Full disclosure: Editor-in-chief of Life, Love, V, Kamal Prasad, did some videography for Cowspiracy but does not have a financial stake in it.
On the evening of June 19, I attended the San Francisco premiere of Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret, an environmental documentary about the elephant in the room that is responsible for 51% of global greenhouse gas emissions (drum roll)…animal agriculture.
I have been raising awareness about this issue for a few years and had high hopes for this film, because humanity really needs this conversation to be mainstreamed now. My expectations were exceeded.
The documentary follows the journey of Kip Andersen, co-director, who wants to figure out how to make a difference and live as sustainable a lifestyle as possible. What he discovers astonishes him, and he decides to ask some questions and make a documentary to track his findings.
Kip visits executives at major environmental organizations like the Natural Resource Defense Council (NRDC), The Climate Reality Project, Oceana, Greenpeace, The Rainforest Action Network (RAN), Sierra Club and others to ask simple questions about what they think the impact of animal agriculture is on environmental degradation, habitat loss, climate change, and deforestation. The film captures awkward moments when executives falter as they attempt to give coherent responses. There’s a sinister feeling as we, the viewers realize that these leaders are either hiding something, or have completely missed the mark on letting their membership know the best way to stop and reverse some of the biggest environmental problems facing our planet today. Sailesh Rao of Climate Healers perfectly captures these organizations’ predicament in his recent review of the film.
Co-director Keegan Kuhn masterfully captures the compassion and eloquence of those who are not afraid (including a former board member of Greenpeace) to talk openly about the solution that is staring us all in the face. Perhaps most powerful is the transformation Kip undergoes while making this film.
I was getting goose bumps while watching this documentary, because I’ve never seen all the facts laid out so clearly and with such visual simplicity. I admire how vividly this duo has captured the reality of climate change and environmental degradation in our era. They have tastefully and beautifully illustrated the defining challenge of our time, including the failure of leading environmental organizations to see the issue for what it is and to align their actions with real solutions. When I was talking to Keegan after the premiere, he mentioned that their goal was not to shame anyone, but to honestly portray the current situation. They have certainly done that.
Basically, the current situation is that environmental organizations are doing a great disservice to those of us who donate time and money for causes that are sidestepping the real solution. If you donate to environmental organizations, you need to watch this film. On a more positive note, folks at the Center for Biological Diversity, after watching Cowspiracy, have taken the lead in telling its members about eliminating animal products from their lives.
No spoilers here. Suffice it to say that if you care about the environment, or children, or wildlife, or animals, you need to watch this film. Even if you don’t care, and want to see an exceptional example of good storytelling and exquisite filmmaking with disarming humor and touching depth, this could be the most important film you see this year.
This is a story of what it means for one person to have the courage and common sense to discover and act upon facts. It’s about how to face the reality we live in today, on the path to transforming that reality into a better tomorrow for all life. As Kip put it at the San Francisco premiere, “The transformation is already underway. Just enjoy the ride.”
Remember this conversation from The Matrix?
Neo: Why do my eyes hurt?
Morpheus: You’ve never used them before.
Find a Cowspiracy screening near you and prepare to see.
Image credit: Cowspiracy
(Full Disclosure: I did some videography for the Cowspiracy – The Sustainability Secret. However, I don’t have a financial stake in the film.)
As someone who has embraced the plant-based lifestyle, you are probably already aware of the environmental havoc wrought by animal agriculture. Still, it is rare to see prominent environmental organizations talking about the elimination of animal products as a means of averting the worst effects of climate change. A soon to be released documentary, Cowspiracy – The Sustainability Secret, examines the extent of animal agriculture’s harmful effects on the planet and why environmental organizations might be afraid to address it.
Touted as a documentary that “will be as eye-opening as Blackfish and as inspiring as An Inconvenient Truth,” the film follows the journey of Kip Andersen, co-director (along with Keegan Kuhn) as he uncovers the truth behind the environmental impact of animal agriculture. While filming, they are informed that their funding of the project is being pulled due to the controversy surrounding the film, causing them to invest most of their own savings into the film.
In order to get Cowspiracy ready for theatrical release, the duo reached out for supporters via the crowdfunding site, Indiegogo. Within days of posting the campaign, they surpassed their initial goal of raising $54,000! Now they are trying to reach their extended goal, which will help them translate the film into multiple languages to reach a wider audience across the globe. It will also include creating an educational edit of Cowspiracy that is 50 minutes long, ideal for showing in a classroom. There are some very cool gifts to be had should you decide to contribute to the project.
Cowspiracy is a documentary whose time has come. Increasingly, people are realizing the health, environmental and social benefits of adopting a plant-based diet. These are people who actively seek out ways to make this a better world for all. Cowspiracy will help the rest of the world awaken to this simple act of sustainability, and, who knows, it might bring along some environmental organizations with it.
Kathryn Lejeune and Janna Watkins are West Coast natives who are currently running a Kickstarter campaign to raise money for a documentary they are making. The duo is interested in water conservation and other environmental issues, including composting, recycling, biodiversity, and permaculture. Their documentary, however, is a cultural one, revealing the dark and violent history of Cambodia and how it might be healed through the arts. Life, Love, V caught up with the two ladies recently to learn more.
What led you to want to make a documentary? And, why Cambodia?
One of our goals in life is to encourage people to break out of their routines and see how small the world really is. By opening minds and hearts to other ways of doing things, we think the world will be a better place. Documentaries can be an intimate way to bring someone’s personal story into the living rooms of anyone.
Kathryn has a background in film, while Janna got her degree in Chemistry. We had known each other for a while, but had never really hung out one on one. As soon as we spent some quality time together, a spark was lit and we knew we wanted to work as a team on something big. Our friendship is about mutual respect, cheerleading each other’s goals, similar work ethics, and knowing how to have fun through it all. Kathryn had been itching to make a documentary, Janna has a passion for clean water initiatives, and both wanted to discover something new about the world. Casting the net wide, we settled on Cambodia, which has a very interesting water situation, with the capital boasting some of the best access in the world, while rural areas experience some of the worst.
However, as we got deep into our research, we learned about Cambodia’s genocide under the Khmer Rouge that left 1/3 of the population- and 90% of artists and intellectuals—dead. This floored us. Then we heard rumors of a growing art scene and knew we had to rethink our angle completely. We reached out to galleries, dance companies, and textile designers, and found our artists. Hearing their stories was enough for us to spend the past 2 years working without pay to bring YEAR 33 to the world. Continue reading