Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Review of documentary "PLANEAT: Nothing changes the planet as much as the way we eat"


Carnivores, take heed! The film "PLANEAT" might convince even the most passionate meat-enthusiasts to lay off the stuff. This DVD makes a strong case that our love affair with meat and dairy is ravaging both our planet and our bodies. The filmmakers used extensive interviews with highly credible health and environmental experts (interspersed with cool vegan-cooking scenes) to illuminate the damages inflicted by the livestock sector and our own misguided food choices. Having co-authored a book on the same subject myself, I appreciated the filmmakers' skill in cramming a lot of convincing info into a very watchable film."

Breeding sow on a small N.C. farm. Photo: Sally Kneidel

The film's strength
The strength of the movie, for me, is the breadth of its coverage in addressing different angles of the meat-consumption issue. My husband Ken teaches biology/ecology and is always on the lookout for new tools to use in class to make the point that the livestock industry has a huge environmental and climate impact. The United States is the world's worst offender - we eat much more meat per capita than any other country. And as PLANEAT will tell you, eliminating animal products from your diet will prevent more greenhouse gas emissions than switching to the most fuel-efficient car on the market.

  Dairy cow on a milking machine. Photo: Sally Kneidel

Great teaching tool
This film will be a useful teaching tool for progressive educators, to replace John Robbins' excellent 1991 film "Diet for a New America" - which is aging (although still accurate). PLANEAT is obviously current and features a number of young, pierced, tattooed chefs in the cooking segments. The two films overlap, in that both feature the research of Dr. Colin Campbell, a researcher from Cornell who conducted a landmark study relating disease frequencies to the consumption of animal products. In this study, menus of meat and dairy were implicated big-time as culprits in not only vascular and heart disease, but also numerous cancers. The research is reported in the 1990 publication "Diet, Lifestyle, and Mortality in China: a study of the characteristics of 65 Chinese counties" by Colin Campbell, Richard Peto from Oxford University, and two Chinese scientists. The work is also summarized in the 2005 book The China Study by Colin Campbell and his son Thomas Campbell.

 "The China Study" by Thomas and Colin Campbell

Singer on ethical issues
PLANEAT includes interviews with Peter Singer, famed author and ethicist at Princeton University. In the film, Singer gives voice to moral concerns regarding animal abuses on factory farms. He also points out ethical concerns in our contributing to rising sea-levels that will drown farmers in developing nations - sea-levels that are rising as a result of livestock-related greenhouse gases.

I applaud PLANEAT not only for its broad scope, but particularly for its very detailed review of health effects. I learned a few things I didn't know, even after years of reading and reporting in my own books and blogs.

  Shed of Tyson breeder chickens. Photo: Sally Kneidel

Coulda, shoulda included...
For me, though, the scariest down-side to meat-eating is its destructive effects on the rapidly declining welfare of our green planet. PLANEAT did address some environmental repercussions of livestock, but could have done so more stringently. For example, the film omitted the most significant eco-research I know of: "Livestock and Climate Change" by Richard Goodland and Jeff Anhang, environmental specialists with the World Bank Group. After a meticulous analysis, Anhang and Goodland reported that the livestock sector is responsible for 51% of greenhouse gas emissions! In other words, our eating of animal products is the primary cause of global warming! Surely their meticulous and widely-cited analysis is worth a mention.

"Livestock and Climate Change" gained notice in WorldWatch magazine

The film also didn't address depletion of marine fishes by overharvesting - a topic certainly pertinent to a film on the consumption of animal products. I would've liked to see a word, too, about the massive amount of water required to raise food for livestock, a growing concern as global water shortages escalate.

All filmmakers are limited by viewing time, and the thorough coverage of disease and reversal of disease by meatless diets perhaps merited these omissions - that's all a matter of personal perspective.

I recommend the film
Overall, I highly recommend PLANEAT as an important educational tool for teachers at any level, for parents and families, for environmental clubs or medical organizations, and for the enlightenment of any individual who cares about health, longevity, and solutions for our ailing planet.

Sow in farrowing crate on N.C. factory farm. Photo: Sally Kneidel

How to see PLANEAT
PLANEAT will be released for home, educational, community, and theatrical use in October 2011 from Bullfrog Films. For more details about that, please contact Stephanie at stephanie@bullfrogfilms.com or (610) 779-8226. Meanwhile, you can watch the film right now on the PLANEAT website.

Raising small numbers of pastured animals still generates GG, but less water pollution than factory farms. Photo: Sally Kneidel
Keywords: PLANEAT, vegan documentary, Colin Campbell, Peter Singer, The China Study, vegan health, greenhouse gases and livestock, global warming and livestock, Sally Kneidel, review, documentary

1 comment:

Heather Clisby said...

Couldn't find any contact info so this will have to do, I guess. We are featuring a snippet of this post on BlogHer.com's Green Section: