Cowspiracy begins with a stark warning about climate change. ‘What does that have to do with drinking milk?’ you may ask. Well, Kip Andersen’s documentary spends the next 90 minutes hammering home the unpalatable truth about the link between animal agriculture and climate breakdown.
The stats that the director uses often beggar belief and I even paused the movie at a couple of points to fact-check the more extreme pronouncements (they were legit). For example, the production of ONE quarter pounder burger requires 660 gallons of water. That’s 3000 litres! For ONE burger! Do not adjust your set; you are not hallucinating – these are facts. One pound of beef requires 11,365 liters of water. GIven these statistics, it’s not hard to see how the animal agriculture industry uses 34 trillion gallons of water every year.
Anyone who has been paying attention to the ‘environment’ tab of their favourite news site knows that we are about to enter the 6th Mass Extinction. And it’s because of cows. 91% of rainforest deforestation is to make space for cattle which has several effects. Firstly, whatever lived in that part of the rainforest dies or is displaced. Secondly, these cows begin to shit. Hard. Researchers estimate that the cattle industry produces 116,00 pounds of animal waste every second. The effect this has on local waterways is catastrophic. Finally, when the trees have been cleared, they can no longer remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. This causes the global temperature to keep climbing.
Cowspiracy presents the facts in a clear, easy to understand manner. The evidence for a plant based diet is made explicit and in that respect, the movie is a total success. Most interestingly,as Kip talks to move officials throughout the documentary, the level of governmental incompetence begins to seem less like helplessness and more like complicity. Animal agriculture is big business. For now.
This is a worthy addition to the canon of classic vegan documentaries (such as Earthlings) and is well worth watching.