and entertain the public. Change the world. Apply to host a screening in your area!

Stay in touch — tell us about your next screening event!

*relative to popularity, most effective, and recommended.

Activist Spotlight: Rutgers Veg Society Inspires with Farm to Fridge PPV

In 2016, members of the Rutgers Veg Society held an engaging “pay-per-view (PPV)” video event on their college campus to inform students about the plight of animals in the industrial farming system.

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For those of you who may not be familiar with “PPV,” it’s a form of outreach where advocates ask the public to view short, informative videos in exchange for a small incentive, such as $1 or $2 or a vegan treat. Vegan activists use PPV as a way to introduce the public to the hard realities of factory farming and related issues in bearable doses (if there is such a thing) that can have a major impact with a minimal investment of their time.

Farm to Fridge

The Rutgers group showed the video, “Farm to Fridge” and enlightened students with information and guidance on becoming vegan — and they were delighted with the response to the event. Rutgers Veg Society was founded in 1970 to provide university students — vegan or vegetarian or those interested in learning more — with a supportive meeting place on campus. The society celebrates the many reasons for vegan living, from animal rights, personal health, environmental impact, and other issues, through regular meetings and community outreach activities. Activities include leafleting, lectures, movie screenings, potlucks, and visits to animal sanctuaries. VegFund interviewed activists, Ngoc Kim and Quadri Lasisi to find out more about this pay-per-view event and Rutgers Veg Society’s other campus outreach activities.

Rutgers Veg Society PPV Event on Campus - 2016

Rutgers Veg Society PPV Event on Campus – 2016

VF: What inspired you to get involved in vegan outreach?

Ngoc: The internet works wonders when you’re looking for individuals who have similar interests. I went vegan after watching a 4-minute video via Facebook titled “Farm to Fridge.” From this point on I started connecting with animal activists and became inspired by a few particular strong women — Kimberly Spiegel from PETA, Amy Horowitz from NJ Farm Animal Save, and Rachel Atcheson from The Humane League. I remember seeing photos of their activism on Facebook and admired how they put their passion into action. I asked, “How do I get started?” Rachel was kind enough to meet me by The Humane League’s office. I lived close by, and she simply asked, “How many leaflets would you like?” She was so generous and handed me leaflets by the boxes so I could get started during my first semester at Rutgers. Over time, I began making the connections of how veganism is not just about animal rights, but also environmental impact and health. I started joining Earth Day marches, climate marches, and joint events with other organizations. Rutgers Veg Society members, events, and alliances continue to grow bigger and stronger!

VF: What other activism or vegan events have you been involved in?

Ngoc: Most of my activism is involved with Rutgers Veg Society. We’ve been involved with numerous organizations on campus and outside the university working with 10 Billion Lives, PETA, Jewish Veg, The Humane League, Meatless Monday, HSUS, NJ Farm Animal Save, Hampton Creek, Gardein. We’ve also gained a relationship with the dining services at Rutgers to help promote Meatless Monday and add more vegan options on campus. To me, veganism is the core — and when I began seeing how it relates to the treatment of animals, environmental issues, and health … it got me thinking about how I should apply my new skill of activism to other causes. I got interested in other forms of activism such as Fossil Fuel Divestment protests and climate change marches, and I’m also looking forward to getting active with Rutgers United Students Against Sweatshops and the LGBTQ community.

VF: What were some of the responses or discussions you had during this event?

Ngoc: During the Rutgers Day event, a common response I heard was, “I didn’t know this happened. I’m shocked.” Usually, people are speechless because the short video footage disturbs them. Sometimes I don’t know what to say to them but can only sympathize as if I was them watching the video for the first time. I guide them through the photos in Vegan Starter Kits about where to get plant-based foods, how delicious they are, and how much more nutritious, too.

VF: What was the highlight of this event for you?

Ngoc: There were many highlights of this event. One — the many members and my officers in my organization who came to help set up the event and talk to the many participants about veganism. We had lines throughout the day, and if I didn’t have volunteers, I would’ve been so exhausted, and we wouldn’t have been able to reach out to many individuals in such a highly active event. Two — not only did we reach out to a high number of viewers but we were able to have one-to-one conversations about veganism. We had quantity and quality.

Quadri: In particular, when we paid people to watch Farm to Fridge, many commented on my physique because they were simply astonished that a vegan could build a sizable amount of muscle. I used this as an opportunity to discuss the health benefits of a vegan diet and lifestyle. Many pledged to either consume less meat or stop consuming meat entirely.

VF: What barriers did you face during the hosting of this event?

Ngoc: Because there are strict rules about tabling at Rutgers, we are not able to have vegan meat on display, which would have been a great way for viewers to get a taste that when you’re vegan, you’re not missing a thing.

VF: Do you have any quotes from attendees at your event or anecdotes that may be of interest to other activists?

Ngoc: A quote that was passed to me that I now use when attendees can’t seem to grasp the concept of veganism is “You wouldn’t hurt an animal unnecessarily, would you?” Another suggestion is to sympathize and understand how the attendee feels. If they’re sad, understand that and talk to them as if you were sad and watching the gruesome videos for the first time.

Quadri: Yes! A person I met during an event the Rutgers Veg Society and PETA held here at Rutgers went vegan after reading the leaflet that we handed to him. I took down his contact info, and he has since informed me that since he went vegan he has gotten stronger, leaner, and has much more energy throughout the day, definitely a reassuring anecdote. We’d like to thank both Ngoc and Quadri for taking the time to be interviewed! You can follow Rutger’s Veg Society on Facebook to stay up-to-date on their latest news.

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There are many ways to inspire people with your outreach efforts, and VegFund would love to help you. If you want to host an event similar to this one within your local community or on your college campus, we may be able to offer you some funding. Please read our Programs Overview for information on the types of grants we offer and how to apply.

Make a Resolution to Be a Voice For Animals In 2017!

Happy New Year from VegFund!

Last chance to make your resolutions for 2017.

How about…

Resolve to organize or participate in a vegan outreach event!

VegFund is here to help.

If you’re new to vegan advocacy, find local vegan groups in your area. A few good places to look:

  • Meetup groups
  • Search social media (Facebook and Twitter, especially) for groups near you
  • Ask at your local veg restaurant
  • Join the planning team of a local VegFest

Find out what events they have on the calendar for 2017 — and volunteer! If they don’t have outreach events planned, suggest a food-sampling event, a documentary screening, leafleting, or video pay-per-view — and make sure they know that VegFund can help with grant-based support.

Or, start your own group! If there aren’t vegan groups in your area, get one going. Expanding vegan living into new areas is a fabulous goal for the new year.

If you’re a veteran activist, start the new year with some creative outreach planning. We have a few suggestions for you based on our 2016 survey of our grantees. Here’s what worked for them:

Host a Documentary Film Screening

Educate and entertain the public with a screening of one of the many excellent documentaries relating to animal agriculture. With an ever-growing choice of documentaries in this area, you’re sure to find something suitable whether you want to engage people on topics of animal rights, the environment, or health and nutrition.

FMVeg Minnesota - Cowspiracy Screening 2016

“The reception was fantastic, with one of the viewers wanting to host his own viewing, with my (and your) help!” – FMVeg, Minnesota – Cowspiracy Screening 2015

VegFund grantees use a variety of venues for film screenings. The three most common are:

  • local church facilities
  • town halls
  • college campuses

The documentaries most commonly screened by our grantees are:

  • Cowspiracy
  • Vegucated
  • Peaceable Kingdom
  • Forks Over Knives

Find out more about hosting a screening here.

Before the event:

  • Set up a Facebook event for the screening and invite your connections! About one month before the event should suffice. List the event venue, date and time, and any other important details. Include a blurb about the documentary film — and note if you’re including a Q&A session.
  • Post the event page within veg groups and other relevant groups on a regular basis in the weeks before the event.
  • Put up posters at the venue and other strategic locations in run-up to the event. Local print shops are usually happy to offer help or guidelines in setting up and printing your materials.

The day of the event:

  • Find out in advance what time you can gain access to the venue to start your preparations.
  • Plan to be at the venue 1–2 hours before the event to give you time to arrange the room, put out chairs, set up the projector, and lay out additional materials such as educational literature and food samples.
  • Leave the venue as you found it. Settle up any outstanding fees with the venue.

Host a Food Sampling Table at a Local Fair

Food sampling is a simple but effective form of outreach. Just book a stall at a suitable event, plan and prepare your food items, and turn up on the day with some volunteer support.

“AWESOME! Thanksliving went so much better than I could have ever hoped!! I had so many wonderful helpers and we gave out all the samples two hours sooner than I had expected! We got nothing but positive responses. We literally ran out of vegan fliers to hand out. Everyone LOVED the food.” – Students for Animal Rights Thanksliving event

Kindred Spirits Care Farm - Food Day LA 2016

Kindred Spirits Care Farm – Food Day LA 2016

Our grantees typically set up food sampling tables at:

  • local community fairs and markets
  • green festivals
  • health fairs
  • college campuses

The most popular types of vegan food samples handed out are:

  • mock meat products, such as Tofurky and Gardein products
  • plant milks – offer a variety such as soy, almond, and coconut
  • homemade cookies and cupcakes

The day of the event!

  • Set up before the event starts and be sure to keep your table tidy and sample trays full.
  • Dress smart-casual and have a smile on your face. Presentation is key to enticing people to stop for a taste.
  • Rotate your staff if you have volunteers. Prepare a schedule in advance to ensure everyone gets a break during the day.
  • Check out our blog on effective communication for tips on engaging with people about vegan living.
  • If you’re part of a vegan group, have a clipboard for sign-ups.

VegFund’s suggested sources for literature to hand out:

Learn more about food sampling events here.

What other outreach ideas does VegFund consider?

We provide grant support for a whole variety of vegan outreach activities, and we’re always interested in new and creative ideas — online campaigns, vegan fashion shows, speakers, vegfests, and more. See the Merit Awards section of the VegFund website for guidelines on funding innovative projects that promote veganism. Some examples from the past year:

Slovensko vegansko društvo (Slovenian Vegan Society) hosted Vegafest 2016. More than 10,000 people were reached by the event, with an estimate of 7,000 non-veg people visiting the festival itself.

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Dzīvnieku brīvība in Latvia held a Vegan Summer Solstice celebration where they served vegan cheese samples to attendees and distributed educational literature. Activists engaged in some really positive discussions, with many people showing an interest in making steps towards vegan living.

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This type of outreach is funded through VegFund’s Merit Awards program.

Learn more about our program guidelines and apply for a grant today!

Wishing you the very best of luck with your outreach in 2017.

- The VegFund Team