The long-awaited documentary ‘Eating our way to Extinction’, directed by brothers Ludo and Otto Brockway and narrated by Kate Winslet, was released in April and is available to watch on Amazon Prime Video. I have to say it is an excellent film, and it is evident that a lot of time and research went into the making of it. The film was made over the course of 4 years, spans many continents and features stunning cinematography.
This is not an animal rights documentary as such, although animal cruelty is touched on at times, but there is enough information even in the first half hour to make you want to go vegan. Topics that are looked at include deforestation, methane from animals, intensive farming, fish farms, the overuse of antibiotics in farming, zoonotic viruses, ecological collapse, ocean dead zones and many more. The key point of the movie is that all of these issues can be remedied by moving to a plant-based diet.
I’ve listed a few of the main facts and figures from the film below. These (and more) are also listed on the film’s website.
Wildlife and Biodiversity:
- 68% of wildlife populations are now gone.
- 84% of freshwater aquatic animals have disappeared.
- Almost all coral reefs will die by 2050.
- Biodiversity could reach a tipping point by 2045, threatening all life on Earth.
- Meat is the biggest threat to wildlife and is the leading cause of biodiversity loss.
- By 2050 the demand for food will have increased by 70%.
- By 2050 greenhouse gases associated with food production will have increased by 80%.
- Without livestock, a plant-based diet could feed an additional 4 billion people.
- A plant-based diet is the most effective way to reverse biodiversity loss.
- A plant-based diet would free up 76% of land for wildlife.
- By 2030 the world will be facing a 40% global water deficit.
- By 2033 widespread food shortages, unprecedented heat waves and cyclones will be commonplace.
- Methane (a greenhouse gas produced by livestock) is 84 times more potent than CO2 over a 20 year period.
- By eliminating animal agriculture we can help to mitigate the worst effects of climate change in a much shorter time frame than we can by reducing CO2.
Pandemics and Antibiotic Resistance:
- 75% of antibiotics produced around the world are given to livestock. As a result, antibiotics are becoming less potent. Antibiotic resistance is now a major problem for humans as well as animals.
- Pandemics throughout history have been caused by our toxic relationship with animals – farming them, using them and being in constant contact with them.
- 30% of global forest cover has been cleared, while another 20% has been degraded. Most of the rest has been fragmented, leaving only about 15% intact.
- Livestock are responsible for 80% of Amazon deforestation.
- Livestock agriculture is by far the greatest threat to forests. Countries that import livestock feed, even if they have minimised forest loss within their own borders are driving forest destruction in developing countries.
Oceans and fishing:
- Ocean acidification and ocean warming are being caused by increased levels of CO2 in the atmosphere.
- Ocean dead zones are areas which are depleted of oxygen where organisms and fish cannot thrive.
- Nitrogen pollution (caused by runoff from agriculture) is one of the main causes of ocean dead zones.
- The planet has lost 90% of all large fish since the 1950s.
- Fishing, over-fishing and trawler fishing are decimating fish populations.
- The majority of fish we eat now are factory-farmed and intensively reared.
- Farmed fish is not the solution. Conditions on fish farms are horrific, with fish suffering from disease and deformities. Massive quantities of antibiotics are added to the water. Locals complain of pollution.
- Farmed fish are fed genetically-modified corn and soy, which is being grown in the Amazon on deforested land. They are also fed about 20 million tonnes of wild caught fish converted to fish meal.
- The majority of the plastic waste in our oceans is from discarded fishing gear.
The film also looks at the world of high-level corruption. A meat industry lobbyist is featured who claims to charge half a million euros to get legislation passed in favour of his clients. It also talks about the billions of euro in EU livestock farming subsidies which could easily be used to help farmers transition from animal to plant-based farming. Public figures and researchers featured in the movie include Jeremy Rifkin, Marco Springmann, Joseph Poore, Dr. Michael Greger, Richard Branson, Tony Robbins and more.
The key take-away from the film is that the future is bleak unless we move en masse to a plant-based diet. It is a film that should be seen by everyone, and I would love to see it being screened by some of the major TV channels. It is currently available on Amazon and you can view the trailer here.