Cowspiracy: A look at the iconic documentary on animal agriculture

It's the documentary that everyone's talking about, seems to bring up in online forums, and is the one film that your vegan friend has been begging you to watch.

So, what's the beef with Cowspiracy?

The documentary focuses on the impact of livestock production on the planet: the enormous amount of greenhouse gases this industry creates, the power and influence of the animal agriculture industry, and some of the cruel practices routinely carried out as part of meat and dairy production.

Thanks to the wonders of the Internet, you can stream the film at the Cowspiracy website.

Here are five other documentaries that will get you rethinking the food that you eat

What is animal agriculture?

Animal agriculture is the practice of breeding animals for the production of animal products and for recreational purposes. In everyday life, animal agriculture links to our demand for meat.

We know that meat has an environmental impacts. We know that reducing our meat consumption is one way that we can help to make our carbon footprint smaller.

Here are some resources to help you get informed about animal agriculture and meat consumption:

Locavore or vegetarian? What's the best way to reduce climate impact of food?

Fast facts about animal agriculture to help you get informed

[Watch] How Much Does Meat Actually Cost?

The bigger picture

Documentaries such as Cowspiracy are part of a growing debate around food production, animal welfare and the environmental impact of our food. More and more, people are asking questions about what's on our plate: where it's from, how it was produced, and whether it's a sustainable option.

We're used to seeing stories in the media about live exports of animals for slaughter, whether food is free range, hormone free, gluten free, organic, biodynamic, grass fed… the list goes on!

It's also becoming confusing for consumers who want to make a responsible choice, especially as terms such as "sustainable meat" don't have just one definition, but may actually refer to a number of different farming and animal management practices.

This Butcher Doesn't Sell Any Meat. Here's why…

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A sustainable future isn't just about meat

As Simon Lamey so eloquently put in this article, "This is not about turning us all vegan; this is about finding a sustainable diet for each person on this planet from now to 2050."

While the issues are not as black and white as "meat is bad" and "plants are good", the overall trend is that we need to reduce our meat consumption in order to avoid further environmental going into the future.

Read more on this topic: How reducing the consumption of animal products benefits the environment

Eating less meat has also been show to positively affect your health. A report from Chatham Housefound that on average, people in industrialised countries such as Australia and the US eat twice as much meat as is deemed healthy by experts. This is leading to an increase in diseases such as obesity and type-2 diabetes.

What you can do

For regular meat eaters, try cutting out 1 red meat meal each week. By cutting out one 150g red meat meal a week you can save approximately 195kg of CO2 in a year.

Calculate the environmental benefits of reducing your meat consumption

Always ask where your food is coming from, and make the most ethical and sustainable choices based on what is available to you. Use your power as a consumer!

READ THIS NEXT: 1 Million Women's guide on adapting to a plant-based diet

Images: Shutterstock and Unsplash

1 Million Women is more than our name, it's our goal! We're building a movement of strong, inspirational women acting on climate change by leading low-carbon lives. To make sure that our message has an impact, we need more women adding their voice. We need to be louder. Joining us online means your voice and actions can be counted. We need you.

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