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Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret

Updated: Oct 10, 2019

Review of the documentary now streaming on Netflix.

By Sean Lanigan

I recently began a whole-foods, plant-based vegan diet. So far, I have been successful and have seen immediate changes in my health. One of the reasons why I made this major life decision is the 2014 documentary, Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret. This documentary showed me the damage that animal agriculture can do to human health and the planet.

The documentary begins with Kip Andersen, one of the film’s directors. He talks about how his life changed when he watched the Al Gore documentary, An Inconvenient Truth, and decided to become an OCE, obsessive-compulsive environmentalist. But as time went on, Andersen felt like things weren’t changing, and he decided to do more research on the subject. He came across a friend’s shared post on social media from the United Nations, claiming that raising livestock produces more greenhouse gases then the entire transportation industry.

Andersen was surprised to find there was no information on animal agriculture on the environmental organization websites that he follows. Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret is his deep dive into animal agriculture’s effects on the environment, using both a shock approach as well as humor, to keep the viewer hanging on.

Here are some of my key takeaways that the documentary asserts:

· Raising livestock in the United States alone uses 34 trillion gallons of water a year. We learn from Heather Cooley from the Pacific Institute who is quoted saying, “Meat and dairy products are incredibly water intensive in part because the animals are using very water intensive grains. That’s what they eat.”

· One quarter-pound hamburger takes over 660 gallons of water to produce. That number was unbelievable to me.