“Earthlings is a 2005 American documentary film about humankind’s total dependence on animals for economic purposes. Presented in five chapters (pets, food, clothing, entertainment and scientific research) the film is narrated by Joaquin Phoenix, featuring music by Moby, and was written, produced and directed by Shaun Monson.”
How Not to Die describes the numerous health benefits of eating a plant-based diet. After reading through half the book, I watched Earthlings to see arguments from the animal rights activists for eliminating animal products from the dinner table. Personal health has always been my primary interest for minimizing meat consumption. But the message in this documentary is just as difficult to ignore as it is to watch.
There are some valid counter arguments to abandoning meat, which are listed in this reddit thread. The most compelling was that from an Indian man who argues he will not stop eating meat nor stop providing it for his family because he has genuine concern that his children my not survive due to malnutrition. Perhaps citizens of the more developed nations are the primary audience for this documentary.
I have watched a handful of anti-meat documentaries, and often they appeal to emotions such as shame, guilt, or anger. Earthlings takes a more objective role, showing film of industrial animal manufacturing in the United States. It was refreshing to be treated as a neutral observer, instead of being reprimanded. There are definite appeals to emotion, but the dialogue in the documentary is more calm than any I’ve seen before.
Earthlings has made me reconsider my current relationship with meat and animal products. I imagine I have grown up with more livestock experience than many of my neighbors. I learned from my family to slaughter fish, chickens, turkeys, and rabbits for food. I attempted a pescatarian diet for several years in my twenties, but only for personal health reasons. This is the most cognizant I have been of my indirect participation in the massive consumption of animals, and what that actually means.
Three Stages of Truth
- Violent Opposition
Attributed to German Philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer (1788–1860)
- Nation Earth: Earthlings 10th Anniverary Edition
- Michael Greger, MD: How Not to Die: Discover the Foods Scientifically Proven to Prevent and Reverse Disease
- Reddit: People who didn’t after watching ‘Earthlings’ – why not?
- Reddit: Indian man’s comment
- University of Waterloo: Science, Pseudoscience, and The Three Stages of Truth by Jeffrey Shallit