As vegans of 27 years we are aware of the environmental benefits of adopting such a diet; it's one of the many reasons we are vegan. So we went along to the Cornish Premiere of Cowspiracy more out of interest and also to support the screening. What we didn't quite expect was to be shocked, better informed and generally blown away by this groundbreaking and brave film. Even for long term vegans this film is a wake up call.
The facts presented in this film about the environmental impact of animal agriculture are, quite frankly, shocking and a world away from the facts that as a 17 year old new vegan activist I enthusiastically shared with anyone that would listen all those years ago. The world has moved on and the facts surrounding the livestock industry have moved on too; with even more destructive force. I felt like the 17 year old me again; shocked, indignant and utterly confused about how such things can happen in the world. This is a very strange feeling to have given that, unlike the 17 year old me back then, I have already been vegan for so long. This film reinforces your decision to be vegan for sure but any smug feeling you might have is dissolved in the sheer stupidity, frustration and cataclysm of the situation.
The environmental facts were shocking enough but the attitude of the environmental organisations featured brought a whole different level of disbelief. This was at times amusing in the bizarre denial of the fact that animal agriculture is the world's biggest cause of environmental destruction. It was also shocking both for the lack of knowledge displayed by some organisations, and for others their unwillingness to admit to these facts in public.
A person who follows a vegan diet uses 50% less carbon dioxide, 1/11 oil, 1/13 water, and 1/18 land compared to a meat-eater.
Greenpeace were among the organisations tackled by the film makers and also the most uncooperative, with even the hint of possibility of funding ties with the livestock industry. I've never been a huge supporter of Greenpeace, preferring Sea Shepherds more honest and direct approach to campaigns, but I do have a Cooperative bank credit card that is linked to Greenpeace. Now may be the time to reassess that decision. That is what I mean about this film, it makes you question things deeper and deeper. Another such example is that of the subsidisation of the livestock industry. The realisation that, without any choice in the matter, it is the hard earned cash of you and I that go towards this, was horrifying; a kick in the teeth basically and a resounding feeling of naivety on my behalf . How can we extract ourselves from this situation?
As someone who comes from a film making background, the message aside, I felt this was a really well made film. The on screen graphical facts, the animations, the injection of humour and the choice of interviewees all struck the right balance; the heaviness of the subject matter lightened by this thoughtful approach. Little moments of subtext had Phil and I glancing knowingly at each other with a wry smile; the only wide shot during an interview being that of the expansive frame of a representative of the livestock industry was one such example.
It was however the journey that Kip Andersen took whilst making this film that added even more authenticity. He didn't start out as a vegan but as an environmentalist searching for ways to further lessen his impact on the world. His journey of discovery is the real story as it is a road that most environmental organisations seem intent on not giving you directions towards. In his sharing of this journey publicly he has made his road a very bumpy and precarious one; a road on which other campaigners have lost their lives on whilst speaking out against the impact of animal agriculture; yet another shocking fact revealed in the film.
The show of hands at the end of the screening is the true indication of the importance of this film. About 10% of the audience said they would make changes to their diet, with the majority of the audience already being vegan or vegetarian. The biggest difference we can now make as vegans is to support that 10% wholeheartedly. We would like to extend that support personally to anyone reading this post who is just about to undertake the vegan journey; please feel free to contact us. That way the legacy of the film will continue for many years to come.
There is so much more we could write about this film; this is just the tip of the iceberg, but it is knowing when to stop. All we can say is if you haven't already seen Cowspiracy, we urge you, vegan or not, to seek it out, support it and spread the word. It will literally change your world.
Thanks go to Cornwall Animal Action and Sam Grady for organising and funding the screening. It was very much appreciated.