When it comes to our dietary choices and the way we perceive Earth and the animals that live on it, our ideology is heavily influenced by society. People grow up eating hamburgers and breaded chicken cutlets at the same exact time that they are learning “Old MacDonald Had a Farm,” and yet the connection that animals and food are one in the same is rarely made. People love to see photos of adorable animal antics while browsing the Internet but never seek out factory farm videos. And unsurprisingly, people choose to compartmentalize all of the research that has been brought to light about the negative effects of eating meat so that they can eat a hamburger without having to think about the effect they are having on their own health and the environment.
Considering humans crave comfort, it’s not that surprising that many of us lead our lives in this manner. For this reason, advocating for a different mindset or perception of the world by promoting plant-based eating can be extremely difficult. Some do this by taking and sharing powerful images, others craft meaningful prose, and some choose to create documentaries that weave together different elements – from clips and statistics to interviews – that all advocate the same message. In 2014, filmmaker Marc Pierschel did the latter with his film Live and Let Live. And now, after almost three years of circulation, the doc made to “examine our relationship with animals, the history of veganism, and the ethical, environmental, and health reasons that move people to go vegan” has gotten picked up by Netflix!
So, why has the online streaming service decided to suddenly pick up the film? Well, they haven’t released an official statement explaining why, but looking at the Live and Let Live trailer gives you a pretty good idea. The film aims to educate and inspire people to consider eating vegan from every possible angle. The film includes interviews with professors of ethics, activists, and athletes, including social psychologist Melanie Joy and investigative journalist Will Potter. It also delves into the positive impact eating vegan can have on the environment and it’s got some pretty majestic shots of farm animals in golden sunlight that are undeniably beautiful. The success of films like Fork Over Knives and Cowspiracy could also be a large part of the reason Netflix decided to add another film regarding eating plant-based to their collection.
The fact that this film will now be on Netflix may not be “groundbreaking” exactly, but it is undoubtedly important. Some people may see it, absorb it, and go on about their lives the same. But you never know if one person might be extremely moved by the information and powerful imagery and suddenly feel compelled to stop eating meat and start eating plant-based. There’s simply no way to know which image, which word, which statistic will cause that eye-opening, inspiring moment in someone’s life. Learning about the food system in depth and how it affects our health, environment, and the other creatures on Earth may not be part of the typical upbringing nowadays, but with every film, photograph, news article, and study that comes out, it becomes that more present. That’s why the fact that Netflix chose this film to share with the millions of people who subscribe to their service, is incredibly important.