“Eating Our Way to Extinction”: What it’s about and where to watch it
In the opening shots of the 2021 documentary “Eating Our Way to Extinction,” directed by Otto and Ludovic Brockway, a massive tree that has played a role in its ecosystem for hundreds of years falls, bringing with it several smaller trees. This sets the tone for the film, which chronicles how our diet is causing climate change, destroying the environment that we depend on, and endangering our personal and public health. The film leaves viewers with a resounding message: the most impactful personal step we can take to stop contributing to the destruction of the planet, and to protect our own health, is to adopt a whole-food, plant-based diet and give up animal products altogether.
Is “Eating Our Way to Extinction” about veganism?
“Eating Our Way to Extinction” could be seen as a vegan film, but really the film is about much more than simply transitioning our diets away from the consumption of animal products. The film is a tragedy; it tells the story of how we are losing the planet we know and the environments that support us. The tragedy starts with the story of Indigenous people on lands that are being cleared having their homes destroyed and witnessing the forests they have lived in harmony with for generations being burned, so that soy can be planted where once the mighty Amazon rainforest spread. The tragedy continues with an explanation of the tortuously slow and painful death of the planet. Her oceans are killed by the fertilizers that run off from fields and by overfishing to the brink of what aquatic ecosystems can survive. The film continues by recounting issue after issue caused by modern industry and farming, touching on global warming and extreme weather events, antibiotic resistance, plastic in the oceans, and many other factors that are contributing to the destruction of the planet and threatening not only the continued existence of other species and the web of relationships that make up the natural world, but our own existence as well. Rather than focusing on the tragedy of animals suffering on factory farms, the film focuses on the tragedy of the planet itself.
The film doesn’t leave viewers in despair, however. Instead, it provides a path for hope in the form of a plant-based diet. Not only is making such a shift delicious, with options that are amazingly similar to animal-derived products, but a whole-food, plant-based diet stands to improve health, helping many of us live longer and reducing the likelihood of developing many diseases.
Who funded “Eating Our Way to Extinction”?
“Eating Our Way to Extinction” was funded by a wide array of different entities listed in the film’s credits. The film had an Indiegogo that garnered over $175,000 and was backed by 1,564 individual donors. In addition to the hundreds of individuals that contributed to the creation of the film, several organizations partnered with the filmmakers on its creation. The partners included Veganuary, Ecosia, The Baum Foundation, OWC, Plant Based News, Fathom Events, Blue Horizon, The Perfect World Foundation, The LiveKindly co., and Veg Capitol.
Cast and crew
“Eating Our Way to Extinction” features a stellar cast of people who all care deeply about the environment and the impact of the way we eat. If you found yourself racking your brain about who the narrator was, swearing that you knew that voice from somewhere else, you probably did, as the film is narrated by Oscar winner Kate Winslet. Joining Winslet are an array of other experts, activists, and vegan icons including:
Anthony “Tony” Robbins, author, entrepreneur, and business coach
Richard Branson, producer and actor well known for “Around the World in 80 Days” (2004) and the spaceflight company Virgin Galactic
Sylvia Earle, former Chief Scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Jeremy Rifkin, author of “The Third Industrial Revolution” (2018) and producer of the film based on the book
Olivier De Schutter, Belgian legal scholar specializing in economics and a professor of law from UCLouvain
Bruce Friedrich, co-founder and president of The Good Food Institute
Tara Garnett, researcher at Oxford University in the Environmental Change Institute
Michael Greger, physician and founder of Nutritionfacts.org
Where can I watch “Eating Our Way to Extinction”?
Due to the critical message of “Eating Our Way to Extinction,” it was important to the filmmakers that a wide audience was able to easily access the work for viewing. The full-length film is available for free on Youtube in an array of different languages including English, Spanish (both Castilian and Latin American), Indonesian, Mongolian, Hebrew, Polish, Korean, and French. In addition to being easily accessible on Youtube, the film can also be streamed on Apple TV, Amazon United States and International, Amazon UK, Google Play, and Vudu. To access the documentary on Youtube, you can either search Youtube or go directly to the film’s website where the documentary is embedded in all available languages.
How are we eating our way to extinction?
As outlined in the film, our eating habits are hurtling us ever closer to the brink of extinction. Every meal we eat has the capacity to negatively impact our planet because the impacts of our food are far-reaching. If we choose to eat animal products we are contributing to multiple crises including the destruction of tropical forests, the degradation of our oceans, and the growth of antibiotic resistance in microorganisms that can cause deadly diseases.
The planet's forests and trees are being destroyed to make room for the pigs, cows, chickens, and other animals that we want to eat, and to grow the food that they need to survive. This wreaks havoc not only on some of the most biodiverse environments on earth, such as the Amazon, but also on the Indigenous communities that depend on these ecosystems and have lived in harmony with them for generations.
In the most powerful countries on the planet, the agriculture industry has a massive impact on the policies that are implemented. The industry supports policies that favor them, such as limits to environmental protection measures and subsidies for agricultural products and meat, and seeks to kill those bills that could negatively impact their profit margin.
Destruction of the oceans
Whether wild-caught or farmed, the fish we eat has a major impact on the environment and plays a major role in destroying the oceans. As highlighted in the film, since the 1950s, 90% of large fish have been caught from the oceans. When it comes to farming, the practices used on land as well as in fish farms pollute the water with chemicals and pesticides.
An estimated two-thirds of antibiotics used globally go to animals. This leads to the development of antibiotic resistance, whereby diseases are more able to withstand the effects of these drugs, leading to the use of increasingly powerful antibiotics. Increasing antibiotic resistance combines with the unhygienic and crowded conditions on factory farms to create breeding grounds for disease that could easily give rise to the next global pandemic.
“Eating Our Way To Extinction” fact check
The film cites a number of reputable organizations and studies as sources. Among the citations are articles in the academic journal Nature, research at Florida International University, and the World Wildlife Fund. In addition to the many sources cited directly in the film, the film makes public a reference page on their website with additional sources. Among these citations are academic articles, reports from international governing bodies such as the FAO and the UN, and publications from major research institutions.
In addition to written sources, the film also relies heavily on the expertise of industry professionals. Through a combination of information from experts, accounts of firsthand experiences, and accounts from agricultural staff and activists the film is able to not only craft a compelling story but also a factually accurate one.
Messages from “Eating Our Way to Extinction”
“Eating Our Way to Extinction” leaves the viewer informed about the impact that their diet can, and does, have on the environment and thus on their future and the future of their loved ones.
The oceans are being overfished and polluted by abandoned fishing nets. We rely on oceanic organisms for much of the oxygen we breathe and must keep them healthy.
Animal agriculture is widely acknowledged as a likely point of origin for the next global pandemic.
Governing entities are funded and manipulated by the animal agriculture industry which pours millions of dollars into lobbying and politics.
Animal agriculture is a leading cause of deforestation.
Eating a whole-food, plant-based diet is healthy for people across life stages and even athletes thrive on this diet.
In order to ensure that the environment survives as we know it for generations to come, we must make changes.
The most impactful personal change we can make is to adopt a plant-based diet.
There have been many films that show the torture that animals endure in order for a cheeseburger or a California sushi roll to exist. “Eating Our Way to Extinction” instead focuses on the impact that animal agriculture has on the planet that we all call home and the detrimental situation that our dietary habits have placed us in, leaving viewers with the message that the most impactful personal life change that we can make to help the planet is to stop eating animal products and instead enjoy the many delicious foods that are fully plant-based.