More meat, more problems in ‘Cowspiracy’

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There’s something environmentalists aren’t telling you, and there’s something the U.S. government is hiding from you. The investigative documentary “Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret” had its world premiere in San Francisco on Thursday, revealing hidden truths that will shock even the most informed eco-warrior. And yet the question is simple: What is the single biggest contributor to global climate change?

“Cowspiracy” reveals, through a slow, suspenseful buildup, that the answer lies in your bloody steak. The film explains that animal agriculture actually accounts for 51 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions produced and released into Earth’s atmosphere, citing a 2009 Wordwatch Institute report. Animal agriculture is revealed to also be the leading cause of water depletion, deforestation, species extinction and ocean “dead zones.”

The film is packed with testimonies, citing industry experts ranging from professors and corporate executives to former cattle ranchers to doctors and nutritionists. But what’s shocking about “Cowspiracy” is that while some are aware of the detrimental impact eating animals has on our environment, many of the world’s largest and most famous nonprofit environmental organizations suppress, do not acknowledge or are ignorant of this basic truth.

Despite its depressing and at times grim subject matter, film directors Kip Andersen and Keegan Kuhn construct the documentary to mirror Andersen’s individual journey as he begins to question the world around him after watching Al Gore’s famous film “An Inconvenient Truth.” After realizing that Gore ignores the No. 1 contributor to climate change, Andersen takes it upon himself to craft a film that exposes what Gore’s does not.

From beginning to end, “Cowspiracy” is incredibly gripping. As it flashes between candid, raw interviews, one can see moments of intense anxiety, sadness and passion. Tight, close-up camera framing creates strange moments that linger long after the scenes have passed, such as when a former Whole Foods executive states “fishing is not a sustainable food source.” Andersen and Kuhn’s filming captures the often-awkward essence of its subjects as some stumble and spew out strange answers that only deepen the mystery. Andersen tries to speak to anyone and everyone who will speak to him and airs footage of numerous rejections in an effort to make the film appear as honest and grassroots as possible. Shots of the Bay Bridge and San Francisco as Andersen realizes the world isn’t quite what he thought it was hit incredibly close to home.

Whenever facts, studies and statistics threaten to overwhelm the overarching narrative, Andersen’s youthful voice brings viewers back to his everyday world. Through the lens of “Cowspiracy,” Andersen humbly reveals he too was quite ignorant of the reality of things until he began to question the executives and environmentalists who side-stepped his earnest questions.

Over the course of the documentary, Andersen learns that organizations ignore the devastating impact of animal agriculture on the environment because they fear reprimand from the powerful, corporate monster that is the animal agriculture industry. As a representative of Amazon Watch finally admits, “A lot of people just keep their mouths shut because they don’t want to be the next one with the bullet to their head.” “Cowspiracy” explores dangerous waters, but its directors feel it’s worth the risk.

In spite of its sobering tone throughout, the film ends on a positive note. After his years of research and discovery, Andersen presents a proactive solution at an individual level: a shift to an entirely plant-based diet. By the end of the “Cowspiracy,” one is left feeling as though a brick wall has been shattered right in the face, but it’s a good feeling to see a slice of truth flayed open on the big screen.

Contact Kate Irwin at [email protected].

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  • Great to see that Cowspiracy is now on Netflix – will reach a whole load more people!

    Here’s the infographic highlighting the key facts from the film if you want to check it out: http://herohealthroom.com/2014/11/25/cowspiracy-infographic/

  • Great to see that Cowspiracy is now on Netflix – will reach a whole load more people!

    Here’s the infographic highlighting the key facts from the film if you want to check it out: http://herohealthroom.com/2014/11/25/cowspiracy-infographic/

  • Tesla_X

    Pay no attention to propaganda….believe in what you see.

  • jamesbutler75

    I’m not ready to become a vegetarian, but I’m completely convinced that this issue is real and extremely important. I’m definitely going to EAT LESS MEAT. Zero beef. A little pork. Some chicken. Some fish.

    And it’s much better from a health perspective. I’m going to use helping the planet as a good excuse for me to live longer,

  • waytoopicky

    Don’t bother commenting if you have not watched the film.

  • Letty Grayson

    Just watched it today. Any thinking person, vegan or not, will realize that it raises serious questions about raising animals for food.

    • sabelmouse

      it’s slightly funny as a spoof. otherwise it’s ridiculous propaganda. beef is pretty much the most sustainable meat other than responsible hunting.

      • waytoopicky

        Hahaha responsible hunting! LOL!

        • sabelmouse

          would you rather have irresponsible hunting? it happens, i am not in favour.

          • waytoopicky

            ALL hunting is more than just irresponsible, it is wrong and will be deemed so in the same way that all slavery, war and paedophilia are wrong. Some humans have already taken these issues on board.

          • sabelmouse

            yup, militant vegans who don’t give a rat’s behind what animals die for their ”livestyle” or how gruesomely.

    • Any thinking person would go to check the facts first before believing anything that’s said or thrown out on there. I know I did after watching it, and the serious questions that were raised for me was the integrity and viability of that film. And as far as I’m concerned, it was lacking seriously in both.

  • meltyman

    “The film explains that animal agriculture actually accounts for 51 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions produced and released into Earth’s atmosphere, citing a 2009 Wordwatch Institute report. ”

    No! For whatever reason these people are misleading you on GHG/climate forcing: the carbon in the steak was recently in the atmosphere (then in the veg the cow ate) — it’s part of the carbon cycle, completely and utterly different from the ancient carbon we are releasing by burning fossil fuels. There may be other very good reasons to curb livestock numbers, such as increasing food production efficiency and reducing land conversion from forest to pasture (only 4% of the 51% figure in the report). However, the claimed 22% contribution to the “51% of all GHG emissions” from “Overlooked respiration by livestock” (cow breathing; 13.7%) and “Undercounted methane” (i.e., cow belches and farts; 7.9%) is COMPLETELY IRRELEVANT irrelevant to climate forcing. This is obvious to anyone who has actually studied the carbon cycle… but you don’t need a PhD, just listen to someone who has one (or see the 2-minute version). It is our burning of carbon that was long locked away in the solid Earth that is causing the GHG heating problem.

    It does not help a good cause to include disingenuous claims like this. The cows are (mostly) innocent!

    • sabelmouse

      they do kill more people than sharks though.

  • Michael Russell

    Wow, more than coal, more than oil, more than natural gas, more than transportation and steel production, more than building, mining, and all the lights on earth. Animal Farming is causing more GHG problems than everything else put together? Hard to believe.

  • OHDisqusNSA666100

    I sympathize with Al Gore and others who say that discussing meat would complicate the message of educating people about carbon and global warming.
    However, that is not an excuse to assist in the coverup and denial. It is only an excuse to not put the meat issue up front – at best. It is not an excuse for you yourself to remain in the comfortable state of not knowing either.
    Denial of facts about meat and global warming, is NO DIFFERENT than other kinds of global warming denial.
    It is still denial. These are facts!
    If you dismiss these facts, crack jokes, if because it seems incredible you assist in the cover-up and denial, then you are not different from full-on global warming denialists.
    Global warming denial has entered a stage where it isn’t always denying global warming exists, but for example to deny that measures should be taken by the US govt to do anything about it. To deny the facts about animal agriculture however is straight up stonewall DENIAL of the first variety. You are denying facts.

    PS. Where have you penetrated with this movie? Have you called the Thom Hartmann show? Please update us every time you get a breakthrough.

    • Schedule F

      There is not as much denial about climate change as some would have society believe. The fact is, climate change has been going on for more than a few million years. Earth has been coming out of an Ice Age for the last how many hundred thousand years?

  • boris krokar
    • OHDisqusNSA666100

      Absolutely without credibility.

      http://www.slate.com/articles/life/food/2013/04/allan_savory_s_ted_talk_is_wrong_and_the_benefits_of_holistic_grazing_have.html

      When Allan Savory finished his TED talk early last month, foodies worldwide collectively salivated. In roughly 22 minutes, Savory, a biologist and former member of the Rhodesian Parliament, challenged the conventional wisdom blaming livestock for the degradation of global grasslands into hardpan deserts. It has long been a basic tenet of environmentalism that 10,000 years of overgrazing has caused this desertification. Environmentalists insist that to restore degraded landscapes, we must reduce the presence of cattle, eat less meat, and allow ecosystems to repair themselves. Savory, who admits that he’s suggesting “the unthinkable,” wants humans to do the exact opposite: Add cattle to the deserts, manage them with obsessive precision, and eat more meat.

      • steve_in_nj

        Now that sounds like the voice of reason!

      • waytoopicky

        he also had 40,000 elephants shot to stop them desertifying the land

  • Daniel Olson

    This should be a very interesting movie. I would be surprised to find real integrity in these statistics. What I have read and seen so far lacks objectivity, and is limited to the narrative that “beef/meat is bad… period”

    • OHDisqusNSA666100

      I have every confidence that you CAN find excuses to block this information out, even with this new movie. IF that is your desire.

      • meltyman

        I think everyone should watch it, take note of the claims made and numbers cited — and check them. Then get angry about being lied to. This is a documentary that has some worthy goals but the producers have shot themselves in the foot by making outrageous and easily debunked claims about the climate impact of livestock vs burning fossil fuels. As far as I am concerned this movie degrades the documentary genre.

    • waytoopicky

      http://www.teachwithmovies.org/guides/cowspiracy.html here’s all the validation you need and all the sources and references re the figures. Enjoy

    • Letty Grayson

      It is.

  • Takeda

    Yes it’s cows killing the planet. Forget about industrial and other agricultural pollution, airplanes, cars an trucks and all other petrol run equipment. If we all eat vegetarian the world will stop being polluted. Give me a break.

    • OHDisqusNSA666100

      No, that is not correct.
      The film never makes any claim that meat is supposedly the ONLY factor in global warming. Your tactic is dishonest, because the film does not make that claim.
      What the film says is that meat is part of the problem, which is true, and that it may be as much or more of the problem than even transportation.
      But the film does NOT say to forget about industry. You merely attempt to deceive.

      • Takeda

        Follow the links from the cowspiracy folks website and you’ll see they’re supported heavily by individuales tht identify with an see animals as equals. But they’re food. Methane is not killing the planet by polluting the air and water. There are sustainable solutions an not eating meat isn’t it. I’m not attempting to deceive anyone the yo yo’s who made this fear mongering movie to promote veganism are.

      • meltyman

        “What the film says is that meat is part of the problem, which is true, and that it may be as much or more of the problem than even transportation.”

        Yes it apparently does say that — but that is flat-out incorrect. Reason: cows are a part of the fast carbon cycle. We should indeed all eat less meat — but people lying about the reasons is at best unhelpful and at worst shameful. Think how angry viewers will be when they get educated on this and realize that the movie has lied to them about this important issue.

    • waytoopicky

      Did you even watch it??

  • Schedule F

    I fear for the children being raised vegan. I believe they will have the brain of a monkey. Their votes will be bought and sold in the political marketplace of entitlement slavery.

    • Sin Sentido Comun

      Hope you die from stomach cancer

      • Schedule F

        The fact is: the human brain is best developed on animal protein. It’s how we got the brain we have.

    • OHDisqusNSA666100

      Bill Clinton is a vegan.
      Ladies and gentlemen, who would you rather have babysit your kids – Bill Clinton or this hilarious comedian.

      • Schedule F

        Bill Clinton is a vegan. I rest my case.

  • Liana Lawrence

    I agree that the meat industrial complex is horrific in all ways; however we must not be diverted from the biggest secret of all that also is not being touched by on the media, environmental agencies or any government. It is called geo-engineering. There is a mass effort to destroy the whole planetary eco-system. We are being sprayed agressively from unmarked aircraft each and every day which is blatantly evident. All can see the huge trails being left by these aircarft which spread out over time and white out the whole sky. There are also unnatural clouds that do not even resemble real clouds in the sky. The weather is being modified and we are being showered with metallic nano particles, molds and manufactured pathogens which are killing the trees and killing us gradually. The epidemics of disease are being kept out of the media as well. 1000’s world wide are speaking out and documenting this atrocity. Just check out the California Shasta county hearing on yourtube and you will really learn something! Go to chemtrails global skywatch on facebook to see this evidence. Our environment is being destroyed from all fronts, but geo-engineering is the biggest elephant in the room very few are aware of. It is pure diabolical evil! Please google this and educate yourselves on this as well,

    • OHDisqusNSA666100

      Cowspiracy is NOT a diversion from any biggest secret, at all.

  • William Wallis

    Well-meaning film using false data. The part about CO2 is fiction. The largest source for co2 is car exhaust from big cities. If the film makers wants to get to the root of environmental problems they need to address over-population and the birthrates of people in poverty and religions that don’t use birth control.

    • chrissy

      We have to find ways to decrease Co2 emissions from a variety of sources…car exhaust and meat sources….and overpopulation…the bottom line is that there are many sources. It seems to me decreasing meat consumption just ONE DAY a week can have a huge impact. If everyone did this, essentially we could have more than a 10% reduction from the meat source. We have to start somewhere.

    • MrTacos

      The film did not state CO2 being produced by cows; Methane gas is produced by cows and manure and that has a worse effect on the green house gases; maybe you need to see it again, and pay attention this time ok?

    • Catherine Hays

      Not fiction brother Wallis. YOU are uninformed in this case. The CO2 factor is not widely known, which is the point of the movie. It is not not widely known for a reason. The movie explains WHY it isn’t well known. You don’t think that the meat industry WANTS us to know how much damage their product is doing to the planet now…do you? That would be silly and unproductive-and bad PR. lol.

  • WardPallotta

    Top two reasons for switching to a vegan diet were [1] health and [2] animal cruelty. This look at the environmental impact of eating animals could leapfrog the other two and get us to the tipping point of changing our eating habits.

    • OHDisqusNSA666100

      Especially the more eating excess meat is becoming something that “other nations” want to do, such as China.

  • Support Small Farms

    This mockumentary is fast and loose with the numbers. Here’s a real critique of this cartoon http://exm.nr/1rrdpQy The dentist who is the main “expert” is something of a joke along with almost all of Kip’s pseudo analysis. Just an abolitionist vegan flick using climate change to further an abolitionist vegan agenda.

    • carter

      and your agenda in making this comment is relevant

      • Support Small Farms

        yep

        • waytoopicky

          your farming days are numbered!

          • LA Chefs column

            No, ranching with livestock is regenerative meaning it builds healthy soils. Healthy soils are essential for all forms of farming as well as maintaining methane sinks, increasing water retention, and sequestering carbon. Though since you get what feeble knowledge you appear to have of farming from people like Richard Oppenlander through his book or the movie based on his book, it is no wonder why you are so misinformed. Ope doesn’t even mention soil in his book or movie. http://www.examiner.com/article/la-chefs-book-review-ope-s-vegan-manifesto-comfortably-unaware

    • sabelmouse

      thanks for the link!

    • steve_in_nj

      Great link! It exposes a nearly fact-free schmier, a la Alar apple scare, of which I hadn’t heard until today. Sheesh.
      Vegan is OK for some of my friends, but not for me, I’m healthy and I need some beef. Not in excess, but enough.
      A little history knowledge of the West would be useful to these folks, at least the ones that aren’t brain dead. Particularly the stories of the well-traveled road of settlers starving to death trying to farm land that’s only suitable for grazing–read cattle and sheep.
      From my experience (my sister lives on a dairy farm in Pa.) and from what I read, most cattle spend most of their lives on grazing-suitable rangeland. Better land is taken for crops. This is all very strange. You know, besides assistance in farm management and soil analysis, it works without a whole lot of guidance from the government!

  • jd

    Great film about our generation’s biggest challenge–getting people off their meat addiction (or at least cutting back on it).

  • Ayumi

    I wish cattle ranchers would die off…..

    • sabelmouse

      that’s nice of you! don’t worry;if we ever get global veganism we’ll get global famine and they will. as will you! lucky we won’t ever get there, at least not because of veganism.
      interesting though that you seem to think that free range cattle are worse than cafo pigs.

  • Im screening it on Sept 29th in San Luis Obispo and a home screening in Ventura on September 27th. This film is a game changer and is knocking my socks off…thanks for writing this!!

  • Schedule F

    “a slice of truth flayed open on the big screen”? I doubt that. I’m reserving judgement until I’ve viewed the film but it looks like another activist backed, agenda driven, ideologically based play on the emotions of an uninformed public to promote the pseudo-science ideology of anti animal anything.

    • carter

      “I’m reserving judgement until I’ve viewed the film but it looks like
      another activist backed, agenda driven, ideologically based play on
      the emotions”

      that is a hilarious statement!…glad you ‘reserved judgement’, lol

    • sabelmouse

      pretty much.

    • OHDisqusNSA666100

      Congratulations for reserving judgment.
      Because you have been emotionally attached to false information and you should let that go and accept the truth.

      • Schedule F

        I, am “not” emotionally attached to any false information. I “am” attached to the earth and I understand the “facts” of this subject which I’m reasonably sure, differ from your ……….”truth”.

    • waytoopicky

      Did you watch it yet????

    • Catherine Hays

      Gee, you sound so discriminating and objective …and yet I’m finding it difficult to restrain my judgement of you. All you are doing here is publically displaying a bad example in ignoring the FACT that the emotions of the uninformed public are well-used by ALL (and I mean every last one) of the major food corporations, ESPECIALLY the meat industry. (Do hamburgers really grow in hamburger patches?) A minor oversight on your part. You didn’t notice. Um, so what sector of the meat industry do you work in? Cm’on you can tell me…

      • Schedule F

        Judge all you want. I am not ignoring the fact that emotions of the uninformed public are well used by the major food corporations, as they are by automobile corporations, cosmetic corporations, pharmaceutical corporations, and the list goes on. “Not everyone” knows that hamburgers “do not” grow in a hamburger patch. The general public has become so far removed from agriculture that they can be swayed very easily to one ideal or another simply because they just…. don’t….. know. So few consumers actually get down in the dirt of food production and learn best production practices and environmental safeguards that take place in today’s agriculture. The beef industry spends substantial dollars through the “beef check off” to inform consumers with “facts” about the ins and outs and the ups and downs of beef production.
        I have worked in most corners of the meat industry, some very briefly, at one time or another. I have tilled the earth to grow forage for livestock and forage for humans. I have produced breeding stock, I have raised livestock through all stages from newborn to slaughter, from a cold three in the morning calving difficulty, through a drought stricken limited feed summer season then to a background lot and on to the finishing program, ultimately to slaughter where I have worked knife in hand on the kill floor, marketing of a wholesome, healthful finished product, and finally standing at the meat counter in our local supermarket selecting beef for dinner. At present I am a cow/calf producer.

        • Catherine Hays

          Since you are environmentally concerned and yet somehow unaware of the suffering of those cows and calves, all I can say to you is what folks with common sense used to say. “What goes around comes around.”

          • Schedule F

            ‘Common sense’ has very little to do with this production ‘Cowspirarcy’. It is what it is: largely a piece of abolitionist propaganda, the purpose(as I see it) of which is to abolish animal agriculture. It’s purpose aside: uninformed viewers are becoming misinformed: a very dangerous condition for any sector of society; minority, majority, or anywhere between. The worst result of uninformed citizens, or worse, misinformed citizens is: some of them vote.

          • Catherine Hays

            This lucrative business of violence against animals by no means makes you fit to judge what is sensible. You are INSENSIBLE to all suffering except your own which is why ‘what goes around comes around’ is my only advice, my only message to you.
            SPECIES-ISM means that you regard the human body as giving you the right to do as you will, with the bodies of other species. I think it is very good that the animal-exploitation industry shall not dominate the truth.

          • Schedule F

            So, Is this discussion about Cowspirarcy’s alleged effect of animal agriculture on the planet earth? Or, Is it about animal rights?

          • Catherine Hays

            Is your avoidance of ethics on the point of either topic furher illustrated now by questioning me about what we are discussing?

          • Tell me how this film is misinforming people. Just tell me this. That is all I ask from you.

          • Schedule F

            The film presents contrived hyperbole as scientific fact to promote vegan/vegetarian

            lifestyles and agendas. It’s that simple. The film makers intentionally mislead the viewer.

  • Sandra Bell

    I’m looking forward to seeing this documentary at the Animal Rights Conference in Los Angeles July 10 thru 13. I wish it could hit big screens everywhere for the sake of the planet, human health and, for God’s sake, those billions of innocent herbivores who’s only crime is having been born onto a planet ruled by greedy, ignorant, heartless “humans”.

    • dont always depend on the big theatres to get the word out… if you want to ut the effort there is TUGG a system for community screenings as well as theatre screenings… I decided to negotiate a deal with TUGGs hosting screening division so I can travel with the film to NONtheatre venues… do it.. get the word out there and make some money to boot!!!

  • Grace

    Would love to see it on the screen in Canada

  • JenayBrooke

    Good review of a great documentary. I hope, for all our sakes, that Cowspiracy gets wide distribution.

    • sabelmouse

      i read that it’s very amusing if you like mockumentaries.

      • jamesbutler75

        sounds like insightful propaganda. lol

        • sabelmouse

          sadly no.

          • So prove what you say, please. I really want to know what you have to say.

          • sabelmouse

            themicrofilmprinciple @ disqus has had quite a bit to say about that. look for their profile.

  • Guest

    Great review of a great documentary. I hope it get wide distribution.

  • mineralt

    Amen sistah!

  • Mercury9

    It’s past time we look at the cruel, environmentally damaging modern meat industry.