Movies and books to foster empathy
Ignorance is bliss OR information will set you free.
The Vegan Utopia supports the second option, so we work to facilitate that choice, but only you can decide which one YOU prefer: ignorance or information?
Ultimately what is needed to embrace veganism for the animals is triggered by empathy, but information may as well help to achieve that empathy and produce “the click”. And what’s a better way to be well informed than a good book or a good documentary? So here are our TOP 10 recommendations (5 books and 5 movies) that could make you better informed than your current state and perhaps then, consider veganism:
- Home (2009) – Yann Arthus-Bertrand
A Birdseye view of our planet, its systems and our presence in it. Home is a striking documentary filled with aerial images that can relate to the trilogy of Godfrey Reggio that started with Koyaanisqatsi. As the narrator says “We know that the solutions are there today. We all have the power to change. So what are we waiting for?”
- Earthlings (2005) – Shaun Monson
Joaquin Phoenix lent his voice and Moby his music to this shocking yet necessary documentary. Using hidden cameras and never-before-seen footage, Earthlings chronicles the day-to-day practices of the largest industries in the world, all of which rely entirely on animals for profit.
- Dominium (2018) – Chris Delforce
In case you missed the number 2 of the list, this number 3 accomplishes the same goal: to surface the horrors hidden in the animal exploitation industries. Dominion uses drones, hidden and handheld cameras to expose the dark underbelly of modern animal agriculture, questioning the morality and validity of humankind’s dominion over the animal kingdom. While mainly focusing on animals used for food, it also explores other ways animals are exploited and abused by humans, including clothing, entertainment and research.
- Cowspiracy (2014) – Kip Andersen and Keegan Kuhn
Follow the shocking, yet humorous, journey of an aspiring environmentalist, as he daringly seeks to find the real solution to the most pressing environmental issues and true path to sustainability.
- Seaspiracy (2021) – Ali Tabrizi
Although from a different director, it is undeniable that Seaspiracy is greatly influenced by Conspiracy in the way the director presents his findings and conducts his researches. Passionate about ocean life, a filmmaker sets out to document the harm that humans do to marine species – and uncovers alarming global corruption.
6. My Ocotpus Teacher (2021) Pippa Ehrlich; James Reed
Surely one of the most acclaimed documentary films about the interaction between humans and wild animals. The delicacy and at the same time the strength of this relationship can change your perspective on the desires and abilities of animals that many consider to be no more than a meal.
- Why we love dogs, Eat Pigs and Wear Cows – Melanie Joy
This book offers an absorbing look at what social psychologist Melanie Joy calls carnism, the belief system that conditions us to eat certain animals when we would never dream of eating others. Carnism causes extensive animal suffering and global injustice, and it drives us to act against our own interests and the interests of others without fully realising what we are doing. Becoming aware of what carnism is and how it functions is vital to personal empowerment and social transformation, as it enables us to make our food choices more freely—because without awareness, there is no free choice.
- Vegan Freak – Bob Torres and Jenna Torres
Curious about veganism? Want to be a vegan? Already a vegan? Just wondering how to be vegan without going insane? In this informative and practical guide on veganism, team Torres helps you love your inner vegan freak. Loaded with tips, advice, stories, and comprehensive lists of resources that no vegan should live without, this book is key to helping you thrive as a happy, healthy, and sane vegan in a decidedly non-vegan world. Witty, opinionated, and eminently useful.
- Animal Manifesto. The Politization of the Animal Cause – Corine Pelluchon
Showing what is at stake in the animal abuse, Corine Pelluchon asserts that the animal cause is also the cause of humankind. To fight against animal abuse requires our denouncing a model of development that is build upon the limitless exploitation of other beings, be they human or non human. Such a commitment means also that we aim at promoting a better and more sustainable society. The animal question is not an isolated field, but it is linked to a new global political theory. Moreover, it concerns everybody, although we do not share the same ideological stances and have opposite interests.
- The Animal Rights Debate: Abolition or Regulation? – Gary L. Francione and Robert Garner
Gary L. Francione is a law professor and leading philosopher of animal rights theory. Robert Garner is a political theorist specialising in the philosophy and politics of animal protection. Francione maintains that we have no moral justification for using nonhumans and argues that because animals are property or economic commodities laws or industry practices requiring “humane” treatment will, as a general matter, fail to provide any meaningful level of protection. Garner favors a version of animal rights that focuses on eliminating animal suffering and adopts a protectionist approach, maintaining that although the traditional animal-welfare ethic is philosophically flawed, it can contribute strategically to the achievement of animal-rights ends.
- Sapiens: a brief history of humankind – Yuval Harari
Did you know that Yuval Harari went vegan while writing this book? It’s not a book about veganism, but it certainly helps you understand the big picture that led to society being structured the way it is today, and where it’s heading to. We tend to think of mankind as the unique and inevitable masters of this Universe. In reality, we were not the only human species that existed on Earth, and most of our progress happened only in the recent past. In “Sapiens”, Yuval Noah Harari gives a detailed account of human history, presenting the facts and myths of how mankind has dominated the planet, the driving forces shaping our lives and how we can think about our impact on Earth and our collective future.
© Vitor Schietti
Two books that didn’t make it to this list (but almost did):
Animal Liberation, by Peter Singer: although Peter Singer´s groundbreaking work influenced many vegans, after deepening our knowledge about the author we came across incongruences and a lack of commitment to the vegan philosophy that is evident by the Paris exemption. There are many critics fo Singer´s work, some bring interesting arguments like this one, but undoubtedly Animal Liberation is also capable of exposing valid perspectives and could provide insightful information, we just felt it falls short from where veganism should aim at after all.
Another interesting book to mention is The Omnivore’s Dilemma, by Michael Pollan, which doesn’t advocate for veganism at all, but presents a deep investigation into the American animal agriculture, both in an industrial and in a more local scale, and can offer insights into society’s relationship with animals, especially the economics behind it. The link between the increasing surplus of corn in the 20th century and the growth of the cattle industry shows how much the normalisation of eating meat appears to be more influenced by economic factors, rather than cultural ones.
NOTE: Originally we were going to make available the links for the recommended books, but we couldn’t find all books in the three languages we work with (English, Portuguese and Spanish) and additionally the platform to buy the books could be conflicting with your preferred choice, so if you’re interested in one of the books and want to know where to buy it, our good pal Google will help you out on that. It is even possible to find some of them as PDF online, so good luck on your search and let us know your thoughts if you see or watch any of our recommendations!